Pachislot Panic – Imagining Fatal Frame in Other Play Styles
Remember Fatal Frame? It’s back! In pachislot form.
I’d honestly prefer it in Pog form.
A new trailer showed up in advance of the game’s anniversary. It looked like the first game was getting a remake for the first few minutes. It was looking pretty sharp, too. Saying I was excited was putting it lightly. Then, however, it turned out that the visuals were only getting remade to make the game into a pachislot machine. Far from the Switch remake or collection I was hoping to get.
Even so, seeing the series branch out into other formats and genres is kind of neat, right? It got me thinking about what other play styles we could see the series try out. With that in mind, here’s five ways the series could branch out into other genres.
There’s been a few neat haunted house management games, like Ghost Master and MachiaVillain, and it’s a crime that there hasn’t been one for Fatal Frame.
So, you get your choice of a several different locales like the Himuro Mansion or the Minakami Village You can even progress from haunting individual buildings to whole towns. Even an entire mountain, if we’re drawing from the Wii U title. It’s got a natural progression to it already.
Anyway, in each location for this Fatal Frame management sim, you need to set up a few ghosts to start. The game gives you some people who died on-site as your first ghosts. These ghosts have to scare other people who show up through staring into hallways, moaning in the dark, moving stuff. Typical ghost things. If you get a person fearful enough, you can attack and kill them. If you kill the living person, they become another ghost, with their design/abilities based on how they were frightened last or died. The ghost that scared them to death also gets an upgrade, helping effective ghosts get stronger.
We can even build on that. Maybe a frightened person will behave erratically and can die due to environmental accidents (falling down stairs, tripping and hitting head, self-harm if fear level gets high enough). These can also affect their new attacks, and allow players to do a variety of frights, which may be good for stronger characters that come to visit. This could create a kind of collectability to the ghosts as players try to kill or scare characters in specific ways, even.
From here, if a house is haunted enough, players can spread their ghosts into the dreams of nearby people. Maybe choose not to kill a character and have a haunting attach to them, following them to a new home nearby. This would allow for a spread into new places, steadily growing your hauntings while building up territory in this odd spin on Fatal Frame.
Seeing as the pachislot is a physical machine, I can see a big pinball table being possible. However, it would have one of those big, dark enclosures around it so only a person or two could play it at once. Think Castlevania: Akumajo Dracula – The Arcade or Silent Hill: The Arcade. Except this would put you in total darkness.
Now, this would seem like an ordinary Fatal Frame pinball table. Which would be neat on its own, honestly. Spooky ghost bumpers. A haunted mansion to send the ball through. Lots of creepy events playing out on the monitor.
Except this whole enclosure would hide secret screens, things that can touch you, and other traps. Something could swing out from the table and grab the hands that were near the flipper buttons. Stuff could dangle from the ceiling. A smaller screen within the pinball table itself would draw you in closer during certain events. Once you were near it, more ghosts could appear, preparing a fright for when you look up.
It would be like trying to play pinball in a haunted house, basically. That’s how you do Fatal Frame right with an arcade cabinet.
Racing games often use a vehicle , and you’re going fast for personal glory. What if you just wanted to live, instead? Run and survive? That’s the principle behind some great horror games like Haunting Ground and the Clock Tower series, if you boil them down and take out the hiding mechanic. Go fast. Stay alive.
We could easily apply this to the Fatal Frame series. Some of its most heart-wrenching experiences have involved running from ghosts, like fleeing the Kusabi in the second game. What if we made a whole game of it? Just running from ghosts through winding environments, trying not to trip or lose your way. Having something lethal always creeping RIGHT BEHIND YOU.
Gotta have that over-the-shoulder view showing how close they are at all times, too. That would be horrifying.
You could even have a few items that you could use, like camera flashes or exorcising objects, to throw back to buy you some time. Something to give you a boost when the ghost is too close. I think this could be genuinely terrifying, honestly. The idea of playing a haunted Mario Kart where you die if you’re ever passed is pretty appealing.
If you think you can’t make some sort of farming sim from Fatal Frame, you’d be wrong. There’s just a lot more death involved in your harvests this time.
So, you’re a farmer who has to do the usual crop harvesting, animal tending, and townsfolk-befriending. You have to get a certain amount of rest each night for these tasks, though, but your village is haunted and the ghosts keep you up. By trying to kill you. Which tends to make it hard to sleep. So, you need to offer bits of your harvest to deities for protection. Sacrifice livestock to calm spirits.
Lure townsfolk to their deaths to appease the ghosts.
If you can keep up with the ghosts’ needs, they’ll leave you alone. But you’ll steadily eat into your crop, animals, and even the local populace. Your life will become empty and exhausted. You can try to fight it out, but the ghosts cost you sleep, which drains the energy you have to act in the daytime. Still, there’s clues in the world around you that may hide the answers to the hauntings in this vision of Fatal Frame, letting you overcome it. You just need to find a balance in your sacrifices to find the answers in time.
Farming and horror could totally work together, I’m saying.
You know what would REALLY shake up Madden or Fifa? Players being able to die of fright. Which might make licensing deals weird, but some sacrifices have to be made.
Fatal Frame could bring some interesting things to sports games. Not just having ghosts appear in the backgrounds of replays or something, either. Although having the game go to an instant replay and instead showing a black-and-white house filled with the dead could be a chilling surprise.
What about having an overall health for the players, though? One affected by how much you use them in each game, but also affected by the ghosts that follow them when they play in haunted fields? As these ghosts follow your players, their health and abilities will drop. The only way to pass them on is to make contact with players on the other team to pass them on. This can mean that winning a game may not be as important as passing a ghost onto a specific player on the other team. Possessing a specific star player might be more valuable than winning the game.
Except you won’t be explicitly TOLD which players are possessed in this vision of Fatal Frame. You have to guess based on their health and some eerie events that happen around them. This adds some detective work into it. Plus, let’s say you can pass it to a water boy or coach as well. This could take out entire teams or have other unexpected effects, including getting yourself possessed and causing the whole game to act strangely.
I think it would be an ambitious game, but sprinkling a little Fatal Frame into a sports title could really make things interesting.