Fatal Frame is the first of the games in the survival horror series created by Tecmo.
Himuro Mansion is an old, abandoned building that is believed to be haunted, with stories of people moving into it being forced to commit suicide or spirited away by ghosts of the previous inhabitants. Mafuyu Hinasaki heads into the mansion, after his professor and some of his colleagues have gone missing. While exploring the mansion himself, he gets accosted by the spirit of a young woman.
With Mafuyu having gone missing, his younger sister heads to Himuro Mansion herself. Miku explores the mansion in hopes of finding and saving her brother, while trying to avoid getting harmed by the spirits herself. One young girl's spirit, dressed in white, appears to her often and seems to lend her a helping hand.
This spirit wants Miku to find the pieces of the broken Holy Mirror and fix it, wanting her to re-close the Hellgate within the depths of the mansion and letting the ghosts of the deceased move on.
The game was released on the PS2 in 2001, with an enhanced port being released on the Xbox in 2003. The enhanced port added a new difficulty, as well as a new ending, and a few new ghosts to photograph.
Fatal Frame contains the following Tropes
- 100% Completion: On a second playthrough, a Ghost List appears on the menu, and if you catch all 108 ghosts, you unlock the Zero function (camera energy is prepetually full).
- And Your Reward Is Clothes:
- The original PS2 version only had three unlockable costumes, all different colored variants of Miku's school uniform: a ganguro-style variant for beating the game on Normal difficulty, a lolita-style variant for beating the game on Nightmare difficulty, and an "active"-style variant for beating Nightmare difficulty with an S rank.
- The Xbox port added four more costumes: a purple variant of her uniform unlocked alongside her "active"-style variant, a red yukata for beating the new Fatal difficulty, and a light blue yukata and a yellow yukata for beating Fatal difficulty with an S rank.
- Anti-Frustration Features: The Xbox port changed the dial code puzzles to display Arabic numerals, simplifying them considerably.
- Ax-Crazy: Lord Himuro went insane when the Malice was unleashed and slaughtered everyone in the mansion.
- Based on a Great Big Lie: The Based on a True Story tagline that was attached to the localized version of the game. While there is a mansion outside of Tokyo that is rumored to be haunted, there is no clear indication for this. And even Shibata has stated that Himuro Mansion was not inspired by or based on said mansion.
- Body Horror:
- The Broken Neck Woman has her head flopping onto her back.
- The Blinded Ghost has her eyes bleeding profusely from spike wounds.
- The Cameo: The Xbox version included non-hostile ghosts of the creator and co-creator of the series.
- Creepy Doll: The Doll Room has several dolls on display, including a creepy reference to the Kagome, Kagome children's game with dolls. There's also a little girl ghost that crawls on the ground and wants to 'play' with Miku.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The Rope Shrine maiden gets torn apart by rope tied to her extremities.
- Decoy Protagonist: Mafuyu is playable for ten minutes, before control shifts over to Miku.
- Dual Boss: After entering the underground in the Final Night, you will fight Wandering Man and Floating Woman, two ghosts from hell you might have fought separately before. Some missions in Battle Mode also pit you against two ghosts at the same time.
- Dull Surprise: The English dub has little emotion to it, particularly when listening to the cassette tapes.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- There is no Type-07 or Type-Zero film. The weakest film was Type-14, while the strongest was Type-90.
- There was no way to change the film while in camera mode. The player had to open the menu, go to the camera sub-menu and choose which film to use for taking shots.
- The player could recharge their Type-14 film at any available savepoint up to 30, if their total was below that.
- There is no mechanic or button to dodge or evade ghosts.
- While in camera mode, there was a button the player could press to have Miku do a 180° turn. This mechanic was absent after the second game.
- Hostile spirits would end up exorcised upon being defeated enough times, which was indicated by the spirit turning into a wisp that gets pulled into the camera, where it would remain sealed. This mechanic was removed in the following games, leaving hostile ghosts to merely be warded off, but not permanently defeated.
- The Fatal Frame shot combo is absent in this game.
- Enemy-Detecting Radar: The camera's filament turns orange when there's a hostile ghost nearby. In addition, one of the Bonus Functions adds arrows to the camera to tell where a ghost is.
- Escaped from Hell: Long-Hair Woman, Wandering Man, Floating Woman, Floating Face, and the Former Rope Maiden, are stated to be already dead souls who escaped into the living world when the Hell Gate opened. Some of them have been dead for so long that they lost their human form.
- Eye Scream: Demon Tag involved the chosen priestess getting a mask with spikes in the eye-holes placed onto her face, stabbing out her eyes.
- Fate Worse than Death: Mafuyu and Kirie remain at the Hellgate, keeping it closed.
- Guide Dang It!: During the 1st Night, the Blinded Woman appears in the Rubble Room if you go there before going to the mountain shrine. This is the only Vanishing Ghost that doesn't show up during the progression of the story, and there's zero reason to visit that room at that time, so most players who didn't know about it beforehand will miss it, leaving a glaring empty spot in the Ghost List.
- In the Final Night, there are two Hidden Ghosts ("Kirie's Lover" and "Burdened Man" in the Abyss, but they don't produce static or anything else like the other Hidden Ghosts. You have to quite literally take a shot in the dark to get them.
- Haunted House: Himuro Mansion, an old mansion abandoned after a massacre occured there. It's been tied to mysterious disapparenced and murders across the years.
- Hell Gate: Himuro Mansion was built on top of one, and the Strangling Ritual was conducted in order to prevent it from opening, lest the land becomes cursed.
- Human Sacrifice: The dark secret of the Himuro rituals. A shrine maiden must be sacrificed every 10 years in order to keep the gates of Hell closed.
- Ironic Nursery Rhyme: Kagome, Kagome foreshadows the horrific details of the Demon Tag.
- The Magic Goes Away: Miku notes in the ending that she has lost the ability to see spirits after the events in Himuro Mansion. Since Miku ends up being a playable character in the third game, this disappearance was only temporary.
- Multiple Endings
- Canon Ending: Beat the game. Miku fixes the Holy Mirror and the Malice gets removed from Kirie's body. She and the Girl In White merge back together, and Kirie takes her place at the Hellgate, ready to fulfill her duty of keeping it sealed. The underground cave is beginning to crumble and she tells Miku and Mafuyu to hurry and leave. Mafuyu stays behind to be by Kirie's side, with Miku finding herself outside of the mansion. She has lost the last of her family, but his sacrifice seals the hellgate forever and will prevent curious explorers like Takamine's group from being victims of the ghosts.
- Nightmare Ending: Beat the game on Nightmare mode. The events are the same, except that Mafuyu leaves with Miku, leading both to survive. As Mafuyu and Miku are the only two living people we see by the time the game takes place, it makes this into a weird case of Everybody Lives.
- Photograph Ending: Added to the Xbox version, beat the game on Fatal difficulty. The events are the same as in the Nightmare Ending, but the credits include photographs. They show Kirie being reunited with the spirit of her lover at the Hellgate.
- New Game Plus: Lets you start with the camera and keep all of your upgrades and items. Notably, there is one ghost at the beginning who can only be caught on New Game+ because it appears before you get the camera in-story.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The storeroom in the west wing of the mansion doesn't play any music at all. Aside from finding an item or two and a ghost that seals a door very early on, there's not much else going on in there.
- Optional Boss: Armoured Warrior's Spirit appears exclusively on the Xbox port and when playing on Fatal difficulty, and is located in the Abyss. He has a similar attack pattern to Lord Himuro, but he doesn't get pushed back by critical shots like other ghosts, meaning he will constantly approach Miku.
- Pater Familicide: Lord Himuro slaughtered the entire clan.
- Random Encounters: During the first three nights, if you wander around in places that don't advance the plot, or stay still in one place, there's a chance a ghost will attack you. Unlike mandatory fights, these don't lock the doors so you can run away (although the ghosts will chase you for a few rooms). During the first two nights there's only a couple of these, and they're all pretty weak, but during the third night there's a much larger variety, and some are Demonic Spiders.
- Small Role, Big Impact
- Kirie's unnamed lover only appears in a handful of flashbacks, has no spoken lines, and doesn't even have a name. Nonetheless, his interacting with Kirie was what caused her to form bonds that she wasn't supposed to, and this ultimately led to her ritual failing, the Hellgate being thrown open, and the deaths of many people.
- Mafuyu Hinasaki mostly serves as a brief tutorial on how the camera works, and his disappearance is what caused Miku to head to the mansion. The only noteable thing he does is to remain with Kirie at the Hellgate. The true extent to the impact this has can be seen in Miku's character in the third and fifth games.
- Time Travel: A supernatural example, of sorts. As the nights progress, Miku is drawn further back into the past, experiencing a different series of events in the mansion's past in reverse order. This has an interesting effect on Mafuyu. He initially appears to have died early on, but the ghost-like version of him Miku sees is actually him progressing through the mansion two weeks before Miku arrived.
- Together in Death: The photograph ending shows Kirie and her unnamed lover receiving this.