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File:Fatal Frame Coverart 5380.png


Known as "Zero" in Japan and "Project Zero" in Europe, Fatal Frame is a survival horror franchise consisting of four games, three of which are available outside Japan (though the fourth is now playable in English thanks to the Translation Patch). The first game is notable for being one of the few survival horror games rated below M for Mature. It's rated Teen for "Blood and Gore, Violence" (most likely because you don't actively cause it).

The protagonists' only weapon is a camera for destroying spirits.

The Fatal Frame series explores territory that not many other survival horror games have: ghosts. Furthermore, the protagonist of each game (usually female with a few exceptions) combats them using a special camera known as the "Camera Obscura". By taking photos using special film, the protagonist can exorcise the ghosts before they can harm her (via touch). The tension increases from the fact that in order to deal maximum damage to a ghost, you have to let it get as close as possible to you before taking the photo.

Games in this series include:

  • Fatal Frame
  • Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
  • Fatal Frame III: The Tormented
  • Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse (co-developed by Grasshopper Manufacture)
  • Fatal Frame V: Deep Crimson Butterfly (a remake of Crimson Butterfly developed for the Wii)
  • Spirit Camera the Cursed Memoir (Spin-off Game)

This game contains Blood, Gore, Violence and these examples:

 Sakuya That child goes around with an air of evil and fear around her, but I know she is really very gentle and vulnerable.

  • Always Night: Games 1, 2, and 4.
  • Anachronism Stew: A Camera Obscura was created before film and has never used it. It's just a large box (that can be handheld) that reflects light and needs to be traced in order to capture an image. What they probably mean is a View Camera.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: A very common unlockable throughout the whole series.
  • Anyone Can Die: And we mean anyone.
  • Apocalyptic Log
  • Asshole Victim: Everyone involved in performing the rituals and most, if not all, of the people who lived on the premises before the rituals inevitably failed.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: Possibly from some obscure Japanese folklore but doubtful. Then again, 'Based on a True Story' sounds better than 'Based loosely on a vague urban legend I heard somewhere once'. 'Woman ghost wandering around in white kimono' must be as common a story in Japan as 'woman ghost wandering in white wedding dress' is in America. Possibly even more common, seeing as in Japan the dead are buried in white.
    • Not to mention a couple hundred years worth of folk-lore and horror stories. Hell, Japanese folk mythology has a section dedicated to ghosts. And not all of it is dedicated to horror-based vengeful onryou but some others like ubume.
    • To be fair, the "Based on a true story" tagline was only added to the English version.
  • Big Brother Worship: In the first game, Miku's primary motivation for entering the Mansion is due to the bond she has with her older brother Mafuyu, who is the latest to disappear into the old house.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Himuro family of the first game, and the Kuze family in the third. The Haibara family in the fourth is also a bit screwy.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The series is called Project Zero in Europe. In Japanese, Zero can be translated as "Rei", which can also mean "ghost".
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ayako is one of the cutest ghosts in the series, and also one of the most disturbing.
  • Body Horror:
    • Broken Neck from the first game is a particularly memorable example.
    • Blinded Ghost. "My eyes! Give me back my eyes!"
    • Limbo Man and Woman, particularly the woman whose arms were torn off. "My...arms! My arms!"
    • Fallen Woman in the second fame.
  • Break the Cutie: Where do we start?
  • Brother-Sister Incest: In the fourth game, it's implied through several Apocalyptic Log that Ayako is Sakuya and You's child.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: All throughout the second game.
  • The Cameo: The Xbox version of the first game has the creator and co-creator of the series themselves as spirits in the game. The second game includes costumes based on the Dead or Alive and Deception series. The fourth game, being co-developed by Nintendo, has costumes based on Zero Suit Samus and Luigi.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Yae Munakata, a hostile ghost from the first game who had committed suicide, was given a much more important role in the sequel. She turns out to be Yae Kurosawa, Sae's twin sister.
  • Captain Ersatz: In the second game, one type of ghost is a woman with long, face-covering black hair that slowly emerges from a box. She's a clear Shout-Out to The Ring, and that goes double for when you see her emerge from a well to attack you, just like Sadako.
  • Creepy Child: Special mention goes out to the child version of Kirie in the first game despite not being a hostile ghost, the Kiryu Twins in the second game, the Handmaidens in the third game, and Ayako in the fourth game.
  • Creepy Doll: Par for the course in the second game. There is also some in the fourth.
  • Creepy Twins: The second game has this as one of its major themes.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: While most of the ghosts' appearances are high octane nightmare fuel incarnate, there's also spirits that you just want to hug, like Chitose Tachibana in the second game.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Several cases around most of the games. Like Junsei Takamine's book research in Himuro Mansion, or Mafuyu's need to explore said mansion to find out what happened to Takamine and his crew. Or Mayu following ghostly butterflies into every dark corner of All God's Village. Or Rei's decision to follow her dead boyfriend deeper into the rumored haunted house.
    • Misaki's decision to return to Rougetsu Island to find her lost memories cost Madoka her life. Depending on which ending is canon, Misaki is probably dead as well, making Ruka the only member of the main cast to survive.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: In the second game's trailer, one can see Mio running as fast as she can to rescue Mayu, and damned if it wouldn't be nice if she could run that fast in-game!
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Try playing either the first or second game for a while, then switch between them. Have fun panicking as you continuously press the wrong button to raise the camera!
    • Worse if you try switching from the Xbox version to the Play Station 2 version: the Xbox has a fairly standard dual-control stick layout, but the Play Station 2 version of the first game has it backwards. Cue panic as trying to run away from the ghost results in just flailing the camera around.
  • Dead All Along:
    • Averted in the first game, despite many fans thinking Mafuyu was already dead when playing as Miku.
    • Choushiro Kirishima in the fourth game. He actually takes the revelation pretty well.
    • Itsuki in the second game. Possibly not the most shocking reveal in video game history, but it can still leave a strong impression.
  • Death Seeker: Most of the cast of the third game, all due to Survivor Guilt.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Mafuyu in the first game and Madoka in the forth game play this part.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Mio, upon strangling Mayu for the ritual.
    • Rei seems to reach this point once Miku goes into a coma-like state.
  • Development Hell: The movie.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: Can be applied to various games, but the ending of the first and especially the second pull some heavy handed tactics to make sure there is no joy in Mudville when the credits roll.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ruka's father didn't go with her and her mother when they left Rougetsu Island. He's from a long line of mask makers based in Rougetsu Island and he made the Mask of the Lunar Eclipse for Sakuya's Kagura ritual. When Sakuya Bloomed and started roaming the island 2 years after the ritual, he met his end when she caught up to him in his underground hideaway. After Ruka breaks the curse, they get a very brief reunion before his soul crosses over into the afterlife.
  • Driven to Suicide: In a series about ghosts, this is bound to pop up occasionally.
  • Easy Amnesia: All over the place in the fourth game. Justified as amnesia is a symptom of Getsuyuu Syndrome, an illness central to the game's plot.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In order to get the good endings, you must beat the games on higher difficulties.
  • Eighties Hair: Choushiro's mullet in the fourth game.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts
  • Emergency Weapon: Starting with the second game, Type-07 film. It's extremely weak, but it's the only film of which there's always an infinite supply, and it will get the job done when you've used up all of your good film.
  • Enemy Detecting Radar: The Camera Obscura's filament.
  • Enfant Terrible: Ayako in the fourth game - very cute, cruel and insane.
    • The Shrine Maidens (except Amane) from the third game count as well.
  • Escort Mission: More than half of the second game.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Many ghosts in the series are only given descriptive titles ('Sunken Woman', 'Man in Dark', etc.) as opposed to real names.
  • Eye Scream:
    • The Demon Tag segment of the first game is named after a fictitious ritual that took place in the troubled past of the Himuro Mansion, the game's setting. It's an extremely unpleasant affair involving a mask with spikes on the inside of where the eyes would be.
    • The Mourners in the second game have their eyes sewn shut.
    • The Engravers who were supposed to gouge their own eyes out.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: While the games do have Multiple Endings, including happy ones, the canonical endings are the bad/sad ones.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: This is what happens to Kirie and Mafuyu in the first game's canon ending. They're going to spend the rest of eternity at the Hell Gate deep underground, with Kirie making sure that the gate stays closed and Mafuyu staying with her so that she won't have to suffer all alone.
  • Final Girl: Going by the pattern set by its predecessors, the fourth game's canon ending probably has Ruka as the only survivor.
  • First-Person Snapshooter: With the sole exception of the male playable character from the fourth game, the protagonists' only weapon against the ghosts is a camera.
  • Flashback Echo: Most of the non-hostile ghosts are these: a brief image of a person walking through an area, repeating something that happened to them in life.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The lead ghost in the third game is topless, but covered in blue tattoos and out of focus, so it's not exactly naughty to catch a glimpse of her. It is, however, terrifying.
  • Gaiden Game: Real: Another Edition, a Japanese-only cell phone spin-off that utilized the phone's camera to capture ghosts overlaid on the real world.
  • Gender Restricted Ability:
    • Not exactly restricted, but women are more likely than men to possess a powerful Sixth Sense.
    • Only a man would have the strength to move this dresser out of the way.
  • Ghost Butler: A textbook example happens when Mio enters the Kurosawa House.
  • Ghostly Chill
  • Girly Run: Naturally.
  • Guilt Based Gaming:
  • Haunted Mansion, Haunted Manor, Haunted Village and Haunted Island.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mio in the second game's Bittersweet Ending.
  • Hell Gate: Many, and they must stay closed, or unspeakable terrors are unleashed.
    • The gate to hell is called the *; /Gaze not upon the */Eyes that glimpse the * will be blinded by the */Speak not of the */The mouth which utters * will be made speechless by the */Listen not to the */Those who heed the * are turned heartless by the *
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: The Promise ending in the second game has Mayu confess she's overwhelmed by the fact that she and her sister will have to lead two separate lives and die apart. Mio replies saying she'll never leave Mayu. Ever. Marriage vow much?
  • Human Sacrifice: The first three games have a similar cause for their calamity: some girl (or woman) was to be sacrificed to keep the local mouth to hell sealed, but something went wrong and the sacrifice actually busted it wide open, killing everyone and turning them to ghosts. The third game takes place in a "dream manor" that has locations from the first two games connected to it (mostly because of dream logic), and further implies that there's some deeper connection between all three events.
  • Implacable Man: Kirie in the first game, the Kusabi and Sae in the second, Reika in the third, and Sakuya in the fourth are to be encountered several times, but they are undefeatable until the final confrontation.
  • Improbable Weapon User: All of the main characters in the series with the Camera Obscura, or in Choushiro's case the Spirit Stone Flashlight.
  • Incest Subtext: Oh dear lord, so very much...
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: The Kagome Kagome, used for their equivalent of tag by Japanese children, foreshadows the horrific discoveries that Miku makes in the Demon Tag segment of the first game.
  • I See Dead People: According to the game, only people with the Sixth Sense can see the ghosts.
  • It's All My Fault: Rei was at the wheel during the car accident where Yuu died, and she blames herself for his death.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Ayako
  • Kick the Dog: Ayako is a walking example. Don't ask what she did to Madoka's pet canary.
    • In case you are wondering, she cut its head off with a pair of scissors.
  • Kill the Cutie: Mayu in the canonical ending of the second game.
  • Left Hanging:
    • Mio's fate in the canon ending of the third game is left deliberately ambiguous, spoiler: but given how these games tend to go, she probably didn't survive.
    • In the fourth game, the question of whether or not Misaki lived is left unanswered.
  • Leitmotif: Each type of ghost has its own encounter music, although these tend to be ambient/white noise rather than musical.
  • Lighthouse Point: One shows up in the fourth game.
  • The Load: Certainly Mayu's worst point. While she can be cute and loveable, she really can't help you in any way while you're with her beyond doing her part for a couple of puzzles, all the while she ends up disappearing on her own the moment you're not looking. Justified in that it is because she's possessed by Sae, but it's certainly a bad case where the Diabolus Ex Machina ends up showing on her.
  • Locked Into Strangeness: Itsuki's white hair is a result of the shock of having to kill his twin brother for the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual.
  • MacGuffin: The Camera Obscura.
    • The Mask of the Lunar Eclipse in the fourth game.
  • Madness Mantra: In almost every game. Being killed by the forces of hell/the underworld will do that to a person.
    • 2 - Why kill Why kill Why kill Why kill...
      • Kill me kill me kill me kill me kill me kill me...
    • 3 - Yoshino Takegawa's mumbling when you first meet her.
    • 4 - "It hurts!!!So much fun!!/It hurts the fun much hurts/The surgery is fun It hurts/I the surgery fun/fun nn it hurts ss/hate fun nnn/hurts ss/ssss..."
  • Malevolent Architecture
  • Miko: The inspiration for the various Shrine Maidens of the game.
  • Multiple Endings
    • Downer Ending: The default (and canon) endings of the first two games.
    • Bittersweet Ending: The "good" endings are really just this. This is also the third game's default ending.
    • Golden Ending: The only truly Happy Endings you're getting, usually in the hardest difficulties and exclusive to The Xbox versions.
  • New Game+
  • Never Mess with Granny: The Stroller Grandma spirit in the third game. She goes down in about one or two shots, but she can also one-hit kill you!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Not so much on the hero part, but in Reika's backstory, her lover Kaname came to see her before she died from her staking wounds only for the family matriarch to sneak up behind and kill him for violating the shrine. Naturally, Reika took this very well and expressed her feelings by releasing all of the bent up pain in her body and unleashing the evil force against the manor. Otherwise, Reika would have died doing her duty as the priestess.
    • Sakuya in the fourth, also not so much on the hero part. Although given that her own father and brother were trying to cure her with the real Kagura ritual, the fact that she was already unstable and had a strong spiritual sense probably made it all the more difficult.
      • The implication is that Souya was correct that the first Day Without Suffering was caused by a flawed mask, but he didn't realize that the Tsukimori Song also needed to be performed by an heir of the Tsukimori clan. Without the true mask *and* a correctly performed Song, the ritual was doomed to failure.
  • Nightmare Face: Blooming in the fourth game.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: Inverted hard. It seems to be a trend in the series that the good endings are never canon, while as the bad endings are.
  • No Export for You: The fourth game. However, there is now a Fan Translation patch. It's even getting dubbing!
  • Nostalgia Level: The third game's evil mansion is actually a dream mansion, and other characters connected to the first two games begin to dream of levels from those games, which show up in the dream manor.
  • Not So Weak: Every playable character.
  • Notice This: Objects appear merely as shimmering dots of light and must be picked up to learn what they are, unless said object is being shown in a cutscene.
  • Obvious Beta: The fourth game is notable for not only having a game-breaking glitch, but a ghost list that's impossible to complete without hacking it.
  • One Up: Stone Mirrors, which fill your life-bar when it's depleted once. You can only ever carry one, though.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Kaname's Echo Stone Earrings.
  • Pater Familicide
  • Personal Space Invader: All of the ghosts do this since being touched by them drains health. Some ghosts are more lethal than others.
  • Please Don't Leave Me:
    • Mayu will sometimes say this if you run too far ahead of her. She also says it when she is locked in the repentance cell.
    • Pretty much everyone says this at some point or another in the third game, including Mio to a passed away Mayu.
    • The deceased Madoka from the fourth game says this as well, along with "Tasukete!" ("Help me!")
  • Plotline Death: Mafuyu Hinasaki, Mayu Amakura, Madoka Tsukimori, and Kei Amakura, assuming that Failure Is the Only Option is true of the whole series. Note: You can save Kei Amakura in a New Game+ by doing a certain sidequest.
  • Promotion to Parent: Mafuyu for Miku, after the suicide of their mother.
  • Protectorate: Mayu
  • Senseless Sacrifice:
    • Many feel like this about Mafuyu staying with Kirie in the first game's normal ending.
    • Arguably, this comes up a lot in these games. Mayu encouraging Mio to strangle her in the second, Mio and Miku wanting to die themselves in the third, and so on.
    • Somewhat averted in the third game since Yuu tells Rei not to die, but to carry on his memories and go on living.
  • Sensor Suspense: Whenever hunting for hidden ghosts, or whenever dealing with ghosts that like to pop up behind you or hide.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: In the third game, people who fall victim to the Manor of Sleep's curse vanish into an ashen outline. This includes Kei Amakura if the player isn't playing a New Game+.
  • She Will Come for Me: When Sae was captured after her and Yae's attempted escape from the village, Sae's only thought was that Yae would come back for her.
  • Smashing Survival: The Confirm button for the second game (X on Play Station 2 and A on Xbox), R1 for the third, and waggling the Wii-mote for the fourth when a ghost gets far too close for comfort, so as long the Evade function is equipped. The first game? Better hope your reflexes and timing is good.
  • Spooky Photographs
  • Stringy Haired Ghost Girl
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: See the third game.
  • Survivor Guilt: Tons of this in the third game, and practically the whole basis of it.
  • Talking to Himself
    • The English cast for the third game is the most obvious example.
  • That One Case: Choushiro is determined to find Haibara and bring him to justice (which costs him his life).
  • The Faceless: Any of the ghosts that bloom in the fourth game become this, especially Sakuya.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Apparently attempted to be played straight, as in the end of the first game, Miku claims she no longer can see ghosts. But in the third game, she seems to have her sixth sense back. Probably because the producers didn't think the game would end up being successful enough to make a sequel.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Mio and Mayu, Yae and Sae, Itsuki and Mutsuki, Akane and Azami, Kageri and Kaoru... The only twins this trope doesn't apply to are Tsuzuri and Musubi, who are only given names in the manga anthology.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Mio's utterly horrified reaction to strangling Mayu to complete the ritual.
    • Said almost verbatim by Itsuki. "Yae, the reason I am imprisoned here is because I have sinned...with these hands."
  • Together in Death:
    • Kirie and her unnamed lover in the first game's best ending.
    • Sae and Yae in the second game's best ending.
    • In the third game, Rei puts the corpses of Reika and Kaname in a boat and sends them across the rift together.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: All God's Village in the second game and Rougetsu Island in the fourth. The Himuro Mansion in the first and the Manor of Sleep in the third would be House With A Dark Secret, tying with Haunted House and Haunted Castle above.
  • Tragic Villain: All of the main antagonists. Kirie, Sae, Reika, and Sakuya weren't bad people at all while they were alive. The only reason they're trying to kill the main characters now is because they've been driven insane by things like the Malice, Darkness, etc. etc.
  • Twincest: Highly hinted at during the second game.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Mayu in spades. In general, all the other games always have the protagonists going through hell for someone else.
  • Video Game Remake: The second game appears to be getting a Wii remake!
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Along with some other disturbing requisites to go with the "sacrifice" part. Don't even ask what the back-up plans are.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: You Haibara. He was genuinely trying to cure his sister's illness, but the experiments he conducted on his other patients were unethical and resulted in multiple deaths.
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Itsuki
  • Woman in White: Many of the female ghosts are dressed in white, but extra attention is drawn to Kirie in the first game and Sae in the second.
    • Tsubaki Tono, the Utsuwa in the fake Kagura, wears a white kimono as part of her costume.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Sayaka Minazuki in the fourth game.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Kei. Near the end of the third game, he reassures Rei that "there might still be some hope", as he thinks he's found out a way to potentially end the Tattoo Curse for good. Then Reika kills him in the Chamber of Thorns.
    • You spend the fourth game getting attached to Choushiro Kirishima and thinking he's going to help Ruka stop Sakuya. He does help Ruka, but we find out that he died 8 years prior to the events of the game.
  • You Are Not Alone: Rei says these exact words to Miku at one point in the third game.
  • You Are Worth Hell
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