In a recently updated post, Square Enix assured a patch arriving later this month would “include an option to switch between the current high-resolution graphics and the original graphical style of Chrono Trigger.” Correctly done, this patch will save a good deal of effort on the part of the hard-working modders.
The patch is the initial of “a number of patches over the coming months” assured by the publisher, which says that it is “working very hard on adjusting, updating and supporting Chrono Trigger on Steam.”
At the time when Square Enix introduced a desktop version of the “RPG classic Chrono Trigger last week on Steam,” around 23 years post to the arrival of SNES original, the fans were astonished. That surprise morphed quickly into dismay as the fans noticed some ugly HD filtering on the classic character sprites and background art along with lazy and big-buttoned menus, which seem like they came from a port of the iPhone version of the game. Lars Doucet, Indie developer laid out the other issues, involving inconsistent pixel sizing and undesirably aligned tiles, in a thorough Gamasutra blog post.
Modders are now trying to fix the mistakes of Square Enix and restore the PC release to more closely match the SNES original. The core of the effort is modder Jed “Nyxo” Lang’s CT Explore tool that lets the players change the messy art assets of the game to better-looking ones. Lang said that breaking the “poor man’s encryption” Square Enix put on the resources of Chrono Trigger was not all that harder, thanks in part to his earlier work on the mod tools for the PC port of the Final Fantasy VI.
Lang even has released a separate defilter mod that eliminates the auto-upscaled smoothing of some of the characters of the game and has been testing using the CT_Explore in order to replace those characters with the original, blocky sprites that are included in the game’s files. The “Chrono Trigger Restoration Project” has intentions in the meantime to extend on the task with the “manual graphical replacements” for all the things from the “background tile sets to the menu UI.” The other modders already have jumped in with additions that eliminate the odd sepia filter of the game and include in a CRT scan line effect for enhanced retro feel.
Lang said that hence, if all of the original art characters and backgrounds are got, his belief is that it would look largely better and in that it would, in all probabilities, look like the original SNES game, with the caveat that it would be running with a few modifications of the Steam release.
While it is nice that modders would be able to try to get better on Square Enix’s mess in this case, there is really no reason as to why they must have to. The recent efforts such as the Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap and the Mega Man Legacy Collection show how classic games could be updated for modern consoles without depriving the original charm. Heck, also an official release of Steam, of the primary ROM through legal simulation would have definitely been a simpler stopgap for the Square Enix.