The creator behind the Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse says that its development was actually haunted. Director Makoto Shibata said that while he doesn’t believe in zombies or monsters, the game was inspired by spirits he’s encountered.
In a blog post by Xbox Wire, Shibata explained that in the Japanese game industry, developers visit a shrine and perform a purification ceremony when working on a horror title, so that way no strange phenomena would occur during the game’s development. However, the development team behind Fatal Frame did not do so in order to get spirits to come out.
“Like the time we were recording sound and a mysterious voice was actually recorded in the background,” Shibata said. “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!”
A haunted development
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse was inspired by an experience Shibata had in an old hot spring hotel. He woke up in the middle of the night and saw a man he didn’t recognize standing on the other side of the hallway. As Shibata tried to approach the man, he ran off. Shibata then wondered if the man was some sort of spirit or vision, and wanted to recapture the atmosphere of the hotel in Mask of the Lunar Eclipse.
During the development of the original game for Wii, Shibata said he saw a spirit of a girl who would circle around a ping-pong table. He claimed that the girl was singing numbers in the form of verses, and thought this was a message to include in the game. As a result, Shibata included an event where a girl sings numbers.
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He also explained that the spirit named Kageri Sendo in Mask of the Lunar Eclipse was inspired by “Miyamoto-san,” a figure in a wheelchair that sometimes appeared in his dreams. In the game, Sendo is a female spirit inspired by gothic horror.
“It’s funny, though, as Miyamoto-san has not appeared in my dreams since he appeared in the game,” Shibata said. “Having gained form, maybe he was satisfied to some extent?”
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse was first launched for the Wii in 2008 in Japan. It is now available worldwide for PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
George Yang is a freelance writer for IGN. He’s been writing about the industry since 2019 and has worked with other publications such as Insider, Kotaku, NPR, and Variety.
When not writing about video games, George is playing video games. What a surprise! You can follow him on Twitter @Yinyangfooey
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