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Kurt’s letter this morning about Final Fantasy VIII is true, it was the least re-released Final Fantasy title, but why? The answer is simple but deep, Square Enix lost most of the source code for it. Back in the ‘90s game preservation wasn’t really being thought about much and sadly this has led to all sorts of games being lost to time, Panzer Dragoon Saga being one of them.

Square, however, seem to have been particularly gifted at this, even starting with Final Fantasy VII. The PC port of this was notoriously ropey and this stems from the fact that the source code given to the California team wasn’t the final version, it was an older build riddled with bugs not present in the PlayStation retail copy, contained scenes that had been cut, and was missing things from the final one; they had to literally cobble it together. The final version they eventually got running also wasn’t saved. The 2013 modern ports had to be reverse engineered.

What’s somewhat maddening as well is the backgrounds and CGI cut scenes for VII to IX were all pre-rendered at a high resolution and then compressed them down to fit the PS1, after which the higher-grade stuff seems to have been mostly binned. We could have had lovely high-res versions years ago. Final Fantasy IX seems to have fared better with the character models being higher res in the recent PlayStation 4 port, but the backgrounds are grainy and pixelated as the high-res backgrounds are long since gone.

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Back to VIII though and it’s sadly the case that there isn’t an easily portable source code set left, so we’re unlikely to see a remaster as they would essentially be starting from scratch with it. As for a remake, given the cost of VII I think it’s unlikely.




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