Head: Keisuke Kikuchi (producer), Makoto Shibata (director)
―Today, I'd like us to take a look at the overseas reactions to Fatal Frame.
Kikuchi: I was interviewed for a book the other day, and the person conducting the interview said to me, "The ghosts in Fatal Frame are so realistic!" with amazement.
Shibata: This person says that they can really see "impossible things", so occasionally they see a real ghost. I was asked whether anyone on the team could see ghosts as well.
Kikuchi: It's not like anyone other than you has seen one, though...
Shibata: They also said that things like the ghost that pass by in the hallway have been quite faithfully reproduced. It seems like the real things move a bit more quickly, but aside from that they're spot on!
Kikuchi: Hmm... Why do I not feel like we're being praised...?
Shibata: No, this is definitely the ultimate praise.
Kikuchi: Anyway, we made Fatal Frame with this shared sense between the team of, "If a ghost appeeared then it would be like this," so we were woried when it came to releasing it overseas. It's the kind of fear that appeals to the imagination rather than directly using images to scare you, so we wondered if the perception of this would be different in another culture.
Shibata: The kind of scares that come from Japanese ghost stories and Japanese-style horror movies are entrenched in us, after all...
Kikuchi: So I was wondering what people from other countries thought of the game now that it's been released overseas.
―Then let us move straight along and take a look at America's Fatal Frame, Korea's Zero and Europe's Project Zero!
Kikuchi: Since its release I've seen Americans praising it as "really scary", but I was still dubious. Was the feeling really getting through to them?
Shibata: But when you lift the lid and take a look, it got through quite well. There was an article published about Fatal Frame in the New York Times (June 27, 2002). Here's an excerpt.
It was the little things that made Frame so scary; the creak of the floorboards, a flashlight throwing spooky shadows against the wall, the mysterious ropes hanging from the ceiling, the pages torn from diaries that describe disturbing rituals and strange disappearances. To be sure, there were also blind ghosts screaming ''My eyes! My eyes!'' as they chased me around the house, but the scary part was just being there.
Frame is less interesting for its battles or puzzles than it is for its unrelenting spookiness. Even more atmospheric than Aliens Versus Predator 2, Frame's eerie sounds and moody visuals will have you almost paralyzed with fear. Even the sad ghosts who appear to guide you are terrifying when they suddenly appear, glowing brightly as they beg you for help.
Frame is far better when it makes you wait for action than when it gives it to you.
Shibata: This kind of thing is normally just casually brushed off as the scariness of Japanese horror, but that static fear is represented at length.
Kikuchi: I'm relieved that the scariness got through.
―And it's heartening to hear that they're enjoying that scariness, too.
―We got the thoughts of Taeryeong from Korea's Monthly PlayStation Official Magazine when the interview took place.
Shibata: This issue was a Tecmo special, introducing a history of Tecmo games from Bomb Jack to Rygar (PS2 version) which is out now. There's even a complete walkthrough for Fatal Frame at the end, so it's packed full!
Kikuchi: This is a little embarrassing to say, but our interview is in there as well... But as we talked, I realised that the scary things were the same things that we found scary.
Shibata: They were scared at similar places as Japanese players.
Kikuchi: Taeryeong said that due to all the screaming while playing Fatal Frame, it was banned from being played in the editing department.
Shibata: We had similar mental images of ghosts, too. I guess we feel the same things because we're both from Asia.
Kikuchi: That's a bit rude.
Shibata: Another thing I gleaned was that Korea has the same superstition that souls get sucked into photographs.
Kikuchi: When I talked about this in America, they couldn't understand it at all.
Shibata: It seems like Taeryeong is infatuated with Broken Neck, just like Kikuchi.
Kikuchi: I told you, I'm not!
―The European version, Project Zero, was released by a French company called Wanadoo.
Shibata: We were helped out from all sides when making the European version, whether translation or promotion.
Kikuchi: Wanadoo said that they'd had their eyes on the game since its Japanese release, which came as a surprise.
―The game received a lot of coverage in French game magazine Joypad.
―It won the "megastar" award in this magazine. That means that it was the recommended title for September. This is how highly praised the game is in Europe. Below is an article (excerpt) about Fatal Frame from Joypad.
Let's talk about the fantastic atmosphere that permeates th egame from start to finish.
Moviegoers will probably know this, but its worldview closely resembles that of the Japanese horror movie "The Ring". The amazing scares occur just at the right time - that is, the moment the player awaits; something scary occurs, and there are a lot of different things that are divided out quite precisely! In an empty room, the player must use their torch to look around every single one of the inner rooms.
So, you open the door, and there you catch a glimpse of a pale man slowly walking behind you! You turn around to confront your suspicions... and no one is there! This kind of feint appears quite frequently, whereas real fights begin quite suddenly and catch you off guard. By the end you're endlessly under siege, and even begin to wonder if they're on the lookout for you!
As the spiritual phenomena continue, it really becomes unbearable... Screeching sounds join the ghosts' pained moans... Oh, it's scary! But no matter what, you never get used to it, and the tragedy is that you have to endure this terror throughout the entire game!
Shibata: They got the feeling of something being behind you as you play.
Kikuchi: That means that they also grasped that steadily approaching fear.
―This was mentioned in the article a moment ago as well, but the movie "The Ring" opened in France and was very well received there, too.
Kikuchi: Maybe it's because of that foundation that Fatal Frame has been so highly praised.
Shibata: European movies are expressive and leisurely-paced, right? Maybe that's why the gradually approaching fear fits as well.
Kikuchi: That sounds kind of contrived.
―We also have a comment about Fatal Frame from Joypad.
"It's a really scary game. Players have never felt a fear like this before. It's a special game - pure art, like The Ring.
Shibata: Treating a game as art is so France-like!
Kikuchi: You're biased. I'm sure...
―Joypad's editors also send their comments.
In France, Fatal Frame seems like sort of a miracle. This is because major game companies have proven that it's not huge production studios that make a difference, so to speak, but talent.
Just like the movie "The Ring" was a success in France, Project Zero brought us an as-yet unexperienced, new kind of fear from Japan - it is a must-buy title!
(Gregoire Ayrault, 26, male, occupation: game writer. Joypad, PlayStation 2 Magazine France, Japanese Famitsu Xbox columnist)
You might say that Project Zero's story is itself a classic, but Project Zero brought us a new sense of fear that players have never felt before.
(Julian Hubert, 25, male, occupation: game writer. Joypad, PlayStation 2 Magazine France)
I can't contribute my own opinion. This is because I was unable to play the game for even an hour. My hands and shoulders shook so badly that I couldn't use the controller. It's a really scary game!
(Karine Nitkiewicz, 28, female, occupation: game writer. Joypad, PlayStation 2 Magazine France)
All I can say about it is that it's a game that will make you shiver with fright! I can't play it alone! I'm even spooked when opening doors or boxes. This is the first time I've ever felt something like this in a video game! Sometimes I even scream. I don't know when I'll be able to beat the game. I can only make it through a bit at a time.
(Carel Vincent, 22, female, occupation: employee of Paris game store "JoueClub")
―Finally, take a look at these displays in French game shops.
Kikuchi: This is amazing. It's really atmospheric. Pretty scary.
Shibata: It's like I'm looking at a totally different game...
―That's it for today. Thanks to eveyone who read this far!