Artists make decisions depending on the limitations they're working within. For that reason, I usually look at "upscaling" mods and think they've made old games look sharper, but worse. Whether the work is done by AI or by hand, the original artist's intent is often wiped away in the process.
That's what I was expecting when I looked at Final Fantasy IX's Moguri mod, but nope. It looks beautiful - like the original game, only less fuzzy, widescreen, and with higher framerate cinematics.
I am late to the Moguri mod party. It's been in development for years, and the version seen in the trailer above releasedlast year. I discovered it today thanks to this comparison video by YouTuber 2kliksphilip.
The Moguri mod increases the resolution of background textures using AI deep learning and a lot of manual work. This document explains the process at length. For some scenes, modders used images of the original 3D renders created for Final Fantasy 9, which were later scaled down into static backdrops that would fit on a PSOne disc.
For the cinematics, they've similarly used AI techniques in order to increase their framerate from 15fps to 30fps. The framerate will drop during action-packed scenes - moments when things appear on screen so briefly the AI can't work out what to do with them - but it's still remarkable.
You can also turn a lot of these changes off and on, including the framerate and widescreen changes, if you decide you don't like it. But at each turn, the modders seemed to have considered what the original designer's intent was. The result is FFIX as you remember it.
The Moguri mod is a 5GB download from its site, and is designed to work with the Steam release of Final Fantasy IX.
You can also check out where we ranked Final Fantasy IX on our list of the best Final Fantasy games on PC. I'm fairly certain that wasn't one of Brendy's pisstakes, but you might feel differently.