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[07/23/2006] Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly

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Title: Fatal Frame II / Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly

Developer: Tecmo (Project Zero)

System: Playstation 2 (PAL) (Also on XBOX as Director's Cut)

Release Date: April 30th, 2004

60Hz Option: Yes:

Additional stuff: Manual (duh)

Homepage: http://www.fatalframe2.com (US)




Tecmo hit somekind of a jackpot when they released Project Zero (Fatal Frame in the US, just Zero in Japan). Project Zero took the survival horror genre to a new direction by switching zombies and nightmarish creatures to ghosts and practically taking all the conventional weapons away. Locales were changed from towns and industrial areas to a run-downjapanese village. The only weapon was the Camera Obscura - a otherwordly camera that is able to exorcise ghosts.


Fatal Frame series gets its core material from japanese folk and horror tales, especially ones involving ghosts. Since the japanese seem to be quite fond of spirits it was no wonder that game developers would embrace this theme sooner or later. Project Zero II continues the already great series with a completely new cast and new location(s) without altering the actual gameplay much.


Story and Characters

Twin sisters Mayu and Mio have always been together. They pratically spending every awking hour with eachother. Mayu is shy and developed a limp due to falling off a ledge in her childhood. Once again, the two sisters are spending their time in a lush forest when suddenly Mayu sees a crimson butterfly and starts chasing it deeper into the woods. Mio, being the responsible sister that she is, goes after Mayu.


As Mio runs through the forest she passes stone deity on the ground. Suddenly, night has fallen and the forest around her has turned somehow ominous. Mio catches up with Mayu and they realize that they've come to an entrance to a village. The villge itself seems even more ominous and there isn't anyone in sight. Also, as by some quick of fate, the two can't go back. The sisters have no other choice that to make it to the nearby deteriorated house and start looking for another way out. When they get inside they find out that they aren't really alone either; a ghost of a woman wanders through the halls of the dimly-litted house constantly searching for her lost children...



Tecmo went and outdid themselves in the graphics depertment, improving the visuals a great deal over the first game. The textures aren't as wishy-washy anymore, and the character models as well as the ghosts are far more detailed. The deteriorated village is very impressive and quite vast too once you get the change to explore outside areas. Because it's always night in the village, light is scarce. Mio has a flashlight (of course) and there are toreches and different kinds of lamps scattered throughout the different houses.


The ghosts have gone through a serious facelifting process and now you can see their expressions much more clearly. Often times you can even tell how a particular ghosts has died. Good stuff all around.





Like I said earlier, there aren't any weapons in any of the Project Zero games, apart from the Camera Obscura. You won't even get the Camera Obscura straight away, but the sisters find in a research room in the first house - only to be confronted by the first hostile ghost soon after.


The gameplay itself is pretty much what you'd expect from a survival horror game: gather clues, keys, solve puzzles and kick some ass in the process. The village has both benevolent and hostile ghosts. Most benevolent ghosts appear at predetermined spots and offer extra poinys and clues. Majority of the time you control just Mio, who searches for Mayu, since the restless village seems to have taken a fancy on her injured sister Mayu. Tension reaches new heights during moments when you have to battle ghosts with Mayu next to you. Nothing like getting your pulse up when Mayu starts screaming and freezes in fear when a ghost draws near enough. If you ran too far and leave Mayu behind, she'll starts begging Mio not to leave her behind in a helpless voice.




There are a couple of times when you just control Mayu. These are the times when she is being sucked deeper into the cursed village's past. The screen also turns to grainy black and white signaling that things really aren't ok.


Gameplay ~ The Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura is the core gameplay aspect in the entire series. Project Zero II, like its predecessor does give a little insight about the camera's origins during the game. The Camera Obscura has the power to suck the spritual energy from any ghost it takes a picture of. Finding ghosts is made a little easier thanks to the camera's filament. The filament turns blue when there's a benevolent ghost nearby and red when you are face with someone who wants to make Mio a member of the eternally cursed.




The Camera Obscura can use a few types of different films, each film has different reload times and different exorcism potential. Using more potent film also yields more points. What you want to be on the lookout for is the different shot types however. You get different bonuses per shot should you take a special type of picture of the attacking ghost and often times, you must put your own neck in the lines if you want to get most out of a particualr shot. Should you fail with that one critical shot, a ghost (or ghosts) will no doubt fondle Mio with their ethereal hand.


There are several types of short you should aim for. For example, there's:


Core Shot: Taking a picture of a ghosts core (usually head).

Zero Shot: The basic do-or-die shot. Have to be taken a few seconds before a ghost's attack lands when the aiming circle turns red, or when a ghost has just missed. Different ghosts have different Zero Shot properties.

Combo Shot: Hit a ghost with consecutive Zero or Normal Shots. Hard to pull off.

Instant Kill: Defeat a ghost with a single shot.




Of course, as the game's title implies, there also the almighty Fatal Frame. A Fatal Frame is basically a


You can upgrade the Camera Obscura with points you've accumulated from defeating ghosts and finding the benevolent ghosts. In Addition to this, Spirit Orbs must be aquired bofore you can


even consider upgrading anything. Strength of a basic shot, range, among other things can be improved. Special features, such as being able to track ghosts that dissappear in walls, able to slow down a ghost for a priod of time, require Spirit Power Charges to use. In turn Spirit Power accumulates by sapping the ghosts' energy. There is also a very useful Counter Flash upgrade that enables Mio to quickly use the just the flash to knock back an attacking ghost. Timing is pretty strict though.


The Ghosts

The guys really deserve their own tiny section since they contribute so much to the overall atmosphere of the game. The gohsts in the game are different kinds of villagers that died during the catasttrophe the befell the village some time in the distant past. Most of the ghosts have a very distinct perdonality as well. One ghosts of a woman that died by falling from a balcony and breaking her heck in the process is in a constant limbo of the final seconds of her death; to the point where she fights you by falling from somewhere high up, landing at your feet and attacking from the floor, only to repeat the same thing afterwards. Should a ghost grab Mio, the screen gets inverted colors as Mio screams in pain and the ghost mutters some semi-important lines (story wise). After an attack Mio is nearly paralyzed with fear and desperately tries to scamper away.




At this point I must give credit to the Project Zero team thanks to their homage to the Ringu movies, and that cursed girl Sadako most importantly. Tecmo made a ghost that is a spitting image of Sadako, and took the ghost's design to the point where we can see her crawling out of a circular stone well that's located under one the main houses in the village. Freaking creepy. My hat of to you Tecmo and Ringu.


As far as creepy ghosts are considered, there is this one part later in the game when Mio is force to play hide-and-seek with a ghost of a small girl in a kimono. This game culminates every time you find this little girl, and proceeds to give a few good scares.



Nothing out of the ordinary from a survival horror game's standpoint. Mio isn't exactly an athlete and same can be said about Mayu with her busted knee. The girls run fast enough to outrun a ghost but that's about it. The controls seem to struggle a bit especially during camera-angle changes, but nothing major. During ghost battles Mio can adjust her position slightly with the right analog stick but there isn't really any evasive manouvers other than lowering the camera and running to safer spot.


Sound and music, voice acting

The game extra points in this category. The music and sound effects are, and by just definition, haunting. Background "music" is extremely nerve-wrecking ambience (in a good way). The the downright scary ambience really works in the game's favor and only shifts to a bigger gear during certain story scenes and when battling ghosts. The sound effects aren't short of menacing either, which creaking floorboards and other ghost play.


The english voice actors do a respectable job but the real icing on the cake comes from the ghosts themselves. when the ghosts don't say much, what they say and how they say it makes all the difference. Truly awesome work here.



Easy, Normal, Hard, Nightmare mode. easy is perhpas a bit too easy and you'l have an abundance of healing items. Normal on the toher hand seems to be a totally different ball game (at least to me). Ghost s start doing quite a bit of damage with their grab attacks, and you'll find yourself using the more powerful films and items many times. I don't really want to think about hard or the unlockable Nightmare Mode. Other unlockables include new costumes and play modes etc.


It's worth to note that the game sports two different endings (and a third as well) depending on what choice you make near the end of the game.


Final thoughts

This game is atmosperically nerve-wrecking at it's best and tense all around. The story takes a while to get into full gear, but when it finally does, Tecmo really goes and makes it dark and violent. Naturally, the Crimson Butterfly motif is almost always present, in one form or another.

Fans of ghosts stories will get their money's worth here. Since the wholegame takes place in a single village, the master houses are so larger that it takes a good while to clear even one of them. Insdie the houses, ther is a lot of back-tracking at times, but since the ghosts change most of the time, it really doesn't get that boring. Sure, it doesn't suit for everyone but I think it fits well. Some people might be put off by the bit stiff controls, and the amount of time spent wandering around the village, but those are minor gripes considering the content and story potential in this game.




Project Zero II proves that Tecmo's series can stand on it's own in the survival horror genre.


Highly recommended.




+Very dark and gripping story

+Graphics (the whole village in the dark thing)

+Ghosts, ghosts

+Camera Obscura + Fatal Frame


+Occasional brain-teaser puzzles




-Stiff controls (although I'm almost inclined to say that it's a feature for these games and is intentional by design)

-A few control camera angle problems

-Some backtracking


Story: 9.5

Graphics: 9

Sound: 10

Controls: 8

Difficulty: 8.5

Feel: 10


Overall: 9.2

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Check your Graphic section. It's Tecmo, not Namco

You're quite right. Fixed.


btw, Zero 3 is awesome. But I gave up playing at one point since I felt like I should really finish the first game before continuing (Zero 3 has a truckload of references to the first two games, and a few surprioses that sort of want you to play the older games first).

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  • 4 weeks later...

Funny, I never played the first Fatal Frame but Beaten FFrame2 and FFrame3.


And let me tell you this, FFrame does give me some chills (mini spoiler: walking through dark forest paths, or being chased down by some ghost from room to room).


however... nothing compare to FFrame3, that game would be the best horror game for me if it wasn't so repetitive (same ghost again and again, and the level gets a bit boring after a while). However, I don't mind. This game what I found best is that, no games so far (this including System Shock) has ever scared me this much before. Of course I play all horror games in the dark with 5.2 surround sound. Really, this game is a must play for the horror freaks, it will catch you in some other way, they do it wisely. You see, I find it very scary that this game revolves back and forth in the Ghost world and in the real world (Rei's house). Man, I thought I was safe and sound in the real world, but things happening there create strange things in the real world as well. Believe me, my skin nearly jumped out of my bones whenever I go on FPS camera mode and walk around seeking clues (of course the consequence, ghost appear or jumped at you out of somewhere in a fast pace).


Some notes: I noticed I never play the first but working on it now (still near the begining, and already good). However, since I played and beat FFrame 3, I feel kind of bad that the game kinda give away FFrame for me (the entire plot, how it end, etc). However, there's enough elements and clues, relations, aftermaths of FFrame2 and I was pretty satisfied.



Really, the Fatal Frame series has been great so far. Those who like horror can't miss out on it.

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Yes, it's quite obvious the Tecmo has taken a few pointers from Silent Hill 4. Where as in Fatal Frame I & II you went though real locations, the Manor of Sleep is something not from this world.


Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if the story would tie in later with some "real world" events that happened in the past.

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Yes, it's quite obvious the Tecmo has taken a few pointers from Silent Hill 4. Where as in Fatal Frame I & II you went though real locations, the Manor of Sleep is something not from this world.


Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if the story would tie in later with some "real world" events that happened in the past.

It's TECMO, not Namco.

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Yes, it's quite obvious the Tecmo has taken a few pointers from Silent Hill 4. Where as in Fatal Frame I & II you went though real locations, the Manor of Sleep is something not from this world.


Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if the story would tie in later with some "real world" events that happened in the past.

It's TECMO, not Namco.

Again I fail at it. :rofl: What's with this new Namco fascination and my brain?




Shiba: System Shock 2 can get very intense in some sports. Still, the ultiamte case of paranoia and fear comes from the Marine campaign in Alien Vs. Predator 2.

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