Square Enix's ports are a delight to read about.
From them asking Eidos for the PC source code for FF7&8 because they lost their PS1 code only to be sent a megafiles link with it to them doing their own cart-size ROM hack for Trials of Mana to allow the English script in.
The (now shut-down) Japan only mobile version of FFXIII was literally the PC port running via cloud streaming and that mobile version was why a PC port was even made.
Kingdom Hearts' HD release is not a port made from the source code, because that too was lost, so they remade the entire game with what assets and code they had archived and had to recreate a ton of assets from scratch while still making them accurate to the PS2 assets.
The reason FFXIII's Xbox 360 port is on three DVD when its sequels are on one DVD is because they didn't feel like compressing audio and video files further when they had already done so to fit them onto a BluRay, even though it wouldn't be noticeable, so they cut the game up.
When porting FFVIII to PC, they weren't provided clean versions of the opening and ending movies, meaning the US staff had to manually edit every frame where text appeared to replace the Japanese text and credits.
Speaking of the old Eidos ports, something I learned just yesterday was the fact that when working on FFVII for PC, Squaresoft USA wasn't given access to the orignal FMVs or the original backdrop files.
They had to rip them manually from a PS1 copy themselves.
Dragon Quest X Online was released for Nintendo 3DS. This too was a cloud streaming project, since the 3DS could obviously not handle this MMORPG running on the Crystal Tools engine.
It sold fantastic on launch in Japan, so the streaming service broke and no one could play.
It got so bad that Square Enix issued an apology and offered refunds for the game because they couldn't figure out a way to fix it shortly after launch and even those who did get into the game had too much latency to play realistically.
You might be asking why they thought streaming would work for a game like that.
Well here's the thing, it does work in Japan. Japan has reliable streaming services because of the widespread wi-fi.
It was Dragon Quest's popularity crashing the servers and the 3DS struggling.
In fact, they were already streaming the game to phones since a year before just fine.
Oh, and yeah, you might have noticed that I said Dragon Quest X runs on Crystal Tools.
That's the FFXIII engine.
The one that was a huge reason why FFXIV 1.0 was a total mess.
Yeah they used that for a Wii MMORPG for some reason and made it work.
Nothing about that makes sense, especially when you consider that Crystal Tools was why FFXIV 1.0 couldn't be ported to PS3 as a game of that scale on that engine wouldn't run.
And they used that for a Wii game.
That's not a port thing, just a "why the hell did you do that and how the fuck did you make it work?" kind of thing.
So I just learned that there's a new mobile cloud streaming version of FFXIII. The one I was referring to was the Dive In version, Dive In shut down in 2015, less than a year after the service began.
The FFX/X-2 ports for PS Vita and PS3 took a lot of work. Once again the games were basically rebuilt from scratch. It worked out fine, but when porting to PS4, the random enemy encounter code got flubbed making it non-random.
This means that if you play the game on PS4 and replicate your movement each run you will *always* have the exact same encounters.
This is not intentional and they seemingly don't know why it happened as it was not fixed post-launch.
The cloud streaming service Dive In that I mentioned earlier had the entire FFXIII trilogy announced for it, which was why they were ported to PC as mentioned.
But Lightning Returns took so long the service was shut down long before the PC port meant to be streamed was done.
When porting FFVII to PC, a quirk in porting the code caused some objects in the overworld to appear very very small.
This is why the prize-bag of gold in the Gold Saucer is tiny on PC.
Not a port but a fun dev oddity.
The last third of FFXV is "on rails", putting the player on a train on the move.
Despite being a linear path you can't backtrack, all of these areas are placed on the open world map and the train moves between them properly in real time.
This made people wonder if these locations were meant to be expanded upon as open world areas initially. When asked about this the devs stated that was not the intent. They just placed the locations out realistically on the main map to keep it all in one place.
When FF Type-0 was being ported to PS4 and Xbox One, the character models from the PSP versions were replaced with the hi-res models used for the FMVs with the in-game models' rigging.
This simple swap caused the girls skirts to constantly flip up showing their panties.
This was fixed before release by simply altering how the skirts behaved, of course, but it's a fun tidbit that director Tabata shared.
For the mobile ports of FFVI new handdrawn battle backgrounds were made.
However, on some (maybe all?) systems this caused a problem as during fights that had moving backgrounds, such as Phantom Train, didn't mirror every 2nd image, causing obvious seams with trees cut in half.
Another "not port" thing. When localizing FFVIII for North America and Europe, the devs were not given a debug copy of the game at all.
So all the text was ripped, translated and put back in by reverse engineering the JP release build.
Keep in mind that this was back in the day where if you wanted to contact Squaresoft Japan for help you would have to call or fax them during their office hours and hope there was a translator around and hope they also deemed you important enough to listen to.
And if they deemed you important enough they would then have to go and find whoever was in charge of the content or game you needed things from and then get their permission to mail or fax it back to you.
Meaning it wasn't even worth a try to ask for a debug copy.
When it came time to port, or rather remaster, the original Dragon Quest for Super Famicom the Japanese dev team decided to use the North American NES release instead of the Japanese Famicom release as the foundation, despite not releasing said port in NA.
The reason for this was that the NA NES release was vastly improved as during the localization, Iwata Satoru (yes, that one) took the lead on programming various quality of life things including a faster input system, a save system and more sprite directions.
Not Square but this was also the case for the GBA port of the first Mother / EarthBound, it used the unreleased NA NES version as its basis due to improvements which were also made by Iwata.
More FFVII PC fun and another thing I only just learned the other day. You know the mouths on the chibi models that exists on PC and all later ports?
They're a bug.
No, really. They're unused remnants from the PS1 version that somehow reactivated themselves during porting.
Speculation here, but I wonder if this is also why the eyebrows are different on PC and later versions. Like, maybe all of the facial stuff was accidentally pulled from an older build and no one told anyone?
FFXI Online launched on PS2 but would later make it to PC and even Xbox 360, all with cross-platform servers intact.
However, because of a contract between Squaresoft and Sony the game could not be updated in a way that would be incompatible with the PS2 release.
This is why the game always launches in 4:3 aspect ratio even in its modern PC only version, as the PS2's 16:9 support is not native but a forced "pinched" 4:3 render stretched out to 16:9, so 16:9 must be activated in the game's own settings.
This is also why the hi-res models are only used on the character creation screen despite them being technically compatible with the regular player model skeleton rigs.
Because the PS2 couldn't handle a lot of those so the PC and 360 isn't allowed to handle them either.
FFXII was so advanced for a PS2 game that the PS4 port didn't redo textures or models like most other FF ports did.
Except for one texture, Vaan's muscles, as when the PS2 texture was rendered clearly they looked inverted.
CORRECTION TO EARLIER TWEET
The FFX/X-2 PS4 random encounter thing was patched out half a year after release. My bad, I just remember that at the time they were silent on it so I assumed nothing happened.
It's easy to look at all of these tweets and ask "what the fuck is wrong with Square Enix that so much of these odd things happen?" but the truth is that this is international video game publishers in a nutshell.
SQEX just admit or slip up about it more than most.
What else do we have.
There's the classic FFXIV 1.0 thing where you had simple potted plants with the same polycount as a high-res character model making the game so straining even SQEX's own PCs struggled with the game.
This alongside the issues with the Crystal Tools engine when it came to rendering larger areas (no LOD and other issues) was why the PS3 port never happened.
In fact, they never got the PS3 version running at all because it was announced without checking if it was doable.
When FFXIV 2.0 was being developed on the new engine (which is branched off from Crystal Tools) things worked better and the PS3 port finally happened.
But not without a cost.
The cape made for Odin's armor struggled on PS3 and was removed from the game pre-release.
It wasn't until the PS3 version was discontinued and FFXIV 4.0 was in its patch days that we got capes for players back in the game.
But the Odin cape remains lost to this day.
Since people keep reading this thread and sharing it, let me reiterate once again.
Not keeping code was common practice in the 80s and 90s. No one kept code and what code was kept was printed out on paper and stored away, not kept digitally.
Basically no Japanese game studio archived code until the 2000s, it's not something unique to Square.
It's very similar to how TV productions would just get taped over and lost unless someone watching them recorded them as a third party.
For example, I mentioned how Kingdom Hearts HD was basically rebuilt from scratch and had its assets recreated because it was lost.
This was also true for Ocarina of Time 3D, it's technically not a port at all, it was rebuilt from nothing to match the 64 game.
Basically, game development is a hoot.
If I can think of more fun anecdotes about SQEX ports or the like I'll add them to the thread. I'm glad people are enjoying reading about it!
Let's talk Square Enix and game engines a little.
Back in the old days of game development for consoles you were basically expected to have your own engine if you were going to make a game.
There weren't any good engines available to use openly so to say. We got idTech and Unreal in the 90s but they were, at the time, very PC.
So naturally, Square and Enix had their own internal engines for their games that were specifically designed for those games and games like those games for the same platforms.
However, in the 2000s engines started getting more advance and branched out more. With the coming HD generation Square Enix decided that they would make a new engine to use for their next generation projects.
Intended to be the premiere engine for all of Square Enix's games that generation, the engine was infamous for struggling in various ways that I've mentioned in this thread and in the end was only used for five games.
FFXIII, FFXIII-2, LR:FFXIII, FFXIV and DQX.
Development on Crystal Tools started around 2005. Which was also when Square Enix started playing around with the new DirectX, revealing this early tech demo of what would become FFXIV at E3.
Said tech demo also inspired a city in the new expansion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVhEvarOkdQ …
The core problems with Crystal Tools came down to a lot of things. Porting was hard and the features intended for graphical fidelity caused more trouble than they helped with a lack of LoD streaming and inability to handle large areas at stable performance on even dev PCs.
This is often the case for modern in-house engines that are made for specific things but are then forced to branch out to other things.
It's why so many adopted existing engines instead. But not Square Enix, it was somewhat of a pride moment of them to have their own engine.
So they started a new proprietary engine project. Luminous Studio, this time specifically intended to be more port friendly and fill in the holes that Crystal Tools had.
Much of the same issues arose and to date Luminous Studio has only been used for one released game, FFXV.
See, company pride can be a dangerous thing when it comes to things like this.
They want to be able to boast about their own engine even if it's a cost of time and resources that could be spent elsewhere if they license an existing functioning engine.
However, it seems that times are changing.
Square Enix are now using both Unity and Unreal Engine for most of their major projects. Something that you would never have seen last decade.
SQEX games on Unreal:
Dragon Quest XI
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Kingdom Hearts III
The Last Remnant
Trials of Mana (Remake)
SQEX games on Unity:
Final Fantasy IX (Remaster)
I Am Setsuna
SaGa: Scarlet Grace
And it's not just Square Enix, other publishers known for only using their own proprietary engines such as Nintendo are also adopting to the times.
Recent Animal Crossing and Pokémon games are running on Unity, for example.
The growth of the mobile market has played a part in this as well. Mobile games are huge in Japan, way bigger than they are in the west where they're already enormous.
And the number one app game, Fate/Grand Order, is another Unity game.
I would guess most of SQEX's ports of old games to mobile are running on Unity or similar engines too, but beyond what I mentioned that's speculation.
While SQEX has one unannounced game currently in development on Luminous Studio, it's likely that we won't see SQEX using proprietary engines much going forward.
It might well be the last time we see it at all.
FFXIV dropped Crystal Tools in its switch to 2.0 in 2013, now running on a heavily modified custom engine that branched off from Crystal Tools. Sadly, years later we still have problems that arise from its original release.
FF Versus XIII was being developed on Crystal Tools but struggled in pre-production for reasons that we could fill a whole other thread about.
Once Versus XIII finally entered production work had already started on the new Luminous Studio engine, which led to Versus XIII (later rebranded as FFXV) to adopt a custom engine that was used as a hold-over.
This engine was called Ebony and is what was used for the FFXV E3 2013 trailer.
Specifically, a six month development period where Versus XIII's assets were used to create a new pitch demo in Ebony for a PS4 title put the new version of the game into production.
FFXV was set to be moved to Luminous 2.0, with previous Luminous versions only running tech demos and tests, and by 2015 FFXV had finished the transition.
It worked out for the game in the end, as the team had time to adapt and they're now the official Luminous dev house.
However, Kingdom Hearts III was also supposed to be a Luminous Studio game. But was moved to Unreal Engine because of the engine's complicated and specific focus not being suited for what Nomura's team was doing.
And that's honestly the ideal situation. Proprietary engines can be amazing, but they're often laser-focused and require a specific expert team to be used well.
Again, we see this with other companies too. EA devs outside Dice struggling with Frostbyte is a good example.
One overall good thing about this most recent generation of video games have been how fluid things have gotten.
Porting a game is a minor hassle these days. Not just because we save source codes, dev builds and have communication but because of engines and hardware.
So while it's fun to look back at Square Enix and other company's strange quirky porting stories, it's also important to realize how far things have come since then and what was learned to get there.
Let me clarify something.
This thread is me sharing a bunch of tidbits I've archived in my head for fun to kill time when I'm doing other stuff.
As such, I don't have sources on hand for much of it and finding it would mean I'm doing work.
And while I'm not opposed to that, in fact it could be a fun little article project to do, it's not something I have time for or want to do right now.
So I appreciate everyone enjoying the thread but if you want sources for each part you're gonna have to Google. It's out there.
I don't mind elaborating on things if I can, of course. I appreciate the questions and such. But if you want specific sources I might not be able to provide them at this time.
Sorry about that, but this is literally just a thing I do for fun right now.
Oh, and a correction. I can't verify this right now but suposedly the Xbox 360 version of FFXII *did* have the FMVs reduced in size and quality, so it might have just been the audio that kept its ridiculous size.
Again, this is another issue with me just sharing this for fun out of my head. I can remember a detail wrong here and there.
It's why this is on Twitter and not something I've written up on my blog.
Shoot, FFXIII not FFXII, error right away there. Damn it.
Let's talk about the FFVII and FFVIII PC ports again.
Most people already know the games did not in fact use CD Audio and instead had midi versions of the in-game soundtrack playing.
When the PC ports were rereleased digitally years later these midi soundtracks were kept intact and it was a disappointment to many.
However, people seem to have missed that the original soundtrack was restored later on, as the game was being prepared for porting to other systems.
The PS4, Xbox One, Switch and Mobile releases of FFVII all have the original soundtrack, not the midi files, because of this.
But so many people remember the initial disappointment that it's become expected to them that the original soundtrack is gone.
I'm pretty sure it was fixed for both FFVII and FFVIII, but I might be wrong and it's only been fixed for FFVII. If so, it should be fixed for the Remastered release coming out.
While we're talking ports of the PS1 titles, there's also the FFIX port which is more recent.
It's a cool port, has point-and-clock control options and all. I dig it. It has some audio down-sample issues but overall it's a solid release of the original game with new models.
However, as people playing the game will quickly notice, the backdrops are all still old 320x240 renders.
There's a reason for this.
Those renders took a lot of time and computer processing back in the day, so they were rendered at that resolution, not a higher resolution.
SQEX did *not* lose the source code and assets this time, but their assets are that tiny.
Now, you might have seen the gorgeous high-resolution renders of a lot of locations from FFIX.
Those are not from SQEX, they're from the portfolio of one of the artists that worked on the 3D renders.
SQEX could probably reach out and establish an agreement to use these renders, but they wouldn't cover all of the renders, only a handful. Even if they did, they might not be optimized for animation needed.
And something that looks even worse than low-res backgrounds is a mix of high-res and low-res backgrounds.
So that's why FFIX still has low-res backgrounds, just like the games they did lose the source for.
With that said, there are impressive fan made mods to upscale the backgrounds available.
I checked the soundtrack thing myself, FFVIII's soundtrack won't be fixed until the Remastered release, only FFVII was fixed.
I felt like adding this to the thread just because of how perfectly it fits into everything else talked about.
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