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.
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.
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.