Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
|Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly|
North American cover art
Hitoshi "Zin" Hasegawa
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 2, Xbox|
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly,[a] is a Japanese survival horror video game developed and published by Tecmo in 2003 for the PlayStation 2. It is the second installment in the Fatal Frame series, and features an independent story with little relation to the first title. The story follows twin sisters Mio and Mayu Amakura as they explore an abandoned village and experience encounters with the paranormal. Their lives quickly become threatened when the village spirits begin to possess Mayu and target them as sacrifices for an ancient ritual. Players must use a camera with powers of exorcism to defeat enemies and uncover the secrets of the village.
Development of Fatal Frame II began shortly after the completion of the first title. Because many players were too frightened to finish the original, Tecmo made the sequel's story more interesting to encourage players to see it through and finish the game. Despite this, horror was still the central focus of the game. Director Makoto Shibata kept the perpetual nature of spirits in mind during development. Ghosts reappearing in different locations, and being able to feel their presence even after their death were characteristics Shibata felt were indicative of a horror scenario.
Upon release, Fatal Frame II received positive reviews, and is widely considered to be among the scariest video games ever made. An Xbox port, subtitled Director's Cut, was released in 2004 and included improved visuals, audio, and new gameplay modes. The game has also been re-released on the PlayStation 3 via PSN in 2013, and a remake of the game titled Project Zero 2: Wii Edition was released for the Wii in 2012 in Europe and Japan.
Fatal Frame II is a survival horror video game. For most of the game, the player controls the protagonist Mio Amakura as she and her sister Mayu explore a ghost town.:4 As they explore the town and uncover its secrets, they defeat enemies in the form of ghosts and spirits by taking pictures of them with an enchanted camera, the Camera Obscura.:10–11 There are two modes of gameplay, field mode and viewfinder mode. When in field mode, the player controls Mio directly and can examine items and search areas for clues. When the camera is used, the game enters viewfinder mode, from where pictures of ghosts and scenery can be taken. Information about the camera film type, lens type, and camera enhancements is visible.:6–13
Most of the game is spent directing Mio followed closely by Mayu as they explore the village. A filament in the corner of the screen will glow when ghosts or clues are nearby. Many clues are only visible through the viewfinder, and some ghosts are non-hostile and will provide hints to advance further. Sometimes Mayu will stop if she finds a clue as well.:6–13 Other than clues and key items to progress the narrative, consumable items such as health restoratives and film for the Camera Obscura can be found.:31
Fighting spirits by taking pictures of them is a key gameplay mechanic. When in viewfinder mode, one can take pictures of enemies, damaging them. More damage can be dealt by snapping shots at certain moments, indicated by the filaments and lights on the camera. Power-up lenses can be used to provide added affects such as slowing down the enemy or pushing them back.:13,16–17,24–27 Pictures taken with the camera can be saved to the memory card.:21 Mayu cannot fight off ghosts, and if she takes too much damage, it results in a game over. The player character Mio has a health meter, and like Mayu, if she receives too much damage it is game over. The game must then be continued from a previous save. The game can only be saved at red lanterns located in throughout the village.:6–13,20
Setting and characters
Fatal Frame II is set in the fictional Minakami (皆神) region of Japan. The region is home to Minakami Village (lit. "All God's Village"), an abandoned town where the majority of the game takes place. The player learns that Minakami Village was host to the "Crimson Sacrifice Ritual", the failure of which caused the settlement to vanish—thus earning it the name "The Lost Village". In the game's present, there is an urban legend about the Lost Village, where people who become lost in the Minakami forest will become trapped forever in the village.
The protagonists of Fatal Frame II are Mio and Mayu Amakura, twin sisters who are visiting their favorite childhood playspot in Minakami before it is lost due to construction of a new dam. The main antagonist is the vengeful spirit of Sae Kurosawa, the sole Twin Shrine Maiden sacrificed for the failed ritual. She yearns to reunite with her twin sister Yae. Sae mistakens Mio for her sister, and wants to use Mayu to try and complete the ritual with her. Other characters include the spirit of Itsuki Tachibana, a young man who also mistakes Mio for Yae, but instead tries to help her and Mayu escape; and Seijiro Makabe, a folklorist who visited Minakami Village with a Camera Obscura prototype (the same camera Mio uses in the game) and his assistant, Ryozo Munakata.
The plot of Fatal Frame II is independent from the first game in the series. During the Amakura twins' visit to their favorite childhood playspot in the Minakami region, Mayu follows a mysterious red butterfly deep into the woods. Mio, concerned for her older sister, follows, and they soon discover a village at night. While it seems abandoned, the twins soon realize that the village contains the tortured souls of the dead, forever reliving the events that trapped them in this state.
Mayu soon falls under the village's spell and is led deeper into the village by the butterflies. As Mio searches for her, she slowly learns of the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, the failure of which caused the "Repentance", a disaster which shrouded the village in darkness. The village houses a system of tunnels underneath, where its deepest point is home to the "Hellish Abyss", a deep hole that collects the souls of the dead. To keep the Abyss from unleashing the dead, a pair of twins born in the village are required to perform a ritual approximately every decade, in which the elder twin strangles the younger, after which the soul of the younger twin stays to guard the village as a crimson butterfly.
In the past, before the Repentance occurred, twins Yae and Sae Kurosawa tried to escape their fate with Itsuki's help. During their escape, Sae was caught and brought back to the village, while Yae escaped. The Minakami villagers desperately hanged Sae to try to satisfy the Hellish Abyss; the attempt failed, causing the Repentance to occur and the village to disappear. During the Repentance, Sae returned from the Hellish Abyss as a vengeful spirit and, along with Seijiro Makabe, made a Kusabi for the Abyss, slaughtering the priests and villagers. Throughout the game, several ghosts refer to Mio as Yae and seem to expect her to perform the ritual with Mayu, who becomes possessed by Sae. Itsuki, however, tries to help her—believing the two to be the Kurosawa twins, he tries to aid their escape from the village again.
Near the end of the game, when Mio learns that in Minakami Village, the twin born second is considered the elder, as the village believes that the "elder" lets the weaker, "younger" twin be born first. This completely reverses Mio's implied fate: instead of being sacrificed herself, she must strangle her "younger" twin sister. When Mio and Mayu finally begin escaping, the villagers' spirits take Mayu back to the Kurosawa house, where the Hellish Abyss awaits them below. Should the player choose to take the escape route alone, they will obtain the Lingering Scent ending, which leads to an automatic game over. If the player instead chooses to pursue Mayu, they have a chance to obtain the other endings. The "Crimson Butterfly" ending sees Mio and Mayu proceeding with the ritual, where Mayu becomes a crimson butterfly. The "Hellish Abyss" ending sees Mio rescuing Mayu from Sae, only to become permanently blinded from looking into the Hellish Abyss. The "Promise Ending", added to the Director's Cut version, sees Yae and Sae performing the ritual and freeing the villagers' spirits, thus sparing Mio and Mayu of the ritual. According to the events of Fatal Frame III: The Tormented, the direct sequel of the game, the "Crimson Butterfly" ending is the canonical ending.
Development of a sequel to the original Fatal Frame began "relatively soon" after its release. Many players were too scared to finish the first game, so for the sequel, Tecmo shifted their attention to create a more interesting storyline to encourage players to see it through. Despite this, Fatal Frame II was developed with "horror" being the central focus more-so than the "action". Producer Keisuke Kikuchi and director of the Xbox port, Zin Hasegawa, called it "horror that appeals to human imagination", citing how some people get scared when hearing faint sounds in the dark. Kikuchi cited symmetry as a central theme in the story, in that, "tragedies and fear are based on what happens when you tear things apart," such as butterflies and twins.
In creating the horror atmosphere, they considered more closely how spirits may behave. They may randomly disappear or reappear in different locations, and their presence can sometimes still be felt after they are killed. Shibata called these "never-endings loops" characteristic of a horror scenario, and this illusion was something he felt in a dream which he was using as inspiration for the game's story. Kikuchi took his inspiration from movies, literature, and also traditions and customs. He specifically cited Japanese novelist Seishi Yokomizo and Stanley Kubrick's The Shining as inspirations.
The decision to make an Xbox port of Fatal Frame II was not made until after release of the PlayStation 2 version and during planning of Fatal Frame III. The Xbox port featured enhanced graphics with better lighting techniques, and also a Dolby Digital audio option was added. Additional gameplay modes were also added, First-Person Shooter Mode and Survival Mode, and more costumes as well. Kikuchi considers this version to be "Fatal Frame 2.5".
Fatal Frame II was originally released in 2003 for the PlayStation 2. This version has been made available for download on the PlayStation 3. The PS3 version was removed from the online store shortly after release due to various technical issues with the emulator, before it was fixed and re-released on July 30, 2013. The download is only available for players in North America.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly Director's Cut was released for the Xbox in 2004. The director's cut added in several updates, including a first-person play mode, a survival mode, a new ending, enhanced graphics, and a greater number of alternate costumes to unlock. In first-person mode, the player can play through the entire game from a first-person perspective. The Xbox version also has a "shop" feature where the player can trade points from pictures for healing items and film.
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Fatal Frame II was ranked second in GameTrailers' "Top Ten Scariest Games" in 2006, and third in X-Play's "Top Ten Scariest Games of All Time". Game Informer also ranked it number one on a similar list. Ars Technica published an article about the game in its 2011 Halloween Masterpieces series, while PSU.com in 2003 opined Fatal Frame II was the scariest video game ever made. Fatal Frame II was a nominee for GameSpot's 2004 "Best Adventure Game" award, which ultimately went to Myst IV: Revelation.
- Known in Japan as Zero ~Akai Chō~ (零 〜紅い蝶〜, lit. "Zero ~Crimson Butterfly~") and in Europe as Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly.
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- Tecmo (27 November 2003). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Green Diary 5 (in-game file).
Ryozo Munakata: Itsuki, I pray that you read this. I can't stay in this village any longer. I told Yae and Sae that I would come for them on the day of the ceremony. After they make it out of the village, I'll take care of them. Don't worry. When I get them out, I'll come back for you next.
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- Tecmo (27 November 2003). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Introduction.
Mio: Mayu, about that time back then… […] Mayu! Where are you going?!
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Mio: I've heard about this place. A long time ago, there was a village here that disappeared during a festival. People who get lost in the woods are trapped by the village. Could this be that place?
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Progressing through the buildings generally involves the mainstay of finding a key of some type, but the game does mix things up by including a few simple puzzles and presenting seals that may be removed by photographing certain locations with your camera. If your twin is with you, she'll also sometimes aid you by stopping in front of important rooms or giving you a verbal clue to indicate that something worth noting is nearby. The village's dark history is gradually revealed, both through grainy black and white film sequences and through the abundance of documents you'll find scattered as you proceed. There's also at least one genuinely "friendly" ghost in the game who believes you are someone he already knows, so he'll often give you hints for your objectives--if he's available. You gradually get a complete picture of the town's denizens through numerous diaries, memos, and notebooks as well as by grabbing choice photos--when the opportunities arise--by using the game's core feature: the camera obscura.
You find the camera soon after arriving in town, and the device serves a wide range of functions. It can be used to defeat hostile spirits, reveal clues, unseal doors held closed with spirit power, and catch hidden ghosts. It can even just take snapshots, if you'd like. You need film to take pictures, and, unlike in the first Fatal Frame, this iteration of the camera thankfully comes preloaded with a mysteriously inexhaustible supply of low-grade film. This allows you to hoard the more powerful film you obtain for combat, while letting you snap pictures of clues and the like to your heart's content. Otherwise, the camera handles just as it did in the previous game. So pressing the circle button causes you to enter first-person mode, and lining up things in the capture circle allows you to photograph hints, or it allows you to damage spirits. The capture circle glows green for hints and hidden spirits, and it glows red or orange when you've got a lock on hostile spirits. You can upgrade the abilities of the camera via lenses and other special items you acquire during gameplay. You'll spend something called "spirit points" to do this, which you'll earn through special photos and through battle.
- Tecmo (2003-11-27). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: News Clipping (in-game file).
Geological Surveyor Missing With the start of construction for All God's Dam approaching, Masumi Makimura (26), a geological surveyor dispatched to the area, has gone missing. Mr. Makimura went to the area to investigate the site that would be submerged once the dam was built, but hasn't been heard from for five days.
- 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…
- Tecmo (2003-11-27). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo.
- Tecmo (27 November 2003). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Folklorist's Note 4 (in-game file).
Seijiro Makabe: The Forbidden Ritual is also called the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual. Twins are used to help seal the gate to hell. There are two parts. The Visible Ceremony, which occurs periodically, and if it fails, a Hidden Ceremony is performed. If all the ceremonies fail, the gate to hell will open, the dead will pour out, and the skies will go dark. They call this disaster the "Repentance". The whereabouts of Munakata's friends, the twin boys Itsuki and Mutsuki, are unknown, which is a little troubling. If they are found, I might be able to ask them about the village.
- Tecmo (2003-11-27). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Folklorist's Note 1 (in-game file).
Seijiro Makabe: The Ceremony Master, Mr. Kurosawa, gave me a very warm welcome. The village has no "chief". The Ceremony Master presides over the village. I wonder if this village was founded by people who wanted to preserve their sacred rituals and festivals? Most notable among All God's folklore is the "gate to hell" legend that has been passed down for years. It is an archetypal tale of a gate or hole that marks the border to the world of the dead, also called Hades, the underworld, or the netherworld. It is a forbidden place that is feared and hated, but it is also worshipped as well. The idea of hell has been a core belief of humans since ancient times. This village supports the theory that the belief is universal. The Forbidden Ritual regarding this "gate to hell" that takes place here is something no one is allowed to see or speak of. This strict taboo is probably the result of a ceremony concerning the border with hell coming closer to the living world. Villagers lead a simple life. Deep in the mountains, they struggled to forage food for their daily meals. The village has little contact with the outside world. They continue to practice the ways of old frozen in time.
- Tecmo (2003-11-27). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Ceremony Master's Note 3 (in-game file).
Ryokan Kurosawa: When the twins were born, I was miserable knowing that they were doomed. They were raised freely, without pain or sadness. They say the pain of the ✻ never stops. The elder sister must kill the younger in the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual. It's a cruel horrible fate.
- Tecmo (2003-11-27). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Folklorist's Note 10 (in-game file).
Seijiro Makabe: Twin Shrine Maidens are sacrificed in the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual. Boys are sometimes used as well. In this case, they are called Altar Twins. The people of this region believe that twins were once a single being, which was split into two at birth. The ceremony is based on the belief that when the two bodies reunited as one, the Shrine Maiden will gain the power of a deity. The text says "the older sister must ✻✻ the younger and throw her into the ✻". The ✻✻ part must refer to the most horrible part of the ritual, probably some kind of "sacrifice".
- Tecmo (2003-11-27). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Bound Diary 1 (in-game file).
Itsuki Tachibana: If we perform the Crimson Sacrifice, then Yae and Sae will not need to go through with the ritual. But if our ritual fails, they will be the only ones left for the next sacrifice. I have to get Yae and Sae out of this village. The horror has to stop. There has to be another way. I cannot let Yae and Sae suffer like this...
- Tecmo (27 November 2003). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo.
Sae: [laughter] Go ahead! Everyone, die...
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- Tecmo (2003-11-27). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Folklorist's Note 12 (in-game file).
Seijiro Makabe: Twins play an important part in the ritual. In recent years, the government issued a decree that the first twin to come out is the eldest. Each region used to have its own rules until that decree was made. When I asked the Ceremony Master about the village's rules, he grinned and said that tradition is tradition. This village still practices the old way. The twin that is born second is considered the elder.
- Tecmo (2003-11-27). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Lingering Scent Ending.
Mio: I'm sorry... I can't keep our promise...
- Tecmo (2003-11-27). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Crimson Butterfly Ending.
Mayu: We can't be together forever...but, with this...we can become one. ... Kill me...
- Tecmo (2004-11-04). Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly: Director's Cut. Xbox 360. Tecmo. Scene: Promise Ending.
Yae: Together forever... We can finally become one. I promise...
- Tecmo (28 July 2005). Fatal Frame III: The Tormented. PlayStation 2. Tecmo. Scene: Letter from Kei 6 (in-game file).
Kei Amakura: In the dream I had the other day, I saw Mio deep in the Manor. It looked like she was after her missing sister Mayu. I guess it has weighed on me. When I wake, the pain and tattoo spread, just like the story says. If I don't hurry, I may also go missing, like the urban legend says.
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For Druckmann, there’s no question: “It’s just our perception,” he states. “In many ways games surpass those other formats. Fatal Frame 2 is the scariest kind of experience in any medium; I haven’t seen a movie that comes close. And Ico has me connecting to another character in a way that no book ever has. Likewise, a lot of games can make you feel guilt: that’s something a film can never do.
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