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Nintendo’s Wonderful Terrifying Fatal Frame Gamble

For all of the bizarre, backwards localization choices Nintendo makes (or doesn't make), every once in a while The Big N decides to take a chance on something outside their ordinary wheelhouse. It's been happening since as long as the idea of localization existed. Whether it's brining over titles that the Japanese publisher didn't have enough faith in (Mega Man 6), throwing all of their marketing muscle behind a series to renew Western interest (Dragon Quest IX), slowly but surely delivering the JRPG swan song of the last generation (Xenoblade Chronicles), or in this case, re-introducing a game to the North American market that Nintendo itself ostensibly killed...

In the recent April 1st Nintendo Direct, Bill Trinen showed off footage of the 5th entry in the Fatal Frame series (its localized name has yet to be revealed) and with it came much rejoicing from a small, passionate fan base. But it's difficult to praise Nintendo of America too much. As a fan of the series I sat by during the last console generation, Wiimote in hand, ready for either of the Wii-exclusive Fatal Frame titles to come to the West. And one did. Sort of.

While the Suda 51-directed Fatal Frame IV tragically never left Japan, the second outing on the Wii - a remake of the critically acclaimed Fatal Frame II - did. Fatal Frame II: Deep Crimson Butterfly released in PAL territories as Project Zero 2: Wii Edition. And with the European release many fans were hoping for an Operation Rainfall effect - let Nintendo of Europe take care of the localization and have Nintendo of America release the game later will less overhead - but unlike its more fortunate cousins Xenoblade and The Last Story, it never materialized on American shores.

So third time's the charm, I suppose?

What happens when one of the most celebrated horror franchises of all time becomes exclusive to a family of consoles known for family-friendly fun? Especially when Nintendo seems to be trepidatious-at-best about throwing any sort of marketing muscle behind it? We celebrate the little victories. We spread the word. We make hashtags or whatever people do nowadays to let other people know that there is an excellent game coming our way that almost didn't happen. Heck, we take to the Smash Brothers Poll and vote for a Japanese girl armed with only a camera as a fighter.

Maybe the groundswell surrounding PT has reminded Nintendo that horror games can still be relevant outside of Japan. Maybe the above average reception of Resident Evil Revelations 2 has reignited the love for familiar horror franchises. Maybe Five Nights At Freddy's shows that people still want unique horror experiences.  Maybe it's none or all of those. Maybe the Wii U just needs more games.

Whatever the reason, before the end of the year my Wii U is going have a disc inside of it that plays a Fatal Frame game and that makes me a very, very happy human. Let's just hope that it can gain traction in a market that NOA assumes doesn't want it around. And maybe if Fatal Frame on the Wii U does well enough from a commercial standpoint we might just see Deep Crimson Butterfly show up as a digital release on the eShop...

... Please, Nintendo? I'll be your best friend.