Project Zero 2 Wii Edition Review
Can this remake breathe new life into this all but forgotten series?
Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly (or Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly as it’s known in distant lands) is widely recognised as one of the creepiest survival horror games in the genre. It therefore came as a pleasant surprise when Nintendo announced that it would publish a remake of this iconic game because – let’s face it – Nintendo isn’t exactly known for their horror games.
Nevertheless, developer Tecmo Koei delivered Project Zero 2 Wii Edition on Nintendo’s iconic family console. Can this remake breathe new life into this all but forgotten series?
Project Zero 2 Wii Edition retells the story of twins Mio and Mayu Amakura. The twins stumble into an abandoned village shrouded in fog and quickly discover that the village is all but uninhabited. The twins learn that the village contains a “Hellish Abyss” – a sort of portal into the underworld.
To keep the portal from releasing all types of evil into the small town the villagers performed a dark Japanese Shinto ritual which requires a pair of twins that was born in the village. In the ritual, the older twin strangles the younger one who turns into a butterfly that watches over the town.
If that’s not creepy enough it’s then revealed that the last ritual failed because one of the twins ran away leaving the other to be hanged by the villagers in a final attempt to defend themselves from the unspeakable terrors. A single twin wasn’t enough to protect the villagers and “The Repentance” came and engulfed the entire town in darkness.
Mio and Mayu wander into the village where Mayu is entrapped by the ghosts of the villagers. The player takes control of Mio who tries to find and rescue her sister. The uncanny spirits believe that the only way to end their eternal curse is through performing the ritual again with the twins as the sacrifices.
As the player explores the gloomy traditional Japanese village the plot unfolds with incredible depth and detail. The player learns about the village’s eerie past and about the numerous twins who participated in the ominous ritual. Their tales involve everything that’s part of a good ghost story: murder, suicide, torture, and a curious fascination with Japanese dolls.
Project Zero 2 Wii Edition is a survival horror and is packed full of content that will ensure a chill or two down your spine. The primary scares come from the town’s ghosts that range from little girls to high priests – they’re all determined to undo their curse and do a darn good job at keeping you on the edge of your seat. The ghosts wander throughout the town and you won’t always find them in the same place. The eerie setting, storyline and vengeful ghosts ensure an enchanting yet frightening experience!
The only means of seeing, fighting and exorcising the ghosts is through a rather unlikely weapon: the Camera Obscura. This enchanted camera allows you to detect and photograph the ghosts which will drain their health and eventually drive them away.
The camera can use various types of film that will increase the exorcising effect but are limited in quantity. The camera can also be upgraded with lenses that add additional benefits like stunning or knocking back ghosts.
Looking through the viewfinder whenever a ghostly presence is detected builds on the suspense and creates a sense of vulnerability during confrontations. You’ll need a steady hand and precise timing when dealing with large groups of enemies because you need to make the most of every shot to survive. The Camera Obscura is more than just a weapon – it’s a key gameplay mechanic that enhances the experience.
One of the biggest concerns with Project Zero 2 Wii Edition is the control scheme. The game uses the Wii Remote for basic input like interacting with the environment and the Nunchuk’s analogue stick for movement.
While the basic controls are intuitive to use it’s the motion controls that ruin the party. The camera angle is adjusted by twisting and turning the Wii Remote in the desired direction. This is finicky at best and even when executed correctly doesn’t offer a whole lot of viewing freedom. In most cases it’s better to just turn the character into the desired direction instead of moving the camera.
Similar frustration occurs when trying to dodge an attacking ghost; you need to shake the controller in an attempt to ‘break free’. The force you need to swing the Wii Remote with is erratic and often leads to unsuccessful dodges. I can’t see why a simple “dodge” button couldn’t be used instead.
The game should be commended on its use of the Wii Remote’s built-in speaker. You often hear screams or unnerving sounds coming from your hands and it’s an excellent way to engulf the player into the suspenseful story.
Project Zero 2 Wii Edition contains a “Haunted House” mode in addition to the main campaign story. The general idea is to create a house that offers different scares every time you play and provide a score based on the amount of “trembling” detected by the Wii Remote.
Unfortunately this idea misses the mark owing to the incredibly cheesy nature of the cheap tricks deployed throughout the haunted house. Ghosts comically appear out of obvious locations and won’t scare anyone over the age of 6. The most trembling you’ll do is when you need to press the A button to open a door.
Project Zero 2 Wii Edition still envelops the player with its superb story and thrilling gameplay – much like the original game did 10 years ago. The updated graphics are on par with what’s expected from the Wii but the control scheme may be aggravating.
Nevertheless this is a must-play for gamers that fancy a good scare and appreciate the incredible suspense and storytelling of Japanese horrors.