Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse Director Makoto Shibata took to Xbox Wire to detail some of the real-life experiences with ghosts and the paranormal that helped shape the game. In particular, he noted how his own experiences at a hot spring hotel and a feeling of being grabbed directly factored into the game. Shibata also noted that a mysterious voice that came up during recording for the game was actually left in as well.
First, Shibata noted Rogetsu Hall in Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse ended up inspired by his seeing a strange man who then disappeared. Here’s his story from Xbox Wire.
The actual source of inspiration for Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is from an experience I had that still gives me goosebumps. In the game, one of the places you’ll visit is Rogetsu Hall. This is actually based on an old, Japanese-style hot spring hotel owned by one of my relatives. We used to gather there as a family, and on this one particular night, my family were the only guests in the hotel, so there was nobody else around. I woke up in the middle of the night, and because the inside of the hotel was only dimly lit by the moonlight shining through the window, the fantasy-like atmosphere lured me to wander around a bit. That is, until I saw a man I didn’t recognize standing on the other side of the hallway, looking out the window under the moonlight.
There should’ve only been relatives around, but this man was definitely a stranger. As I slowly approached to see who he was, the man looked at me, then quickly disappeared. More curious than scared, I went to the spot where the man was standing. I looked out the window and gazed at the large moon. I stood there looking at the moon for a while until I realized that I was now in the exact same pose as the man I had just seen. I started to wonder, was the man a spirit? Was he a vision of someone’s past? Or did I just see a vision of my future? I knew I wanted to capture a moment like this in the game.
In Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, ghosts can sometimes grab the characters when they go to reach for items, and Director Shibata explained how his own paranormal experience inspired that as well. He felt himself “grabbed” while working on Fatal Frame III: The Tormented. But, since it couldn’t be implemented in that entry, it was saved to become a mechanic in the fourth installment instead.
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse also features a unique system where the player is sometimes grabbed by a ghostly hand when reaching for an item. This was actually based on a spiritual experience I had during the production of a previous game, Fatal Frame III: The Tormented. Late one night, I was home asleep when I felt someone grab my hand. At first, I thought it was an illusion since I was still in a sleep-like haze, but the cold hand kept hold, slowly increasing strength. “It hurts! It hurts!”, I screamed, and I finally felt the cold hand pull away before I saw it disappear into a wall. Since I was sleeping against the wall, there was no way anyone could’ve been there. There was a spirit behind the wall!
Shibata also explained how two things he heard also made it into the game. For example, he explained how hearing a ghost sing in Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse happened after he heard a similar sort of “song” after sleeping after work.
For Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, the original version of the game wasn’t made at Koei Tecmo’s studio, but at Grasshopper Manufacture’s studio, so we never saw the spirit of the boy, but they had this ping pong table that I used to sleep on when we were working on the game late into the evening, and every once in a while, I would see the spirit of a girl who would circle around the table, running slowly and quietly. If I didn’t respond when seeing her, she would walk over to the window and sing a song. “Four, four, six…” Apparently, she was singing numbers in the form of verses. I could never hear the end clearly, but I thought this was a message that they wanted me to include in the game, so I decided to include an event where a girl says numbers as if she was singing them.
Finally, the director mentioned that no purification ritual was done before making Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. He claimed that as a result, some captured audio featured a “voice” that was left in and made it into the game.
In the Japanese game industry, it is customary to visit a shrine and perform a purification ceremony when starting work on a horror title. The purpose of the ceremony is to prevent any spiritual phenomena or disturbances during the game’s development, but for Fatal Frame, we thought it would be better to let the spirits emerge, so we usually don’t do the purification ceremony for games in this series. Because of this, some spirit phenomena occurred during development that was directly reflected in the game – like the time we were recording sound and a mysterious voice was actually recorded in the background. We tried to remove it from the recording, but eventually gave up because no matter what we did, the voice kept coming back onto the recording , so we actually left it in the game!
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC via Steam.