Fatal Frame/Project Zero (Halloween Special)

Developer: Tecmo
Publisher:  Tecmo/Wanadoo/Microsoft Game Studios

As someone who's never been comfortable with scary movies and games that deal with ghosts and spirits this title was an addiction to me back in my teens in 2002, a very scary addiction that had me facing my fears, even after finishing it I still dreaded the day I went back and replayed it.

Well, ten years later I finally replayed it and... it's actually not nearly as scary as I remember, the game takes you to the abandoned Himuro mansion where supposedly a series of gruesome deaths occurred back in the 1930's and where you brother disappeared a few years ago, so off you go to look for him and try to uncover what really happened there, though game wastes no time in telling (or rather showing you) that the mansion is haunted.

While exploring the mansion you'll quickly realize that the developers were masters at making the player feel unease, there is no music in the game save for a few cutscenes, instead you're constantly hearing your footsteps and white noise, the footsteps I can handle fine, but the white noise is handled in a way that is freaking unsettling, it's like a mix of wind, voices in the background and no sound at all, adding to all this is the fact that your only source of light for the most part is your trusty flashlight, with can be controlled with your right stick, though everytime you move it, the shadows move as well, it certainly adds to the tension of the game. (and while shadows like this are common in Xbox games, they're certainly impressive for a PS2 game)

Right near the start of the game you'll come across a magical antique camera with the power to exorcise ghosts (yeah I know, it's silly, just go with it) this will be your only weapon throughout the game and I found this to be a double-edged sword, the combat is fun and nerve wrecking, when you use it you switch to a first person camera, meaning your field of view is limited and you can't walk, run or strafe while using it and to top it all off it reloads slowly, however, you can upgrade the camera and you'll quickly learn the best methods to exorcise the ghosts, by the time I reached the halfway point of the game, I had so many upgrades on that thing I could practically tutor the ghostbusters, though to be fair, some of the ghost designs are really creepy, aided by the fact that the character models look great for the hardware.

Speaking of  'halfway points' this game is short... like really short, depending how you play it'll probably last you between 6-8 hours, of course you could get lost or confused by one or two puzzles in the game, though personally I found them all to be pretty accessible, I never felt the need to look up walkthroughs for them. The developers try to add replay value by adding a battle mode and a higher difficulty setting once you finish the game, but I completed all challenges in the first in under an hour and I finished the latter in just 7 hours, so they don't add that much to it.

Overall the game is still pretty good, it's not nearly as scary as I remember but it's still genuinely creepy, it's nice knowing that I finally conquered a fear, but said fear is part of the reason why I used to love the game, maybe if the game didn't make me feel like a ghostbuster I wouldn't still be scared, who knows?

Trivia: Despite the game's tagline of being 'based around a true story', this has actually been put into question, the series' own producer has gone on record to say that it's actually based on two urban legends, moreover, the game was never really advertised as being based on a true story in Japan.

- Creepy atmosphere, enemies and "soundtrack"
- Shadowplay and character models look pretty good for
- Puzzles are challenging but not frustrating
- Combat is fun and easy...

- ...Perhaps too easy, it kills a lot of the scares
- You could practically finish the game in one day

Final Grade: B

I like how the game gives you three different covers for the box, manual and the disc, personally my favorite is the one on the manual as I feel it fits the game's mood better, but I can't deny that the boxart is a bit flashier and as a result it might've attracted more sales.

The manual is decently sized with 34 pages, but very few are used to give you background information, the first page tells you about the mansion and near the end you have 4 pages giving you character descriptions (shouldn't these have been placed on the beginning?) the rest of the manual is comprised of some very lengthy tutorials, they're all in the game as well, but sometimes it's nice to have them on hand, especially during combat.

Overall, not the greatest packaging, but not too shabby either, I like the artwork and I like that the manual focuses on the game, not legal info, but it shipped have come with a few extras.

Packaging Score: B-

Scariness Rating:

The game may not be as scary as I remember, but that doesn't mean it's not scary, some of ghosts like  the girl with the broken neck are the stuff of nightmares! Three and a half screaming Monroes.

Halloween Feel:

This is a bit hard to gauge, while the game can be legitimately scary and ghosts are usually the amongst the traditional Halloween creatures these aren't really your common specters and neither is the Japanese mansion for that matter, however, if you're the type of person who watches movies like the Ringu (the original Japanese version) during Halloween, then this is probably the game for you, two and a half Jack O' Lanterns.


  1. Seems like a fun game, never really been into scary things either, but I can enjoy some sometimes.

  2. I've enjoyed quite a few scary games, but my favorite was probably F.E.A.R. (2005). Loved that game.
    I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy this one too. Maybe one day I'll get around to playing it.