A fan-made Final Fantasy 9 mod's latest version may make the game look even better than your rose-colored memories.
Moguri Mod is a total overhaul for the visuals of Final Fantasy 9's official Steam version, which was first released in 2016. It uses a combination of deep-learning algorithms and hand-made tweaks to remaster Final Fantasy 9's static backgrounds, animated elements, and NPCs. Where once there were muddy blurs, there is now a beautifully crisp yet fluid rendering of FF9's fantastical world.
When @snouz first told me that he was going to redo all the masks, I wasn't thinking he was going to get through it. But he did! To get you a sense of what it represent, imagine redrawing a mask like this for the 11522 layers of the game... pic.twitter.com/INIITrQrCJMay 26, 2020
You can watch this YouTube video for some extensive side-by-side comparisons of the vanilla Steam game and the Moguri Mod version - it was made by a third party, though the difference still speaks for itself. The mod also fixes up some visual glitches that go all the way back to the original PlayStation release back in 2000, which are documented in this Imgur gallery. Finally, no more treasure chests clipping through the rest of the environment.
It sounds like it was a monumental task making sure each background was remastered just right (the backgrounds were made from manual blends of two different upscaling methods), and that's not even talking about tweaking all the layer masks so the new elements would sit perfectly.
Final Fantasy 9's flight from photorealism into a more cartoony fantasy was controversial, but it's become better appreciated with time. I can hardly think of any better tribute to the developers' original work than this mod. Way better than accidentally deleting it.
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