SPOnG recently caught up with Mr. Makoto Shibata over at Tecmo in Japan, the game director of the hotly-anticipated Playstation 2 survival horror title Project Zero 3: The Tormented, to fire a few quick questions at him about the latest iteration in the increasingly popular, increasingly brilliant series.
SPOnG: It sounds like Project Zero 3 includes some truly frightening storylines and gameplay elements - what with visions of dead fiancés and a mysterious tattoo spreading across our heroine Rei’s body. SPOnG staff are already wetting ourselves in fear/anticipation. What other aspects of the storyline do you think will feed survival horror fans worst Gothic nightmares?
Makoto Shibata: Both the storyline and the gameplay are advanced from the previous games. During the game, the player only gets fragmentary information about the storyline so that he or she actively imagines the background to the mystery. I designed the storyline to make it interesting for the player, and this drip-feeding of information helps increase the fear he or she feels. This style of storyline is a new and different approach from previous games in the series. This style fits nicely into the Project Zero concept; “Invoke the fear in the player’s own imagination” because we believe that even the greatest computer graphics cannot create greater fear than that created by the player’s mind.
SPOnG: What about these new aspects of the gameplay - can you say a little about that?
Makoto Shibata: Well, as for gameplay, we’ve advanced the ghost battles. In the first Project Zero, ghosts made tricky moves, whereas in PZ2, the ghosts edged toward the player, making for a scarier experience. In PZ3, we’ve mixed everything up, so for example, if the player encounters a ghost they have previously fought, it might move much quicker this time. This feature makes the battles much more exciting.
SPOnG: Miku returns, from the first game, and snapping spirits is still the main gameplay mechanic? What other new features will this 3rd installment have??
Makoto Shibata: Firstly, the player gets to use three main characters, Miku, Rei and Kei, and each character approaches the story from a different point of view. Each also has different type of gameplay. Rei has a flashlight, which makes ghosts hesitate to attack. Miku has an item with which you can make time go slower, and she also has the strongest spiritual power and can charge the most powerful shot. Playing as Miku requires the best playing technique, and playing as her may be the scariest experience of the three characters! Kei does not have spiritual power, and cannot charge the camera as much. However, he can make a blaze away shot. Kei has to progress by hiding from ghosts and it gives a different play style to the user.
Secondly, there are two stages in PZ3 (‘House of Sleep’ in the nightmare world and Rei’s house in the real world), and the user goes and backs between those two worlds. The pictures you take in the nightmare world still remain in the real world Camera, and the player investigates the pictures in real world to work out the mystery. Just like the mysterious tattoo covers Rei’s body, the nightmare covers her real life.
SPOnG: It all sounds genuinely unsettling. What are your favourite horror movies and have they inspired Project Zero 3 in any way? What frightens you?
Makoto Shibata: My favorite movies are the Japanese Horror films, “Ring” and “JOYU REI (Ghost of Actress)”. (Both of them are made by the same director). These two movies describe well the feeling you get when you encounter something that should not exist. However, they did not influence Project Zero 3. What I referred when making PZ3 was my personal ghost experience and nightmares I had. A lot of people experience nightmares, but in my case, I clearly remember the nightmares I have and I examine the nightmare when I awake. This is like the heroine Rei does in PZ3. In that sense, my personal experience inspired the game.
I tried to describe the fear I felt when I encountered a real ghost in the Project Zero series and to ensure the player knows that strange feeling (fear) during the game. I have not heard of any other creators who have made horror games based on their ghost experiences. This is the biggest difference from other horror games.
Woww! Well eat your heart out Derek Acorah and pseudo-psychics everywhere. It sounds like Tecmo has a real life ghosthunter leading the development team on Project Zero 3. We are already cacking our pants in anticipation of PZ3 and our willies have shrunk to a very small size due to the fear of even thinking about the nightmare world Tecmo is creating.
It certainly sounds like PZ3 is going to add something new and potentially very unsettling to the survival horror genre. SPOnG still plays the first two games, which really have stood the test of time, so we'll be sure to be the first to bring you any news and previews on PZ3 as soon as get our hands on the preview code.