Square Enix utterly blindsided fans this past weekend with the announcement of SaGa Frontier Remastered, the revival of the unique PlayStation 1 RPG that now features a brand new character and additional story scenarios. However, in recent years, Square Enix has had a somewhat checkered track record with its remasters. Chiefly, mobile and PC ports of classic games like Final Fantasy V and VI have used hideous and incongruous new art that has been the subject of much discussion. But then Romancing SaGa 2 and 3 on Nintendo Switch seemed to make it through their remasters nicely. However, right now it seems SaGa Frontier Remastered may be the best remaster yet, because, as ResetEra user Dreamboum notes, the game seems to be making use of AI upscaling for improved visuals.
Dreamboum performed their own tests with their own AI upscaling on the original SaGa Frontier (using ESRGAN) and compared that to official images of SaGa Frontier Remastered, and the results are analogous. This is really promising because, when done properly, AI upscaling can take the original pixel art, correctly predict what those dots are trying to convey, and present something more coherent for modern screen resolutions.
SaGa Frontier Remastered is making use of AI upscaling for its pre-rendered backgrounds. The first of its kind to do so.
This is huge for Square-Enix, as they are finally using what fans have used for years to fix their previous ports. The SaGa team continues to pave the way! pic.twitter.com/fqHWdlUFCm
— Bring Peanut Butter (@Dreamboum) November 30, 2020
I’m an eternal lover of pixel art, especially Final Fantasy pixel art, so remastering old 2D RPG graphics at all isn’t really a priority for me. But if it’s going to happen, it should be done the right way, and SaGa Frontier Remastered may be doing that with AI upscaling. (I’m still not necessarily loving all the new character sprites though.)