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Fatal Frame: Behind the Lens of the PS2 Horror Classic

Makoto Shibata's Avatar + Posted by Makoto Shibata on May 01, 2013 // Fatal Frame Series Director

Editor’s note: With the recent release of Fatal Frame on PSN as a PlayStation 2 Classic, we reached out to Fatal Frame series director Makoto Shibata to share some thoughts on the inception of one of the most tense, atmospheric series in gaming.

Fatal Frame

The initial project kicked off under the “Project ZERO” codename when the PlayStation 2 development tools were first made available, back at the time. Before the Fatal Frame project, I worked on the “Deception” series (aka Tecmo’s Deception) which focused on coming up with a new, yet complex game system in order to broaden player experiences. This led us to transcending traditional game genres by combining the best parts of different game systems: action, adventure, puzzle and simulation genres, just to name a few.

When the PS2 hardware came out with dramatically improved graphical capabilities, we took a different approach by keeping the game system and play experience simple. We tried to emotionally reach out to players and get them to feel things they cannot actually see on screen.

As a result, we selected the horror genre, which was an area aligned with my personal interests since I tend to “see” things myself every now and then in real life. In other words, my experience of seeing things that weren’t actually there — or noticing abnormal things around me — were some of the fear factors I thought would appeal to the emotional side of the player, if we were able to embed them on top of the adventure side of the gameplay.

The initial research of the new PS2 hardware led us to the conclusion that we would be able to recreate some of the ways I experienced seeing “things” in real life. Also the existence of Silent Hill was beneficial for us in seeing how well polygon-created horrors were accepted by the players. As a result, our task was to take it a step further and get players to feel things they couldn’t see on screen, recreating that uncountable feeling one tends to experience in certain rooms and locations like in real life.

When we first started working on the project, our basic idea was that the more fear and fright we provide to scare the player, the more it will sell. In this sense, the first installment can be seen as the scariest, since it took the most direct approach in all areas. As a result, many players gave up mid-way through the game since they could no longer stand it. For the second installment, we had to provide some encouraging factors for such players to get them to take the extra step to complete the game. This led to us making the game more story-driven as a result.

With the title now reappearing in a slightly different format, I’m hoping both old fans and new players give it a try, though I have to warn that anyone who does not have a strong heart should try avoiding this.

Hopefully, the approach we took in having players work their imaginations on top of what they see in front of them will be a long-living horror game, which will remain fresh in their memories for years to come.

//Add Your Own

66 Comments

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51

+ Knightedrik on May 2nd, 2013 at 6:54 am said:

Please, Please Bring Tecmo’s Deception to PSN! Please.. I will buy it in a heartbeat.


52

+ Heavenly_king on May 2nd, 2013 at 7:16 am said:

@7: Nintendo bought %50 of the franchise.


53

+ Bilouze on May 2nd, 2013 at 7:16 am said:

Funny reading this now, with this new game that looks a lot like Project Zero currently in development : http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dreadout


54

+ pOcHo_OX on May 2nd, 2013 at 7:47 am said:

I have the physical copy of this games (1,2,3) the best games for my ps2…

But I will rlly love to have it in my psVita… any chance to have it in my psVita? or Fatal frame 4 in my ps3???


55

+ Sullenity on May 2nd, 2013 at 8:15 am said:

As a teenager, Fatal Frame 1 + 2 were absolutely scary as hell on my CRT TV. There’s not a game out there I know of that has the scare factor of this series. I could imagine a Vita Fatal Frame spinoff, like Spirit Camera… but the length of a full game? Maybe Tales of Fatal Frame IV: Resurrection of Hearts and Innocence R ULTRA? Because some great things never reach the US without an import label on it? Y’kno what im sayin… Hint hint…


56

+ Aremus_ on May 2nd, 2013 at 8:22 am said:

The Fatal Frame Franchise has been my favorite franchise along with Silent Hill. I hated that Nintendo privated America of playing the two fatal frames made for the Wii. And i have to say it, but i hate that Nintendo owns part of it. This mean we forget about playing a new Fatal Frame again, not for the console, but for Nintendo publishing it everywhere except America. I miss this franchise. I would love playing a new Fatal Frame on a Playstation console again. Hope to see Fatal Frame 2 and 3 for the PSN soon.


57

+ D34DL1N3R on May 2nd, 2013 at 9:57 am said:

HD Remasters are a rip-off and don’t know why anyone would want them, as they are nothing more than upscales with absolutely no new textures added. Rather than having to buy the same games twice to get “HD” versions… just run your original versions with emulators on a PC. Take a look at these examples:

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
PS1/PSN Version – i.imgur.com/rwKnA5J.jpg
ePSXe on PC – i.imgur.com/VYSbzY4.jpg

Fatal Frame 2
PS2/PSN Version – i.imgur.com/EDVFa39.jpg
PCSX2 on PC – i.imgur.com/wp1ci6A.jpg

Sony should have included this type of upscaling on the PS3 from the beginning, and no reason why it shouldn’t be done on the PS4.


58

+ DualEdge on May 2nd, 2013 at 10:26 am said:

The Fatal Frame series is easily the scariest series of all-time IMO. This is coming from a Silent Hill, Resident Evil, FEAR, and Dead Space vet. I feel like when I turn off those games, the creepy feelings and general anxiety go with it. Fatal Frame is the one game series that continues to “haunt” me after I power down the console. I’m currently making my way through Fatal Frame 4 but, as others have mentioned, I would LOVE to see this series somehow come to the PS4. 1080p and 3D support make an absolute mind-blowing experience. You could even have pre-orders bonuses consist of additional pairs of underwear. In all seriousness though, thanks for an absolutely fantastic game! I have the entire series on physical discs, but I did buy the digital version last week as well. So happy to see the Fatal Frame love get spread around again!


59

+ Z0mbie-hex on May 2nd, 2013 at 12:46 pm said:

I still have my PS2, as well as all three of the Fatal Frames, I have even gotten my boyfriend hooked into playing them. As well as I have all three Clock Tower games! :-)

Nostalgia is awesome! :)


60

+ MarkakaJin on May 2nd, 2013 at 1:50 pm said:

Fatal Frame is one of the best horror games I’ve ever played and I am really happy that it’s up on the PSN for everyone else to experience it. I am also happy that Fatal Frame 2 is coming to the PSN as a PS2 classic. I never get to finish the second game but I will this time when I get the digital copy of the game.

Thank you very much for finally bringing up Fatal Frame 1 to the PSN and Fatal Frame 2 that’s coming up soon to the PSN as well. I hope the third game will release too, since I never really played the third game.


61

+ badboybandit1982 on May 2nd, 2013 at 2:07 pm said:

I bought the Fatal Frame from the PSN because haven’t got to play it I played some of the Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly that my cousin has BUT I played the entire Fatal Frame III: The Tormented and on the 3rd game it got to the point I wouldn’t play it with the lights it gets you to believing that you have stuff around you in reality start hearing stuff that is not there or maybe its things that are there and watching you play either way the lights stayed on

what made it even more freakier is playing where all the sound is running through headphones so all your hearing is the game sound and nothing else


62

+ PrinceofXIII on May 2nd, 2013 at 5:19 pm said:

please put the Deception series, Fatal Frame II and Fatal Frame III!!!


63

+ EggySong85 on May 4th, 2013 at 7:09 am said:

A vita-optimized HD compilation would be so awesome. Imagine gyroscopic enhanced camera captures and touch enabled object interaction, if not just the ability to re experience the games in HD and on the go.


64

+ Whitewolf10 on May 4th, 2013 at 10:45 am said:

Agrees with #5 completly


65

+ Alucard-XII on May 4th, 2013 at 1:35 pm said:

Glad to see the series is getting some attention lately. It’s a great one, and I wish the new releases didn’t end up in Nintendo’s hand. What happened to part 4 is unfortunate.


66

+ Alucard-XII on May 4th, 2013 at 3:53 pm said:

@ArunTahlan #35:

[minor spoiler]
The mansion exists, and the family murders and rituals that are mentioned in the game did actually take place.
[/spoiler]

You can find some pictures of the mansion if you google its name too. The pictures look very similar to the locations found in the game


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