Known as 『零 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 Mature. It's rated Teen for "Blood and Gore, Violence" (most likely because you don't actively cause it).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 the series:
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, but it doesn't sound as cool.
Anti-Frustration Features: In Crimson Butterfly, the Infinite Flashlight doesn't work in the Kurosawa house, which just so happens to be the most well-lit location in the game, so the player isn't left to bumble around in the dark.
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. The people responsible for the rituals in III take the cake, though.
Ax-Crazy: Lord Himuro takes this trope to new heights, weaving a path of disembowelment and beheadings all the way.
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. Himuro Mansion itself was modeled after a real building, though.
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 American version.
Some websites cited the setting of first game as being based on an actual house (possibly haunted, of course) in a rural area of Japan. While this isn't a far-fetched idea, it's just as vague as the other "true story" tidbits about the game.
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".
Deep Crimson Butterfly also has Mayu as one. One ending reveals that she broke her leg on purpose to make Mio feel guilty and thus always be at Mayu's beck and call. This was also in the original (albeit in the form of All There in the Manual).
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 game.
The ghostly amorphous blob that floats behind Kirie in the original Fatal Frame. The blob comes complete with assimilated body parts and flailing limbs. This is probably the most disturbing bit of Body Horror from the original title.
Really, there's a lot of it. Miku gets the rope burns, Rei, Miku and Kei suffer the curse of the Tattoo, and many characters in 4 ( even some playable ones) have their 'suffering ended'/identity distorted via Blooming, whether during the Day Without Suffering or otherwise.
Bowdlerise: All of the European versions are missing the bikini outfits, most likely because of the controversy surounding Dead or Alive:Dimensions in Sweden. Luckily, European gamers can just get the Australian version instead, which has all the content intact.
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 Ringu, 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.
The second game's Xbox version has a hidden battle with the Osaka children in the Kurosawa house and you are it. Later on you can play hide and seek with them in the Osaka house but they are non-hostile then.
The Demon Tag children in the first game as well.
Asagi Hizuki and Kazuto Amaki from Fatal Frame IV. The former bears strong resemblance to Samara, while the latter bears a resemblance to Toshio.
Creepy Doll: A big part of the Kiryu house in the second game. The prime example are the Kiryu twins who did the ritual before, Akane died and so their father made a doll to make Azami feel better which got possessed by Akane herself and killed him.
The second game also has a battle with Yoshitatsu Kiryu where he has two small dolls assisting him.
There is also some in the fourth.
Watashi from Fatal Frame IV. She looks completely human, save for being eyeless and chipped paint, and stumbles around like a zombie when she is hostile.
Creepy Twins: The second game has this as one of its major themes.
Cute Ghost Girl: While most of the ghosts' appearances are nightmare fuel incarnate, there's also spirits that you just want to hug, like Chitose Tachibana in the second game, as well as Kozue Kuzuhara and Amane Kuze.
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!
Darker and Edgier: The series was plenty dark as it was, but the fifth game has suicide as one of its central themes, and there's much more Body Horror and gorn, particularly in some of the ghosts.
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 PS2 version: the Xbox has a fairly standard dual-control stick layout, but the PS2 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.
The third game mapped the camera switch button to the triangle instead of the familiar square. Being a PS2 exclusive, this didn't help.
Rei seems to reach this point once Miku goes into a coma-like state.
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.
The Dragon: While the ghosts normally do not work together in any sense, there usually is another prominent spiritual antagonist who you face before the Final Boss.
One such instance is LordHimuro, with a ghost katana, no less!
In Fatal Frame, Lord Himuro kills everyone who survived the Calamity before killing himself. There's also Yae Munakata, who thinks that her daughter's disappearance is her fault (a sad echo of the events of the second game)
In Fatal Frame II, Itsuki hangs himself after failing to get Sae and Yae Kurosawa out of the village (not wanting them to suffer without the other, as he was without his twin Mitsuki) and being locked in the storehouse. Rather jarring, considering the player converses with him and he's the only other normal looking person in the village.
Sae and Yae's mother chose to kill herself rather than live to bear the burden of one of them being forced to kill the other (Despite the honor brought to families with twins, it is implied that most families hope for single births).
Dual Boss: In Fatal Frame IV, Kageri Sendou is first fought with Watashi, a doll in the image of her deceased sister. Notable for the two ghosts having two different attacking styles, where Kageri tends to behave like a regular ghost, Watashi will limp around like a zombie and continuously come at you. It also cannot be defeated, and vanishes when Kageri is defeated.
In the same sense, there's Akane and Azami Kiryu from Fatal Frame II. They both fight similarly, but have a few notable differences. The first prominent one is that the doll twin cannot be damaged, and usually provokes the other twin when it is hit. The second difference is that only the actual twin has a fatal frame moment.
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.
Technically, started with the first game with the basic Type-30, which was the only type that could be constantly resupplied from the Save Points.
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.
This happens to anyone who looks into the Hellish Abyss, as Mio finds out (the hard way) in the second game's Bittersweet Ending.
The Faceless: Any of the ghosts that bloom in the fourth game become this, especially Sakuya.
"Kill me." Mayu in the normal ending to Fatal Frame II.
"It's beautiful!" Mayu in the "Shadow Festival" ending added in Deep Crimson Butterfly.
"If only this day could last forever." Mio in the aforementioned "Shadow Festival" ending.
Those are her last thoughts. Her last words are "It's nearly time, Mayu!"
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.
Blooming continues after death, as is vividly shown during a random occurrence of battles in the fourth game.
Hellgate: 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?
Also, Rei and Miku in the third game.
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.
The Crimson butterfly ritual in the second game can be delayed by appeasing the abyss with another human sacrifice called a Kusabi Who also the final boss.
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.
I See Dead People: According to the game, only people with the Sixth Sense can see the ghosts.
It's All About Me: It happens in various shades in all of the games, but Fatal Frame III is the worst offender. The reason for the ritual is so the priestess has the pain of others engraved on her skin so they don't have to feel it.
It's All My Fault: Rei was at the wheel during the car accident where Yuu died, and she blames herself for his death.
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.
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 - 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-
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..."
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 senseback. Probably because the producers didn't think the game would end up being successful enough to make a sequel.
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.
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.
Room Fullof Crazy: Every single patient's room in Rougetsu Hall except, arguably, those belonging to the kidnapped girls and Sakuya. We learn throughout the game that indulging patients in their obsessions helped ease their Luna Sedata symptoms, but it can't be healthy to permit mental patients to keep things like mannequin parts and coffins in their rooms.
Smashing Survival: The Confirm button for the second game (X on PS2 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.
Survivor Guilt: Tons of this in the third game, and practically the whole basis of it.
That One Case: Choushiro is determined to find Haibara and bring him to justice (which 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 trope doesn't apply to are Tsuzuri and Musubi, who are only given names in the manga anthology.
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.
It's all but said that Mio and Mayu wind up this way in the "Shadow Festival" ending of Deep Crimson Butterfly.
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.
Turns Red: Every ghost in the fourth game that's not wearing a mask (or Sakuya) has a chance of "blooming" when their health gets low. Their face gains the freaky-as-hell distortion effect seen in several cutscenes and, if that's not enough, a faint violin shriek gets added to the soundtrack. Blooming ghosts are more unpredictable and stronger, to the point where many of them can one-hit-kill you in hard mode or above.
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.
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. or just sends him into a deep sleep like Miku's, if you've completed the necessary side quest.
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: Deep Crimson Butterfly's "Shadow Festival" ending. An exhausted Mio, after defeating the Kusabi, makes it to the Abyss, only to find the Repentance has already begun. Cue the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming as she and Mayu accept their fate, willing to suffer the Repentance if it means they can be together.
Zombie Gait: Watashi from FFIV, whenever she is not in the wheelchair. Borders into Marionette Motion during her second fight, in which she is flat out sprinting.