Originally posted on 27 October 2011
Last edited on 11 August 2015
Source: Official website

Fatal Frame III: Column #5 - 12 August 2005

Night 5, 12th of August

—In this interview I would like to ask about the game system of Fatal Frame 3. What big changes were made for this game?

Kikuchi (producer): The biggest thing is that now, as well as the abandoned Japanese houses from the previous games, we also have the house where the player experiences everyday life.

Shibata (director): When the protagonist goes to sleep, they are summoned to the Japanese house inside of the dream. As you come and go between this two worlds with their differing atmospheres, you use the hints you find in the dream to solve the mysteries in the real world.

About the two worlds

—Why did you choose this system?

Kikuchi: So far, we haven't done anything like having scary phenomena occur in a space where daily life takes place. By adding that to this game, I think we can offer a new sense of fear.

Shibata: It's fairly cliché in movies to have someone standing next to you when you wake up or something like that, but we've never done it before in the Fatal Frame series. It happens to me, sometimes, as well. Like a female ghost will fall on top of me while I'm sleeping.

Kikuchi: You're the only one who's had something like that happen to them!

—Were there any spiritual phenomena this time, too?

Shibata: Let's talk about that next time...

Kikuchi: Let's leave that for now and continue.

Shibata: The Fatal Frame series so far as taken inspiration from scary dreams and actual spiritual experiences I've had. In my dreams I've been to Himuro Mansion and Minakami Village. As I proceed further in the mysteries are gradually solved, but more and more scary things happen. When I wake up, I write notes about what happened and think about the mysteries from the dream. This time around, I made my very own life into a game.

Kikuchi: Huh!? Is that really where it comes from?

Shibata: That's a lie. I guess it's half true, though? When I wake up and try to put the bits of the dream in order, the fragmented phenomena from my dream slowly start to tie together. That's interesting. It's pretty personal, though.

Kikuchi: It's connected to this game's system, too, even if it's a little bit forced. We have introduced the notebook system, where the protagonist gradually writes down the things they learn.

Shibata: All of the information you obtain, whether things that Miku has investigated or you have heard or seen, is summarised in the notebook. This way, the player is able to solve the mysteries of Fatal Frame 3's world along with the protagonist.

...May I go a little off topic?

—Um... O-okay.

Shibata: There was actually an old abandoned house in the neighbourhood where I grew up, and I used to sneak inside and play in there. It was a Japanese house on the verge of collapse, with holes in the floor and full of rubbish, and for whatever reason was dark even in the afternoons. When school finished, I would explore it with my friends and got really into this game of taking "evidence" from inside, which was so scary.

There was something invisible wandering the house, controlling it. I believed that I would die if it found me, so I would move along bit by bit, hiding so I wouldn't be caught.

Kikuchi: So you've always been doing things like that?

Shibata: Things like scraps from a notebook or damp matches. I would use them to figure out what happened there. Their family relations, the criminal, and so forth.

Kikuchi: The criminal?

Shibata: One day, I picked up a broken doll with a cord attached to its back. When I pulled on it, it said something in a strange, distorted voice. I think I got scared and went to put it back...

But something happened that made me stop going there. I saw a white-haired old lady pushing a stroller, running with such vigour, even though it was an empty, run-down house. I wsa so scared that I stopped. In any case, there was this house being controlled by something nasty, and I would take things bit by bit and figure things out. I thought it would be nice if I could put that feeling in the game.

Kikuchi: Why would it be nice!? Well, I guess that's the experience it's based on. Don't try this at home, everyone, okay?

About the multiple protagonists

—Next, please tell us about having three protagonists.

Kikuchi: I explained about each character before, but our aim was for people to get to enjoy playing as different characters with their own play styles. Miku's photography power is strong but her range is narrow, and she can go under the floor - things like that.

Shibata: Things like enjoying troubles with women while you hide as Kei. The House of Sleep forbids men, after all.

Kikuchi: Enough about that! Men really are banned from the House of Sleep, though.

Shibata: Also, each character joins in the story from their own perspective. That is summarised in the notebook, so ultimately I wanted Rei - or the player - to get the fun of compiling it all. And... Actually, in my initial proposal, Rei, Miku and Mio lived in the same house.

—Is that so?

Shibata: But that was met with opposition - "What kind of house would that be!?"

Kikuchi: Since I've seen the completed game, I can't imagine that one... If Kei turned up there, I get the idea that it would turn even more into the House of Woman Troubles.

Shibata: I guess if you had Mio from Fatal Frame 2 as a playable character there would be too much of a difference in attachment between those who have played Fatal Frame 2 and those who haven't. It would be tough just to explain her history, and so in the end we went with this.

About the battle system

—Next, then, please tell us about how battles using the Camera Obscura work.

Shibata: Put simply, it's the best of Fatal Frame 1 and Fatal Frame 2 combined.

Kikuchi: Hmm... That's right, but blunt.

Shibata: People said that Fatal Frame 1's battles were hard, and that Fatal Frame 2's battles were scary because of the ghosts approaching but easy, so we decided to take the best out of both the system and the enemy movements.

Kikuchi: Right. The system was made to be a culmination of the Fatal Frame series, too.

Shibata: As the game's concept I wanted to give the sense of the Manor of Sleep being an area controlled by ghosts, so each of them is as strong as a mid-boss. Their attacks are stepped, so when you first meet them they will move towards you quite slowly, but they gradually start moving really quickly and madly.

Kikuchi: This game is a bit technical. It's difficult if you don't properly utilise your power-up lenses and special abilities, but if you think about it and use them well, you can proceed more easily...

Shibata: The concept was to put in more enjoyment of the player gradually advancing than before, trying to make the game more fun.

Kikuchi: I hope people think of all kinds of methods for even the ghosts that seem strong.

—Thank you. Next time, we'll discuss true scary stories that happened during development. Thank you for your time.

Shibata: It's finally time to talk about it...

Kikuchi: What? Your face is so serious this time...