A short while ago we talked about a new soon-to-be-released game in the fan-favorite Fatal Frame series. However, despite being planned for release in Japan, Europe & Australia, Nintendo has no plans to bring the Wii remake of Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly to the US. Soon after we wrote the article we came in contact with a dedicated group of Fatal Frame fans, known as Operation Zero. We've arranged a two-part Q&A with J.T., Operation Zero's current point man, to get the lowdown on how this group is going about trying to bring this latest Fatal Frame game to the States. So without further ado, let's jump right into part one of the interview!
Could you please tell us what Operation Zero is and what you hope to accomplish?
Yes, Operation Zero is a group that at this time is dedicated to helping the effort to bring Fatal Frame: Deep Crimson Butterfly over to North America. Should any future Fatal Frame titles be announced, we'll be right on it with making sure they are given their due as well.
How is Operation Zero going about influencing Nintendo to bring the Wii remake of Crimson Butterfly to the US?
We just completed what I deemed as Phase 1, which was the write-in/call-in to Nintendo of America. Basically, many of us sent in written letters to NoA, much as Operation Rainfall did in focusing on the three titles they'd been pushing for. Currently, we've gone to Phase 2, which is going beyond the Internet to collect physical signatures on dedicated cards you can print out. Once we're done with this at the end of May, we intend to send these to Nintendo of America as well. [EDITORS NOTE: This printable card is posted at the end of this interview]
Can you walk us through what comes next, after you have completed Phase 2?
We're actually in the planning process of Phase 3 as we speak, brainstorming some ideas brewing in the heads of many members. We definitely allow feedback and suggestions on how to go about doing things. But I get the feeling Phase 3 will revolve around eventually contacting Tecmo-Koei in some way, shape or form.
Can you give us some history into the creation and background of Operation Zero?
Absolutely. I am going to go on the record and say that I am not the creator of OpZero per se; rather, I'm the guy who ended up helming it after finding out about it. OpZero was originally founded by a lady named Melissa AKA RevenantSoulX3 on other sites, who happens to also be the proprietor of WE WANT FATAL FRAME on Facebook as well, back in December of 2011. I actually came to be the guy orchestrating the whole thing by one huge coincidence.
Oh? How did you find yourself helming Operation Zero?
Well, I was actually pitching an idea for a write-in/call-in campaign to the proprietor of Beyond the Camera's Lens (Emi AKA Laurean Leigh) back in early April of this year (2012), who actually approved of the idea. I ended up joining the Facebook group WE WANT FATAL FRAME a couple days later, whereupon I pitched the same idea to the proprietor of WWFF, Melissa, who told me that she actually had Operation Zero set up as a group, but didn't have the time to run it due to things going on in her life. I offered to become an administrator and run the group, to which she agreed. That was when I began taking the helm of the group.
Where does the name "Operation Zero" come from?
Zero is what Fatal Frame is known as in Japan, and in Europe and everywhere else the series is known as Project Zero. Hence the name Operation Zero.
You previously mentioned Operation Rainfall and their campaign to get Xenoblade, Last Story, & Pandora's Tower released in the US. How were you influenced by them?
Operation Rainfall has single-handedly changed the rules when it comes to organizing to show love for a title (or in their case, a trio of titles) that one feels truly deserves a chance in North America. They showed that people like you and me can get a gaming company to listen to its fans, and give a title that otherwise would not have seen the light of day in North America a chance to sell and generate money for the company. The way Operation Rainfall organized their campaign, and showed us all a well-executed forum for their plans of action, basically influenced other groups like them to take root and follow suit. I would be foolish to say that Operation Rainfall didn't influence how Operation Zero is going about things as we speak, even though we are executing an idea of our very own as well that is currently in the process.
Operation Rainfall has literally thousands of followers and yet they have still not managed to complete all of their goals (there is still no word on the U.S. release of Pandora's Tower). Are you concerned that given your group's relatively small size, at this time, you will be unsuccessful? How do you plan on growing the awareness of Operation Zero?
What you say does indeed hold a lot of weight. At this time there is indeed no word on a US release for Pandora's Tower, although I have a powerful feeling that it will come. Operation Rainfall is very determined to make sure the last of its games sees the light of day in North America. Perhaps this E3 is when Nintendo will announce the title for North American release. [EDITOR'S NOTE: E3 2012 is June 4th-7th]
As for Operation Zero being unsuccessful? I won't deny that in the beginning I did have concerns about the viability of its campaign with the small amount of people. When I started helming the whole thing, there were only 13 members, and at this point, you are correct that the numbers on Facebook are relatively small when compared to other groups in a similar vein. But when you think about it, we have grown from just 13 members in early April to almost 500 near the end of May.
However, I have talked to quite a few people in my neck of the woods that know of Fatal Frame, and happen to be fans or are truly interested in checking out the series itself. So I picture it this way: Operation Zero's Facebook page is a base, a leaping pad that one can use to show support. We are already going beyond the Internet to encouraging people to go to their local communities of friends, families, co-workers, and whomever is willing to take a listen, and spread the word that way too. A good friend of mine is even offering to make buttons for OpZero should she get enough orders too. Trust me when I say we're truly going all out in any way we can to get the good word out there.
Are you worried that the Fatal Frame series' relatively niche status and overall low sales numbers (Fatal Frame 3 sold only 80,000 units in the U.S. and Spirit Camera is off to a pretty rough start. The latest sales figures put it at less than 10,000 units) are a hindrance, given the cost required to localize, manufacture and promote such a game?
The lower sales figures are a cause for concern, yes, especially with Spirit Camera (though I have been hearing that sales are picking up for that game). However, I know that the original game Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly is the most popular game in the series, and with good reason at that. Those who were fans of the original Fatal Frame 2 want to experience this iteration with their own two eyes, and in this case, Nintendo of Europe will have done most of the localization and promotion for Nintendo of America should this game come to North America. That only leaves the manufacturing factor, determining how many units of the game to produce, and how to go about advertizing it, whether it be via TV, the Internet, magazines, etc. Getting the word out will be the most difficult hurdle to overcome.
I believe any series can become a hit if given the right amount of time to advertise. A prime example? Tales of Symphonia on the GameCube. Nintendo covered the localization, advertising, and everything. The result? Sales of almost 500,000 units during that timeframe, and being hailed as one of the best RPGs to ever be made. Another example is with Xenoblade; latest sales figures actually show that Xenoblade is near 150,000 - 200,000 units in North America, and most of those sales were due to advertisement efforts put forth by Operation Rainfall, Gamestop, and Nintendo too. Nintendo can overcome the hurdles, I feel, they just need to put their heads together and figure out a way to do it.
When we first published our initial article, you and other members of Operation Zero seemed to be almost offended that we, unfortunately, hold little hope that Nintendo will ever release the game. Why such a strong initial reaction to our story?
Allow me to apologize for that initial outburst. Originally, when me and a couple other members read the article, we kinda felt like there was a very condescending sort of tone coming from the words written, especially the end sentence of "grab your tissues and cry" or something of that nature, forgot the exact wording. Anyway I, myself, felt compelled to show Level Up that we were doing the polar
opposite of what was suggested; that instead of sitting around and feeling sorry for ourselves, we at OpZero were getting proactive in doing what we felt passionate about and that we're determined to show Nintendo that we want this remake to come out here for those who want to experience the series for the first time, or just to be able to point out the differences between this remake and the original.
What is it about the Fatal Frame games that causes you to be so passionate about the series and made you want to join and help organize Operation Zero?
Unlike most others in the survival horror genre, the Fatal Frame series is truly creepy. Sure, other survival horror games have their scary moments, but Fatal Frame remains to me as the only survival horror series to truly give me some scream-worthy scares. Everything about the series is nothing short of amazing; from the back-story, to the fantastically scary atmosphere, to the combat that literally puts a new spin on "In your face", going the polar-opposite direction of most other games. I love that the series doesn't focus so much on the violence and doesn't use guns and gore, but instead focuses more on the supernatural, and on the legitimate feeling of unease you get when playing the games and reading the truly creepy notes, newspaper clippings, etc. found throughout whatever area you were playing in.
I want to see the expanded back-story of this remake with my own two eyes, and I want to experience these new scare tactics while gripping the Wii remote for dear life. Without a doubt, the series had aprofound effect on my life in a positive way, and that is why I am so passionate about Operation Zero, and our efforts to bring Deep Crimson Butterfly to North America.
What can people do to help and how can they get involved with Operation Zero?
To join is simple enough, just "Like" us on Facebookand you're a member. You can also check out the Beyond the Camera's Lens forums for the dedicated OpZero forumtoo. What would really help us out is if they kept spreading the word to friends, family, co-workers, and whomever else is willing to listen. And if they happened to partake in Phase 2 of the campaign, which is printing out the dedicated card and collecting signatures on said card to send to Nintendo of America at the end of May, that would be a major boon to us. You don't even need to become a member of the group on Facebook to do that part if you wish.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes, I just want to say to all whom are reading this, know I am proud of OpZero's efforts, and all that we've done to get our name out there. Know that we are very passionate about our cause, and we believe that in spite of the odds being stacked against us, we will figure out a way to bring the game to North America. I have no regrets of helming this operation whatsoever, and I look forward to seeing continued membership increases and bigger and better ideas coming from not just the staff running OpZero, but also from the dedicated members whom gave us some brilliant ideas. I truly believe that with the right amount of tenacity, persistence, and dedication, we will show Nintendo that the demand for the game is there.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, and we wish you luck with your campaign to get Fatal Frame: Deep Crimson Butterfly released in the U.S.