Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fatal Frame 4 - The one that got away

Fatal Frame is often considered one of the best survival horror franchises of all time, mostly because it is one of the few that dared to stay true to its roots and not succumb to the practice of change for the sake of change. The first game began as a "based on true events" kind of thing that ended spawning its own story. The second one expanded the horror atmosphere with bigger places to explore and a deeper sense of horror and the third one had a story that connected the happenings of the first two games. After that, it was obvious to expect a fourth installment in the series and with the PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii already there, it was just a matter of how good it would be, either with advanced graphics (for the time) or with motion controls.

Two years after that generation was up and running, the game was made. it was Zero: Tsukihami No Kamen, Project Zero 4 in Europe or just Fatal Frame 4 (informal name in America). The game was developed by Tecmo LTD/Grasshopper Manufacture and Published by Nintendo and all seemed good and dandy except for the fact that the game never made it to our shores.

fatal frame 4
The art for this game was so hype inducing, but in the end we got nothing.
Why wasn't the game released in America?

There has never been a clear answer about the reasons why this game was only released on Japan and Europe. Most probably it was a weird business decision coming from Nintendo that even caused frustration on Tecmo because they did not expected "the big N" to do that. Curiously enough, the game became the best selling Fatal Frame in the franchise with 75,000 copies sold in Japan alone (I know this doesn't seem much, but for a genre that was starting to become niche, it is a good number).

fatal frame 4 characters

What was the story of the game about?

The story on this Fatal Frame title is about a group of five girls that were kidnapped by a apparent serial killer called Yu Haibara. The girls were taken hostage in an abandoned sanatorium located in Rougetsu Island, located south of Honshu and went through an unexplained ordeal, but were rescued by a clever detective who had been following Haibara for some time. Even though all of the girls survived, they all lost their memories and could not remember anything about the time in which they were held hostage, so they just continued their lives as if nothing ever happened.

Ten years later, 2 of the girls die in mysterious circumstances and the three remaining ones (which are 17 years old by now) decide to go back to the island not only because they were afraid of ending up like the other two, but to find the truth by recovering their lost memories of the events that transpired on that island ten years ago.

fatal frame 4 flashlight
Some would accuse this  "powerful flashlight" mechanic of making the game easier on purpose.

Is the game play identical to the other titles?

Yes and no. The original survival horror atmosphere is there, but some reviewers have stated that the development of the story and game lore was a little slower, taking the player a longer time to really understand what was really happening. As far as game mechanics go, it seems that the game developers did not used the wiimote at a horizontal position for the Camera Oscura, but used a wiimote + nunchuck combination that still had motion control, but was not even near to what some of us had expected. There is also the implementation of "waggle" controls for mundane things like turning a door knob or some other simple tasks.

One new thing on this game was that you could use a flash light that had the same powers the Camera Oscura had. It was weaker than the camera, but it gave the player a little more flexibility when fighting ghosts as you could use motion controls to point to the enemy without the need of a first person view. This was probably mostly use to fend the ghost off a little in order to gain some time to position yourself and finish them off with the camera.

fatal frame 4 ghost

Any real noticeable flaws on this game?

If the game were to be released today as it was back in 2008, it would had been heavily criticized because of frame rate issues and sluggish movement (compared to the previous games). Also the waggle controls would had been seen as unnecessary, but all the other good stuff was there.

fatal frame 4 exploring

Wrapping it up

Fatal Frame 4 is not the best of the franchise (even if it is the one that sold more copies). Based on how some reviewers describe it, it was an experimental attempt to take the franchise to the Wii that was not horrible, but it wasn't ground breaking either. In summary, it was a good game made for the fans of the series and an American version would had been quite appreciated if they had taken the risk and released it. Who knows, maybe with the current trend of releasing older games on current generation consoles we may still get the chance of comfortably playing the game at last.

Fatal Frame on Wii U pad
This is just a mock up pic I made just to show how awesome a Fatal Frame on Wii U could be.

Bonus Stage!

We did not had Fatal Frame 4, but it has been recently announced that there is a new Fatal Frame game in the works for the Wii U! Once again the chances of this game been awesome are there, as the Wii U Pad fits perfectly with the camera mechanics and if they once again hold their ground and keep loyal to the franchise roots (and release the game in America) it will be one survival horror gem for Wii U in a time where the console needs these types of games the most.

 A Japanese teaser video was released and the game looks beautiful, check it out.

No comments:

Post a Comment