Originally posted on 22 October 2011
Last edited on 10 August 2015
Source: Official website

Fatal Frame III: Column #4 - 5 August 2005

Night 4, 5th of August

—In this interview I would like to ask about the sound, an important element in the Fatal Frame series.

Kikuchi (producer): I believe that sound is an incredibly important element in horror as a whole, not just this game.

Shibata (director): In particular with this series we put a lot of effort into the detailed sounds, but it's hard to convey that in print. You really can't understand without playing it...

About the sound

—First of all, then, please tell us about the characteristics of the sound in this game.

Shibata: The first thing we concentrated on was taking out any of the music that sounded like music from the House of Sleep, then using sounds that create a cold and damp atmosphere. Because of this, it's more like environmental sounds than music. Instead, BGM plays when you return to the real world house. We worked hard to create a difference between the two worlds even in the way they sound.

Kikuchi: The BGM in the real world is dark as well, though...

Shibata: There are also two gradations of sound that the ghosts produce. The sound changes depending on whether or not they have noticed you. It's fairly easy to spot when Kei is hiding or whatever, but as you hide you can hear this voice that sounds like it's in pain slowly getting closer, and when they find you they say, "There you are..." and a track filled with stronger malice and more intensity.

Kikuchi: As you're exploring the manor and you hear sounds like the creaking of metal or a woman moaning, it's probably best to stop and let them pass.

Shibata: In order to make those sounds stand out more, we tried to keep the sounds that play in the manor as close as possible to environmental sounds. I think it makes the fear of a steadily approaching presence even more conspicuous.

—Please tell us what other things there are to listen out for.

Shibata: We used a real child voice actor to do the voices of the ghost kids in this game. She's a 10-year-old girl called Miyuu Tsuzurahara, and honestly when she spoke it was really scary! When she whispers, "You should just have died..." it's really freaky! Her own voice was already scary when we were recording, so it's amplified even further in the game.

Kikuchi: With us calling her creepy like this she probably sounds like a scary kid, but she's usually a quite and cute girl. She did a great job, though. I was shocked.

Shibata: Also, there's a lullaby in the game called the Subduing Song, which we had her sing as well. This was good, too.

Kikuchi: It seems like she did quite a lot of practising.

Shibata: It's scary, too. It gets stuck in your head.

Kikuchi: The song is too creepy... I feel like I'm suddenly going to hear it in the middle of the night...

Shibata: I can't tell you now, but the song isn't just creepy - the meaning of the lyrics will become an important clue later on.

—If you have any tips for best enjoying the game's sound, please tell us.

Kikuchi: I really recommend that people wear headphones when they play it. In particular, if you use closed headphones I think it will feel totally different to play.

Shibata: There are lots of faint sounds in the game which you may or may not be able to hear. If you use closed headphones, you can hear the "voices"...

—Next, let's talk about the image song.

About the image song

—Today, I would like to ask about Fatal Frame 3's image song, "Koe". How did you end up requesting Tsukiko Amano to do it again?

Shibata: Well... we had pretty much decided that from the very start.

Kikuchi: "Chou" from the last game was so amazing. Even if I do say so myself, I think that the ending and the song are the best fit in the history of games. This isn't a sales pitch or anything - when I saw the cutscene in the middle of the night I cried.

Shibata: It sounds kind of like a lie when you say it yourself...

—Was there any possibility of another artist doing it?

Shibata: We actually did consider a few other people besides Tsukiko Amano.

Kikuchi: But after we listened to all kinds of songs, we arrived at the conclusion that it could only be Tsukiko Amano after all, and so we asked her to do it.

Shibata: There are lots of facets to the image song, but I wanted it to fit with the ending again. The only person I could think of who could make a song to go with that ending was Tsukiko Amano. It was decided based on the taste of the work.

Kikuchi: The choice was the right one, though...

Shibata: "Koe" is like a feast of a song that combines tastes from every song she's done so far. It's heartrending and transient, and yet it's intense and powerful. If you liked "Chou" from the last game, please have a listen to it.

Kikuchi: I actually wasn't sure at first, because I still had the image of "Chou" in my head, but after listening to it a few times I started to think, "It has to be this!" It's also a perfect fit for the ending. When the cutscene played in the middle of the night I cried again...

Shibata: It really doesn't sound true when you say it yourself...

Kikuchi: But it's true, though. I really hope the players make it to the ending.

—What kind of communication did you have with Tsukiko Amano while she was working on the image song?

Kikuchi: First of all, we gave her data on the story and visuals and helped fill out her image of the game. We didn't think that would be enough, so Shibata wrote up this really passionate explanation of the game's overall message, the meaning of the ending, that kind of thing. I called it a "love letter".

Shibata: I guess it was something like that [laughs]. But before I could give it to her, she shocked me by saying, "I've actually finished it already."

Kikuchi: She was really quick.

Shibata: I don't know if it was because of that or not, but the message of the game's ending and the lyrics to Tsukiko's "Koe" don't match up 100%. I think this is fine, though. This is her own interpretation of the game's theme, and if you compare the "voice" told at the end of the game and Tsukiko's "voice" ("Koe"), I think you will find an even deeper message. To those who have seen the ending, please also take a look at the lyrics to "Koe".

Kikuchi: The ending of Fatal Frame 3 and "Koe" take on the same theme and the same goal but with different approaches. In my eyes, both are correct. When you add them together, they become a perfect "Zero". I can't reveal the details of the ending here, of course, but I hope to someday, somewhere be able to talk about it in depth.

—Thank you. Next time, I would like to ask about the game system. Thank you for your time.