Remember back in the day when games usually had big-budgeted cutscenes that looked way better than the game itself? Well, it seems that those cutscenes are getting a good upscale treatment. OG games like Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, and World of Warcraft while old games, had some of the best cutscenes and stories to date. The problem with these cutscenes nowadays is that if you watch them on modern 4K TVs or maybe even a 1080p monitor, they come out as a pixelated mess.
That’s where Artificial Intelligence comes to save the day. Many YouTube channels are trying to upscale and remaster old video games and their cutscenes to make them presentable for present screens. One such youtube channel is Upscale, which uses machine learning to make old cutscenes view just as they did on old CRTs and maybe even better depending on how good the AI does its job. The algorithms work differently based on the video’s art style.
For example, this old Kingdom Hearts intro has been remastered up to 4K Ultra HD with enhancements like enhanced Lighting effects, enhanced colorization, improved hair and texture detail, etc. The most surprising thing is that the remastered version can closely match the original style whilst adding details where before there were just blurry barely discernable objects. AI can’t really change the scenes completely but from what I’ve seen. The algorithm does a good job of reviving these old cutscenes for the current age.
These enhancements are made possible through software. The software, named Topaz Video Enhance AI or Topaz Gigapixel, leverages AI and machine learning to upscale old content, adding details and sharpness where needed. This software is even used by modders when they want to improve game textures or make upscaled texture mods for old games. You can get an app from the company for $299 that will spit out upscaled videos like the one above. The videos usually take a few hours to render depending on how beefy your graphics card is.
What left me amazed was this video right here. It features a before and after section at the end and the improvements almost seem like wizardry to me. The enhanced detailing on the dwarf’s beard, the fur on his clothes. Gone is the blurred look of the original trailer. The vegetation and movement sequences look so much better. Needless to say, all the cutscenes aren’t improved as drastically. The algorithm can invent details that weren’t there before or even remove details to smooth the output image.
It’s neat to see that channels like Upscale working hard to secure the history of gaming and making it easier for people like me to show the Fornite kids how OG games used to look like.