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For Final Fantasy 9’s 20th anniversary, play it with the beautiful Moguri AI upscale mod

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I was happy to see Final Fantasy 9, my favorite game in the series, arrive on PC a few years ago. It was a decent port—good enough to be playable, improved in some places, with little issues here and there that didn’t exist in the PlayStation original. But today, as Final Fantasy 9 celebrates its 20th anniversary, the PC version is the one I’d suggest anyone play, thanks to the Moguri Mod. It’s one of the most comprehensive AI upscaling mod projects of the last couple years, going beyond just improved backgrounds to fix most of the PC port’s other flaws, too.

Like a lot of other recent mod projects for old games, Moguri includes backgrounds upscaled with a GAN, or Generative Adversarial Network. I wrote a bit more about how these work back in 2019, but upscaling the entirety of a game as big as Final Fantasy 9 is a huge undertaking. It’s not just running a bunch of jpegs through a filter; every background is carved up into many pieces in the game’s files, then restitched together. Some backgrounds are actually video files rather than still images. Upscaling can causes seams to appear or other alignment issues when the backgrounds are reassembled. Much of that had to be fine-tuned by hand to make Moguri look as good as it does.

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