Final Fantasy 7 was a big deal in 1997 as it was the first Final Fantasy game to gain PC port in the West. It has been ported to all kinds of platforms since then, PC one more time, And remake it (i.e. We hope to see it on PC in 2021). To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Square Enix made a host of sequels and spin-offs, including a mobile game, the Advent Children movie, weird third-person shooting, and RPG games for the PSP. This last game, Crisis Core, was the best reception out of the group: it starred Zack, the sweet guy whose identity cloud has been stolen, swinging around Buster’s sword in a game that looked ridiculously good for PSPs. Thirteen years later and a massive new version of FF7, Square Enix Crisis Core remains untouched, leaving it lingering in mystery. So some depositors decided to give it HD remaster processing themselves.
“I saw it as an opportunity to teach myself a new skill and enjoy myself during the coronavirus lockdown,” says Evan Cowles, who has spent the past nine months working on it. FF7 Crisis Core Upscale in his free time. Qualls works in telecom sales and has continued to be a “staple” throughout the year.
Modding Crisis Core quickly turned into a distraction from work stress throughout the pandemic. He says, “It was nice to have something I look forward to doing at home to take my mind away from questions like, ‘Wondering if I had been exposed to the virus today? “
While many depositors are doing projects to improve their favorite games, Qualls didn’t actually play Crisis Core or even own a PSP. But after playing the new Final Fantasy 7 Remake game, he decided he was interested in learning more about Zack’s story. Even when I ran Crisis Core on an emulator, it was clear that some parts of the display, like the text, didn’t hold up to a larger, high-resolution screen.
“When I was playing with it, I stumbled across a section and looked for a video on YouTube and noticed the text looked better and its creator mentioned it was using a text edit,” says Coles. “So I looked up and saw how mod works with PPSSPP emulator. Then I remembered the AI-upscaled file. FF7 Remako mod And the FF9 Moguri Mod And I thought, “Why didn’t someone get rid of all the textures in the PSP game and use AI to automate its development?” The next thing I knew was I was teaching myself Python and the project got off the ground from there. “
Unfortunately, upgrading an entire game isn’t as easy as feeding a bunch of jpg files into an AI and letting it work its magic. After trying the popular ESRGAN model, Qualls settled on Topaz AI, Which is faster and better documentation. But he says both tools are designed for RGB images, rather than RGBA images – “A” is the alpha channel used for transparency. And Crisis Core has it a lot From textures with transparency.
“These tools don’t handle transparency very well at all,” he says. “They actually removed the transparency channel together and upgraded that as a separate image before merging it together again. Unfortunately, that led to some very bad upsells.”
This means that a lot of the work on the Crisis Core Upscale project has to be done manually. Thankfully, Qualls wasn’t taking it alone. He has made his project open-source, and two other members of the Qhimm.com forum, which host a number of Final Fantasy editing projects, have joined in to help. Working with Qualls, Devina and Zakkura each upgraded something like 6000 items to 4 times the original resolution, sometimes creating texture from scratch if the original source couldn’t scale well well.
“I felt Crisis Core was being overlooked,” says Divina, who is still actively working on the Crisis Core Upscale project as a textile artist. “I want people to feel like they are really in Midgar and the game world, so I don’t want the motifs to be blurred to remind people that they’re playing what was originally a handheld game with system constraints. Hopefully when people use our project, they’ll see something like a PS2 game at least,” Because a lot of the textures in the game are very similar to Nintendo 64. “
Divina noted that the Crisis Core syntax includes some strange options or omissions, such as the spelling of Nibelheim “Mibelheim”. They fixed these types of bugs, but mostly tried to keep their HD version of Crisis Core faithful to the original. “We had to make some technical choices because the original PSP materials lacked or concealed the system’s flaws, so not everything in the project would be a perfect representation of the original, but I like to think most of our decisions won out,” Divina says. “Don’t disturb most people.”
The trend was a deliberate choice for Qualls, who said after playing Crisis Core, that he actually didn’t like the game. But some Final Fantasy fans do. Once he posted some initial work on the Qhimm forum, he realized just how much that meant for some people, and decided to keep the high-end as close as possible to the original.
Devina made some original additions to bring the game world to life, such as creating clear textures for tags that were once unreadable. The result is impressive – like the AI-enhanced tweaks in Final Fantasy 7 and 9, Crisis Core’s high-end looks better than many of Square Enix’s own outlets. Installing the HD Texture Pack is also easy thanks to the emulator PPSSPP. After downloading the files From Github-Just open the PPSSPP menu while the game is running and set it to replace the textures with the ones you downloaded. The emulator will quickly insert it.
Qualls and Devina estimate they finished the project at 90 percent, but that last bit of repair could last for a long time. “I still have a lot of work to do on the characters and I feel like this is the kind of situation where you find a speck of dust on the ground, but then more dust near something I’ve already cleaned up,” Devina says. “I always find things to improve.”
Even before that, however, it will likely be the final release from Crisis Core for years to come. It appears to be an obvious choice for Square Enix to navigate to newer platforms besides FF7 Remake, which is what I told Divina.
“I used to think this way as well (why can’t Square just really reformulate this game?), But after looking at the files and how internal logic works, I can figure out why this is so difficult for them,” says Divina.
Kools agrees – both believed Crisis Core was divisive enough to dissuade Square from putting in the effort in what would be a complete reproduction. The outlet will have to contend with some of Crisis Core’s bizarre design decisions and limitations on PSPs, like the single analog stick, which are embarrassed today.
The modern port emptiness has given these depositors a way to pass the year 2020, although Qualls is especially grateful to him. He hopes a few people will be interested in helping finish the Crisis Core Upscale project, or using the tools he created after teaching Python. They help organize revoked textures and create the file that PPSSPP uses to find them. Downloading mods, tools, or sharing is as simple as Heading to Github.