Kitase on Emotion Engine for PS2: “PS2 really was a very high performance graphics machine”

Ken Kutaragi is the main man behind PlayStation. He was the one who developed PlayStation 1 to 3. He is known for his crazy ambitions and talks in technology. His hardware customizations were always ahead of their time but also difficult to work with.

Yoshinori Kitase in a recent interview explains the issues that they faced during the porting of Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation VITA, giving us an insight on how a complicated hardware setup can make porting difficult.

Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD remaster has taken far too long for a Remaster of a old game. It was originally announced on September 13th 2011 at a event celebrating 10th anniversary of Final Fantasy X. Due to the delays, people kept wondering if it was just Square Enix being lazy or there were actual issues associated with the porting of game from PS2 to PS3/VITA. As it turns out, the custom hardware of PS2 was a big bottleneck, especially “Emotion Engine” CPU, that was included in PS2.

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Yoshinori Kitase in a Q/A session with PlayMagazine (via NowGamer) explains that even though PlayStation VITA and PlayStation 3 pack far more hardware grunt than PlayStation 2, the lack of emotion engine, which they used heavily in Final Fantasy X, resulted in a big problem for them during the porting process. Explaining this all, Kitase says:

“That would be the fact that the PS2 was such a great platform. Of course, the PS3 and PS Vita have better specs but with the Emotion Engine at its core, the PS2 really was a very high performance graphics machine.

We used the graphic engine of the day at full capacity when creating the original game and this allowed us to realise the kinds of visuals that just could not have been done with the standard methods available then. This meant that when we came to port Final Fantasy 10 to the PS3 there was a lot of trouble because it could not be achieved simply by converting the data across to the newer format.”

Emotion Engine was a custom CPU that was built specially for PlayStation 2. A lot of PS2 exclusives relied heavily on it. It was not easy to emulate it and hence Sony even included it in earlier PlayStation 3 models to keep Backward Compatibility support for PS2 intact in PS3. The emotion engine was dropped later from PlayStation 3 and Sony instead worked on emulating it and provided Backward Compatibility for PS2 through Software Emulation. It took them years of  development to finally create a Software Emulator for PS2 that had some decent compatibility.

PlayStation 4 is built using a completely different approach. While it does have its own set of hardware customizations, there is no crazy hardware, the likes of Emotion Engine or Cell Processor, included in it. Ken Kutaragi is no more the main man behind PlayStation and instead the PlayStation 4 was developed for the first time by Mark Cerny. It remains to be seen whether Cerny can reach the level of Kutaragi with his hardware or not.

What do you think of this news? Do you think hardware customization is a good thing even if it results in lack of backward compatibility and issues with ports? Let us know in the comments below.

Stay tuned to GearNuke for latest news and info on Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster.

Khurram Imtiaz

Editor-in-Chief at GearNuke. I am a hardcore Final Fantasy fan and lover of JRPGs. When I am not posting news, I can be seen sharing my thoughts over at Twitter.

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