This YouTube channel is using AI to gloriously remaster classic game intros and cutscenes
Long before Overwatch normalized the practice of releasing Pixar-quality animated shorts for each new character, Blizzard’s Diablo II and Capcom’s Onimusha 3 put us in the demon-slaying mood with incredible mini-movies stretching to six minutes each.
But if you dare try watching these classics on a modern 4K TV or even a 1080p monitor, they’ll look like a pixelated mess. That’s where a YouTube channel named Upscale and machine learning comes in — making them look nearly as good as they did on your old CRT. Or perhaps even better. It just depends on how well the game’s art style works with the AI algorithms bringing it back to life.
The Kingdom Hearts intros, for instance, look incredible. I scanned around, and I’m willing to call these the definitive versions currently in existence:
You have to check out the hair in World of Warcraft’s intro. It left me in awe, and the video includes a before-and-after comparison, too:
Here’s the legendary six-minute Onimusha 3 opening cinematic at 4K 60 fps. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I’ve ever seen it. More than good enough to share with people who need to understand this piece of gaming history.
And here’s 1999’s Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver in 8K. Can you believe this is a PS1 game?
Upscale can’t quite seem to nail Chrono Cross, I’m afraid, but its second or third stab at Chrono Trigger looks pretty amazing:
And I’m not particularly fond of Upscale’s attempt at Dirge of Cerberus. Thankfully a handful of other YouTube channels are also trying these machine learning techniques, and I think The Gaming Restoration nailed it.
These enhancements are all made possible through a piece of software called Topaz Video Enhance AI, aka Topaz Gigapixel, and we’ve written a bit about it before — it’s the same generated adversarial network technique some modders are using to upscale the graphics of playable games themselves, now applied to their cutscenes as well.