You probably heard Final Fantasy IX is getting a remake of sorts, releasing “soon” on PC and select iOS and Android devices. Square Enix just came out with the news of the Final Fantasy IX comeback before 2015 ended and we’re left in the shadows, not knowing what to expect from this remake. Will it look better? Will the game dynamics differ? At best, at this moment, we can only speculate—and hope. And one of our hopes for the Final Fantasy IX remake, at this point, is that they recover the lost art that was supposed to be the Final Fantasy IX.
What lost art do I mean, you ask? Unbeknownst to many, the final Final Fantasy IX product that released in the PlayStation One way back was not the original version of the game. Where on earth did this conspiracy theory come from? If you’re familiar with the NeoGAF forums, which it’s fairly certain we all are, there was a thread back in 2013 that uncovered lost art and information about Final Fantasy IX.
A member at the NeoGAF forums, Mama Robotnik, uncovered tons of Final Fantasy IX art that got lost in the “translation.” Her thread reads as follows.
“Today I turned my scrutiny onto Final Fantasy IX – in particular the contributions made by the now-defunct Square USA. I wasn’t expecting to find much. I have been very, very surprised by what I discovered. In my research, I unearthed artwork that show a ludicrous level of detail went into the game – detail that never made it into the final product due to the limitations of the target format. The “lost art” referenced in the thread title isn’t meant to describe this content as having been lost and found – it refers to the art details that were lost when the graphics were downconverted to a limited 32-bit console.”
In layman’s terms, Final Fantasy IX was shipping to a console, the PSOne, which couldn’t handle the beauty and technical heavyweight that it should have been. A lot of breathtaking details and efforts were put into creating Final Fantasy IX, but after having stretched the PSOne to its limits, the entirety of the Final Fantasy IX project couldn’t be put into the disc. Therefore, they had to downgrade the intense details to a much lower resolution of 320×240, which is the native resolution of the PSOne, to become pre-rendered in-game backgrounds. Can you just imagine the amount of detail that had to be whisked off into nothingness because of this?
Mama Robotnik, it seems, approached several staff from the now defunct Square USA to recover the “lost art” of Final Fantasy IX. And the things she found out are heartbreaking, believe us. Head over to her thread at the NeoGAF forums to scroll through an unbelievable amount of breathtaking CG artworks that could have been how Final Fantasy IX was rendered.
Apart from this unearthed “lost art” of Final Fantasy IX, it seems there are already various Final Fantasy fan sites that recovered tons of concept pieces made by Yoshitaka Amano and his team. The official Final Fantasy Wiki has compiled all the concept art made available to the team and are too good to pass, too. The Final Fantasy Wiki has got a pretty heavy webpage on the subject, presenting various concept arts and CG designs for Final Fantasy IX from main characters, monsters, boss, crests, landscapes, and more.
Below are some of the concept art and CG designs by the Final Fantasy art team beside the final product that made it into the PSOne.
If you notice from the Final Fantasy IX background arts posted above, you’ll notice a sizeable amount of difference in detail, but basically the same art. In truth, the more detailed CG arts are the original supposed-to-be rendered versions, so you’ll notice they will only appear blurred or pixelated on the final product because of the downconvert. The concept arts for Garnet, Zidane, and Vivi, however, are prior concept arts made by the Final Fantasy art team that were translated to a simpler version for the release.
If you have yet to browse the complete collection of the Final Fantasy IX background concept arts, do so from the NeoGAF forums or from the Final Fantasy IX Concept Art Wiki to appreciate the “lost art” that Final Fantasy IX could have had. If Square are still holding on to these files, then maybe we can see these “lost art” be revived on the Final Fantasy IX remake for PC and smartphones.
[Image via Square Enix]