Fatal Frame

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This article is about the video game series. For the first game in the series, see Fatal Frame (video game).
Fatal Frame
零 / Project Zero
Fatal Frame logo.png
Logo used in Fatal Frame II and III
Genres Survival Horror
Developers Tecmo
Grasshopper Manufacture
Publishers Tecmo
Microsoft Game Studios
Take-Two Interactive
Platforms PlayStation Network
PlayStation 2
PlayStation 3
Nintendo 3DS
Wii U
Platform of origin PlayStation 2
First release Fatal Frame
December 13, 2001
Latest release Fatal Frame: Oracle of the Sodden Raven
September 27, 2014
Spin-offs Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir

Fatal Frame, known as Project Zero in Europe and Zero (零 zero?) in Japan, is a supernatural, survival horror video game series developed by Tecmo and Grasshopper Manufacture for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. The first game, Fatal Frame, was released on 13 December 2001, and since then several sequels and spin-offs have spawned from it.

Games in the series typically use both a third-person perspective and a first-person perspective, and revolve around the use of a Camera Obscura (射影機 / しゃえいき Shaeiki?) to explore abandoned ruins and fend off hostile ghosts.

The Fatal Frame series is recognized for its unique gameplay mechanics, tense atmosphere and quirkiness,[1][2] and a few games in the series are considered to be some of the best survival horror games ever made.[3][4] While Tecmo Koei remains the sole owner of the Fatal Frame / Project Zero IP and franchise, Nintendo co-owns the rights to Fatal Frame IV, the Spirit Camera spin-off, Project Zero 2: Wii Edition, Fatal Frame V and all future installments of the series.[5]

A film based on the video game series, Gekijōban Rei ~Zero~, was released on 26 September 2014.[6]

Series gameplay[edit]

Gameplay in the Fatal Frame series generally revolves around exploring abandoned ruins and fending off hostile ghosts—both involving the use of the Camera Obscura, an antique camera-like device that captures images of spirits.[7]


Gameplay in the Fatal Frame series is split into chapters, which mainly involves exploring haunted, abandoned ruins to complete objectives. In the early stages of each game, the player obtains a flashlight to assist in exploration, such as revealing items (in some games, the flashlight will not work in certain areas).

The player will often come across old documents that provide backstory and context to the player. Sometimes, impassable doors will block the player's progress into certain areas. In some cases, the door will be locked with an engraved lock, forcing the player to look around for a key with the same engraving pattern. In others, it will be sealed by a gathering of spirits (a.k.a. "mists" or "seals"), forcing the player to dispel it with the Camera Obscura by taking a picture of the seal; sometimes, the pictures provide clues to a different location, where the player must go to release the seal.

The player can save their game at save points, usually lit lanterns. However, if a ghost appears in the area, the player cannot save their game until the ghost disappears.[8]


A typical battle in Fatal Frame. The Ghost Filament (top center), health bar (lower right), and ammunition (lower left) are shown

To fight hostile spirits, players use the Camera Obscura's Finder Mode (a first-person perspective mode), aim the device at the target spirit, and take a picture with the shutter button. Players cannot simply take photographs in quick succession, which yields little damage and wastes film. Instead, they must charge up their Spirit Power by keeping the spirit inside the Capture Circle (reticle) for long enough before firing; the more power charged, the greater the damage. After each shot, the player must wait while the camera reloads its current film before firing another shot.

In recent games, players can earn a "Fatal Frame" by taking a shot just as the ghost is about to attack and the ghost filament turns red for extra damage

The player can deal more damage by waiting for a "Shutter Chance" (formerly a "Shutterbug Moment")—that is, the time period during which a spirit attacks. A smaller window of time during Shutter Chances allows the player to execute the series' titular "Fatal Frame", which enables the player to chain shots repeatedly, with no need to reload until the chain ends. There are two ways a Fatal Frame chain can end: either the spirit leaves the camera's view (e.g. passing through a solid wall), or the player misses the next Fatal Frame in the chain. Taking pictures of spirits earns the player Spirit Points, which can be used to upgrade the Camera Obscura; the better an overall shot is, the more Spirit Points the player will earn.[9]

The Camera Obscura uses a variety of film types as ammunition. Once the player uses a film slide, they must reload before they can take another picture. Each type varies in exorcismal strength and reload times. For example, Type-07 and Type-14 films are the weakest, but are usually unlimited; while Type-90 and Type-Zero (Type-00) films are the rarest and strongest. However, Type-07 film takes longer to reload than Type-14 film. The Camera Obscura also uses various "functions" and lenses to give the player a better fighting chance, such as the ability to see an enemy spirit's hit points and a signal for the player to take Fatal Frames. The player can upgrade these functions and lenses, as well as the Camera's battle capacity (e.g. range, sensitivity, and Spirit Power accumulation) with the Spirit Points they earn through either battle, or through Spirit Crystals found in the field.[10][11]

Main series[edit]

Fatal Frame (2001)[edit]

In the night of October 1986, protagonist Miku Hinasaki goes to the defunct Himuro Mansion in search of her older brother, Mafuyu Hinasaki. Mafuyu has been missing for over two weeks since he had gone into the same Mansion to look for his mentor, Junsei Takamine.

The game-play story begins with Mafuyu's exploration of the Himuro Mansion; with graphics in grainy black and white to signal players that it is a flashback. Armed with a Camera Obscura, Mafuyu enters the Mansion. Upon finding Takamine's notebook, Mafuyu sees a vision of Takamine's last moments. Subsequently after the vision, Mafuyu gets attacked by one of the evil spirits of the Mansion, which he successfully wards off with the Camera Obscura. Mafuyu's mysterious disappearance was linked to his encounter with the malicious spirit of the Mansion, Kirie.

The main story starts when Miku Hinasaki enters the Mansion. The only trace she finds of Mafuyu is of their mother's old Camera Obscura, which Mafuyu brought with him. Upon realizing that she is now trapped in the mansion, Miku continues to search for her brother and a way out. In the process, she discovers gruesome facts and history of the Shinto Rituals conducted in the very Mansion, which Takamine was originally researching on.

After encountering more vicious spirits(that were mostly the victims of the Mansion's curse), Miku finally discovers that Mafuyu was still alive and well, but just as trapped in the Mansion's dimension as her. Mafuyu's survival in the mansion was partly because of his resemblance to Kirie's long lost lover- hence Kirie did not harm Mafuyu and instead, protects him. Miku learns of Kirie's past through flashbacks and notes in Kirie's celler. Fearing that Kirie's love would prevent her from fulfilling her duties, Lord Himuro had ordered her lover to be murdered. Upon knowing the truth, Kirie's grief and resulting doubts in her obligations resulted in the failure of the Shinto Rituals. This failure allowed the Hell Gate to open, unleashing the great curse called "the Malice". The curse subsequently plagues the Mansion for years, and was the reason for the viciousness of Kirie's spirit.

At the end of the game, Miku manages to rescue Mafuyu and free Kirie of the darkness caused by the curse. At this point, players would get endings diverge. In one ending, the underground cavern crumbles and Mafuyu chooses to stay at Kirie's side so that she will not be alone again. Miku escapes the disintegrating mansion alone. Mafuyu disappears together with Kirie. After she escapes, Miku sees the glowing lights of the entrapped spirits of the mansion freed into the night sky. Another ending shows Miku escaping with Mafuyu, leaving Kirie behind. The third ending (which is exclusive to the Xbox version) has Miku escaping with her brother and has Kirie's lover return to her to be together with her at the underworld gate for all eternity. For all endings, Miku explains that after that day, she "stopped seeing things that other people can't see". According to the events in Fatal Frame III: The Tormented, the first ending is the canon ending.

The original game was later ported to the Xbox. The Xbox version included smoother graphics, more costumes, more ghosts, an exclusive "Fatal Mode" that can be unlocked by completing the main game, and a new ending exclusive to the Xbox version.[12]

Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (2003)[edit]

Mio (left) and Mayu Amakura, as they appear in Project Zero 2: Wii Edition

Twin sisters Mio and Mayu Amakura are visiting a childhood play spot, when Mayu follows a mysterious crimson butterfly deep into the forest. Concerned for her twin, Mio follows Mayu, and the two find themselves at a lost village. When they reach the village, they notice that the path they took to this mysterious place has vanished. Mio must uncover the mystery behind the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, while chasing her sister, who is becoming increasingly possessed by the evil spirit of Sae, the last failed sacrifice.[citation needed] Originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2003, a Director's Cut edition was later released for the Xbox in 2004. This version added several updates to the gameplay, such as a first-person play mode, a survival mode, a new ending, enhanced graphics, and a greater number of alternate costumes to unlock.[13]

A remake of Crimson Butterfly, Project Zero 2: Wii Edition, known in Japan as Zero ~Shinku no Chou~ (零 〜眞紅の蝶〜?, Zero: Deep Crimson Butterfly), was developed by Tecmo Koei and published by Nintendo for the Wii video game console in 2012. It includes the extra game modes and unlockables of the Xbox re-release, but it also includes two new endings on top of those in the Xbox version. The camera angles, voiceover, graphics, and gameplay have been remade to be similar to the fourth Fatal Frame game.

Fatal Frame III: The Tormented (2005)[edit]

While on an assignment taking pictures at a derelict mansion, Rei Kurosawa, a 23-year-old freelance photographer, inexplicably captures the image of her deceased fiancé, Yuu Asou, in a photograph. Afterwards, Rei begins having recurring nightmares of an old Japanese manor during a heavy snowfall, and observes Yuu entering the house. She follows him into the house, where the dream becomes a nightmare. Miku Hinasaki from Fatal Frame returns as a playable character; along with newcomer Kei Amakura, uncle of Mio and Mayu from Fatal Frame II. This game revisits locations from the first two installments, along with a new haunted location.

Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen (2008)[edit]

In 1970, five girls were kidnapped by Yō Haibara, a suspected serial killer, from their rooms in a mysterious sanatorium on Rougetsu Island. They were eventually rescued by Chōshirō Kirishima, a detective pursuing the criminal, but all five girls lost their memories in the process. Ten years later, two of the girls, Marie Shinomiya and Tomoe Nanamura, died mysteriously. Fearing the same fate, the three remaining girls, Ruka Minazuki, Misaki Asō and Madoka Tsukimori, all now 17 years old, return to the island to recover their lost memories and learn the truth about the events that occurred 10 years ago. Chōshirō also returns to find Ruka at her mother's request.[14]

The fourth installment of the Fatal Frame series was developed for the Wii with Nintendo and Grasshopper Manufacture.[15] The game was informally titled Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse outside of Japan.[16][17]

Fatal Frame: Oracle of the Sodden Raven (2014)[edit]

The fifth installment of the Fatal Frame series was announced on April 21, 2014, and will be a Wii U exclusive. The game is one of four parts of a project planned by Tecmo Koei and Nintendo, which also includes a live-action movie, a manga, and a novel that is due out in August.[18] The game's Japanese title translates as Zero: The Black-Haired Shrine Maiden in English.

During the presentation via Nico Nico, both Tecmo Koei and Nintendo revealed the initial details of the game along with the first trailer and screenshots. The game was released in Japan on September 27, 2014.[19]

In a Nintendo Direct presentation on April 1, 2015, a Western release for the game was confirmed in both Europe and North America, though its localised titles were not confirmed.[20]


Real: Another Edition (2004)[edit]

Real: Another Edition is a cellular based spin-off of Fatal Frame that was released only in Japan in October, 2004. The game made use of a cellphone camera as the camera obscura and required the players to find ghosts and fight them. The game has more than 70 spirits that can be collected,[21] including some from the first two games in the series.

Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir (2012)[edit]

Spirit Camera: The Possessed Notebook (心霊カメラ 〜憑いてる手帳〜 Shinrei Camera ~Tsuiteru Techou~?) is a spin-off of the Fatal Frame series for the Nintendo 3DS. The game was released in Japan on January 12, 2012, North America on April 13, 2012, and Europe on June 29, 2012 under the title Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir. This game contains a mode called Project Zero (or Fatal Frame in America) just like the main series.[22][23]

Fatal Frame: Shadow Priestess (2014)[edit]

Fatal Frame: Shadow Priestess is a manga by Seimaru Amagi. It was released in 2014 by DeNA for their Manga Box app.[24]

Story background and history[edit]

The series' plots uses themes such as ghosts, exorcisms, and dark Shinto rituals.[25] Throughout the series, references are made to Kunihiko Asō, a fictitious Japanese "Occultist" that lived during the late nineteenth century. Using Western technology, he developed inventions that would allow him and others to make contact with spirits in the "other world."[7] His inventions include the Camera Obscura, the primary weapon used to photograph (and, throughout the series, mainly defend against) ghosts; the Spirit Stone Radio, introduced in Fatal Frame II as a means to listen to the thoughts and memories of spirits that had been stored in special crystals;[26] a projector capable of displaying ghostly images captured on film that motion picture cameras could not see;[27] and the spirit stone flashlight, a weapon used in Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen.

According to files in Fatal Frame III, Asō's various inventions were eventually scattered about Japan, and are now heavily sought after by collectors. Some of these inventions somehow make their way into the protagonists' hands. For example. the Camera Obscura that Mafuyu and Miku use in the first game once belonged to their mother. Mio Amakura came across Seijiro Makabe's Camera Obscura while exploring the Lost Village. In Fatal Frame III, Kei Amakura discovered a Camera Obscura in the ruins of a village "not found on maps", and later sent it to Yuu Asou, leading to it entering Rei Kurosawa's possession.

In Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen, the Camera Obscura used by Madoka Tsukimori and Ruka Minazuki is an exhibit in the "Asō Museum" of Rougetsu Hall. This camera was left behind by Dr. Asō when he visited the island. However, Misaki Asō brought a different Camera Obscura belonging to her family as she is a descendant of Kunihiko Asō.


  1. ^ Lopez, Miguel (March 8, 2002). "Fatal Frame Review". Gamespot. 
  2. ^ Smith, David (5 March 2002). "Fatal Frame review". IGN. 
  3. ^ ""PlayStation2 the Best"と"PSP the Best"2007年11月のラインアップを紹介!". ファミ通.com. 2007-10-04. Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  4. ^ Miles Cheong, Ian (2 May 2014). "Top 25 Best Survival Horror Games". Gameranx. 
  5. ^ Nintendo boxart (2003-08-15). "Project Zero is a trademark of Tecmo Koei Games Co Ltd.". Nintendo. Retrieved 2013-11-19. 
  6. ^ "Live-Action Japanese Fatal Frame Film's 1st Trailer Posted". Anime News Network. 28 June 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Tecmo (2003-11-27). "Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly". PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Seijiro Makabe (flashback): So this is the Camera Obscura… It takes pictures of impossible things… […] What was that?! … I can't believe… So it's true… This thing is too dangerous… 
  8. ^ "零〜紅い蝶〜・製品情報". Tecmo.co.jp. Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  9. ^ Tecmo (4 March 2002). "Fatal Frame". PlayStation 2. Tecmo. 
  10. ^ "零〜紅い蝶〜・射影機・霊との戦い". Tecmo.co.jp. Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  11. ^ "零 〜眞紅の蝶〜". Nintendo.co.jp. Nintendo. Retrieved 2013-03-31. 
  12. ^ Calvert, Justin; GameSpot (2002-10-16). "Fatal Frame details – Xbox News at GameSpot". Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  13. ^ "Xbox.com / Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly DIRECTOR'S CUT – Game Detail". Microsoft Game Studios. Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  14. ^ "零 〜月蝕の仮面〜". Nintendo.co.jp. Retrieved 2014-09-30. 
  15. ^ Tecmo Planning Next Fatal Frame for Wii news from. 1UP.com (2007-09-25). Retrieved on 2012-06-12.
  16. ^ "Fatal Frame Wii Revealed". ign.com. IGN. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  17. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (27 June 2011). ""No truth" to Fatal Frame PS3 rumour". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  18. ^ "New Fatal Frame announced for Wii U". Gematsu. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  19. ^ siliconarena.com. "Fatal Frame: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden Revealed For Wii U". Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  20. ^ Brian Shea (April 1, 2015). "Nintendo Reveals New Wii U Fatal Frame Gameplay Details". GameInformer.com. 
  21. ^ Real: Another Edition Impressions – Mobile News at GameSpot. Gamespot.com (2004-09-25). Retrieved on 2012-06-12.
  22. ^ "Official Site – Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir for Nintendo 3DS". Spiritcamera.nintendo.com. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  23. ^ "ニンテンドー3DSカンファレンス 2011|心霊カメラ 〜憑いてる手帳〜|Nintendo". Nintendo.co.jp. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  24. ^ "Fatal Frame Manga by Kindaichi's Amagi Gets English Release". Anime News Network. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  25. ^ Tecmo (4 March 2002). "Fatal Frame". PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Black Notebook Scrap 1 (in-game file). Junsei Takamine: A series of murders in a country village. Dead bodies turn up one after another. Murders that resemble cruel Shinto rituals of legend in the area. The acts of a man sworn to revenge, and the strange correlation between those acts and the folklore. The man is gradually more and more influenced by the legends. The work will be the story of this man, proceeding in parallel with the tales of the local lore. Records of the past discovered after an earthquake. The story gradually blurs the boundary between the present and the past.
    July 24th:
    About Himuro Mansion
    Himuro Mansion is known as the home of a large landowner who controlled this region. But they say it was originally the place a shrine was built for performing a certain Shinto ritual, passed down through the generations. But the people of that time kept the ritual a deep, dark secret. They were even forbidden to speak its name aloud. Today, almost no accounts of the ritual exist, aside from a smattering of folklore legends.
  26. ^ Tecmo (27 November 2003). "Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly". PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Mio's Memo: Spirit Stone Radio (in-game file). The Spirit Stone Radio was a modified crystal radio set that used crystals as part of its circuitry. It picked up voices from the spirit world. It was created by Dr. Asō, who also designed the Camera Obscura. Dr. Asō, after giving Makabe the Camera Obscura prototype and the Spirit Stone Radio, travelled Japan seeking ways to complete his Camera Obscura, but died unexpectedly. His death meant the principles behind how the devices captured the spirit would remain a mystery. 
  27. ^ Tecmo (27 November 2003). "Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly". PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Mio's Memo: The Camera Obscura (in-game file). The "Camera Obscura" is a special camera created by Dr. Asō to capture supernatural phenomenon that couldn't be seen with the naked eye. It was designed to photograph visions of the past and spirit entities, but it was a prototype and its functions hadn't been fully tested. Photographing "things that ordinary people can't see" with this camera had an exorcismal effect. Seijiro Makabe, a folklorist who had come to investigate All God's Village, borrowed this camera from Dr. Asō to photograph the village's rumored Forbidden Ritual. Dr. Kunihiko Asō was a folklorist who studied the spirit world. He modified the latest gadgets of his time, the camera, radio and projector, trying to create a machine that could capture supernatural phenomenon. He was shunned by the academic world but became friends with Makabe. 

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