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Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
心霊カメラ ~憑いてる手帳
Shinrei Camera ~Tsuiteru Techou~
Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
Developer(s) Koei Tecmo
Nintendo SPD Group No. 4
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Release date(s) January 12, 2012 (Jap.)
April 13, 2012 (NA)
June 29, 2012 (PAL)
Ratings Teen (ESRB)
CERO B (12+) (Jap.)
16 (PEGI)
Platform Nintendo 3DS
Jap. cover

PAL cover

Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir (心霊カメラ ~憑いてる手帳~; Shinrei Camera ~Tsuiteru Techou~) is a Nintendo 3DS exclusive Japanese survival horror game and the second spin-off in the Fatal Frame series, co-developed by Tecmo Koei and Nintendo. In this game, the player must discover how to escape the curse of a house that is haunted by a mysterious ghost named Woman in Black.

The game utilises AR technology and comes with an "AR (Augmented Reality) notebook", called "The Diary of Faces", which the player uses in junction with the game.

In this game, the player serves as the game's protagonist, and the game is played from a first-person perspective. The game uses a single save slot and is single-player. It retails at 3,800 yen in Japan, and is available in North America for $35(USD)/$40(CAD).


Zero: Purple Diary / Zero ~Murasaki no Nikki~ (零 ~紫の日記~)

One day, the diary suddenly arrived. "The Purple Diary" It's an old diary that has been whispered about in urban legends for as long as anyone can remember.

On the first page of the diary, eerie photographs and cryptic words... Those who see the words that shouldn't be there, suddenly appearing on the page that was blank only a second before...

They're spirited away, and eventually found with a completely different appearance.

A corpse, with its face cut up...

--From the official site


The game has three modes: Story, Ghost Camera and Horror Notebook.

Story Mode (Purple Diary)[]

The main story mode, during which the plot progresses. The player finds the Purple Diary and allows Maya to escape from it. In this mode, the player must use the 3DS camera, serving as the Camera Obscura, to find hints within the diary and battle ghosts in the real world environment around them. Clearing Story Mode takes roughly two to three hours and unlocks an outfit for Maya, Story Mode (Extra), and Battle mode.

Story Mode (Extra)[]

Unlocked after completing Story Mode for the first time, this is a more difficult version of story mode, in which the player can obtain extra game notes. The messages in the Purple Diary at the beginning and end of the story are slightly different.

Battle Mode[]

A mode in which the player can freely take photographs of and battle characters appearing in story mode. Clearing battles in this mode adds a new costume and new battles.

Ghost Camera[]

This mode can be played in a total of three different ways. Using the 3DS' camera to take photos of the player's surroundings will result in images of ghosts appearing in the pictures, a similiar fuction used in the first Fatal Frame spin-off, Real: Another Edition. Players can also "diagnose" someone as being haunted, by taking a photo of the player or other people, which will reveal an image of the "ghost" haunting them. Ghosts from previous games seem to appear in this mode, such as Fatal Frame II's Veiled Priests. Players can also take photographs of their own face or the faces of others and put them onto a ghost's body, and fight them in a mode called Defeating the Cursed Face. This mode is unlocked after completing the masked boy's mask game during the "Eyes Peeping From the Mask" chapter.

Horror Notebook[]

In this mode, the player must use the 3DS camera to search through the AR Notebook to find the ghost of the Masked Boy hiding within it, which will trigger a mini-game. The other known game in this mode is "Curse of the Japanese Dolls", in which the player must correctly identify the real doll out of a group, and photograph it to exorcise it within the time limit.

Main Characters[]

Maya (眞夜) - A girl the protagonist have brought out into the real world. The protagonist must work with Maya to solve the diary's curse, and regain Maya's lost memories.

Kaito Hasebe - This man was investigating the diary, and eventually became cursed by and trapped within it.

Shiori Hasebe (操られた女) - Another victim of the Purple Diary. She has taken the form of a human-sized doll.

Akira (Koji) (仮面の少年) - The Masked Boy. A boy who was spirited away after once becoming trapped in the diary. He appears before those investigating the diary, inviting them to play. Those who lose the game are spirited away, just like him.

Old Woman (Seamstress) (老婆) - A mysterious old lady who appears to those who become involved with the diary. The magic words she chants seem to have something to do with the diary's hidden secrets. People who hear her chanting can never escape from the diary.

Woman in Black (黒い服の女) - The antagonist of the game. Her words appear on the first page of the diary, and she lures people inside and imprisons them there.


Spirit Camera is not divided into numbered chapters during gameplay, although there are different sections. The titles below come from the "Scene Selection" menu the player can unlock by playing through story mode, and does not overlap perfectly with full sections.

  • The Cursed Diary
The purple diary -- a book spoken of in urban legend -- came into the protagonist's possession. With the Camera Obscura, the protagonist looked at the diary's first page, the blank page.
  • The Vanished Man
The protagonist escaped the hallucinations of the purple diary. While speaking to Maya, a girl trapped in the diary, an eerie voice filled the air. The voice seemed to come from a photo of a man in the diary.
  • The Blocking Hands
A man trapped by the curse disappeared into the diary once again. To learn more about the diary's secrets, the protagonist decided to follow him.
  • The Prisoner
The protagonist fended off the white hands that were blocking the door. Behind that door within the diary are the man imprisoned by the curse and the woman in black.
  • Hide-and-Seek
While investigating the diary's curse, the protagonist's eyes stop at an old photo of a young boy.
  • Hidden Words
An old diary left behind by the boy. Seemingly cryptic words are written inside.
  • Peek-a-Boo
The protagonist found photos of four masks on a page of the diary. Looking at them with the Camera Obscura, the protagonist notices four dark sets of eyes staring back at it.
  • Crumpled Picture
An old picture left in the diary looks like it was drawn by a child. It has something on it that's hard to discern, like it was crumpled up in a strange way. The voice of the boy whose face was taken can be heard coming from the picture.
  • Girl Afraid of the Dark
There might be others inside the diary - people whose faces haven't yet been taken. While looking at other pages in the diary, Maya's eyes stop at the picture of an old doll. There's something familiar about it.
  • Mysterious Score
A mysterious song drifts from the diary. Maya thinks she's heard it before. The melancholy song turns out to be coming from the piece of sheet music within the diary.
  • Beyond the Screen
The protagonist solved the riddle of the sheet music and then saw the silhouette of a young girl, alone and terrified in the darkness. The girl could be part of Maya's family. The protagonist searches the diary for a way to save her.
  • Ancient Rite
The old records in the diary are opening the doors of Maya's memory. They're all connected in some way to an ancient rite.
  • The Last Door
Maya discovered the true identity of the woman in black and figured out the cause of the curse. Now she's disappeared into the diary. The protagonist follows her, searching for the last hidden door.

Regional Differences[]

  • The title of Story Mode is Fatal Frame: The Diary of Faces in the US version, and Project Zero: The Purple Diary in the European version.
  • The stockings and shorts in Maya's unlockable Gothic Lolita Costume are changed to leggings in the North American and European releases of the game.
  • In the European version there is an option to switch from English to Japanese audio, which is not available in the North American version.
  • In the North American version, models of Mio and Mayu as they appear in Fatal Frame II: Deep Crimson Butterfly were removed.
  • In the North American version, Akira's name has been changed to Koji and the Old Woman is known as the Seamstress. These changes have been reversed in the European version.
  • In the American and European versions, Maya's age has been changed from 15 to 18.
  • In both Japanese and European releases of the game the player can see eyes peeking through the game box, in reference to a Japanese ghost called Mokumokuren. This extra is absent in the North American release.

Character Appearances[]

Several characters from previous games in the Fatal Frame series show up in Ghost Camera Mode. Following characters are confirmed.

Nintendo interview[]


Satoru Iwata (Nintendo's president) interviewed Keisuke Kikuchi (producer), Toshiharu Izuno (co-producer) and Kozo Makino (co-producer) in a Nintendo's Iwata Asks interview published in December 2011. The interview was as follows:

Imagination Is the Scariest Thing
-Iwata: Today I would like to talk about development of the Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir for the Nintendo 3DS system. Thank you for your time.

Satoru Iwata

Everyone: It's our pleasure.

-Iwata: First, please introduce yourselves.

Kikuchi: I'm Kikuchi from Tecmo Koei Games. As producer of Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir, I helped create the concept, determined policy with regard to each element, and performed project management.

Izuno: I'm Izuno from the Software Planning & Development Department. As the producer at Nintendo, I proposed the product concept, as well as contents. I've been working with Kikuchi-san since we kicked off the Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen¹ project for the Wii console.

1. Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen: Released for the Wii console in July 2008 in Japan. It was the fourth game in the horror series called Zero (known as Fatal Frame in the US) released by Tecmo. It was the first collaborative title by Tecmo Koei Games and Nintendo. The game was not released outside of Japan.

Makino: I'm Makino, also from the Software Planning &Development Department. I was a sort of producer on the ground at Nintendo. I put forth ideas together with Kikuchi-san, packed in detailed content with Tecmo Koei Games, and worked on the AR Book².

2. AR Book: A booklet packaged with Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir. Players will make use of it during the game when they use the Nintendo 3DS camera.

Izuno: By the way, there's a surprising connection of fate between Makino-san and Kikuchi-san.

-Iwata: Which is?

Makino: My father was his teacher in high school.

-Iwata: Really?! (laughs)

Kikuchi: In my second year of high school, he taught me math. Partly because of his influence, I continued to study mathematics and came into this field of work. When I heard who his father was, I was really surprised.

-Iwata: That may be fate, but could the encounter have been led by something possessing you, perhaps? (laughs)

Everyone: (laughs)

-Iwata: So, Kikuchi-san, Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir is a relation of the Fatal Frame series (known as the "Zero" series in Japan) that you have worked on for so long, right?

Kikuchi: Yes. I began making the first game over ten years ago. The release was December 2001, exactly ten years ago this month.

-Iwata: Has it been ten years already? Many games are marking its 10th and 20th anniversaries lately. What did you have in mind when you made the first game?

Kikuchi: The project's departure point was our desire to make a game that would provide the scariest experience possible. We wondered what that scariest thing was and concluded that it was what people imagine in their mind.

-Iwata: The scariest things are in your own head.

Kikuchi: Right. We thought that rather than directly showing grotesque images or other depictions, it's scarier when you're imagining scary thoughts, like when you're alone on the toilet or while taking a bath.

-Iwata: Not something you actually see, but the thought of what you find scary possibly popping out at any moment is much scarier.

Kikuchi: Yes. Video games and other video footage usually throw all kinds of content on the screen, but it's as if Fatal Frame subtracts from that. It subtracts from the full imagery or sounds so the players naturally make up for what is lacking with their own imagination.

-Iwata: The players subconsciously complement in their own head what is difficult to see or hear.

Kikuchi: The scariness of Fatal Frame is a fifty-fifty joining of what the game does and the player's imagination. If you think about that, it's AR³ in a very broad sense of the term.

3. AR: Augmented reality. Technology for overlapping virtual content and images of real objects.

-Iwata: AR technology is a standout feature of Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir, but in the broader sense, the Fatal Frame series has always used augmented reality.

Kikuchi: I believe so. Augmented reality can mean both the actual technology and any subjective embellishment of what actually exists. I feel like we have built up know-how especially with regard to the latter.

-Iwata: In that respect, use of the Wii Remote controller in the previous game, Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen, is immersive like AR.

Kikuchi: That was something we adopted in our search for a new kind of fear. It was extremely well-suited for Wii.

-Iwata: What have you placed importance on throughout your ten-year history working on the Fatal Frame series?

Kikuchi: Throughout the series, I would say stimulating the player's imagination. You think something might jump out at you from behind a sliding door or inside a closet when you open it. Normally in video games, scary things happen when you press a button, but it's scarier when they don't.

-Iwata: You're braced for something to leap out, but it turns out that there's nothing there. The more you think about the possibility, the greater the fear.

Kikuchi: Yes. In the first game, we used an old-fashioned Japanese-style house as setting to focus on the fear that an empty space can emit. And we have based our concept of fear on that since the second game as well.

In the second game, we included a more phantasmal fear within a tragic story. Then, in the third game, Zero: Shisei no Koe4, we portrayed a fear that eats away at everyday existence by adopting a structure of passing back and forth between the real world and a dream world. The AR Story mode in Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir is similar to that.

4. Zero: Shisei no Koe: The third game in the Fatal Frame series. Released by Tecmo in July 2005. Known as Fatal Frame III: The Tormented in the US.

-Iwata: You know…the Fatal Frame series always features cute girls.

Kikuchi: Uh…yes. (laughs)

-Iwata: Is there some reason for that?

Kikuchi: People always mention that! (laughs) Most of the players are guys, so why are the protagonists girls? (laughs) The original reason was that while making the first game, when we were trying to think of how we could make the scariest game possible, we thought the players would share the characters' fear if they saw scared facial expressions on a female character's face. Also, it fit the game design to have a female with nothing but a camera facing the ghosts rather than having a tough man engage in combat with them. So we've made the protagonists of the series young girls who look like they might have a second sense and who also look beautiful when scared.

-Iwata: So I was right, cute girls are a secret key ingredient in the Fatal Frame series! (laughs)

Everyone: (laughs)

Kikuchi: That is in fact true. Innocence, frailty and beauty. The proof of that is how such girls seem to attract spirits in countless horror tales from all times and places.

-Iwata: That is true. Actually, the staff who worked on the package artwork for Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen for Wii told me that when finishing up the art, Tecmo Koei Games was really particular about the female characters.

Kikuchi: Oh? (laughs)

-Iwata: They said that you were more detailed than they had ever experienced before and that you were really particular about what they should do, and how that was a great learning experience.

Kikuchi: That may be our company atmosphere. We have a strong culture of placing emphasis on the characters—like their facial expressions, how the light strikes them, and how we can make them more appealing. This is my 18th year at the company and that's something that has been consistent throughout.

-Iwata: Izuno-san, did you experience culture shock working together with Kikuchi-san and others who had been raised in that kind of culture?

Izuno: Yes, it was a jolt. (laughs) At meetings, when we were making Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen, I would say, "Well that should about do it," and come back, but the next time I went, it would have changed a lot!

-Iwata: (laughs) You've also developed games with Camelot and AlphaDream, and recently Heibonsha, and yet Tecmo Koei Games has its own unique personality and artistic identity.

5. Camelot Co., Ltd.: A video game developer in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo that was founded in 1994. They have worked on development of many Nintendo games such as the Mario Golf, Mario Tennis and Golden Sun series.

6. ALPHADREAM CORPORATION: A video game developer in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo that was founded in 2000. One of its major titles for Nintendo is the Mario & Luigi series of three action RPGs for the Nintendo DS system.

7. Heibonsha Limited, Publishers: A publisher with its headquarters in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo. They participated in creation of Hana to Ikimono Rittai Zukan released for the Nintendo 3DS system in September 2011 and provide the photographs and descriptions. This title is not available outside of Japan.

Izuno: I think so. I realized that their dedication to characters is important for touching the fans' hearts.

Kikuchi: If you make characters and animation and backgrounds and they conform to game operation and move according to the rules, that alone doesn't make a game. There's a moment somewhere along the way when a game is imbued with soul and life. For the Fatal Frame series, perhaps it felt that way because we focused on and placed a strong emphasis on the atmosphere, sounds and direction of the characters.

-Iwata: That must be how Tecmo Koei Games breathes life into its works.
The AR Book Breakthrough
-Iwata: How did development of Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir start?

Kikuchi: The beginning was quite simple. When Nintendo first presented the Nintendo 3DS system to us, I fell in love at first sight. (laughs) With the stereoscopic 3D, camera and gyro sensor, I thought it was the perfect hardware for the Fatal Frame series.

Keisuke Kikuchi

-Iwata: Like you could hear Nintendo 3DS saying, "Make a Fatal Frame game for me!"

Kikuchi: Right! (laughs)

Izuno: Like Kikuchi-san, a lot of people at Nintendo also felt like Nintendo 3DS was suited to horror. I thought so, too, and I was certain that when it came to horror, Tecmo Koei Games was the only option.

-Iwata: You were sure because of your experience working together on Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen.

Izuno: Yes. I went to my department head and said, "I'll come up with a good horror idea, so let me do it!"

Kikuchi: Then my team immediately drew up a project proposal. But unfortunately, the first proposal didn't go through. It was because Iwata-san, you said that horror was more suited to home consoles and our proposal just wasn't convincing as to why it should be for a handheld.

-Iwata: That's right.

Kikuchi: Then we went back to the drawing board. We had Izuno-san and Makino-san participate in planning sessions and discussed it over and over again.

Izuno: The first proposal was pretty much a regular home-console Fatal Frame game ported on Nintendo 3DS. What's more, there was something I had to do based on my experience as producer of Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen.

-Iwata: What exactly was that?

Izuno: This may be taken the wrong way, but I felt that an approach that concentrates only on saying, "This is a terrifying horror game," it would narrow the number of people who will pick it up.

-Iwata: There is that problem of the entryway. Lots of people enjoy horror movies, but I feel like not that many people are checking out horror video games. You wanted to solve that somehow, right?

Izuno: The Nintendo 3DS system is a handheld, so I thought we should take advantage of the benefits of being able to easily play it and carry it around. I also thought that we should approach customers with a game that would have AR at the core and be scary, but would also have a new kind of entertainment experience only possible with the Nintendo 3DS system.

Kikuchi: To be honest, we just thought of the AR in the first proposal as a single element in the game. It was just an extension of the previous Fatal Frame games. Then, based on Izuno-san's suggestions and in-house ideas, we hit on the possibility of presenting it as an adventure game under the rubric of AR horror.

-Iwata: Looking back, that had a big influence over this project.

Kikuchi: Yes. As we worked on the new project, the game design completely switched to something that could only be experienced on Nintendo 3DS. All the parts locked together and we saw it through without simply transplanting the existing Fatal Frame series.

-Iwata: The reason I didn't give the first proposal an okay was because in my mind horror games should have fairly rich graphics and good sound, and you make the room dark and concentrate on them alone. I felt like if you made a game for the Nintendo 3DS system based on that home-console concept, no matter how many new features you pack in, it would be a watered down version of the console version. I said that because, like Izuno-san said earlier, I thought adopting a different approach held the possibility of getting through to a broader base of people.

Izuno: Right.

-Iwata: Then the developers bestirred themselves and thought, "We gotta get this past the president!" Because of that the game came together and today we can talk about it. (laughs)

Kikuchi: Which makes me thankful for your initial rejection. When you participate in a new project like this, there are several hurdles. Those were clear this time, and every time we made it over one, I felt like the game had risen a notch.

Izuno: There were a lot of obstacles.

Kikuchi: The first one was making the switch to a game with AR at the core. The second was when we made the prototype and didn't know how to handle the markers.

-Iwata: You mean the AR markers.

8. AR marker: A visual pattern players focus the camera on and the game reads to display augmented reality content.

Kikuchi: For the prototype, at first we considered using real objects as markers. But since phones and clocks and such will differ from house to house, we ran into trouble determining what it should recognize.

-Iwata: Even if they were standard household items, it would be difficult to find something with the exact same shape.

Kikuchi: We really mulled over a lot of ideas, but it just didn't go well and we got bogged down. During a planning session around that time, Izuno-san tossed out the idea of including a book.

-Iwata: If the product came with an actual AR Book that had all the standard markers in it, you could give all the players the same environment, so to speak.

Kikuchi: Exactly. The idea of including something had come up in-house as well, but it would be costly and a lot of work, so we couldn't decide on it on our own. But then Nintendo suddenly suggested it!

Izuno: Actually, I had thought over it quite a lot before I brought it up. (laughs)

Everyone: (laughs)

Izuno: Even before the problem of markers, we had been thinking for a while that it needed something else to get people to pick it up. But we thought that if we included a real notebook with the markers in it, there would be no trouble reading them and it would grow as a product.

Makino: About the same time as that proposal, we thought of the Story mode, Fatal Frame: The Diary of Faces. Tecmo Koei Games put forth the idea of how a notebook whose owner is unknown would be scary. At that time, we were still putting the book on the lower screen. When we heard what Izuno-san had to say, we were like, "Well then, let's include a real book."

-Iwata: So the "Cursed Memoir" is a book with writing of unknown origin in it. Was anything difficult about including the AR Book?

Kikuchi: We solved the marker problem, but then needed to devise a way to handle it in the game. In the case of the game, it's scary when it looks like something is going to jump out but it doesn't, but in the case of AR, if you've done everything right and nothing comes out, you're like, "Huh? Why not?" (laughs)

-Iwata: That's true! (laughs) If you're expecting it but it doesn't happen, it isn't functioning as a marker.

Kikuchi: Right. I don't want to give anything away so I can't say much, but in order to solve that, we paid quite a lot of attention to game design that would—in a good way—run contrary to the player's expectations.

-Iwata: That's something to look forward to when playing the game. (laughs)

Kikuchi: Another challenge was how to handle looking at the real AR Book as the story progressed. AR technology is originally for omitting an interface, so including a notebook that the player would have to flip through would defeat the whole purpose.

-Iwata: If it just meant more work, it would be meaningless.

Kikuchi: Yes. So we put quite a lot of work into devising a fun way for flipping the pages and so forth when using the markers.

-Iwata: Makino-san, you worked on making the AR Book. Was that difficult?

Makino: The dilemma was that we wanted the AR Book to be scary but also to function as a marker. I could tell that the designers at Tecmo Koei Games wanted to make the book scary, so I asked them to adjust it over and over, and it ended up like it is now.

-Iwata: Recognition and fear didn't go together easily.

Makino: Another difficult thing was thinking up forms of play using an actual book. We came up with all sorts of ideas, like something to make you react when flipping the pages or kinds of play that are only possible with a notebook. We put a lot of effort into how much fear and surprise we could pack in.

-Iwata: And now, were you able to make it so that the process is a fun element rather than feeling like a task?

Makino: Yes. We scrapped some ideas, but it was worth working together with the designers at Tecmo Koei Games to turn it into something interesting.

-Iwata: How about you, Izuno-san?

Izuno: Since we were including the book, we wanted to put in ideas aside from the Story mode that you could play many times, so advanced players would be able to play in increasing depth. Once development got into the homestretch, we talked it over a lot.

Makino: You mean the Cursed Pages mode.

-Iwata: Makino-san, wasn't that an unreasonable request? (laughs)

Makino: It sure was! (laughs) Once that came down, Kikuchi-san and I really…

-Iwata: I feel like Tecmo Koei Games has lots of staff members who, when asked to make the game deeper, will passionately throw
themselves into it.

Kikuchi: That may be true. (laughs) In that respect, we delved into the story at first, but then we were also able to add a lot that would broaden players' enjoyment.

AR Spreads the Horror
-Iwata: Izuno-san, now that the game is done, do you feel as if you realized a type of horror that people will want to talk about with others?

Izuno: Yes. I also feel as if we have been able to provide a new form of play through the Haunted Visions mode. With the Haunted Visions mode's Spirit Photography, pictures you take with the Nintendo 3DS camera will have haunting images. Their faces warp and creepy things appear.

Toshiharu Izuno

-Iwata: I see. Once you take one, there's no way you can go without showing it to someone. (laughs)

Izuno: I think we achieved an enjoyable kind of play by tapping into people's desire to see something scary. Haunting VIsions mode also has Spirit Check.

-Iwata: Spirit Check? (laughs)

Izuno: Yes. It shows the spirit possessing someone. It changes for different faces and facial expressions and gives comments like, "Today, this kind of spirit is haunting you." It can be a lot of fun to look at those. (laughs)

-Iwata: In other words, you present a different way of enjoying horror, through everyone gathering and playing together instead of just getting scared.

Izuno: Kikuchi-san said we can call it a singles-party game. (laughs)

Everyone: (laughs)

Kikuchi: Everyone can also get together and use it to test their courage. And there's a mode called Spirit Challenge in which someone whose photo was taken attacks as a vengeful spirit and you fight it off. I feel like after we put that in everyone started taking pictures of me! (laughs)

-Iwata: (laughs) The same thing is probably happening around Nintendo.

Izuno and Makino: (looking at each other's face and laughing)

Kikuchi: By pairing the existing AR features with horror elements, we were able to put in gameplay involving superimposition of horror elements and the real world that effects things like your room, or even your friends.

-Iwata: A lot people view AR—partially because of AR Games9, included in Nintendo 3DS—as mostly taking a photo of a marker and seeing something pop up on it, but you have expanded on that quite a bit this time. I feel like playing with others gives rise to different kinds of AR. Makino-san, what do you think?

9. AR Games: Software built into the Nintendo 3DS system. Players use the system's camera to take pictures of the included AR Cards.

Makino: I think so, too. For example, Haunting VIsions uses AR, but the time between releasing the shutter and seeing the photo, that time you spend imagining what might appear, is really important. That was a characteristic of the original Fatal Frame game that connects with the fear of what you imagine.

-Iwata: When you make a horror game, there tends to be someone on the team who is a scaredy-cat and says, "No, not a scary game!" Was there anyone like that?

Izuno: Yeah, a few.

-Iwata: What is their relationship with the game like now?

Makino: The most scared female staff member even now runs away after just seeing the AR Book! (laughs)

Izuno: But that's what we were aiming for, so that isn't so bad. (laughs)

Makino: And another staff, despite not being much for scary things, was interested in the game. When she played it, she said that the story and other devices drew her in.

Kikuchi: Of course, we put some things together under the logic of making people feel afraid, but this game, with its use of AR, leaves an eerie feeling of fear rather than one of disgust.

-Iwata: When it comes to horror and mystery, you can adopt a style that shows something viscerally upsetting in a straightforward and raw way or a style that draws upon imagination and strange phenomena to stir fear and surprise. I think the Fatal Frame team's method is definitely the latter.

Kikuchi: That's right. This time, I think we were able, without changing that style, to make it possible for a greater variety of people to play the game via the AR features and different overall approach.

-Iwata: As a side note, it was a little hard to come up with the title Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir.

Izuno: We went through a lot.

-Iwata: It took awhile for me to give my assent. (laughs) You must have thought up a lot of titles and discussed them over and over.

Izuno: I was the one who came up with the subtitle "The Cursed Memoir".

-Iwata: Kikuchi-san, what did you think at first about changing the name away from Fatal Frame?

Kikuchi: I thought that, in line with the new product concept, we needed a title with broad appeal but which was also scary, and everyone shared an understanding of that. Thus, the first title that I thought of was Dr. Asou's Spirit Camera.

Izuno: Dr. Asou is who invented the Camera Obscura of the Fatal Frame series. His name comes up in every game.

10. Camera Obscura: A spirit camera that appears in the story. It is capable of photographing vengeful spirits and other unnatural phenomena.

-Iwata: People who have played the series would think, "Oh, that guy?"

Kikuchi: That's what I thought when I suggested it, but a lot of people were like, "Who's that?" so it went down in flames. An idea along different lines was AR Horror Games, but you said that was no good. (laughs)

-Iwata: When I first heard that one, it sounded derivative of AR Games. When people who had experienced AR Games played this game, it would be shockingly different than what they imagined, so while I could understand why you suggested that title, I thought it would give the wrong impression.

Makino: It expresses the casual horror direction that this game takes, but it doesn't convey anything of the essence of the game.

-Iwata: Right.

Kikuchi: The key words "spirit camera" hung around until the end, but we had a ton of subtitles lying around. We asked a lot of people for their opinions and settled on the "Cursed Memoir", which conveys the product's characteristics and atmosphere.

Share the "Portable Fear" with Others
-Iwata: Kikuchi-san, did working together on a game with Nintendo have an influence on you?

Kikuchi: I touched upon it earlier, but the way of thinking toward expanding entertainment experience put a big influence on me. Most of the time, we tend to dig deep in one direction, but we received a lot of suggestions for expanding the game from a perspective different than our own.

-Iwata: Nintendo came in from different angles and tossed out unreasonable demands? (laughs)

Kikuchi: That's exactly right! (laughs) During development, it's common for various problems to arise and you'd get stuck a bunch of times, but Nintendo can toss aside what they've built so far and continue on by coming up with one different approach after the other. That spirit of persistence had quite an influence on our staff.

I also think it was great how the team was able to move as one together with Izuno-san and Makino-san. In my experience, when a project spans multiple companies, a development team working as a single entity doesn't come together easily.

-Iwata: It isn't often that a project involves more than one company and you strike upon a relationship in which you can say, "Let's make another game in the series!"

Kikuchi: Five years ago, you gave us the chance to make Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen, and while there were quite a few things that didn't go so well, I feel like we developed that rare kind of relationship in which we shared an experience where we had both joy and hardship, where now we can say anything to each other.

-Iwata: Even if you say something negative, you're not tearing each other down. Rather, as a single organization with a shared task and goal, you're on the same level.

Kikuchi: Yes.

-Iwata: A lot of times, Izuno-san, you came to talk to me almost as if possessed by Kikuchi-san. That's the sign of a unified team. I could always sense that, and I've noticed it again as we talk today.

Izuno: I still don't know how next time we will make use of the forms of play and skills we built up this time, but I would like to develop upon this framework and work together with Tecmo Koei Games again in making an enjoyable product.

-Iwata: All right, to finish up, could I ask each of you to say something to the fans of the Fatal Frame series, as well as to people who have never played it? Let's start with you, Makino-san.

Makino: To fans of the series, a cute girl shows up this time, too, so don't worry! (laughs) The style of gameplay has changed a little, but that Fatal Frame taste you get by experiencing the story is still there. And, of course, I think people will be able to experience this new form of horror game that Tecmo Koei Games and Nintendo have made together.

Kozo Makino

-Iwata: And to people who have never played the series?

Makino: To people who aren't great at scary games, I recommend Haunting VIsions. It's fun when people gather, to test your courage, or play it at a singles-party.

-Iwata: It's so strange to mention the words horror game and singles-party in a single sentence. (laughs)

Makino: I don't think there's ever been a horror game before that you wanted to show to other people.

-Iwata: Since properly experiencing a horror game required a certain amount of time and the right environment, I suppose it has been the genre least suited to showing to others.

Makino: Yes. I think we've been able to overturn that in some respects.

-Iwata: How about you, Izuno-san?

Izuno: Adding to what Makino-san said, I would ask Fatal Frame series fans to check out the battles. In the Fatal Frame series, you don't like it when something scary gets close, but in order to drive away a vengeful spirit, you need them to get close to you to inflict a lot of damage. That psychological push and pull has been increased by a substantial percentage, so it's a blast.

-Iwata: A dramatic improvement on the existing formula?

Izuno: Yes. (laughs) For other players, it is a scary horror game, but I want them to try it out casually, rather than bracing themselves beforehand. We've prepared a lot of new and unusual experiences that you can only have with the Nintendo 3DS system.

-Iwata: You could say that it doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth, right?

Izuno: Right. While we did make it scary, I think players will be able to experience something different and surprising.

-Iwata: Kikuchi-san, you're last.

Kikuchi: It's been ten years since I started working on the Fatal Frame series. During that time, a lot of fans have supported it. I'm thankful for being able to continue making it.

This time, with Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir, we have gone back to basics while also establishing a new structure and format. The structure has totally changed, but those who have played the Fatal Frame series so far will be able to feel the essence of Fatal Frame everywhere.

-Iwata: It turned out to be the kind of game that even you—the one who is most particular about the Fatal Frame series—feel that way.

Kikuchi: Yes. The Nintendo 3DS system becomes the Camera Obscura, which has so far only existed inside the games. If you look through that camera at the world around you, you can feel the world of Fatal Frame close at hand.

-Iwata: It truly has become contiguous with the real world.

Kikuchi: The staff on the development team has worked with me on the graphics and other aspects of the Fatal Frame series for some time now, so I think players will be satisfied with the quality.

To people who have never played Fatal Frame, it is a game that allows players to casually fulfill that desire to see something scary and have bite-size scary experiences like those when you enter a haunted mansion.

-Iwata: Is it also okay for people who have difficulty with game controls?

Kikuchi: Yes. Fancy fingerwork isn't that important.

-Iwata: So everyone in the family can be scared and scream together. (laughs)

Kikuchi: I believe so. Also, we paid attention to sharing the fear when making it, so you'll naturally want to show it to people. You can enjoy a chill when showing spirit photos that you've taken while travelling and you can carry it around, giving rise to communication. Simply put, it's a portable fear.

-Iwata: A portable fear! That's catchy! (laughs)

Kikuchi: Thanks! (laughs) And we've used the Nintendo 3DS system's features to the fullest. We've prepared many ways to play that utilizes features that are innate to the Nintendo 3DS system—making use of its portability, the cameras, the gyro sensor, stereoscopic 3D, and AR—so it polished up into a horror game that facilitates communication between players. I hope lots of people will try it out and experience this new genre of AR horror!

-Iwata: Thank you for today, everyone.

Everyone: Thank you!

Sales in Japan[]

Spirit Camera was released on January 12 at the price of ¥3.800.

Below is displayed the weekly results based on Media Create and Famitsu's software sales charts (number of sales vary depending of the chart):

Media Create Top 50
Week 2, 2012 (January 9 - January 15)

The game debuted at 7th place, selling 16.351 units, but didn't become the highest sold 3DS title of the week for staying behind the 3DS games: Mario Kart 7 (2nd place), Monster Hunter 3G (3rd place), Super Mario 3D Land (4th place) and Inazuma Eleven Go: Shine/Dark (5th place). [1]

Week 3, 2012 (January 16 - January 22)

The game declined 20 positions in the ranking, jumping from 7th to 27th place. [2]

Week 4, 2012 (January 23 - January 29)

The game declined 11 positions in the ranking, jumping from 27th to 38th place. [3]

Week 5, 2012 (January 30 - February 5)

The game didn't reach the Top 50. [4]

Famitsu Top 30
Week 3, 2012 (January 9 - January 15)

The game debuted at 7th place, selling 16.174 units, but didn't become the highest sold 3DS title of the week for staying behind the 3DS games: Mario Kart 7 (2nd place), Monster Hunter 3G (3rd place), Super Mario 3D Land (4th place) and Inazuma Eleven Go: Shine/Dark (6th place). [5]

Week 4, 2012 (January 16 - January 22)

The game declined 19 positions in the ranking, jumping from 7th to 26th place, selling 4.100 units.

The number of sales combined with the previous week resulted in a total of 20.274 units sold. [6]

Week 5, 2012 (January 23 - January 29)

The game didn't reach the Top 30. [7]

Global sales[]

Below is displayed the number of units sold worldwide according to VGChartz:

North America: 0.08m (49.9%)
Europe: 0.02m (10.2%)
Japan: 0.06m (35.6%)
Rest of the World: 0.01m (4.4%)
Global: 0.17m

As of February 21st 2015, 0.17m units were sold. [8]


  • The main staff who work on the main Fatal Frame series are in charge of its development, though Makoto Shibata took on a "supervisory" role rather than his usual role as director.
  • The game was originally titled "Dr. Asou's Spirit Camera" (麻生博士の心霊カメラ, Asou Hakase no Shinrei Camera) by Keisuke Kikuchi, since he has been mentioned in every other game in the series, but so many people didn't know who he was, thus the idea was quickly dropped. Another suggestion was "AR Horror Games".
  • One of the promotional movies added to the official website was a mini-drama about three girls, Rina, Saki and Kaori, who play the game and become cursed by it.
  • The game's music was composed by Ayako Toyoda.
  • This game was released in America on Friday the 13th, a day known for superstition.
  • The game sold 0.09m units globally.



External links[]