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 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:
  • 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.


This franchise provides examples of:

  • 1-Up: The Mirrostone, which will refill your health bar when it gets completely depleted. However, it doesn't work on some of the stronger ghosts and you can only carry one of them. Averted in V, where you can carry multiple Mirrostones.
  • '80s Hair: Choushiro's impressive mullet in Fatal Frame IV.
  • Abandoned Hospital: Fatal Frame IV features an Abandoned Hospital and an Abandoned Sanitarium. Two for the price of one!
  • Action Survivor: All of the playable characters.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Fatal Frame III makes it clear in its writings that any kind of breaking of the Kuze Code results in death.
  • Alliterative Title: Only for the USA title.
  • 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 Kei out in the game. It also spoofs it by including various bonus parody stories.
    • Fatal Frame V merely implies who the potential father for Miu Hinasaki is in-game, though a released guidebook revealed his identity. It's Mafuyu Hinasaki.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Occurs in-universe for Ayako in Sakuya's eyes. note 
    That child goes around with an air of evil and fear around her, but I know she is really very gentle and vulnerable.
  • Anachronism Stew: The Camera Obscura was created before film even existed and has never used it. It's merely a large, 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 it doesn't sound as cool.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: A typical unlockable for finishing one of the games.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In Fatal Frame II, the Infinite Flashlight doesn't work in the Kurosawa House. However, it's the most well-lit location in the game, so the player is not forced to stumble through darkness.
  • Anyone Can Die: And when it says anyone, it means anyone.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Tons of them throughout the series.
  • Asshole Victim: Typically, everyone who was involved with the various rituals will turn out to be this, with a rare few exceptions. Special mention goes to the people for the ritual in III, because of the sheer amount of cruelty involved for comparitively little gain.
  • Auto-Save: Contrary to the previous games, Fatal Frame V automatically saves during the various chapters and does not have an option for manual saving.
  • Ax-Crazy
    • Lord Himuro from I takes it to new heights, weaving his path through disembowelment and beheading everyone in his way.
    • Sae from II as well, who relishes in the torture and pain she caused.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: 'Based on a true Story' which was only added for the American release of Fatal Frame I. While the series is based on Japanese folklore, it's still highly doubtful. The setting for I is based on a Japanese mansion that is supposedly haunted, but how truthful that is is still not known.
  • Big Brother Worship: In Fatal Frame I, the primary reason Miku is heading into Himuro Mansion in the middle of the night is that her brother is the last to have disappeared in it.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Majority of the families in close connection to the rituals in each game. The Himuro and Kuze families from I and III, respectively. The Haibaras from IV as well, but not quite as bad.
  • 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, but she's also one of the most disturbing because of her behavior and actions.
    • Fatal Frame II also has Mayu, who purposefully fell and broke her leg to burden Mio with enough guilt to never leave her side. In the original version, it was more a case of All There in the Manual, though the remake made it more obvious in-game.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Fatal Frame V has the subtitle of Nuregarasu no Miko, which is difficult to translate. Nuregarasu is an idiom referring to the lustrous black hair - like that of a raven - and can be translated as wet raven or crow. This resulted in some English translations like Oracle of the Sodden Raven and Priestess of the Drowned Crow. The official English title went for Maiden of the Black Water.
  • Body Horror
    • Broken Neck Woman from I, whose head is flopped over onto her back.
    • Blinded Ghost, whose eyes were stabbed with spikes.
    • The ghostly blob behind Kirie in I, filled with body parts and flailing limbs.
    • Blooming, which includes distorting a person's face beyond recognition and can occur post-mortem as well.
  • Bowdlerise
    • All of the European releases of the games had any bikini outfit removed. Fortunately, European players can obtain the Australian version of the games, which includes the outfits.
    • In Fatal Frame V, the younger girls were aged up from 15 to 18, removed the bikini/lingerie costumes and altered a scene of Miu posing as a gravure idol to have her dressed in her regular clothes instead of a bikini.
  • Break the Cutie: It's practically a mandatory requirement for the antagonists, though it also hits the protagonists and regular ghosts at times.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Fatal Frame IV implies that Ayako is the daughter of Sakuya and You Haibara. Fatal Frame V also has Miu Hinasaki implied to have been born from such a connection.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: A major theme in Fatal Frame II.
  • The Cameo
  • Captain Ersatz: Fatal Frame II includes a type of ghost with long, black hair covering their face that slowly emerges from a box. A clear Shout-Out to The Ring, especially when it reappears crawling out of a well.
  • Check Point Starvation: Fatal Frame I and II have a Save Point before the Point of No Return, but require the player to proceed through long hallways filled with hostile ghosts and the Final Boss, before completing the game.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Yae Munakata was a regular, hostile ghost in Fatal Frame I that committed suicide and was revealed to have a much larger role in II. She was originally Yae Kurosawa, Sae's twin sister.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The camera's filament turns blue around non-hostile ghosts or during strange presences to be photographed and red when hostile ghosts are nearby.
    • Your ordinary ghosts have grayish clothes and pale skin, or anything that resembles a white hue. But if you spot ghosts that emit or wear clothes in distinctive colors like black, red, dark blue, or brown, it means they are unique characters and are not your ordinary ghosts.
  • Creepy Child: There is a big chance that any child ghost in the series will be this. Special mention goes to Ayako from IV, because she just goes above and beyond creepy.
  • Creepy Doll
    • Fatal Frame II is huge on dolls, especially in the Kiryu House that includes the Kiryu twins of whom one is a doll possessed by a malevolent spirit and Yoshitatsu Kiryu, who uses dolls to assist in his battle.
    • Fatal Frame IV has Watashi, Kageri's twin sister doll. She looks completely human, except that she has no eyes and her skin paint is chipped. And stumbles around like a zombie.
    • Fatal Frame V has a shrine dedicated to them. And some of them attack you.
  • Creepy Twins: Fatal Frame II has twins as its major theme, automatically leading to this. Special mention to the Kiryu Twins, who are the Creepy Twins of the series.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death
    • The Rope Shrine Maiden has ropes tied around her wrists, ankles and throat and is slowly being pulled apart.
    • The fate of the rejected men of Ouse in V, whose limbs are broken and twisted to fit into the black boxes.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Some of the ghosts are just adorable, like Chitose Tachibana from II and Amane Kuze from III.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Main reason why 'regular' people are found as ghosts in the series. From Takamine's book research into Himuro Mansion to Makabe being interested in the cruel rituals of Minakami Village and Rei's decision to follow her dead fiancé's spirit deeper into the Manor of Sleep.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: A trailer for Fatal Frame II showed Mio running as fast as she could to rescue Mayu and wouldn't it be great if she could run like that in-game!
  • Cutting Off the Branches: While majority of the games have multiple endings, Fatal Frame III and V shows that Mafuyu remaining with Kirie and Mio killing Mayu are the canon endings for I and II.
  • Darker and Edgier: The series has always been pretty grim, but V has suicide as one of its central themes and the game is much less squeamish about showing blood.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory
    • Try playing I or II for a while, then switch to the other. Have fun panicking as you keep pressing the wrong button to raise the camera.
    • Switching from the Xbox to the PS2 version. The Xbox one had a fairly standard dual-control stick layout, which the PS2 version had backwards. Cue panic when trying to run away from ghosts just results in you flailing the camera around.
    • III mapped the camera button to the Triangle button, rather than the familiar Square. And since it was a PS2 exclusive, it didn't help at all.
  • Dead All Along
    • Fatal Frame I actually averts this, though it's easy to think that Mafuyu was already dead by the time Miku enters the mansion.
    • Choushiro Kirishima in Fatal Frame IV, who takes the revelation rather well.
      So that's how it is, huh?
    • Fatal Frame II reveals Itsuki to be this. Not as much of a shock as the previous examples, but noteworthy in how it's presented to the player.
  • Deadly Lunge: Most of the ghosts do this when you fight them.
  • Dead Woman Writing: The "Female Patient's Note" in IV starts with When you see this, I will no longer be in this world.
  • Death Seeker: A main theme in III due to Survivor's Guilt. It's also a huge theme in V.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Mafuyu and Madoka in I and IV, respectively.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Occurs to the protagonists at times.
    • Mio upon realizing that she killed Mayu for the ritual.
    • Rei reaches this point when Miku falls into a coma-like state.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Noticeably pulled off in I and II, just to make sure that there is no happiness at the end of the game.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ruka's father did not go with his wife and daughter, when they left Rougetsu Island. He comes from a long line of mask makers based on Rougetsu Island and he made the mask for Sakuya's ritual. When Sakuya ended up Blooming and roamed the island two years later, he met his end when she caught up to him in his underground hideaway. After Ruka breaks the curse, they have a momentary reunion.
  • Discovering Your Own Dead Body: Fatal Frame IV has Choushiro Kirishima relive the events that lead to his death prior to the game. His story ends when he looks down on his body on the ground where he first woke up with no memory on how he got there.
  • The Dragon: The ghosts usually don't work together, but there is usually another prominent spirit that antagonizes the player next to the Big Bad. Usually, this is the ceremony master who was responsible for carrying out the ritual.
    • Lord Himuro in I, who slaughtered the mansion's inhabitants when he fell under the influence of the Malice.
    • The Kusabi in II, who was shown to slay the villagers at Sae's and the Repentance's behest. Gameplay-wise, Ryokan Kurosawa fulfills this role.
    • Yashuu Kuze from III. She repeatedly stalks the player and does her best to block the way to the Abyss and the Chamber of Thorns. The Master Builders were it to her, when they were still alive.
    • Souya Yomotsuki from IV, who made the initial Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. His spirit becomes obsessed with aiding Sakuya and repeatedly tries to prevent Ruka from reaching the shrine.
    • The Matchmaker and Tadasuma from V, who are mainly responsible for the rituals' proceedings.
  • Driven to Suicide: In a series about ghosts, this is bound to appear quite a bit.
    • Fatal Frame I has Lord Himuro, who killed everyone who survived the Calamity and then killed himself. There is also Yae Munakata, who killed herself after becoming convinced that her daughter's disappearance was her fault. Miku and Mafuyu's mother also committed suicide, after being driven insane by the Camera Obscura.
    • Fatal Frame II reveals that Sae and Yae's mother killed herself because she couldn't stand the thought of seeing one having to kill the other. Itsuki also committed suicide, after thinking he has again failed to help anyone.
    • Fatal Frame V is filled with this, as it takes place at a suicide hotspot.
  • Dual Boss
    • Fatal Frame II has the Kiryu Twins. They fight similarly, except that the doll Akane cannot be damaged and attacking her provokes Azami to attack. Azami is also the only one who has a Fatal Frame moment.
    • Fatal Frame IV has you fight Kageri Sendou alongside her doll Watashi. Kageri acts like a regular ghost, but Watashi limbs around like a zombie and continuously comes after the player. It also cannot be defeated and vanishes when Kageri is defeated.
  • Dull Surprise: The English voice acting is notorious for this, especially the first and fifth installments of the series.
  • 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.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: If you want a happy ending, you generally need to beat the game on higher difficulties. 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 eyeholes 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.
    • 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 constinues after death, which is vividly shown on multiple occurences in IV.
  • Final Girl: It seems likely that Ruka Minazuki is the only surviving protagonist in Fatal Frame 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-pricted Japanese housing market.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Most of the antagonists were simple Mikos, who turned dangerous after their rituals failed.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The Big Bad of III is completely topless. However, she is covered in tatoos 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.
  • 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 she is certainly a hassle because she is slow, it's because of a knee injury which was apparently caused by Mio, you cannot really blame her.
    • 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...
  • 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 Tatooed 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 tatoos 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
    • The Stroller Grandma in III. Sure, she goes down in one or two shots, but she just as easily can One-Hit Kill you!
    • Fatal Frame V has the Matchmaker and Tadasume, 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.
  • 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: Majority of the Big Bads have one. Averted with Sae in II, but played straight in the Wii remake.
  • 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.
  • 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 Tatoo 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 II with its canon ending. 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 attice, accessed via the roof of the closet.
  • 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 Tatoo Curse.
    • Likely Miku in V. Depending on the Ending, she is either dying or has been Dead All Along.
  • Survivor's Guilt: Pretty much the basis of III.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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 Tatoo 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: Watashi from IV, who stumbles like this towards the player when hostile.

Alternative Title(s): Zero, Project Zero

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Franchise/FatalFrame?from=VideoGame.FatalFrame