Thanks for the great review! Definitely adding this to my shopping list!!
Fatal Frame 4 remake on Wii U?? Hope so!
Horror games are no longer true horror games anymore, with one of the best scare-fests being Nanashi no Game on the Nintendo DS, something that never even left Japan. Sadly, people can no longer rely on Resident Evil since Capcom moved the series into a more action-based environment, and attempts to spook players on Wii have either resulted in boring efforts (Calling) or end products that are too limited in scope (Ju-On: The Grudge). Nintendo to the rescue, though, with a helping hand from Tecmo Koei, with a remastered version of the 2003 release, Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly (2004 in Europe), now simply known as Project Zero 2: Wii Edition. Following on from the highly intriguing Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir on Nintendo 3DS, from the same team, fans of things that go bump in the night should brace themselves for a Wii treat.
Project Zero 2: Wii Edition focuses on twin sisters, Mio and Mayu Amakura, who are wandering around and somehow find themselves lost in the mysterious village of Minakami that does not appear on maps and is shrouded in an endless mist. On top of this, as it happens twins are perfect for use as a sacrifice by the restless souls trapped in this village. Being drawn deeper and deeper into the darkness, the eldest, Mayu, starts to become possessed and the fate of twins previously embroiled in the 'shadow ritual' of years gone by starts to be inflicted upon the Amakura sisters. Whilst sounding contrived, the village curse backdrop proves to be a gripping enough yarn to keep players on the edge of their seats as they try to unravel the mystery, fathom what the strange matching stones dotted around mean, figure out if the crimson butterflies leading the girls all over are good or evil, and ultimately help Mio and Mayu escape from the clutches of the darkness they accidentally stumbled into.
Starting the adventure off may prove to be quite frustrating since everything is too dark and dusky, but persevering past that initial 10-15 minutes brings about the acquisition of a handy torch, which is manipulated using the motion controls of the Wii Remote for casting light around, penetrating the perpetual plague of blackness and making for a gruesome adventure thanks to the continual fear of something other-worldly leaping out of the shadows.
Whilst Project Zero 2: Wii Edition is a reboot of Crimson Butterfly from the PlayStation 2 (and later Xbox, in a 'Director's Cut' format a year later), there has been plenty of tinkering to the format, tightening up of the gameplay, sprucing up of visuals, brand new CGI cut-scenes added, and an entirely new set of voices brought to the table. The intense core concept remains, but this is without doubt worthy of standing apart from its original release, rather than being labelled as a mere port-up.
For the most part, players are in control of the younger sister, Mio, slowly pacing around abandoned buildings and outdoor locations (increasing to a gentle 'trot' when holding the run button). The Nunchuk's analogue stick smoothly moves the lead around, with a quick shake of the Wii Remote to spin her 180 degrees to about face swiftly, and the majority of the adventure is spent carefully scouring the surroundings, with eerie music setting the ambience firmly to 'high tension' and a whole slew of creepy sound effects and plenty of loud thumps and bangs at key moments to up the ante on the scare front. There are chills galore to be found here, and the feint of heart should certainly steer clear! One of the most impressive additions is how certain doors and objects are now not merely opened or collected straight away, but there is a need to hold the action button down to slowly execute the command, raising the fear factor considerably. If you chicken out at the last second, simply let go of the button and the character's hand retreats. Will a hand jump out to grab Mio? Will a scary face pop out from nowhere? Sometimes even when nothing happens, the loud resultant sound effect can get the nerves a-jangling! The atmosphere built up throughout is truly masterful.
The control system is certainly far improved over Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen, the fourth game in the main series that appeared exclusively on Wii and was due for a European release under the name of Zero: A Japanese Ghost Story before being shelved due to bugs that needed to be fixed not being sorted before launch in May 2009. However, even the controls in that were not exactly bad -- it is more that this has the added benefit of more development time and experience with the Wii controls and hardware, and definitely benefits from it. There is an over-the-shoulder third-person viewpoint that gives players a wider view of the area ahead, the map has been designed to make for easier navigation of the intricate hallways and paths traversed, and the subtle motion-controlled movements incorporated for both the flashlight and ghost-absorbing Camera Obscura device is intuitive enough for anyone to grow accustomed to in no time at all. There is so much care and attention poured into this new edition that even the character models and the design of the back of their clothing have been touched up considerably due to the majority of the adventure being focused on them.
Speaking of the Camera Obscura, flicking it out using the Wii Remote's 'B' trigger, moving it around using the pointer, and quickly snapping away at ethereal beings as they pass within the confines of the on-screen Capture Circle is so simple and highly enjoyable thanks to the more immersive approach to the PlayStation 2 original's mere analogue stick movement. You really feel like being at risk whilst in control of the camera, attempting to snap away at ghosts before they deal damage to the young damsels, with jittery hands resulting in poor shots and missed opportunities. There are special types of film to acquire along the way, and upgrades to improve elements such as camera reload time and strength of photos to harm ghosts, as well as new lens filters for unique scenarios, as was also found in Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir. The mystical machine is indispensable during the quest, with its viewfinder revealing hidden objects, its film capturing past events, as well as providing the girls with hints and tips as to what areas must be visited from passive apparitions eager to help.
Finally, there are numerous difficulty levels so all comers can jump straight in, but there are also a variety of extra endings to obtain in addition to the original ones, meaning that taking alternate routes through the adventure can lead to something new for even those that played the PlayStation 2 or Xbox versions inside out. There are even special hidden events spread around to provide deeper insight into Mio and Mayu, as well as other characters and, as if that was not enough incentive, a completely new 'Haunted House' feature has been slotted in, where a dark mansion full of marauding ghouls must be explored in all manner of ways (such as an on-rails mode where the game monitors hand trembles to gauge the player's fear levels).
Project Zero 2: Wii Edition is not only the scariest experience on Wii, but one of the best examples of how a survival horror game should be made. With an easy-to-fathom control system, immense levels of tension throughout, superb cut-scenes to portray the story development, and the general extra lick of paint given to this updated edition, anyone looking for an engrossing adventure should definitely think about picking this up this superlative edition.
The Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination works so perfectly for the in-game torch and the Camera Obscura spiritual weapon that going back to the PS2 version's regular control pad afterwards feels strange. This is true testament to how well the development team has translated the game to Wii, and the core concept itself proves to be just as engrossing as ever, if not more so than before thanks to the updates.
Whilst seemingly too grainy at times (for atmospheric purposes), the revamped visuals in general are indeed extremely impressive, with the character models looking far sharper than their PS2 originals, and the ghostly apparitions seriously causing many a jump-filled situation.
From the expert new voice acting included, to the haunting soundtrack and the superbly tense sound effects throughout, this is easily one of the best audio experiences on Wii, truly ramping up the ambience levels.
With a wide range of difficulty levels, various endings to obtain, plenty of hidden extras and additional story elements to open up, plus the new Haunted Mansion mode for two-player scares, there is heaps of spooky goodness within Project Zero 2: Wii Edition.
After the disappointment of Zero: A Japanese Ghost Story not receiving its planned European release, it is absolutely wonderful to at least receive this wonderful update of what was already a classic horror adventure. With an engrossing story, immersive gameplay, and enough scares to get the heart racing, Project Zero 2: Wii Edition continues the trend of strong Wii releases in 2012 and is the perfect plat du jour after the tasty entrée that was Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir.
Thanks for the great review! Definitely adding this to my shopping list!!
Fatal Frame 4 remake on Wii U?? Hope so!
Have you also played Mask of the Lunar Eclipse? If not, it's highly recommended...and in English thanks to the hard work of fans!
They should make FFV for Wii U. The GamePad seems perfect for it.
I really hope they do make FF4 on Wii U, even if it's a budget release in Japan, just so it has more of a chance to make it to the West this time.
However, back when they had finished FF4, the team told me work on FF5 had already started. I wonder how far along it is? Somewhere in-between Spirit Camera and FF2 Wii Edition popped up, so clearly they will have hampered progress, but it might be a blessing as it'll likely be Wii U now.
Has anyone here picked Project Zero 2: Wii Edition, or imported to the US? Or even just a lover of the PS2/Xbox version?
Best Wii game of the year IMO. Why is nobody buying it??
Aaaaah finally finished playing the first one, so will start playing this one soon .
Mmmmh I didn't found PZ1 to be anything ground-breaking. It was far too dark, it was impossible to play in a lit room, I had to block out the windows of my bedroom to prevent any light of coming in to see anything on my TV. The flashlight in-game barely lights anything, really.
Gameplay was a bit frustrating too at times (no quick turn and the character was as slow as a snail, despite the game being set to 60Hz). And having the character revisit the same mansion 3 times in the same playthrough, with doors previously unlocked now locked again, and new objects to find in locations already searched... poor way to make the game longer IMHO.
I still enjoyed a little bit PZ1, but found that it wasn't much better than other poor efforts at the genre that can be found on Wii, like Cursed Mountain or Calling. It's about on level with the latter I'd say, except maybe in terms of scenario, which is better in PZ1. Oh yeah and the voice acting in PZ1 is terrible...
Anyway... started playing PZ2, and finding it better than the first one already, at least in terms of picture clarity, but this might be thanks to progressive scan.
( Edited 25.08.2012 13:48 by RudyC3 )