Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fatal Frame: The House of Camera-Shy Ghosts

When you think of survival horror games, probably what comes to mind are Resident Evil and Silent Hill.  No matter what series you're thinking of, you likely associate the genre with zombies, which are the most widely used enemy type in survival horror.  Well how about we look at a survival horror game that contains absolutely no zombies at all, or even monster nurses?

What we're going to cover today is Fatal Frame, a game where the only enemies you'll encounter are ghosts, and plenty of them.  But how do you kill something that's already dead?  Well obviously you defeat them by using a camera, right?  Okay, maybe that isn't the most obvious weapon, but that's what made Fatal Frame a unique game, it was all about battling spirits using the magic of a viewfinder instead of the brute force of a shotgun.

In Fatal Frame you'll play as a girl named Miku who is searching for her missing brother.  Her unfortunate brother made the mistake of entering the abandoned Himuro Mansion, which is inhabited solely by the ghosts of people who were murdered there.  Miku finds her brother's spirit-destroying camera as soon as she enters the mansion, and so begins her terror-filled journey.

What you'll discover right away is that this mansion isn't filled with just a couple spooks here and there, ghosts are everywhere, and the frequency of the encounters only increases as you progress through the game.  The only way to defeat these ghosts is to enter viewfinder mode on the camera, and frame the ghost in the shot.  Immediately this adds some tension to the battles, because you can't move your character around while in viewfinder mode.  So you must stand still, helplessly watching the ghost close in on you while you power up an attack.

This is bad, this is very bad...

This isn't too difficult when faced with slower moving ghosts, but later on in the game you will encounter some brutally fast versions that close in on you in the blink of an eye, and are almost impossible to keep in the frame (the longer you hold them in the frame, the more powerful your attack will be, so keeping ghosts in the frame is crucial).  It should also be noted that ghosts can (obviously) float through walls as well as teleport to various locations in the rooms.  This makes it very easy for them to sneak up behind you unnoticed, and causes some pretty thrilling battles.

Some joyful ghost types you'll encounter include boss-style ghosts with massive amounts of HP, creepy child ghosts, ghosts with broken necks, and my most-hated ghost: the Blinded.  The Blinded represent women who had their eyes stabbed out shortly before being killed, and as a result they can hunt you only by sound.  You must be especially careful to creep around them because they have an extremely fast lunging move.  Taking a bunch of damage from these ghosts is usually unavoidable because they tend to appear in small areas with not much room to maneuver.

One of the Blinded.

Fatal Frame can be very difficult due to its survival horror nature; you'll take plenty of damage from the resident ghosts, and you must make do with limited supplies of first aid and camera film.  But the rush you experience after taking down some of the more challenging ghosts is well worth it.

Have you guys played Fatal Frame?  Were you spooked by the atmosphere? 


  1. Fatal Frame is my favourite horror series, bar none.

    We were lucky in Australia that the excellent remake of Fatal Frame 2 (called Project Zero in this country) was released on the Wii here - the last game I bought for the console actually, and what a way to go out.

    Nintendo actually part owns the Fatal Frame franchise now. I would love to see what they could do with the game on the Wii U.

    1. Hey Matt, thanks for the comment! That is definitely a good way to end a console's life cycle, these Fatal Frame games are intense!

      Hopefully Nintendo gets on the ball and releases a new game in the series on the Wii U, that console is really lacking in software. I imagine they could think up a pretty interesting way to tie together the in-game camera with the Wii U's tablet.