|a game by||Tecmo|
|Platforms:||XBox, Playstation 2|
|Editor Rating:||7.3/10, based on 3 reviews|
|User Rating:||6.7/10 - 20 votes|
|Rate this game:|
|See also:||Anime Games, Manga Games, Horror Games, Fatal Frame Series|
If you've found Capcom's Resident Evil series to be less than horrifying as of late, Tecmo has an alternative up their sleeve that they hope will put the bumps back on your goose. Fatal Frame follows the adventures of Miku, a young lady trying to find her missing journalist brother who went off to investigate the Blair Witch-y disappearance of a writer researching the old Himura Mansion. Will these young people never learn?
Naturally the house is haunted by hordes of tortured souls, but Miku can blow them back into the ether by using her mother's special camera as a weapon. Miku can recharge her camera by finding extra-powerful rolls of film scattered around the mansion.
The premise makes Fatal Frame seem like a goofy sort of Ghostemon Snap, but the game controls very well and does a great job of scaring the $#!@ out of you. Fans of Silent Hill 2's Se7en-esque graphics will delight in the similarity of Fatal Frame's aesthetics.
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Japan has a strong relationship with horror media. The country is famous for its many horror films and even horror Manga by such famous creators as Junji Ito. However, something that is inextricably linked with Japan and its horror fascination is technology. Some of Japan’s greatest creations are responsible for some of the most terrifying adventures anybody has ever been on. There were a number of horror games that debuted on the PlayStation series of consoles, but one of the most enduring is Fatal Frame. Released in 2001, this game instills fear through exploration and helplessness. If this sounds like your kind of horror experience, then here is everything you need to know about Fatal Frame.
A Unique Horror Experience
The original Fatal Frame had big competition upon its release. It had to go up against horror game staples like Resident Evil and, even worse, Silent Hill. However, the game managed to stand on its own thanks to the unique experience it provided when compared to its contemporaries. In it, you played as siblings Miku and Mafuyu as they explored a haunted house and collected clues having to do with a dark ritual that occurred there. When malicious spirits begin to show up, you are presented with a special camera that is capable of capturing these spirits and preventing them from hurting you. This is how the game gets around having traditional combat while still being entirely thrilling and scary.
The Camera Obscura
Aside from the exploration, the primary mechanic of Fatal Frame is the use of the Camera Obscura, the sibling’s only method of defense against the spirits who seek to do them harm. When entering “combat” players will enter first-person mode with their vision becoming the camera’s viewfinder. The right stick controls the camera’s angle, and the left stick allows you to continue to move the character around. Ghosts will fade in and out of vision, but keeping them in the viewfinder is the only way to do damage to them. The closer they are, the more damage you do until they are eliminated. Successful attacks will earn points that can then be used to upgrade the camera’s abilities.
A Mystery to be Solved
The primary goal of the game is to uncover the secrets of the Himuro Mansion and the ritual that took place there. This is done by collecting cassette tapes, documents, and objects that slowly reveal more lore and information to you. Over time, the various pieces of the puzzle will begin to fit together and make sense, causing a horrifying story to unfold before the player.
Fatal Frame is not for those weak of heart or mind, as it will test your courage and fortitude from beginning to end.
- The game has a great story with well-written characters
- The dynamic between the brother and sister is realistic and endearing
- Plenty of scary scenes
- Great ghost designs
- Camera Obscura offers plenty of great innovative gameplay
- Some scares can be a little over the top
- Confusing camera controls in combat
Taking a cue from the Blair Witch Project, Fatal Frame puts you in the shoes of a shaky teen whose only protection from predatory specters is an old-fashioned camera. Most would probably prefer a gun or Ghostbusters proton pack over a Kodak when zapping paranormal entities, but Miku’s slight, almost helpless disposition is critical to instilling the sense of nakedness one feels in the game. And although Frame risks players not taking this mode of gameplay seriously, especially against some of the more heinous-looking ghosts, keeping a steady hand can be quite challenging during the game’s scarier moments. Piecemeal storytelling through note scraps, journals, audio tapes and news clippings scattered throughout an exquisite Japanese mansion also helps establish an ominous foreboding in the game. Some weaknesses, though, will keep it from being on the top of your horror hit list. Overused, campy sound effects that tend to say “Halloween haunted house,” rather than “survival horror,” and anime-influenced character designs act as constant reminders that FF is indeed just a game. Despite its best intentions, Fatal Frame is definitely a “diet” fright game. It’s perfect if you’re just looking for something with an eerie plot and offbeat gameplay to tool around with. But those who find pleasure in scaring themselves pantless will have better luck watching Richard Simmons Farewell to Fat infomercials at 3 a.m. instead.
Play with the sound up and the lights off (’natch) and Fatal Frame will freak you out, Silent Hill-style. Its dark but sharp graphics, excellent sound effects (used both to scare you and as unique audio clues) and sudden surprises create a wonderfully dreadful overall mood right from the start. Unfortunately, the puzzles are pretty generic, and I never could get into the photo-combat despite the different options and abilities. I’m sure it works for gamers in Japan, where TV shows are dedicated to “oooh”-ing over ghostlike images accidentally caught on film, but it’s not my idea of exciting action or spooky fun. Still, a great late-night rental if you have the patience.
“Mommy!" That’s what I would whimper every time I turned around to find a ghoul standing silently over my shoulder, or when a pack of undead infants would materialize and creep toward me on the floor. An unheralded entry into the survival-horror genre, Fatal Frame performs admirably, with a unique premise, solid control and excellent Sezen-esque presentation. Sure, taking pictures of the dead to destroy them is kind of goofy, but powering up your camera with various enhancements makes you feel like a photographic badass. The enemies are tougher and more frequent in the brutal second half, but I still enjoyed every thrilling moment.