Fatal Frame: Behind the Lens of the PS2 Horror Classic

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Fatal Frame: Behind the Lens of the PS2 Horror Classic

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.

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  • The scariest game of all time ever.

  • Good times, the first time I played it I became camera-phobic for awhile lol

    Small question tho, I know its not related to the topic but when to you think TecmoKoei will release DOA1 and DOA2 for NA players?

  • I love this game!!

  • Complete Fatal Frame/Project Zero 1-4 bundle in the PlayStation Store, please.

  • by FAR, the scariest game EVER! People always use to say Silent Hill or Resident Evil, but I always laughed at them, because they obviously haven’t played Fatal Frame! To this day, I’ve never played a game that mastered horrific astmosphere and classic scares as flawlessly as Fatal Frame. It’s just a shame we never got to see a next gen version of Fatal Frame for the PS3 (because it end up being lost in linbo after signing on as a Nintendo exclusive). I just hope, somehow, someway The PS4 will be able to release this groundbreaking survival horror series to it’s console.

  • I literally rented this game as a joke when I was younger.

    It was 2 for 1 rental day, and I couldn’t think of anything else to grab, so I got what I thought was the silliest game I could find “Wait.. you take pictures of ghosts and this somehow hurts them?”

    Little did I know this would become my favourite game series of all time, and without a doubt the most horrifying one I’ve ever played.

    Would absolutely love an HD remake bundle with number 4 in there, and Spirit Camera for PSVita!

  • For Fatal Frame IV I would actually buy a Move controller! Since Resident Evil: Revelations from Nintendo 3DS to PS3 is also possible… Why not Wii to PS3?

  • i really want to buy this game but… i rather wait for a HD collection :)

  • I agree with #8, I would so buy a HD collection of Fatal Frame!!! One of my favorite horror series.

  • xFuzylilManPeach

    @1, i agree with you entirely! I use to throw blankets over the windows and play this in total blackness. lol good times…

  • Such a great game, PLEASE BRING FF2 and FF3 also to PSN, and if u can, localize the Wii installments for PSN. There is a facebook page dedicated to this franchise called Operation Zero. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Operation-Zero/131582506953973?fref=ts

  • Such a great game, PLEASE BRING FF2 and FF3 also to PSN, and if u can, localize the Wii installments for PSN. There is a facebook page dedicated to this franchise called Operation Zero.

  • Sorry i meant localize the Wii installments for US

  • I also wanted to say that i had sooo many nightmares because of this series, even had one last night.

  • Nintendo co-owns the franchise so this could prevent a HD collection.

    So sad that this genre went downhill in this generation.

    Hoping for better days on the next gen.

  • I just realized that Fatal Frame 1 was rated Teen!? woah even though the other series are M-rated. Still, this game is the only game that defines the word “scary”.

  • A Fatal Frame game on PS4 with augmented reality on Vita would be awesome

    *dare to dream*

  • I’ve never played this game before. if it was in HD for ps3 i’d give it a try.

    Btw, When is Koei going to release One Piece Pirate Warriors 2 in NA? Not sure if you would know that or not, but thought i’d ask.

  • Please sell me the other Fatal Frame games. I will give you all of the money.

  • are you planning on releasing the other Fatal Frame games on PSN? I loved Fatal Frame 2.

  • Please bring the other Fatal Frame games to the PSN, they are wonderful and everyone should get (another) chance to experience them :)

  • Loved the first two Fatal Frame games. Simply the scariest game I ever played in my life. Would love to see an HD collection of the games or at least a new one for PS3 or Vita. =)

  • Man, I really want a new Fatal Frame and also a HD Collection, that would be amazing.

  • Yep there is no future for an HD collection as it is now nintendo´s , That is why nintendo must die!!!!!!!! either way that seems to be near . I loved the first 3 they are soooooo good, an hd remake would be awesome, and a lot of money too, for the publisher

  • 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 – http://i.imgur.com/rwKnA5J.jpg
    ePSXe on PC – http://i.imgur.com/VYSbzY4.jpg

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

  • no offence this is not that scary
    but intresting

  • can we get an HD collection please? I own the originals but would readily snap up a collection if just for the trophies.

  • Awesome game ! Third night was kind of a pain haha. Bring on the sequels !!!!

  • Very interesting.I love FF. can we have the other FF games on PSN. It’d be awesome. :)

  • Can we get FF for the vita? It’d be worth it.

  • So is this a HD remake? Actually this comes as a surprise. I know they remaster the Silent Hill 2-3 in HD. I wasn’t really expecting Fatal Frame to come out.

  • @7 because Nintendo co-owns the IP and published 4.

  • Please, Please, Please Fatal frame 1 and Fatal Frame 2 Vita Port.

  • or Siren Vita port, the system need a Survival horror game.

  • @Makoto: The game says that its based on a true story. What part is real in it and is there really such a Himuro Mansion somewhere in Japan? Would like to know more about this urban legend for sure. I saw some old thread on neoseeker forums filled with loads of speculation. Some facts please.

  • Fatal Frame is my absolute favorite horror series of all time. It is a travesty that we won’t get to play Fatal Frame IV. I don’t even think there has been an HD Fatal Frame game yet; it’s long overdo. Whether it’s Fatal Frame V or an HD collection, I just hope I can play a new Fatal Frame game soon. Preferably on a Sony console. Seeing as how Fatal Frame was added as a PS2 Classic, it’ll likely be the former, and that’s fine with me!

  • FATAL FRAME RULES OVER ALL THE SURVIVAL HORROR GAMES (after the original Silent Hill Saga 1 2 y 3, of course)

    FF always have a place in my heart . . . so TECMO give us a new FF game or remake . . . but don´t forget us. WE LOVE FF!!!

  • I absolutely love the Fatal Frame series! After I finished 1 and 2 I have nightmares for 2 days straight. We need an HD collection of the Fatal Frame series. All 3 games in HD for the PS3, I know I would buy it.

  • I wanna say this was the game that Said and Nick mentioned on the PS Blogcast last week. I never played this before, but after reading the article I really want to check this out.

  • LivinDeadGirlX-x

    My all time favorite series, please make all of the games available on PSN ; – ; !

  • I have all the 3 original for PS2 and the forth one too which I imported and had to softmod my Wii in order to play it!!! That’s how hardcore I am.

    I, who usually would go for action and RPGs played Crimson Butterfly and INSTANTLY FELL IN LOVE with it. So, I was wondering… Since PS3 has the PSMOVE why not bring Fatel Frame IV overseas to complete this beloved series?

  • Parasitepaladin

    Thank you for your wonderful creation Makoto Shibata!

  • Destinys_Memory

    Please bring Fatal Frame II and III to PSN! I bought a PS3 in anticipation of Fatal Frame IV and then Nintendo buys the rights and does nothing with it in North America. :(

    I realize we will probably never see a true HD trilogy collection, but PLEASE make II and III playable on PS3. Fatal Frame II is THE most frightening game of all time.

  • Really loved these games. When Silent Hill 3 came out, Fatal Frame 2 launched. I loved SH2, but I wanted to be scared like I was in FF again so I bought FF2 over SH3. I did eventually buy SH3 later though.
    I love the unique feel and style of gameplay. And how the first game was loosely based on the events at the Himuro Mansion in Japan. my friends and I always wanted to go there, but each time I visit Japan I forget to go.
    I was hoping that maybe we would get a HD remake, but since Nintendo owns the IP now, all hope is lost since they’re a greedy company.

    Some Fatal Frame Avatars would be cool <3

  • Actually, Nintendo owns the partial rights to Fatal Frame IV, Project Zero 2, and Spirit Camera. Not the whole series.

  • @43
    Maybe you should read the press release on it from June 21st, 2012

    “Nintendo has recently changed its copyright status to confirm the move and at the same time has fully acquired Fatal Frame’s spin-off IP Spirit Photography. It now has exclusive publishing rights for both series.”

    It is Co-ownership, but Nintendo has a lot of pull, and KT does not know how to deal with regionalizing games that are not DOA or NG–thus the recent 2 Atelier fiasco’s.

  • Hmmm… Didn’t know about this. Thanks for the info.

  • There’s Project Zero 2 & 4 for the Wii, how about some HD Rmakes of the whole series, I already own 1-3 on the PS2 and part 2 Director’s Cut for the Xbox.
    I would love to play part 4 and the others with trophies, I have no intrest in PS2 Classics…

  • ThePhenomenalAJN

    Great blog keep up the good work

  • Thank you, PSN and Tecmo and the Project Zero Team for bringing this great title to PSN.

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