In an interview with PlayStation.Blog, Square Enix Producer Koichiro Sakamoto described the process of remastering the original Chrono Cross for modern hardware. The Square Enix producer recalled the “challenges” of not only piecing the game back together after reverse engineering it but also how recreating the 2D scenes required a great amount of effort from everyone involved.
He first described the process of remaking classic PS1 games as challenging. It requires developers use their technical knowledge and skills to overcome barriers that hardware presented them with.
But in the case of Chrono Cross, the developers faced an additional challenge as the game program and graphical data weren’t preserved in a complete form. This meant that the team had to pore through the data that they can make sense out of, play the game, and work out what was missing and what needed to be replaced.
Needless to say, it was a laborious task. Though he did note that playing through it again was actually quite a lot of fun.
The second big technical hurdle that the team faced was from the static backgrounds used in the game.
Due to technical limitations with the hardware of the time, games like Chrono Cross couldn’t realistically have full 3D graphics. There needed to be balance between the few 3D models on screen and the 2D backgrounds that the models moved around in. The background images were tweaked to give that illusion of depth without pushing the console’s limits.
That’s how most games of the late PS1 era were made.
But when it came to Chrono Cross, like many games of that era, the original 3D before the prerender is was lost to time.
To overcome this, the team took existing pre-rendered images to as high a resolution as possible and then upscale them even further to an even higher resolution.
Koichiro Sakamoto described it as a very difficult task. So much so that they even used AI to help sharpen the images. But even that wasn’t enough – everything still comes down to having manual processes or that “human touch” to make sure it looked right. This is like going through the film reel of an hours long movie and individually making changes to each still image. And that’s AFTER you’ve blown the images up to a ridiculously large proportion.
“The backgrounds you see in the final release”, he says “is the result of a lot of effect from the team – something I’m very grateful to them for.”
A lot of effort went into cleaning up the Chrono Cross remaster to the state it is now. But every bit of effort was worth it to not only bring back a gaming classic but to introduce ways of expanding on what’s already there and making just enough changes to suit a wider audience without fundementally altering anything about the original.
You can check out the rest of the interview where Koichiro Sakamoto talks about the expanded options they added to the game and introducing gamers to Radical Dreamers – Le Trésor Interdit.
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Editions is available right now on PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC (via Steam).