Fatal Frame, or the Japanese title, Zero, and European title, Project Zero, is a Japanese survival horror franchise with, as of February 2015, five installments, two spin-offs, two special editions and a remake. Developed by Tecmo (Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive), it has become one of the most well received survival horror games.
The specific plot differs depending on the installment, but the core objective is to survive your way through some sort of haunted location, and fight ghosts with only your camera. The Camera Obscura is the main weapon of the game, and is able to take pictures of things normal humans cannot see. The ways the main character comes to possess the camera differs as well. Some, like Miku Hinasaki, previously owned the camera, and others, like Mio Amakura, find the camera.
The first installment of the Fatal Frame series was released in 2001. It was released for the PlayStation 2 (PS2 version available for PS3 as digital download) and Xbox, like the majority of the Fatal Frame games. It was based on a true story, although loosely. There was a Himuro Mansion in Japan, and gruesome rituals were performed there, but there are no recorded ghosts.
In this installment, the player controls Miku Hinasaki for the majority of the game. Miku has entered Himuro Mansion looking for her brother, Mafuyu Hinasaki, who had gone missing in the mansion two weeks ago. She does not find her brother, but she does find her mother's old camera that Mafuyu had brought with him. (The camera obscura) with its powerful ability to capture things that are unable to be seen by the naked eye and exercise spirits. Once a person enters the mansion, a timer like ailment begins; The strangling ritual, just one of the mansions notoriously brutal sacrificial rituals in which a person is pulled and stretched by ropes that are bound on the wrists, ankles and neck. The ailment begins once they enter the mansion and over time rope marks will begin to appear on the wrists first, then the ankles and finally the neck. Once the final marks appear on the persons neck, the ritual is complete and the person perishes, leaving their soul trapped in the mansion along with the rest of the spirits that haunt Himuro Mansion. Miku enters and shortly after her first battle with a lost spirit, the rope marks begin to appear upon her wrists. Realizing she is now trapped in this mansion, Miku continues to search for her brother while battling scorned and tortured spirits and uncovering the mansions mysteries to find a way out before the strangling ritual is complete.
In the end, Miku finds Mafuyu, but he decides to stay with the main antagonist, Kirie, to ease her suffering. He later dies when the mansion collapses.
This game was ported to the Xbox as a special edition, and is also playable on Xbox 360. The special edition includes smoother graphics, extra costumes, and a new difficulty, Fatal Mode, which is unlocked after the first completion of the game.
The second installment of the Fatal Frame series was released in 2003. Like the first game, it was released for the PlayStation 2 (PS2 version available for PS3 as digital download) and Xbox (Xbox release had various bonuses such as new gameplay mode, additional costumes, extra ending, etc.). Wii Edition released in 2012 was enhanced version of the original running on the same engine as Fatal Frame IV, it had re-recorded voice-acting, new theme song, cut-scenes and other extras.
Twin sisters, Mio Amakura and Mayu Amakura, are visiting a favorite play spot from their childhood. When Mayu follows a mysterious crimson butterfly deeper into the forest, Mio follows after her, and the girls are led to a lost village. Once they enter the village, they enter the first old house, and find the Camera Obscura. Mio must uncover the mystery of the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, while trying to save her sister, who is becoming increasingly possessed by the evil spirit of Sae Kurosawa, and also save the village from the horror of that fateful night in which the village was lost forever.
While the original was released in 2003, a Director's Cut edition was released for the Xbox in 2004. The director's cut added several new features to gameplay, including a first-person mode, a survival mode, a new ending, enhanced graphics, and even more alternate costumes.
In 2012, after Nintendo had acquired the rights to the series, a remake was released for the Wii, titled Project Zero 2: Wii Edition, with enhanced graphics, additional endings, and even more costumes. Since this installment was only released in Japan, Europe, and Australia, the English dub is recorded with British actors, instead of the usual American ones.
The third installment of the Fatal Frame series was released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2 only (PS2 version available for PS3 as digital download on PSN).
This game follows Rei Kurosawa, a 23-year-old free-lance photographer. In a dream, she sees her dead fiance walk into an old mansion surrounded by heavy, eternal snowfall. She follows her fiance into the mansion where her dream becomes a nightmare, when she finds herself in a mansion haunted by gruesome and violent spirits.
Fatal Frame III: The Tormented, is the first Fatal Frame game to have more than one possible story, and more than one main playable character. After completing some chapters (called "Hours" in the game) as Rei Kurosawa, the player is able to play through the mansion, but with different features and battle styles, as either Miku Hinasaki or Kei Amakura (Mio and Mayu's uncle).
It is also the first Fatal Frame to have features that take place outside of the haunted location. When Rei is awake, she can wander in her house and have her assistant, Miku Hinasaki, do research on photographs for her to learn more about the spirits in the mansion. There are also a number of other features available when Rei is awake to help the player uncover the secrets of the Manor of Sleep.
The fourth Fatal Frame instalment was developed for the Wii, and published by Nintendo in 2008.
Little is known about this title, since it was only released in Japan and there is no plan for a western release, despite fan rumors. However, there is an unofficial English translation patch.
The fifth instalment is a Wii U exclusive, published by Nintendo in 2014. The game only supports the Wii U's gamepad and uses it as the Camera Obscura. No other controllers work in the game.
(WARNING GAME SPOILERS ARE BELOW)
Mt. Hikami was worshipped and feared as a "mountain of death". Only people who were prepared to die could enter the mountain, and once there, the person was not allowed to leave. The mountain was protected/watched over by various Mikos (shrine maidens). One man had fallen in love with one of the Mikos and when she rejected him, he killed her. He believed that the other maidens had witnessed what he had done, so he killed them as well, cut off their heads, and gouged out their eyes before throwing them into the river. Afterwards, he then took his own life by beheading himself.
People who visited the mountain were obliged to visit the Miko's (shrine maidens) shrine at the foot of the mountain, and only people who were close to dying were allowed (they believed that the closer a person was to dying, the stronger that they were). The water within the rivers and waterfalls of Mt. Hikami was believed to be the source of the mountain's beauty and power. The people believed that their souls were a part of the water, and when they died, their souls "returned home" and came back to the water.
The Mikos (shrine maidens) would tend to sick/dying people. By doing so, they took in their final emotions. Their thoughts, pains, sins, and secrets were shared with the Miko and she would stay with them to ease them into death. When a Miko has taken in many emotions of the dying, she would fulfill her role as a Miko by entering the box as a sacrifice to help cleanse the waters, often referred to as the Night Spring. The secrets she knows go with her in the box, and never come out. The boxes would be sent to the bottom of the lake, where the water was at its "healthiest" to help cleanse the water of the "black water" that infected the mountain.
Many of the Mikos were used in a marriage sacrifice, they believed that the Night Spring could be purified even easier if the Miko was married. The Miko married an already deceased man, after being sacrificed herself (the Mikos were not allowed to be married while alive). They then were both put into a coffin that was big enough for two, and sent down to the bottom of the lake. Boxes filled with other Miko sacrifices surrounded the coffins, in hopes that they would help seal out "evil". Many of the Mikos believed that this sacrifice was so that they weren't alone.
There are eight endings in total - two for Yuri and Miu and four for Ren. Yuri's first ending requires you to defeat the final boss in the overwater stage, then use her ability to see the bosses memories. The second ending requires the same thing except you defeat the boss in the underwater stage. Lastly if you defeat the boss in the wrong stage and you want the other ending then simply don't touch the remains after a bit the boss will revive. Miu endings depends on if you took a picture of Miku on Twilit peak or not. Lastly Ren's endings are based on a who you choose to be your final encounter. If you chose Ose you either touch her remains or you take her picture to decide the ending. With Shiagiku if she reaches you then you get one ending, if you beat her you get the other.
Bad Ending Edit
You see Ouse's past and how she died at the Night Spring. The box opens up and the black water escapes from the box, for Ouse was not a strong enough sacrifice to help purify the Night Spring. The box then falls over and lands in the water, showing Ouse slowly sinking to the bottom of the sea. The view then shows Yuuri standing at the edge of the cliff (as shown in the beginning of the game). Ouse floats up out of the water and stands before Yuuri, convincing her to come with her. Hisoka shows up and tries to stop Yuuri from jumping but fails. Yuuri and Ouse float to the bottom of the sea together where they remain, together.
Good Ending Edit
After defeating Ouse, Yuuri reaches out to her touches her, because of her sixth sense, she can see how Ouse died. (Ouse's perish is shown in both endings). At the end of the clip, Yuuri is clinging onto Ouse as they both begin to sob. Ouse transforms out of her Night Spring self, into the way she originally looked as a maiden. Ouse explains to Yuuri that it was hard for her to tell Asou (inventor of the Camera Obscura) that she loved him. Yuuri could feel Ouse's emotions, which was a duty that the shrine maidens did to a sick/dying person. Ouse tells Yuuri that she trusts her final emotions with her. The black water that infected the Night Spring starts to flow back into the box as a large sink hole, that sucks in all the water starts to form. The Night Spring returns to its original form as Hisoka on the beach calls out to Yuuri from behind her. Yuuri turns around and smiles at Hisoka, a tear running down her cheek.
The game was released worldwide, but only physically in Japan and Europe, the latter which got a Limited Edition including a steelcase, an artbook, and a poster.
Mt. Hikami and its surrounding forest, are based on the infamous suicide forest in Japan, Aokigahara, the Sea of Trees.
Upon completion, various alternate costumes are available for the different characters, including bikinis for the girls. Finding this inappropriate outside Japan, these costumes were replaced with Zero Suit Samus and Zelda, in the American and European versions.
Sales comparison in JapanEdit
In comparison of first week sales, Fatal Frame III is the highest sold game of the series, while Fatal Frame is the least sold.
In comparison of sales in the next weeks, Fatal Frame IV is currently the highest sold, while Fatal Frame and Fatal Frame II: Deep Crimson Butterfly are the least sold.
In comparison of lifetime sales, Fatal Frame IV is the highest sold, while Fatal Frame is the least sold.
In its debut week, Fatal Frame V outsold the two last Fatal Frame Wii exclusives as well as the first game.
Coinciding with the fifth game's (Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water) development, the Fatal Frame franchise was adapted into other forms of media as well. A manga, written by Shin Kibayashi was released on July 18, 2014. A novel tie-in with the franchise, written by Eiji Outsuka was released in August 29, 2014. Kadokawa Corporation also developed a Japanese live-action Fatal Frame movie, which started hitting Japanese theaters on September 26, 2014. Directed by Mari Asato, it starred Ayami Nakajo and Aoi Morikawa. A Hollywood film was announced via the Famitsu website on April 22, 2014. Development for the Hollywood film starts after the current project is done. At a special Fatal Frame event on July 17, 2014 it was confirmed that there will be a Hollywood movie adaptation of Fatal Frame with the help of the producer Samuel Hadida, who previously produced live-action movies for the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series.