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How Star Ocean: The Last Hope’s 4K remaster breathes new life into the sci-fi RPG

Game's producer reveals how PS4 optimisation is showing more of the game than its original PS3 release

Hello everyone! My name is Takaaki Kai and I am the producer for Star Ocean: The Last Hope 4K and HD Remaster.

When The Last Hope originally released on the PS3 I was still a student, and it was the first game from the Star Ocean series I ever played. I was captivated by the beautifully scenic outer space, as well as the spectacular effects displayed in battle that were generated through the capabilities of the next-gen hardware. The battles were challenging, and I remember being late to class countless times back then.

It must have been some kind of fate that I have now had the opportunity to take part in the development of Star Ocean -anamnesis-, a mobile game released in Japan. Some anamnesis players became interested in the series through the mobile game, and desired to play the previous console titles. We wanted these players to enjoy the beautiful experience and exhilarating battles from The Last Hope, and then began planning for its remaster.

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The game already had gorgeous graphics, so in order to really elevate the value of its beauty, we didn’t want to do a simple remake. Instead, we decided to support 4K resolution, even if it meant that the cost would increase drastically.

I thought that the sense of awe I felt looking at the beautiful visuals would not translate appropriately in this day and age unless it was displayed in 4K.

On the other hand, there is an established sense of enjoyment in the battles and the game itself, so we kept those intact, since we wanted people to experience those aspects as close to its original form, rather than having us inappropriately meddling in those areas.

Thanks to this, the exhilarating actions (i.e., Sight Out, among others) that had been enjoyed since the original release feels better than ever with the beautiful 4K graphics. I’m sure those who played the game back in the day on the PS3 will also be satisfied with what we’ve accomplished.

For this particular title, we focused on maintaining the gameplay experience from the original, while elevating the visual expression. Some of the more representative work done on this title include:

  • Upconverting the textures, and upresing the UI textures to 4K
  • Implementing graphical options, such as camera blur, self shadow, and shadow quality selection.

tri-Ace’s proprietary engine, the Aska library, has also been overhauled since then, so it allowed for a more realistic lighting that also contributed to the overall quality. A big hurdle was realising 60fps with a 4K resolution. Since a wider area needs to be rendered, the post-processing load was heavier, so when the tri-Ace programmers repeatedly worked to optimise the game, and reached the point where the frame rate was stabilized at 60fps, it was a true moment of relief for all of us.

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There were a few more hurdles we had to overcome to get the game where we wanted it to be for the fans.

For example, the texture colours appeared different; areas that shouldn’t be transparent appeared transparent; the dynamic processing changed as well. Suddenly the sizes of the characters had changed. As a result of the cleaner textures, areas that were previously hidden became clearly visible, and as a result of the improved hardware, glimpses of scenes that weren’t dropped due to a slowdown are now visible. There were so many incidents needed to be dealt with until the final stages of development, it was truly a project in which we felt the progress in game development that occurred over the past 10 years.

There were many hurdles, but the team also still had a lot of fun remastering the game as well! For example, there’s an important scene with Deputy Director Shimada that is only played once, but the voice played over the scene is randomised, or whenever the player opens the bathroom door, there’s a 1/16 chance that Bacchus would be sitting there. There are truly many instances that reflect the love and attention that was poured into such small, random moments throughout the game.

For all the Star Ocean fans out there, thank you for waiting. This remake has finally been realized seven years since its original release in 2010. Rest assured, the high-speed action battles that had been one of the joys of the original experience remain intact, and players can now enjoy their adventures through the cosmic sea with graphics supporting 4K resolution when played on a PS4 Pro.

We hope those who experience The Last Hope for the first time, as well as those who played the original game, enjoy its drastically improved, beautiful, spectacular visuals. Lastly, we hope to continue various developments/activities for the overall series in an effort to satisfy Star Ocean fans, so your continued support for the series is much appreciated.

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MiseryPrincess 28 November, 2017 @ 17:32
1

More importantly, did you improve the game play at all? Because that was the area that reeeeally needed lots and lots and lots of attention!!

I don’t have a 4K TV as I don’t have that sort of money just lying around spare.

Will there still be graphical improvements if played on the non pro PS4 and on a standard HD tv?

Everything looks great, but to me you guys failed on one thing…where is the physical release? Don’t expect me to buy digital crap, I want to own the game, not rent it.

You do own it, just digitally.

probably still wants to buy games on cartridge too :)

Seriously though i know its a pain but some games, especially more niche ones they are only going to be released digitally as not enough budget to do a physical release on disc, but you still own them, i still can play games from the first days of psn if i want to, and that’s over 10 years ago they haven’t been taken off my download list, so its silly to say ” wont buy as its not physical” , if you don’t like the game enough fair enough but if you do your only hurting yourself

Technically it is a disc, not cartridge. He can always buy the original ps3 release physically. May not be exactly the answer but he’d at least have a copy of the same game more or less.

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Got the game last night, thanks SE – blown away by the option menu. the ability to change the textures, shadows, AA and even LOD slider along with a 720, 1080, 1440 and 2160p resolution choice on the Pro is amazing – more games need all these options!

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