Fury’s Favorites: Fatal Frame I & II

It’s time again for Fury’s Favorites.  Let’s talk about some old time favorites of mine and see if they still hold up or if I need to clear out some space in my game drawer.

For now we’re talking about Fatal Frame.  First released in 2001 in Japan and early 2002 here in the states, Fatal Frame follows Miku as she enters a supposedly haunted mansion in search of her brother who was in search of some other people who was in search of….oh hell, they all enter the mansion, eh?  This mansion was the site of some gruesome deaths and is intimately connected with a bizarre Shinto ritual.  After entering the mansion, Miku is attacked by a number of spirits ad ghosts as she searches for her brother and the reason behind the hauntings of the mansion.  To fight off the rather aggressive ghosts, Miku uses the Camera Obscura, an antique camera that can drain the life of the ghosts and see some stationary spirits in order to open previously locked areas.  As she learns more about the mansion and her family’s connection to the ghosts found inside, Miku sets about to end the hauntings and free the spirits inside.

In Fatal Frame 2, released in 2003, the plot switches to another young girl (those silly Japanese and their girls) named Mio who follows her twin sister into the forest and into a legendary Lost City.   With her sister disappearing into the village and Miku left alone to fend off the hostile and not-so-hostile ghosts, she again uses the Camera Obscura and finds the truth behind the Lost City and the gruesome Crimson Sacrifice in which one twin is forced to kill the other.

Both games are realtively the same in the gameplay department.  Views are the standard survial-horror corner angles.  The camera angles add to the atmosphere and really adds to the annoyance factor when the angle changes.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve flipped around unintentionally because left is no longer left.  You run around in a third person perspective while exploring, and swtich to a first person perspective while using the camera.  This essentially makes the game a first person shooter.  Your camera uses film in various strengths to absorb the ghost’s life, and using different powerups make the ghost slow, freeze or takes extra life from the ghosts.

These games are scary.  Not in a Doom 3, monster in the closet way, but in very atmospheric, holy hell where did that come from ways.  The games are so very Japanese, but in a good way.  The stories play out in unexpected ways, the ghosts are dangerous and will spook you just by entering your room, and the settings themselves (mansion and village) are unsettling in their own way.  Do not be suprised if you want to play in the light after the frist time.  But resist. It’s worth it.

So, do the games stand up to my repeated play throughs?  Does the Fury recommend?  Can I end anything else in a question mark?  Sure I can, and I do.  These games have gone up in price as more and more drop out of good condition and as the games gain reputation as so scary.  But they are definitely worth it.  Pick these games up as soon as possible.  You won’t regret it.

Theodore ‘TJ’ Rock, AKA ‘The Fury’ is an Associate Editor at Bag Of Mad Bastards, and co-host of the controversial podcast ‘B!tch Sl@p’. Recognize!

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