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Video Game / Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse

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The cover featuring Ruka

Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is the fourth installment in the Fatal Frame survival horror series created by Tecmo. Originally an exclusive on Nintendo's Wii released on July 31, 2008, the game was also co-developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, and was the first of the Fatal Frame games after Nintendo became a partner in developing the franchise. An Updated Re-release was released on March 9, 2023 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series and Steam platforms.

Rougetsu Island used to be a lively place and home to many people. But it's also the place where Ruka Minazuki was kidnapped by You Haibara, alongside Misaki Asou, Madoka Tsukimori, and two other girls, with the intent to have them participate in a ritual called the Rite of Descent. While they ended up rescued, they have repressed the memories of this event.

That was a decade ago, and the island has become abandoned and haunted by spirits of the island's inhabitants. Misaki and Madoka return to the island, having seen their friends die of an illness called Moonlight Syndrome and worry that they'll be next. They hope that their investigating of Rougetsu Island will unlock their memories and hopefully save them from their friends' fate.

At the same time, Choushiro Kirishima, the private detective that rescued the girls, has gone back to the island. He returned because he heard that You Haibara has gone back himself, and he's intent on bringing Haibara to justice. Meanwhile, Ruka Minazuki returned to the island because she wants to unlock her own memories. Her goal is not to recall the details of her kidnapping, but because she hopes it will allow her to remember her father's face.

While the game is now officially available in English, there's a fan-made English patch for the original Wii version of the game.

Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse contains the following Tropes:

  • 15 Puzzle: In Phase 8, you have to solve one of these in Sakuya's room to proceed. The puzzle forms an image once finished. On Hard and Nightmare difficulty you can't see the numbers of the tiles, meaning you have to go off the picture of the completed puzzle to solve it.
  • The '70s: The events of the flashbacks (the five kidnapped girls, the failed ritual, Choushiro's investigation) happened "a decade ago"/"ten years ago"; ergo, in the 1970s.
  • The '80s: The events of the main game are said to happen in 1980.
  • Abandoned Hospital: Has an abandoned hospital and abandoned sanitorium to explore.
  • Abandoned Laboratory: There is a laboratory underneath Haibara infirmary. It can be accessed through a hidden passage located behind a bookcase in director Shigeto Haibara's office.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Invoked on Sakuya seeing Ayako as very different from how she's portrayed. Though it's implied that Ayako is Sakuya's daughter, so she might be biased.
    "That child goes around with an air of evil and fear around her, but I know she is really very gentle and vulnerable."
  • Anti-Frustration Features: This game introduced the infamous "ghost hand item trap" mechanic, which resulted in losing the item if it got you, but the remaster mitigates this by adding a distinct audio cue as well as the character gasping in shock right before the hand grabs them, giving you time to evade the hand and successfully grab the item.
  • Arc Symbol:
    • The moon. It's everywhere, from its relation to Moonlight Syndrome to a good chunk of the cast having the kanji for moon (月; tsuki/getsu) in their surnames.
    • Masks are present throughout the game and play an important role in Rougetsu Island's culture, especially where the Kagura Dance is concerned.
  • Arc Words: As with the themes of "moon" and "masks", "memory" is also a recurrent motif. E.g., Ruka, Madoka and Misaki go back to the island to retrieve lost memories; patients with Moonlight Syndrome are said to forget themselves; the doctors at the Sanitarium tried to use music as a means to restore memories.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: The Spirit Stone Flashlight can take pictures, just like a camera.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Moonlight Syndrome's symptoms are more akin to mental illness note , but it's depicted as a terminal infectious disease that only infects other people under specific circumstances. In other words, it's a mental illness that can not only spread to other people, but only on Rougetsu Island and it will also kill its victims once it progresses to the "Blooming" stage. The digital art book that came with the Digital Deluxe version of the Remaster mentioned that the method of Moonlight Syndrome spreading is more akin to Folie à deux. (Madness Shared by Two)
  • "Back to Camera" Pose: The cover art features Ruka standing in front of an eerie building, with her back covered in shadow and turned to the camera.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The final cutscene has Ruka trip and fail to place the Mask of the Lunar Eclipse on Sakuya. Choushiro's spirit appears and places the mask in her stead, appeasing Sakuya and breaking the curse.
  • Body Horror: 'Blossoming' is portrayed as a person's face melting and distorting.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: It's implied that Ayako is the daughter of You and Sakuya Haibara.
  • The Cameo: The game includes a Luigi and Zero Suit Samus costume.
  • Casting Gag: This is not the first time we hear Rie Tanaka to voice a girl named Sakuya.
  • Creepy Doll: Kageri's twin-sister doll, Watashi. While she looks human, she has no eyes and the paint on her skin is chipped in places. She stumbles around and approaches the player while fighting Kageri.
  • Darker and Edgier: This game ramps up the scare factor from the previous games. Nearly every enemy ghost now sports one hell of a Nightmare Face thanks to Art Evolution, and are a lot more threatening this time around. However, it’s significantly less gory than the previous installments.
  • Dead Man Writing: One of the notes found begins this way.
    "When you see this, I will no longer be in this world."
  • Decoy Protagonist: Madoka gets killed off after about fifteen minutes of gameplay.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ruka left the island with her mother, with her father staying behind. She cannot remember his face anymore. When Sakuya bloomed and roamed the island, Ruka's father was among those killed. Ruka has a momentary reunion with him, after breaking the island's curse.
  • Discovering Your Own Dead Body: Choushiro Kirishima's story involves 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.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: Throughout the game, the three main characters find, lose and regain the pieces of a Mask of Lunar Eclipse, which Ruka uses on Sakuya at the end of the game.
  • The Dragon: Souya Yomotsuki, the creator of the titular mask and Ruka's father. He was among those at fault for the failure of the last Rite of Descent and has to be defeated before facing Sakuya.
  • Dual Boss: Kageri Sendou and her twin-sister doll Watashi. Although Kageri is the actual target that needs to be defeated, with Watashi mostly acting as a very aggressive distraction that attacks the player.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • Getsuyuubyou can be translated as tranquil moon disease. The English patch calls it Luna Sedata Syndrome. In the official remaster, it's called "Moonlight Syndrome".
    • Blooming is referred to as Blossoming in the remastered version.
  • Dying as Yourself: Some patients with advanced Moonlight Syndrome have chosen to commit suicide, wanting to die while they still retain some semblance of their self.
  • Easy Amnesia: Justified, as amnesia is a symptom of Moonlight Syndrome.
  • Enfant Terrible: Ayako. She is really cute, but also very cruel and insane.
  • The Faceless: Any ghost that Blooms. Special mention goes to Sakuya, who constantly blooms.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Blooming continues postmortem, as shown on multiple occasions.
  • Foreshadowing: In the beginning of Phase 3, Choushiro answers a phone call in the hospital reception; on the line, a male voice saying how "everything is the same" and "keeps repeating".
  • Four Is Death: There are four stages of Moonlight Syndrome: Budding, Breaking, Resonance and Blooming. Victims typically die in the Blooming stage.
  • How Unscientific!: According to the "Haibara's Assistant Notes" documents, Haibara's assistant doctor would rather consider Moonlight Syndrome a neurological condition to be treated with medical procedures and scientific rigour. However, as the notes indicate, he became increasingly doubtful of resorting to local beliefs in search of a cure.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Ayako has nothing but more cruelty on her inside.
  • Jiggle Physics: Ruka gets jiggle physics on her butt when wearing the Zero Suit.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The game adopts a non-linear method of storytelling, unlike the previous games, while at the same time using a tripartite approach to its plot, that is, the player knows and controls three different characters on the island, but when their individual chapters are positioned in a chronological sequence is a bit blurred. However, beginning with Chapter 4, the game offers a brief recap of a character's previous chapter. In this case, it is explicitly said Ruka came to Rogetsu after Misaki and Madoka.
  • Kick the Dog: Ayako is a walking example of what she does.
  • Left Hanging: Misaki's fate remains unanswered, unless the player gets the Photograph ending.
  • Lighthouse Point: The final location to visit and where Sakuya gets fought.
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: Sakuya and Ayako love dolls very much.
  • MacGuffin Title: The titular Mask of the Lunar Eclipse was used in the Rite of Descent that caused the Day of Tranquility, but it is also instrumental in defeating Sakuya.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • Several can be heard when exploring the basement at Rogetsu Hospital.
    • Then there's this part of an Apocalyptic Log, the Picture Diary written by Asagi Hizuki:
      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 second entry of Sakuya's Diary has "A world without sound A world without sound a world without sound".
    • Fisherman's Testament has "That wo man That woman Th at wo man Th at woman Th at wo man" and "her face is not clear! Her face is not clear! her face is not clear! Her face is not clear! her face is not clear! Her face is not clear!"
    • The second entry of Boy's Diary, written by Kazuto Amaki, has "Give it back Give it back give it back give it back".
    • Madoka's fifth memo have "the moon the moon the moon the moon".
    • The third entry fourth floor report, written by Shie Sonosaki, has “She calls me! She calls me! She calls me! She calls me!”
    • Both of Magaki's notes have "Come! Come! Come! Come!"
  • Magic Versus Science: More like folk beliefs vs. medical science. An underlying theme in the events surrounding the Haibara Infirmary:
    • At first, Director Haibara explored the symptoms of Moonlight Syndrome under a medical lens, but, as time passed, he decided to resort to the old traditions of Rougetsu Island, including the ancient Kiraigou ritual (translated as "Rite of Descent").
    • Meanwhile, Haibara's assistant, per his notes, still treated the syndrome - which they considered to be endemic to the island - under the lens of modern medicine, but, when Haibara's experimentation with the island's traditions began to bleed into the treatment of the patients, he developed a skeptical reaction to it.
  • Memory-Restoring Melody: The main character Ruka Minazuki suffered, during her childhood, from a condition named "Moonlight Syndrome", which affects the patient's memory. During her internment at Rogetsu Hall, her mother, Sayaka, had Ruka train a certain song in the piano, to keep herself focused and to protect her mind from memory loss. Years later, during the events of the game, she returns to Rogetsu Hall and keeps remembering the song her mother taught her. Sayaka's aim was twofold: indeed, to help Ruka keep her sanity, and to teach her the Moonsong Melody, which is used to pacify the game's main ghost adversary at the end of the game.
  • Multiple Endings
    • Canon Ending: Beat the game on any difficulty. Ruka manages to calm Sakuya enough with the Lunar Melody, but cannot place the Mask onto her. Kirishima's spirit appears and puts it on Sakuya instead, allowing her to channel all the spirits into the netherworld. Kirishima leaves with them, and Ruka manages to see her father's spirit and remember his face, before he leaves with the ghosts, too. Ruka calls out after him.
    • Photograph Ending: Beat the game on Hard. The events are the same, but the credits add photographs to them. They show what happened to Misaki, after she was last seen having fainted upon remembering Sakuya and the real identity of 'Miya'. Madoka's spirit appears before Misaki and smiles at her, before she leaves with the other ghosts.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: Meiji Era-occultist and folklorist Kunihiko Aso(u) visited Rougetsu Island to document its old traditions, and stayed as a guest in the Sanitarium (back then, still a hotel). According to undated, but old newspaper clips, Aso(u)'s room was converted into a museum, and he personally donated one exemplar of his famous Camera Obscuras to the island as a future precaution.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Dr Haibara wanted to perform the Rite of Descent, the forbidden version of the Kagura Dance, because he wanted to study the intricacies of the Moonlight Syndrome, in the hope that it would allow him to cure his diseased daughter. Unfortunately, the Rite of Descent ended up failing and caused the simultaneously-playing, usually safe Kagura Dance to fail, too. The dancers of the latter ended up dying, his daughter Bloomed and fell into a comatose state, and it eventually resulted in a second Day of Tranquility occurring two years later.
    • Souya Yomotsuki believed that the first Day of Tranquility occurred because the Mask of the Lunar Eclipse was flawed and not done properly, which he was actually correct about. He set about re-creating the Mask as best as he could. He failed to realize that the Rite of Descent required not only a decent Mask, but also for a descendant of the clan of Guardian Maidens to perform the Lunar Melody during the ritual. Without the right mask and song, the ritual was bound to fail.
  • Nightmare Face:
    • Blooming distorts a person's face beyond recognition. And it's so bad that a person afflicted with Moonlight Syndrome worsens upon merely looking at someone who is Blooming.
    • Thanks to the improved graphics compared to the previous three games, nearly every enemy ghost in this game sports an incredibly terrifying face as they try to attack you.
  • 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.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Said by Madoka's spirit when fought.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Every patient's room in Rogetsu Hall except for Sakuya's room, and that of the various protagonists. It's believed that the symptoms of Moonlight Syndrome can be lessened, if the patient is allowed to indulge in their obsessions. Which included coffins and mannequin parts for some.
  • Secret Room: All over the place.
    • Next to Ayako's room, there is a small entrance that leads to a secret nursery room, and, beyond that, a bedroom that appears to have belonged to Yo Haibara.
    • During chapter 3, Choushiro discovers a secret room behind a cabinet in Haibara's office where he performed his more extreme experiments.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Inverted with Moonlight Syndrome, which is noted to erase positive memories while leaving painful ones intact.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Any death caused by the failed Rite of Descent. Since nobody was supposed to die during this ritual, merely sending the dead spirits onward.
  • Shout-Out: In the 2023 remaster, the disease is now called Moonlight Syndrome, from another game Goichi Suda directed and wrote.
  • Some Dexterity Required: This game introduced motion controls to the series, with the camera now being controlled by the WiiMote, and swinging it vigorously leading to the character turning around.
  • That One Case: Kirishima is determined to bring You Haibara to justice. It costs him his life.
  • The Theme Park Version: A dark version. The Rite of Descent (Kiraigou) was a religious ritual to send the souls of the dead into the afterlife. One day, centuries ago, the ritual failed due to a badly made Mask of Lunar Eclipse by an ancestor of Souya Yomotsuki, leading to the Day of Tranquility. Centuries later, "some 30 years ago" - according to a document dated to the 1970s -, they decide to revive the Kiraigou as a tourist attraction, devoid of its sacred conotations, thus creating the "Rougetsu Kagura". In the 1970s, however, Dr. Shigeto Haibara decides to recreate the original ritual on the same night of the "tourist" version. Thus, they had two rituals happening simultaneously: the Kagura above, in a public show, and the Kiraigou below, witnessed by Dr. Haibara and his son, You.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Rougetsu Island used to be known for its festivals, particularly the Rite of Descent, which was a dance ritual that sent the spirits of the dead on to the netherworld. However, when the Rite of Descent failed and created the Day of Tranquility, it became forbidden to perform and even mention it. A more casual Kagura Dance was done instead. The island is also the place where Moonlight Syndrome appears, an illness that deteriorates the diseased mentally before eventually killing them. In the Haibara Hospital and sanitarium, the doctors are performing some inhumane experimentations to figure out more about the Moonlight Syndrome. And Dr. Haibara was the one to plan the forbidden Rite of Descent to be performed again, eventually creating the second Day of Tranquility.
  • Tunnel Network: As the characters start exploring the Sanitarium and the Hospital, they - and the player - begin to discover a series of tunnels that connect the basement of the Sanitarium and Haibara Infirmary, and lead to a distant lighthouse.
  • Turns Red: Ghosts that don't wear masks can 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 than before.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: The Ghost List has 233 entries, but six ghosts cannot actually be photographed because of a glitch, meaning the list remains incomplete with a total of 227 entries. This results in the Festival lens being unobtainable, as it unlocks upon completing the Ghost List.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Souya Yomotsuki was willing to help perform the Rite of Descent again, having believed to have figured out what went wrong the last time. He forgot that a Guardian Maiden descendant needed to perform the Lunar Melody during the ritual.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Haibaras performed unethical experiments on their patients, and many ended up dying from them. But it was in an attempt to learn more about Moonlight Syndrome and hopefully cure those afflicted with it.
  • Zombie Gait: Watashi stumbles around towards the player while hostile.

Alternative Title(s): Fatal Frame IV Mask Of The Lunar Eclipse, Fatal Frame IV