Another Fatal Frame game is about to debut in the west and haunt consoles with new ghosts, but this one is special. That’s because it is Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, an entry previously only released in Japan. To help understand what went into bringing it worldwide and designing its ghosts, as well as what this could mean for the future of the series, Siliconera spoke with Producer Yutaka Fukaya and Director Makoto Shibata about what players can expect when they head to Rogetsu Isle.
Jenni Lada: When did work begin on the worldwide release of Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse?
Yutaka Fukaya: Although we began working on the game around the beginning of 2022, we had the concept since well before then.
Lada: How difficult was it to prepare these new ports, and what sorts of unexpected issues came up during development? Was one easier to create than the others?
Fukaya: It wasn’t significantly more difficult than other titles, but the fact that it was a port from the Wii, a hardware system that is not like any other, was one of the points that required ingenuity. It’s not exactly a difficulty, but if I can mention something that took a lot of time and effort, it’s definitely the visuals. We have devoted a lot of resources to the visuals and raised the quality of the game.
Lada: The Fatal Frame series is known for various costumes for characters, some pulled from other series. How did you pick which costumes to include for the cast in Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse?
Fukaya: We collected a wide range of ideas from within the team, selected the best ones, and then I, as the producer, made the final decision. There are some that fit the image of the main characters and others that will provide a different feel, so we hope you enjoy all of them.
Lada: What inspirations did you turn to for Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse’s ghosts?
Makoto Shibata: When thinking about the spirits in this series, I try to follow the theme of the title. In Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, the theme was the fear of losing one’s memory and losing one’s sense of self. For this reason, I came up with the idea of a disease called “Moonlight Syndrome,” in which one loses oneself.
I designed many of the spirits in this game by imagining them dressed in white gowns wandering around in the moonlight, unsure of who they are even after having died. And then create the image of when they see a living person, they cling to them to retrieve their memories, hoping that person has memories of them.
The powerful spirits of Rogetsu Hall have a slightly different concept. In losing oneself, a person becomes attached to something. We established what they are obsessed with and came up with the spirit along with the design of their hospital room.
Kazuma Hashimoto: Were there any unused concepts for Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse that didn’t make it into the final release, such as ghosts or certain gameplay mechanics you had planned to use that couldn’t be done due to technical limitations.
Shibata: I’ll talk about the original Wii version. The Wii could detect the distance between the controller and the TV. Using this, we envisioned a system in which by pressing a button the main character’s hand reaches out, and then moving towards the TV would make the hand would stretch out further.
The reaction of touching items would come back to the player from the vibration of the controller and also through its internal speaker. The idea was to use this to reach inside a box or through the crack in a doorway to pick up an object that couldn’t be seen.However, we found that it required very delicate controller operations, and just moving the hand was stressful, so it became a simple action of reaching out while pressing a button. Similarly, after having the Camera Obscura ready to shoot, the controller could be moved back and forth to zoom and twisted to roll. It also turned out that the controller had to be held firmly in place in order to take good pictures, so the concept of rotating the camera by twisting the controller ended up being realized in Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water.
Hashimoto: With Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse receiving its first official English release in North America and Europe, does this mean that Koei Tecmo has further interest in the games and would consider re-releasing Fatal Frame I, Fatal Frame II, and Fatal Frame III on modern platforms?
Fukaya: I can’t make any definite promises here, but if through the release of Mask of the Lunar Eclipse we find that many players want to see more of the series, we may be able to respond to that interest.
Hashimoto: Do you see the Fatal Frame series getting a new game, given that reception to Fatal Frame returning has been extremely positive in the West?
Fukaya: The same would apply for a new game in the series, just like in the previous answer. I hope everyone will pick up and enjoy this title and join us in getting everyone excited about the Fatal Frame series!
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse will come to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC via Steam on March 9, 2023.