The Nintendojo Interview: Justin Melanson

We talk to one of the leaders of Operation Zero and the #WeWantFatalFrame Movement!

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 10/06/2014 09:00 2 Comments     ShareThis

Last week, we brought you a news story about a movement on Twitter called #WeWantFatalFrame. The group behind that hashtag, Operation Zero, has been storming social media in an attempt to convince Nintendo and Tecmo Koei to give Fatal Frame: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden a domestic release. Shortly after that article was published, the man spearheading the localization movement, Justin Melanson, contacted Nintendojo. Justin was kind enough to provide us with an interview, where he told us why the latest installment in the Fatal Frame franchise shouldn’t remain exclusive to Japan.

Nintendojo: How did the Operation Zero/#WeWantFatalFrame campaign get started? I’m kind of amazed how quickly it seems to be growing!

Justin Melanson: Actually, Operation Zero has existed for at least two years as of this interview. Originally, we were trying to get the remake of Fatal Frame 2 over to North America but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Back then, we didn’t have that much of a presence on Twitter or anywhere else other than Facebook for that matter.

I will say, we had been trying to get #WeWantFatalFrame to go viral for a while though, and it wasn’t until I had a fellow admin of mine create a Twitter for us that we were finally able to have a platform to truly get things going.

It took a couple months and both Tecmo Koei America and Tecmo Koei Europe following us to truly make it start growing. But I, myself, am amazed at how Tecmo Koei Europe acknowledging the #WeWantFatalFrame hashtag was basically the catalyst that made it blow up.

NJ: How many members has your group managed to accumulate on social media since the group’s inception?

JM: I would say on Facebook, over 2300. On Twitter? Over 450. Both seem to be rising steadily at that. As in, growth is small but a few new members join every day.

NJ: You mentioned that Tecmo Koei has recognized your group on social media, which is certainly a great first step. What’s the next move from here?

JM: I feel next we need to get Nintendo to acknowledge the movement, which will not be an easy task. So obviously, we gotta keep the momentum going, and keep letting Tecmo Koei as well as Nintendo know that we want this game to come to both North America and Europe. We actually have a write-in/call-in to the respective Nintendo branches of our region scheduled for the week of Halloween.

NJ: Given the game’s subject matter, Halloween seems like the perfect time to do something like that. That’s actually pretty clever.

Fatal Frame is a fairly small franchise, and the cost of hiring new voice actors could be a potential hurdle for Nintendo. Do you think the title can sell enough copies in the US and Europe to off-set those costs?

JM: Absolutely, they don’t need to hire top-tier actors and actresses, if anything they could hire up and coming folks who are looking to eventually make it big. We know for a fact though that if called up to record voices for the new game, Kari Wahlgren (voice of Mio Amakura in FF2/FF3) and Josh Keaton (voice of Kei Amakura in FF3) would jump on this in a heartbeat.

NJ: Has your group been in contact with those voice actors? Do they have a level of involvement in the movement?

JM: Both of them have been interviewed by us via Twitter and they are following the movement, but haven’t had any direct say, nor have they actively been involved in voicing it yet. However, the fact that they know the movement exists is a boon upon itself.

NJ: The “Operation Zero” title sounds reminiscent of Operation Rainfall. Was that an intentional choice?

JM: Actually, it wasn’t me who chose it. The name was already there, and how I came to be the helmsman of the organization was a completely serendipitous moment.

NJ: And how was that?

JM: Believe it or not, I had a brainstorming about it before the remake hit Europe. I immediately contacted the proprietor of Beyond the Camera’s Lens (her name is Laurean but she is known as Emi on BCL) with the idea that we should create a group for the purpose of localization of this series.

I also searched for groups on Facebook, and came across one called WE WANT FATAL FRAME (yes that is in all caps). I pitched the same idea to the proprietor of that group as well, a woman named Melissa, and she actually said that she already had Operation Zero set up but she was not able to run it properly. Suffice it to say, I offered to run it if she made me an admin. She accepted and basically handed me the keys. The rest is basically history.

NJ: What is it about the Fatal Frame franchise that has garnered it such a devout fanbase? The passion of the group is really something.

JM: I believe it is the fact that it breaks all the rules of traditional survival horror. Most have zombies, guns and infected humans that morph into monsters. Fatal Frame breaks this and instead focuses on the supernatural side; instead of zombies, you fight ghosts, and instead of guns you use a camera. It is brilliant, and it also creates that constant sense of fear and dread. You never truly feel safe when playing any installment in the series.

Not only that, the notes in the games when you read them, actually create a backstory for each ghost, fleshing them out and making them seem more personable. It is that, when combined with the atmosphere, which creates the incredible backstory that so many fell in love with.

NJ: To wrap things up, what would you like to leave our readers with to encourage them to join in the push for a domestic release?

JM: I would like to say thank you to all whom have come out in support of this wonderful series. It is beautiful to see so many people coming together in unison to finally get this series in the hands of people who want to support it and let Nintendo know that we want to buy games like this.

Of course I encourage you to keep letting Nintendo know that we want games like this, and that they will sell more Wii U hardware if they bring it and other games of this nature over to the US and EU.

I also want to say to everyone, never lose faith and never give up hope on the series because I sincerely believe that we will get our chance to play it in the West again. The momentum has begun to swing in our favor, let’s not let up with it, keep it up with letting Nintendo know that #WeWantFatalFrame!

As always, Nintendojo would like to thank Justin Melanson for taking the time to talk with us. If you’re interested in finding out more about Operation Zero, you can find them on Facebook or on Twitter.

2 Responses to “The Nintendojo Interview: Justin Melanson”

  • 6 points
    IcedEarthaholic says...

    Thank you so much for your time, it was a pleasure to interview with you guys. Let’s hope we can make this a smashing success! #WeWantFatalFrame

    • 819 points
      Toadlord says...

      Would you by any chance have any more details on the write-in yet? I work for the Postal Service so I’m big on supporting mail-ins, especially for a cause such as this. If not, I’ll be sure to keep checking the facebook page.

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