Twenty years ago, when photorealistic games were just a distant dream, companies like Square let our imaginations run wild before we played, with great intros and cutscenes. Long ago overwatch normalized the practice of releasing Pixar-quality animated shorts for each new character, Blizzard’s Diablo II and Capcom’s Onimusha 3 get us in the demon-killing mood with incredible mini-movies that are six minutes each.
But if you dare to watch these classics on a modern 4K TV or even a 1080p monitor, they look like a pixelated mess. That’s true a YouTube channel called Upscale and machine learning comes in — making them look almost as good as they did on your old CRT. Or maybe even better. It just depends on how well the game’s art style works with the AI algorithms bringing it back to life.
The Kingdom Hearts for example, intros look incredible. I’ve looked around and I’m willing to call these the final versions that currently exist:
you to have to watch the hair in World of Warcraftthe introduction. It left me in awe, and the video also includes a before and after comparison:
Here is the legendary six minutes Onimusha 3 opening movie at 4K 60 fps. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I’ve ever seen. More than good enough to share with people who need to understand this piece of gaming history.
And here is 1999 Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver at 8K. Can you believe this is a PS1 game?
Upscale doesn’t seem quite right chrono cross, I’m afraid, but it’s the second or third stitch to… Chrono trigger looking awesome:
And I’m not too fond of Upscale’s attempt to… Dirge of Cerberus. Fortunately, a handful of other YouTube channels are also trying these machine learning techniques, and I think The gaming restoration success.
These improvements are all made possible by a piece of software called Topaz Video Enhance AI, also known as Topaz Gigapixel, and we’ve written about it before – it’s the same generated hostile network technique that some modders use to upscale the graphics of playable games. themselves, now also applied to their cutscenes. For $299, the company sells you an app that can spit out videos like this in a handful of hours, depending on your PC’s GPU, how long, and how high of a resolution you need. I know, because I’ve tried it myself with a handful of anime music videos and game trailers, and was impressed with how easy it could be.
The most important thing to know, however, is that the images the computer spews out aren’t necessarily “truth” — it can make up details that aren’t there, or smear those that are, in the sometimes inappropriate pursuit of clarity. I found that 4K videos sometimes look better than 8K, and you really need to pick the right algorithm for the content you’re trying to scale up and compare quick previews before capturing.
Here are two different algorithms trying to improve the same scene in gundam wing, so you can see what I mean.
To be clear: these are both improved images, but one is demonstrably wrong: this is an ethereal, dreamlike sequence where the background is supposed to be soft and blurry, not sharp and flat. Of course, the algorithm doesn’t know that.
If you want to see some examples where I tried to improve old content myself, click here and hereand make sure to change your YouTube quality setting. ExtremeTechJoel Hruska’s also has a great series about trying to remaster Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Frankly, I hesitated to write about Upscale for The edgebecause I thought lawyers would shut it down any minute, or the creators of Upscale would get bored and stop posting. But I’ve waited and watched for almost a year, and it hasn’t gone away yet. If you are a big manager in the video game industry, maybe you should consider not they fire copyright missiles?
At least until you better remaster these cutscenes yourself, I mean.