Franchise / Fatal Frame

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/projectzero_fatalframe_3logos_7264.jpg
Logos from the 3 different localizations.

Known as 『零 zero』 in Japan and Project Zero in Europe, Fatal Frame is a survival-horror franchise consisting of five games, four of which are available outside Japan (though the fourth is now playable in English thanks to the Translation Patch). They started out being made and completely owned by Tecmo, but interestingly, Nintendo became a partner in owning the franchise during production of the fourth installment, a sharing of the IP that continues to this day.

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 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 the series:
  • Fatal Frame (PS2, Special Edition). When her brother goes missing, a young girl named Miku searches for him in a supposedly haunted mansion.
  • Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (PS2, Directors Cut, & Deep Crimson Butterfly editions). Two twins, Mio and Mayu, get lost in a strange abandoned village in the middle of nowhere, and attempt to escape a deadly curse that may force them to harm each other.
  • Fatal Frame III: The Tormented (PS2) A woman named Rei is drawn into strange dreams involving her recently deceased lover as strange tattoos begin to appear on her skin.
  • Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse (Wii, co-developed by Grasshopper Manufacture). A young kidnapping survivor named Ruka is lured back to her place of capture when she decides to investigate the mysterious deaths of the other kidnapped people.
  • Fatal Frame V: Maiden of Black Water (Wii U). A young woman named Yuuri looks for her employer after she goes missing on a missings persons case, discovering the mountain she's searching at's dark secrets.
Spin-offs:Manga:
  • Zero: The Novel
  • Zero 3: Comic Anthology
  • Zero: Shadow Priestessnote 
  • Fatal Frame: A Curse Affecting Only Girlsnote , which also acts as a Crossover with The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.

While the games have sequential numbers, they are mostly standalone (with the exception of #3 and somewhat #5). There's also word of a live-action film in the works if not Development Hell. Has a wiki as under The Wiki Rule.


The Franchise Provides Examples Of

  • 1-Up: The Stone Mirror, or Mirrorstone in later installments, refills the health bar completely after it gets depleted. It doesn't work on certain ghosts, though, and the player is limited to carrying only one. Usually.
  • '80s Hair: Choushiro's impressive mullet from Fatal Frame IV.
  • Abandoned Hospital: Fatal Frame IV features an abandoned hospital and abandoned sanitorium!
  • Action Survivor: All of the playable characters.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Any breaking of any part of the Kuze Code results in death.
  • Alliterative Title: Only for the US.
  • All There in the Manual
    • Zero 3 Comic Anthology, which is considered canon. It includes the background of some patients; priestesses and the twins that help out Kei in the game. It also spoofs it by including various bonus parody stories.
    • The official guidebook for Fatal Frame V gives the identity of Miu Hinasaki's father, something that was merely implied in the actual game. As implied, it's Mafuyu Hinasaki.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Occurs in-universe to Ayako in Sakuya's eyes.
    That child goes around with an air of evil and fear around her, but I know she is really very gentle and vulnerable. note 
  • Anachronism Stew: The Camera Obscura was created before film even existed and has never actually used it. It's merely a handheld box that reflects light and needs to be traced in order to capture an image. What they probably mean is a View Camera, but that doesn't sound as cool.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: A typical reward for completing the game.
  • Anti-Frustration Features
    • In Fatal Frame II, the flashlight doesn't work in the Kurosawa house. But it's the most well-lit location of the entire game, so the player isn't forced to stumble around in darkness when inside.
    • In Fatal Frame V, the second encounter with Ouse requires the player to run away and it's also an escort mission. But the NPC escorting the player is fortunately invincible and heads straight for the goal at top speed, meaning the only one to worry about is the player-controlled character.
  • Anyone Can Die: And it means anyone.
  • Apocalyptic Log: A ton of them lie around all over the places.
  • Asshole Victim: Most of the people involved with the various rituals, with a few exceptions. Special mention goes to Yashuu Kuze and the Handmaidens from Fatal Frame III, for the sheer amount of cruelty their actions included and how little things paid off in the end.
  • Auto-Save: Contrary to the previous games, Fatal Frame V saves on its own and has no manual saving.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Type-Zero film hits like a rocket launcher as the strongest type of film in the entire game. But it has the slowest reload time compared to the others and is extremely limited in supply. One playthrough may give you 5-6 pieces.
  • Ax-Crazy
    • Lord Himuro from Fatal Frame I, who slaughtered every inhabitant of Himuro Mansion with his katana.
    • Sae Kurosawa from Fatal Frame II, who enjoys causing pain through simple touch.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: The Based On A True Story tagline that was attached to the localized version of Fatal Frame I. While there is a mansion outside of Tokyo that is rumored to be haunted, there is no clear indication for this. And Shibata has also stated that Himuro Mansion is not inspired by said mansion.
  • Big Brother Worship: This is Miku's primary reason to head into Himuro Mansion.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Most of the families connected to the rituals.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Zero can be translated as Rei, with one of its meaning being Ghost.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
    • Ayako may look like the cutest ghost in Fatal Frame IV, but is cruel to the core.
    • Fatal Frame II features Mayu, who purposefully fell down the cliff and broke her leg to burden Mio with enough guilt to make her never leave her side. It was a case of All There in the Manual originally, but the remake made the hints more obvious.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation
    • Fatal Frame V has the subtitle of Nuregarasu no Miko, which is difficult to translate into English. Nuregarasu is an idiom referring to lustrous black hair akin to a raven's dark feathers and can be translated as 'wet raven' or 'crow'. Prior to the official English title being released, some English translations turned it into Oracle of the Sodden Raven and Priestess of the Drowned Crow. The offical English title is Maiden of Black Water.
    • The series is titled Project Zero in Europe. Project is usually used to refer to the project name of the game and team currently working on it.
  • Body Horror
    • Broken Neck Woman has her head flopping onto her back.
    • Blinded Ghost, whose eyes are bleeding profusly from spike wounds.
    • The ghostly blob of tortured souls floating behind Kirie.
    • The Blooming occuring to spirits.
    • The Mourners have their eyes sewn shut.
  • Boring, but Practical
    • Type-14 film is a decent strenght of film, despite being the second-weakest type in the entire series and used to be the weakest in Fatal Frame I, which lacked Type-07. Despite this, it's your go-to film for most battles and is usually there in good supply with enough lying around to stock up.
    • Type-07 film is the weakest film and reloads a bit slower than Type-14. But it's unlimited, which makes it your best film to use on out-of-battle shots and will always be there in case all the good film is used up.
  • Bowdlerise
    • Any western release has removed bikini outfits as possible unlockable clothes. Fortunately, European players can import the Australian version of the games to play on their consoles, where the costumes remained intact.
    • Miu's provocative posing as a (gravure) model in Fatal Frame V originally had her dressed in a white bikini and long scarf. The scene remained in-game, but her clothes were altered to her default attire.
    • Deep Crimson Butterfly aged up Mio and Mayu from 15 to around 18.
  • Break the Cutie: The antagonists tends to be broken cuties, though the protagonist go through their share.
  • Breather Episode: The Interlude chapter in Fatal Frame V has no hostile ghosts and only some spectral echoes for picture opportunities. Outside from obtaining some notes and information, the short chapter ends with Yuuri heading off to Mt Hikami again.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Fatal Frame IV implies that Ayako is the daughter of Sakuya and her brother You. There's also strong implication that Miu Hinasaki is a produce of incest.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: A major theme in Fatal Frame II.
  • The Cameo
  • Captain Ersatz: Fatal Frame II includes a ghost with long, black hair covering their face and slowly emerging out of a box. A clear Shout-Out to The Ring, including having the ghost eventually crawl out of a well.
  • Catapult Nightmare
    • Fatal Frame III gives one to Rei for every completed 'Hour' of the game. It serves as a game mechanic to show that the episode is completed and the game is progressing. The scene also shows the advancement of Rei's Holly tatoo.
    • Fatal Frame V gives one to Yuuri as part of a Shower of Awkward moment.
  • Check-Point Starvation: Several of the games have the last Save Point occur before the Point of No Return, but the player must proceed through long hallways, usually filled with hostile ghosts and the Final Boss before completing the game.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Yae Munkata was a hostile ghost in Fatal Frame I, who lived in Himuro Mansion for a while before committing suicide. She was reintroduced in Fatal Frame II with a much larger role. She was Yae Kurosawa.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience
    • The camera's filament will glow blue when non-hostile ghosts, important items or strange presences that need to be photographed are nearby. It turns red when a hostile ghost is nearby.
    • Ordinary ghosts are pale and grayish in color, with nothing to make them stand out. If a ghost seems to contain some color in their clothes or hair, they are likely much more important; this includes ghosts like the Big Bads or helpful spirits that elaborate on the game's story.
  • Continuity Nod
    • The first two games have no connection with each other, beyond the Camera Obscura. But both are frequently referenced in the third game, since Miku is playable in Fatal Frame III and Kei is the uncle of the second game's protagonists.
    • Fatal Frame V has Miu comment that her family used to have a Camera Obscura, too, but the case is the only thing that remains. It's a nod to said camera having been used in Fatal Frame I and shattered during the final confrontation with Kirie.
  • Creepy Child: Several of the children ghosts in the series. Especially Ayako.
  • Creepy Doll
    • Fatal Frame I has the appropriately named Doll Room, with several dolls on display and a little ghost girl crawling on the ground, wanting to 'play' with Miku.
    • Fatal Frame II has the Kiryu House filled with dolls, as Yoshitatsu Kiryu was a dollmaker in life. There's also the Kiryu twins of whom one is a doll possessed by a malevolent spirit and Yoshitatsu using dolls to assist him in his battle.
    • Fatal Frame IV has Watashi, Kageri's twinsister doll. She looks human, but has no eyes and the paint of her skin is chipped in places. Kageri also stumbles around like a zombie.
    • Fatal Frame V has a shrine dedicated to dolls. Some of the dolls attack you and several of them are life-size and used by Shiragiku when battling her.
  • Creepy Twins: Fatal Frame II has twins as its major theme, including the creepy Kiryu twins.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • The Rope Shrine maiden gets torn to pieces by rope tied to her extremities.
    • Fatal Frame V gives a horrible death to the men rejected by Ouse. Their body is twisted and broken in several places, to get the body to fit into a black box and be placed far away from the Shadowspring to be left unmourned.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Some of them are cute, like Chitose Tachibana and Amane Kuze.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Several people end up dying and becoming spirits because of this.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Late in Fatal Frame II, Mio drops the Camera Obscura while being chased by Sae and leaves it behind for a while. She is never this clumsy in the rest of the game, even when she has to violently shake off a ghost's grabby hands.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: A trailer for Fatal Frame II showed Mio running as fast as she could after Mayu. If only she could actually run that fast in-game!
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Fatal Frame III and V show that Mafuyu staying with Kirie and Mio killing Mayu are the canon endings for Fatal Frame I and II.
  • Darker and Edgier: Fatal Frame V stepped up the game by having suicide as one of its central themes and became much less squeamish about showing body horror and blood.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!
    • Try playing Fatal Frame I or II for a while, then switch to the other. Have fun panicking when the default settings cause you to change the camera-view on your character and not the actual direction you are pointing the Camera Obscura in.
    • Fatal Frame III mapped the camera button to Triangle, rather than the usual Square button. And since it was a PS2 exclusive game, there's no helping you at all.
  • Dead All Along
    • Fatal Frame I actually averts this, with it being implied that Miku is too late to save Mafuyu.
    • Fatal Frame II reveals Itsuki to have been this, though given that Minakami Village is already a ghost town, the shock value isn't as high. But it's noteworthy in the way it's presented to the player.
    • Fatal Frame IV reveals this about Choushiro Kirishima, who takes the news well.
      So, that's how it is, huh?
  • Deadly Lunge: Most of the ghosts do this to fight you.
  • Dead Man Writing: One of the notes found in Fatal Frame IV begins with When you see this, I will no longer be in this world.
  • Death Seeker
    • A major theme in Fatal Frame III due to Survivor's Guilt.
    • Fatal Frame V has suicide as one of its themes, leading to a lot of this.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Mafuyu and Madoka in Fatal Frame I and IV, respectively.
  • Despair Event Horizon
    • Mio, upon realizing that she killed Mayu for the ritual.
    • Rei reaches it when Miku falls into a coma-like state.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Noticeably pulled off in Fatal Frame I and II, just to avert a happy ending.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ruka from Fatal Frame IV left the island with her mother and her father stayed behind. She cannot even remember his face anymore. Two years after they left, he died when Sakuya bloomed and roamed the island. Ruka has a momentary reunion with her father, after breaking the island's curse.
  • Discovering Your Own Dead Body: Fatal Frame IV has Choushiro Kirishima's story involve reliving the events leading up to their death and ending when they come across their corpse in the same location they first woke up in.
  • The Dragon
    • Fatal Frame I has Lord Himuro, who slaughtered the inhabitants while under the Malice's influence.
    • Fatal Frame II has the Kusabi being the slayer of the villagers on the Repentance's behest, though he is also the final boss. In terms of gameplay, Ryokan Kurosawa serves the role as the penultimate challenge.
    • Fatal Frame III has Yashuu Kuze, the matriarchal leader of the Kuze shrine. She does her best to block the way to the Abyss and the Chamber of Thorns. The Master Builders were this to her, when they were still alive.
    • Fatal Frame IV has Souya Yomotsuki, the creator of the first Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. His spirit became obsessed with aiding Sakuya and tries to prevent Ruka from reaching the shrine and lighthouse.
    • Fatal Frame V has the Matchmaker and Funeral Celebrant, who were responsible for the rituals.
  • Driven to Suicide
    • Fatal Frame I has Lord Himuro kill himself, after he murdered everyone in the mansion, as well as Yae Munakata. She killed herself after being driven insane by the Camera Obscura and her daughter was kidnapped by spirits. There is also Miku and Mafuyu's mother, who also killed herself because of Camera Obscura exposure.
    • Fatal Frame II reveals that Yae and Sae's mother killed herself because she couldn't stand the thought of seeing one of them having to kill the other. Itsuki also committed suicide, after he thought he had failed everyone again.
    • Fatal Frame V takes place at a suicide hot spot.
  • Dual Boss
    • The Kiryu Twins in Fatal Frame II. They act similarly, except that the doll cannot be harmed with the camera. Attacking her does provoke Akane to attack, though, and she has to be defeated to win against both.
    • Fatal Frame IV has the player always fight Kageri Sendou alongside her doll Watashi. Similar to the Kiryu twins, Kageri is the actual target. The difference is that Watashi is a lot more aggressive and will relentlessly stumble towards the player for an attack.
    • Fatal Frame V has the Matchmaker and Funeral Celebrant be both together in the penultimate location. Both are rather fast and can use their mirrors to send homing projectiles at the player.
  • Dull Surprise: The English voice acting in Fatal Frame I and V is notorious for this.
  • Dying as Yourself: Fatal Frame IV reveals that some patients with advanced Getsuyuu Syndrome have decided to commit suicide, because the illness has made them forget their families or their own identity.
  • Easy Amnesia: Fatal Frame IV is filled with it. Justified, since amnesia is a symptom of Getsuyuu Syndrome.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first game has some mechanics that differ from the rest. Some examples below:
    • In the first game, Type-14 Film (the weakest film type in the game) can be recharged at a Save Point if its amount dips below a certain number and no hostile ghosts are around. The second game onward do away with the film recharge option while introducing Type-07 Film, which is weaker in power but has unlimited supply.
    • In the first game, the player can make a 180-degree turn with a controller button while in the View Finder mode. This mechanic has been absent since the second game onward.
    • The Smashing Survival mechanic is absent in the first game, whereas later entries have it available.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: If you want a happy ending, you generally need to beat the game on higher difficulties (or obtain an Orphan's Plot Trinket for one of the player characters in New Game+, regardless of difficulty level, in III). Averted in II's original version, where completing the game on Nightmare difficulty resulted in a Bittersweet Ending.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: The ghosts in the series tend to cause radios, tape players, televisions, telephones or other kind of electronics to act up.
  • Emergency Weapon
    • Type-14 Film was this in I, which was the only type of film that could be constantly resupplied at any Save Point.
    • From II onward, the Type-07 Film. It's the weakest of films, but you have an infinite supply of them and it is capable of getting the job done, if all the good film is used up.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: The Camera Obscura's filament that turns color around the presence of ghosts.
  • Enfant Terrible
    • Ayako in IV. She is really cute, but also very cruel and insane.
    • The three Handmaidens from III, who tend to relish in their cruel duties.
  • Escort Mission: Half of Fatal Frame II with Mayu. Subverted, since she is an excellent shield and a great way to bring Fatal Frame shot opportunities. Fatal Frame V also tends to have the protagonist be followed by an NPC. Fortunately, they seem invincible.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Majority of the ghosts in photographs are given descriptive titles, rather than names. At least, on a first encounter. The Ghost List tends to give descriptions that include the ghost's name.
  • Eye Scream
    • Demon Tag in I is named after a ritual that took place in the Himuro Mansion. A mask with spikes in the eye-holes is placed upon a chosen maiden, stabbing her eyes out.
    • The Mourners in II have their eyes shown shut.
    • This occurs to anyone who looks into the Hellish Abyss in II, as Mio learns painfully in the Hellish Abyss ending.
    • The Engravers in III have their own eyes gouged out.
    • Most of the Mikos in V have had their eyes slashed out.
  • The Faceless: Any ghost that Blooms in IV, especially Sakuya.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Despite most of the games having multiple endings, the canonical ones tend to be the ones that involve some form of failure.
  • Famous Last Words
    • "Kill me." Mayu, in the canonical Ending of II.
      • "It's beautiful." Mayu, in the Shadow Festival Ending.
      • "It's nearly time, Mayu!" Mio, also during the Shadow Festival Ending.
  • Fate Worse Than Death
    • Fatal Frame I gives one to Mafuyu and Kirie. They will spend the rest of eternity at the Hell Gate to keep it closed.
    • Blooming continues after death, which is vividly shown on multiple occurrences in IV.
  • First Person Snapshooter: The main weapon for any protagonist is a camera; the exception being Kirishima in IV, who uses a flashlight.
  • Flashback Echo: Most of the non-hostile ghosts are nothing but brief images of people walking through an area, repeating an action that happened to them in life.
  • Floating Limbs: Ghost Hands in IV, Deep Crimson Butterfly, and V which are seen as floating pale arms. Some hidden ghosts in the series also have two pale feet walking without any visible body
  • A Friend in Need: In Fatal Frame I, Mafuyu decides to remain with Kirie at the Hell Gate, rather than escape the Himuro Mansion.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Rei's home in III is huge. It has 3 stories, 3 bedrooms and work rooms and is at least 2.000 square feet large. A young academic and a young photographer would not be able to afford that in a low-cost area of America. Much less likely in the legendarily high-priced Japanese housing market.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Most of the antagonists were simple Mikos, who turned dangerous after their rituals failed. Reika from III deserves special mention, as she takes this trope to literal extremes.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The Big Bad of III is completely topless. However, she is covered in tattoos and out of focus, so there is nothing naughty to see. Seeing her is still terrifying.
  • Gaiden Game
    • The Japanese-only cellphone spin-off Real: Another Edition utilizes the phone's camera to capture ghosts overlaid in the real world.
    • Spirit Camera for the 3DS uses the ARI technology to take pictures of ghosts in your own house.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability
    • Not really restricted, but women are more likely to possess a powerful Sixth Sense.
    • Only a man would have the strength to move this dresser out of the way.
  • Guest Fighter: Literally. Ayane from Dead or Alive has an unlockable side story in Maiden of Black Water. As might be expected from the switch to a horror genre, Ayane is Brought Down to Normal when her deadly martial arts skills prove ineffective against ghosts. Fortunately she later gains magical tattoos that enable her to hide from ghosts and a Spirit Stone Flashlight to defend herself with.
  • Ghost Butler: Mio encounters one upon entering the Kurosawa House in II.
  • Ghostly Chill: Used a lot during the series.
  • Girly Run: All protagonists run slowly and with strangely delicate gestures, such as bouncing up and down on their feet, flailing their non-flashlight arms, or as in Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, like their legs are partly paralyzed. Averted with the protagonists in Maiden of the Black Water, who pack some serious speed while jogging outside and only slow down indoors because going that fast would mean smacking their heads against the walls.
  • Guide Dang It!: Just try to complete all the sidequests or the Ghost List without having a guide handy.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: Fatal Frame II is filled with this by having a twin sister that you need to protect and making it clear that she needs you, because she is slower and weaker. While Mayu can be a bit tedious to deal with due to her slow speed, she is useful as bait in getting the best shot against ghosts, so she does help out. Mio blames herself for the accident, playing into this trope though the novel and re-release reveal that Mayu purposefully fell to keep Mio bound to her through an injury and guilt, so the blame is in the air.
    • The same game also contains an ending where the player can choose to abandon Mayu and run off on their own. The game refuses to let this count as an actual ending and merely plays it off as a Game Over.
  • Haunted House: The protagonists walk through haunted houses, manors, hospitals, villages, shrines and islands. If it's an area in the game, there's a high probability it is haunted.
  • Heroic Sacrifice
    • Fatal Frame II has Mio Amakura pull one off in the non-canon Bittersweet Ending.
    • There's also the Shadow Festival Ending in the same game where both girls remain in Minakami village because they are too late to stop the Repentance.
  • Hellgate: There's usually one in each game and it needs to remain closed or unspeakable terror is unleashed. Which is usually what happened before the game starts.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners
    • Mio and Mayu are implied to end this way in The Promise Ending, where Mayu is scared of the idea of living a separate life from her twin and Mio says that they'll never part.
    • Rei and Miku in III.
  • Human Sacrifice
    • Majority of the games have at least one ritual that requires one. The main plot's rituals that failed tend to involve the same actions: a woman is to be sacrificed to seal the local Hellgate, but something went wrong during the ritual and, instead of sealing the gate, it's burst wide open and the horror is unleashed.
    • Fatal Frame II also includes the Kusabi ritual, which is an alternative option to the main Crimson Butterfly ritual.
    • Fatal Frame IV also had one, though nobody was supposed to die.
  • Implacable Man: All of the Big Bads and some Dragons cannot be defeated, until the final encounter with them. This includes Kirie, the Kusabi and Sae, Reika, Sakuya and Ouse.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Every protagonist uses the Camera Obscura as their weapon of choice. The only exception is Kirishima, who uses a Spirit Stone Flashlight.
  • Incest Subtext: There is so, so very much of it...
  • Infinite Flashlight:
    • Each and every protagonist in the series carries a flashlight to help him/her to see the surroundings. Said flashlight never seems to run out of battery power throughout the game. The only time the flashlight doesn't work is in the Kurosawa house in II, but even then it's due to the malevolent spiritual influence within it — the flashlight works again once Mio is out of the Kurosawa house. Not to mention the Kurosawa house happens to be the most well-lit location in the game.
    • Then there's the Spirit Stone Flashlight, which either exorcises ghosts (when wielded by Kirishima in IV) or temporarily incapacitates them (as is the case for Ayane in V) and never seems to run out of power, either, though re-charging its power between shots is still necessary.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme
    • Kagome, Kagome as the Japanese equivalent of tag in Fatal Frame I, which foreshadows the horrific revelation of what the Demon Tag actually entails.
    • The Handmaidens' song in III, which talks about the impalement and continued torture of the Tattooed Priestess. It also includes a more melancholic, serene phrase of sending the priestess onward and ease her pain, though it was mostly lost through time.
  • I See Dead People: According to the game, only people with a Sixth Sense can see ghosts.
  • It's All About Me: Fatal Frame III is the worst offender of this. The reason for the ritual and the tattoos is so the priestess takes on the pain of others so they don't have to feel it anymore.
  • It's All My Fault: Rei blames herself for her fiancé's death, because she was behind the wheel when the car accident occurs.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Expect at least one ghost to look like this, such as the Kusabi.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Ayako has nothing but more cruelty on her inside.
  • Jiggle Physics
    • Fatal Frame II's Wii remake has a mild case on Mio and Mayu's breasts.
    • Fatal Frame IV gives Ruka jiggle physics on her butt when she wears the Zero Suit.
    • Fatal Frame V has minor jiggling on the breasts of all the females; more noticeable on Miu's breasts when she wears the Zelda costume and on Yuri's butt when wearing the Zero Suit.
  • Kick the Dog: Ayako is a walking example of what she does.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: No matter what the ritual was holding back, by the time you learn the truth about the rituals, it'll be hard to feel sorry for any of the initial targets.
  • Kill the Cutie: Mayu Amakura in II's canon ending.
  • Late to the Tragedy: By the time the playable character(s) reach the haunted place they're in, whatever events or rituals that doomed said place had already taken place long ago.
  • Laughing Mad
    • Sae has an iconic, deranged laughter in II.
    • The game's Wii remake reveals that Mayu has one worse than Sae.
  • Left Hanging: In Fatal Frame IV, Misaki's ultimate fate is left unanswered. Averted in the 'photograph' ending, where it shows that Misaki did survive.
  • Leitmotif: Each type of ghost has its own encounter music, though they tend to consists of ambient or white noise and not actual music.
  • Lighthouse Point: Shows up in IV as the final location.
  • The Load:
    • Mayu's worst point in II. She can be seen as cute and loveable, but she honestly is not much of a help in the game. Aside from helping on a few, rare puzzles that require her presence, she keeps disappearing as soon as you leave her out of your sight. Justified, since she's possessed by Sae, but it's certainly a bad case.
    • V has Rui Kagamiya. She follows Ren along on several of his trips, but unlike Mayu's example above, she has no spiritual powers herself and her only excuse for coming along is that she is his assistant. And most of Ren's chapters result in his having to rescue her, because Rui repeatedly falls under the influence of Mt Hikami's spirits and can't get out on her own.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Itsuki's hair has turned white after having killed his brother in the Strangling Ritual and realizing he failed.
  • MacGuffin: The Camera Obscura in every game. Also the Mask of the Lunar Eclipse in IV.
  • Madness Mantra
    • Fatal Frame II: Why Kill Why Kill Why Kill Why Kill...
      • Kill Me Kill Me Kill Me Kill Me...
    • Fatal Frame III: If only I had died too. If only I had died too! It's not my fault that I'm the only one who survived! I should have been taken. Ididn'tsurvivebecauseIwantedto! I-I had no choice. I didn't survive because I wanted to,I had no choice. So if I had died with everyone else, yes! Yes! If I had died with everyone else I would, I would-
    • Fatal Frame IV: 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...
  • Magical Camera: The Camera Obscura, a new way of taking shots and using the power of light.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Was supposed to occur at the end of I with Miku saying that she lost her ability to see ghosts, but III reveals that she still has it or that it came back. Most likely explanation was that the producers didn't know the game would be successful enough to be turned into a series.
  • Malevolent Architecture: The mansions tend to have puzzle-locked doors and complicated layouts. Discussed in III, with the Kuze Manor purposefully having an unusual layout that puzzled those who investigated the ruins.
  • Meaningful Echo: The sentence "No! I won't let you do it!" has been uttered more than once in V (in most of the listed examples below, an embrace from behind takes place as well).
    • Miu says this as she tries to call Yuuri back as Yuuri is walking deeper and deeper into the Black Lake. Her words and embrace jolt Yuuri out of her spiritually-possessed trance.
    • Miu does this again when getting Miku out of the Black Box that confines her.
    • The reason Yuuri reacts so powerfully to these words, as indicated in a flashback, is because these are what Hisoka says to her as she stops Yuuri from her own suicide attempt.
    • Yuuri herself says this to Hisoka to stop her from letting herself become a sacrifice.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The ghosts in Fatal Frame II can leave behind gemstones that include messages of theirs and final memories in them.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: The mortality rate for male characters is... very high. The only surviving ones are Kei, who only survives in one ending of III, and Ren, who survives all of his endings in V.
  • Miko: The inspiration for various shrine maidens in the games.
  • Minigame: Usually tasks you with defeating a certain set of ghosts with a specific type of film. The faster you succeed, the better your ranking. There are no mini-games in V, though.
  • Mistaken Identity: Every ghost in II thinks Mio and Mayu are Yae and Sae. Even Itsuki, who never calls them anything else.
  • Multiple Endings
    • Downer Ending: Canonically, Fatal Frame I and II end this way.
    • Bittersweet Ending: Canon for Fatal Frame III. Also a type of Ending unlocked if the games are completed on higher difficulties.
    • Golden Ending: The closest to a Happy Ending and usually locked into the highest difficulty of the games.
    • Fatal Frame V plays things differently, with each of the three protagonists having their own types of endings depend on their actions.
  • Ms. Fanservice
    • Mio and Mayu in Fatal Frame II's Wii remake. The updated clothes have Mio showing off her brastraps freely and Mayu's skirt is so short, it's very easy to get a panty shot out of her. It works in making them come across as more vulnerable, since the clothes don't offer much protection against wind, much less angry ghosts.
    • All of the female protagonists in IV. Most noticeably Misaki, who walks around with a half-transparent top to begin with.
    • Fatal Frame V's wetness meter pretty much turns any watery area in the game into a wet t-shirt contest. The game also included some lingerie-like costumes for the girls, has more noticeable jiggle physics and Miu is a gravure idol, giving the player a lovely shot in a provocative pose.
  • New Game+: Replaying the game from an old save carries over all power-ups and items. It also includes new sidequests, the option to unlock happier endings and unlocks a camera function to see previously-invisible ghosts.
  • Never Mess with Granny
    • III:
    • Fatal Frame V has the Matchmaker and Tadasuma, two elderly priestesses that reside over the rituals at Mt Hikami. Both are fast, carry mirrors that disorient the player during battle and can push you into black boxes, which leaves you a very narrow window of attack.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!
    • Itsuki's plan to have Yae and Sae escape Minakami Village was well-intended. He wanted to prevent them from having to go through the ritual and save Yae the guilt of having to kill Sae, same as Itsuki did with his brother. It almost worked, but then Sae was caught and forced to go through the ritual alone because Yae wasn't there, causing the ritual to fail and unleash the Repentance upon the village.
    • Reika's lover, Kaname entered the Chamber of Thorns to see her one last time, before she dies from her stake wounds. He wakes Reika up just as Yashuu Kuze sneaks up behind him and kills him for violating the shrine. Reika took this well and had the Holly enter her eyes, unleashing the bent-up pain and anger inside of her, dooming the shrine to the Rift. Had Kaname stayed away, Reika would simply have died doing her duty as the priestess.
    • Sakuya in the fourth game, though given that her brother and father were trying to cure her with the real Kagura ritual and the fact that she was already unstable to begin with and had an unnaturally strong spiritual sense probably made it more difficult.
      • Souya's idea that the first Day Without Suffering occured because of a flawed Mask was correct, but he didn't realize that he also required a descendent of the Tsukimori clan to perform the Tsukimori song. Without the mask and the right song, the ritual was bound to fail.
  • Nightmare Face: Blooming in IV. The Mikos' slashed faces in V.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: Inverted, it seems it's a trend that the good endings are not canon. The downer or bittersweet ones are, instead.
  • Nostalgia Heaven: In Fatal Frame II's Wii remake, the Shadow Festival Ending shows Mio and Mayu having a vision of a summer festival they visited as children. Mayu got separated from Mio in the crowd, which likely sparked her obsession with being 'together' with her sister. They stay together in the real world, dying at the hands of the Repentance.
  • Nostalgia Level: Fatal Frame III's Manor of Sleep is compromised of the new location, but also includes connections to the Himuro and Kurosawa Mansion from the previous games.
  • Not So Weak: Every playable character.
  • Notice This: Objects appear as shimmering dots of light that must be picked up, in order to learn what they are. Averted in Fatal Frame V, where healing items are shown in their actual form.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We only get vague glimpses of what lies beyond the Hell Gate du jour of each game. Fatal Frame II at least has the justification that anyone who does look gets blinded for life.
  • Not Too Dead to Save the Day: The Dead All Along Choushiro appears just in time, as Ruka tripped and failed to put the mask on Sakuya. He then succeeds in doing so.
  • Obvious Beta: Fatal Frame IV is notable not just for having a gamebreaking glitch, but also including a Ghost List that is impossible to complete, without hacking it.
  • One-Hit Kill:
  • One Twin Must Die: In Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, Minakami Village had the ten year annual Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, where one twin had to strangle the other to death in order to keep the Hellgate beneath the village sealed. After a failure that caused the entire village's destruction, the restless ghosts of the inhabitants try and force the protagonist to do the same to her own twin.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Kaname's Echo Stone Earring.
  • Pater Familicide: All over the place; particular note is Lord Himuro, who slaughtered the entire clan.
  • Personal Space Invader: All of the ghosts do this, since their touch drains health.
  • Please Don't Leave Me
    • Mayu will say this, if you run too far ahead of her. She also mumbles this repeatedly when she gets locked into the repentance cell.
    • Everyone says this at least once in III, especially Mio to a dead Mayu and Rei to Miku, when she runs after her brother's spirit.
    • Fatal Frame IV has Madoka's ghost say this, along with "Help me!".
  • Plotline Death: Mafuyu Hinasaki, Mayu Amakura and Madoka Tsukimori are the canonical deaths. There are more, depending on which ending the player gets, especially in Fatal Frame V.
  • Promotion to Parent: Mafuyu to Miku, after their mother committed suicide.
  • Protectorate: Mio is very protective of her sister, Mayu.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Can occur in V, if one cannot resist the ghosts' influence on Mt Hikami.
  • Punny Name: The series' name Project Zero. Zero is another way to say Rei, which is a homophone of Ghost.
  • Red String of Fate: Fatal Frame II uses a non-romantic variety with the Crimson Butterfly participants. The twins are dressed in white kimono that are joined by a thick, red sash at their waists. It's meant to symbolize how they were one person born as separate people, but will 'become one' through the ritual. Flashbacks to Sae's ritual, and Sae herself, depict her with a broken red sash.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Every single patient's room in Rougetsu Hall except Sakuya's and that of the protagonists. It's said that the symptoms of Getsuyuu Syndrome can be lessened if the patient is allowed to indulge in their obsessions. Which includes coffins and mannequin parts all over the room.
  • Run or Die:
    • A traditional standard when encountering the main antagonist of the game before the designated final battle. There are exceptions to this rule, though:
      • In the first game, when encountering Kirie at the end of the each of the first two nights, it's actually required to let her touch Miku in order to proceed.
      • In the third game, when facing the Kusabi in the Minakami Village section of the manor, you don't technically have to run (in fact, you can opt to stay and fight every time he's encountered), but it's highly recommended for you to flee (especially the first time Kei encounters him, when his Camera Obscura has no effect against him) — though, in one occasion, you must defeat him to progress — due to the facts that he's tough to take down and most of the area where he may spawn tends to be narrow hallways that don't work in your favor should you try to fight him.
      • In the fourth game, you actually meet Sakuya once during the early parts of the story and must defeat her to proceed with the story — but then she Turns Red and this trope applies.
    • This trope applies when the playable character at the time doesn't have a Camera Obscura in hand, with or without the main antagonist around. For example:
  • Save Point: Fatal Frame I used an old camera as a save point and the following games all used a lantern. The save point becomes unusable if a ghost is nearby, though.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Basically everyone in A Curse Affecting Only Girls.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Many ghosts in the series would just stand, or sit there, doing nothing, and never disappear. But get close to them or take a picture of them and they'll re-appear right in your face.note .
    • If it is a shiny blue object, then it is a valuable item that is ready for pick-up. But in IV, Deep Crimson Butterfly, and V, some pale hand may grab your arm as you grab the item.
  • Senseless Sacrifice
    • How many felt about Mafuyu remaining with Kirie in Fatal Frame I.
    • In Fatal Frame II, Mayu encouraging Mio to strangle her and Mio and Miku wanting to die in III.
    • Averted in III with Yuu's spirit telling Rei that she shouldn't die, but live on and carry him in her memories.
  • Sensor Suspense: Whenever hunting for hidden ghosts or dealing with ghosts that like to pop up behind you.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: In III, people who fall victim to the Tattoo Curse vanish into an ashen outline.
  • She Will Come for Me: Sae was convinced that, after she was captured by the villagers, Yae would come back for her.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog:
    • Fatal Frame I with its canon ending. Miku ventures into the Himuro mansion with the sole purpose of rescuing Mafuyu, only for Mafuyu to opt to stay behind in the mansion with Kirie in an effort to help ease her suffering, leaving Miku as the Sole Survivor, rendering everything Miku went through to find and rescue Mafuyu pointless.
    • Fatal Frame II with its canon ending as well. Mio is mind-controlled when she enters the chamber and performs the Strangling Ritual, killing Mayu. The ending would have been exactly the same, had both become possessed upon entering Minakami Village and had not found the camera, not tried to escape or anything. The entire game feels pointless, because everything Mio went through to try and protect Mayu just increased Mio's suffering, with nothing to show for it.
  • Shout-Out: Rei encounters a stringy-haired ghost girl in her attic, accessed via the roof of the closet.
  • Shower of Awkward: As cutscenes.
    • III: Rei notices someone near the bathroom door while she showers, but the "someone" is a ghost, not Miku. Fortunately for her, said ghost doesn't harm or kill her, though the experience still leaves her feeling unnerved by it.
    • V: Yuri is bathing in her tub, but is dragged underwater, and then locked in a submerged box with a ghost. She then flings herself awake, realizing it has been All Just a Dream, but still feeling shaken by the incident.
  • Sleep Cute: The final shot of Mio and Mayu in the Shadow Festival ending of Deep Crimson Butterfly, symbolizing that they are now Together in Death.
  • Smashing Survival: The Confirm button in II, R1 for III, waggling the WiiMote in IV and II's Wii remake and pressing B in V, will allow you to shake off or dodge ghosts that get too close for comfort. In I? Hope your reflexes are good.
  • Spooky Photographs: Pretty much the core element of the series.
  • Stringyhaired Ghost Girl: Being a series of ghost games in Japan, it's no surprise that many of the ghosts are onryo.
  • Stripperiffic: Fatal Frame V has costumes that strips Yuri and Miu down to their rather revealing underwear.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome
    • Fatal Frame III's non-canon ending has Mio be claimed by the Tattoo Curse.
    • Likely Miku in V. Depending on the Ending, she is either dying or has been Dead All Along.
  • Survivor's Guilt:
  • Tempting Fate: This exchange at the Prologue of III:
    Rei: I'd heard this house was haunted... too bad it's not.
    Miku: Rumors are just rumors.
  • That One Case: Kirishima is determined to find You Haibara and bring him to justice. It costs him his life.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Mio and Mayu, Yae and Sae, Itsuki and Mutsuki, Akane and Azami, Kageri and Kaoru... The only twins this doesn't apply to are Tsuzuri and Musubi, who are only given names in the manga anthology.
  • These Hands Have Killed
    • This is Mio's horrified reaction upon completing the ritual.
    • Itsuki says this almost verbatim.
      Yae, the reason I am imprisoned here is because I have sinned... with these hands.
  • Together in Death
    • Fatal Frame I has this for Kirie and her unnamed lover in the best ending.
    • Fatal Frame II gives this to Sae and Yae in the Promise ending.
      • Similarly, Mio and Mayu in the Shadow Festival ending.
    • Fatal Frame III has a less-pleasant version with Reika unable to look away at Kaname's murdered dead body. At the end of the game, Rei places their bodies side by side while sending them off to the afterlife.
    • A plot point in V involves the Yuukon ritual. It ties two souls together, so they would be together in the afterlife. Depending on the ending, Yuri might end up this way with Oose. And Miku has performed the ritual with her spirited away brother, Mafuyu.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Entire villages are painfully guilty of this in these games. Most of the rituals exist to "appease" some form of Hellgate. Despite the fact that these things are immobile and can't cause damage beyond their surrounding area the people who, for some unexplainable reason, built their home/village near these things decide the best course of action is feeding it live human sacrifices to keep it from going berserk. Most westerners point out the easy solution is to just abandon the area entirely. This is largely Values Dissonance, but it's so infuriatingly simple a solution many western gamers can't find much pity for the people that get killed by these things.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Minakami Village in II and Rougetsu Island in IV.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: A trailer for V spoiled Fuyuhi Himino's Psychic-Assisted Suicide.
  • Tragic Villain: All of the main antagonists. Each of them was not evil or a bad person to begin with, but only became hostile and dangerous because they have been driven insane or influenced by the Malice, Darkness, Rift, etc.
  • Tragic Monster: A good portion of the ghosts. Most of them are simply victims of circumstances from other ghosts or are only hostile because they are unable to pass on.
  • Turns Red
    • Hostile ghosts in II's Wii remake can enter Dark Return. They are surrounded by a purple aura and become much faster and stronger; many gaining One-Hit Kill abilities.
    • Any ghost in IV that is not wearing a mask has a chance to Bloom when their health is low. Their face becomes distorted and a faint violin shriek is added to the soundtrack. Blooming ghosts are unpredictable and much stronger.
  • Twincest: There are a lot of incidents in II where twins come across as very devoted to each other.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Some of the truly bizarre sights in the series are taken in stride by the protagonists.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Mayu is this incarnate. The other games tend to have the protagonists going through hell for the sake of someone else.
  • Video Game Remake: Fatal Frame II received a Wii remake.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Along with other disturbing requirements for the rituals.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist
    • Yoshitatsu Kiryu in II. He couldn't stand seeing Azami lifeless after Akane's death, so he created a life-sized doll in her place. While it did help Azami, it also backfired when the doll became possessed and stole his other daughter's soul and killed him.
    • You Haibara in IV, whose experiments on patients were unethical and resulted in several death, he was doing it in an attempt to cure his sister's illness.
  • Wham Line: In II, when Mio and Mayu get separated, Mayu says a creepy line.
    Dear sister, are you leaving me again?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: During the events of V, Yuri Glances Miu (and you must do so to proceed with the story), only for Miu to turn the tables on Yuri and Glance Yuri's thoughts. Shocked, Yuri releases her hold on Miu, but Miu grabs Yuri and tells her: "Don't you do that again. Ever."
  • Whispering Ghosts: Most of the ghosts never speak above a creepy whisper.
  • Wicked Toymaker: Yoshitatsu Kiryu, the dollmaker, created a doll that looked like his deceased daughter. It was life-sized and had long, dark hair falling into its face. Oh, and was eventually possessed by a malevolent spirit that wanted to kill him. Granted, he did it to help his surviving daughter deal with grief, but it backfired.
  • Woman in White
    • Majority of the female ghosts in the series are dressed in white.
    • Kirie and Sae, who wear a white kimono the entire time, and Tsubaki Tono, the Utsuwa of the fake Kagura, who wore a white kimono as part of the costume.
    • Ouse Kurosawa was originally dressed in white.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain
    • Kei Amakura. Near the end of III, he reassures Rei that there may still be hope to save them all, as he thinks he's found a way to end the Tattoo Curse for good. Then Reika kills him in the Chamber of Thorns. Or puts him into a deep sleep.
    • Fatal Frame IV spend a good while getting the player attached to Choushiro Kirishima and thinking he'll help Ruka stop Sakuya. While he does help Ruka, it turns out that he died 8 years prior to the events of the game.
  • You Are Not Alone
    • Rei says this to Miku in III when Miku runs after her brother's spirit.
    • In a flashback in V, Hisoka says this to Yuri when she successfully talks Yuri out of committing suicide. Yuri later says this to Ouse in her bad ending.
  • You Are Worth Hell: Fatal Frame II's Shadow Festival has Mio arrives at the abyss, only to find that the Repentance has begun. Since they cannot escape it in time, Mio and Mayu decide to accept their fate and suffer the Repentance, if it means they can be together.
  • Zombie Gait: Some of the dolls that attack you move like this.
    • Watashi from IV, who stumbles like this towards the player when hostile.
    • The dolls that attack you in V as well. Fortunately, they have low health.

Alternative Title(s): Zero, Project Zero

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Franchise/FatalFrame