Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen (Wii) Review

By Albert Lichi 30.09.2014 1

Review for Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen on Wii

The Zero games have always been in the upper echelons of survival-horror, along with the likes of the (early) Silent Hill, Siren, and Clock Tower franchises. Melancholic but never melodramatic, these types of survival-horror have a strong understanding of human emotion and psychology. Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen (also known as Fatal Frame 4 in the US or Project Zero 4 for Europe) shakes the heart, but is it a cathartic experience that is also a great game? With Fatal Frame: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden out on Wii U in Japan, it is time to look back at this Wii release that sadly never made it out of Japan…

It is the 1970s on Rogetsu Isle; a serial killer kidnaps five young girls from their rooms in a sanatorium. Detective Choshiro Kirishma, who was on the case, rescues the girls but only to discover they are all stricken with Getsuyuu Syndrome, of which symptoms include amnesia. Flash-forward about 10 years later, two of the rescued girls have died by causes unknown. Ruka, Madoka and Misaki, the three remaining girls band together and return to Rogetsu Isle to attempt to figure out their lost memories and uncover the truth behind their kidnapping. During the course of the story, the player assumes the roles of four characters: Ruka - the main character and hero; Misaki - strong willed tomboy; Madoka - a reserved and timid shy-girl; and Choshiro, the detective.

Screenshot for Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen on Wii

Each character has their own unique means to fend off the spirits, as well as abilities that can be upgraded via crystals that can be found by keen observers or those willing to backtrack. Abilities come in a range of special attacks forms that affect spirits in different ways, such as a slow-motion or super powerful attack, to name just a couple. Some passive abilities can be acquired, too, like the ability to see hidden ghosts or take advantage of a dodge function. The resource management that requires players to weigh their options is crucial for survival in Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen. Often the user will have to make a choice about how they spend their crystals while keeping in mind there are multiple characters to manage. If it isn't crystals that are being managed, it is the limited amount of quality film that the Camera Obscura uses to exorcise the spirits. There will always be the very low-powered grade film in infinite supply so as to not to make the game unwinnable, but savvy gamers will know when to use the more powerful-yet-limited-in-number film, making for an ebb-and-flow style of gameplay.

Another layer of depth in Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen is the scoring system when actually encountering aggressive sprits. Depending on the type of shot snapped, which is measured by a large variety of factors (proximity, angle, film used, and so on) the shot will be rated and points awarded. These can be used as currency at save points to purchase more healing items, film, and other resources. It should be noted that the higher the difficulty, the fewer the options available in the shop. The points earned also have another purpose, with costumes and new camera power-ups and abilities up for purchase if enough have been accrued by the game's conclusion and can then be used when starting a New Game+ (some costumes include sexy schoolgirl outfits, kimonos, a Luigi costume or even Samus' Zero Suit!).

Screenshot for Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen on Wii

The graphics displayed in Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen are quite breathtaking. Makoto Shibata's team at Koei Tecmo and Suda Goichi's team at Grasshopper Manufacture get the most out of the Nintendo Wii's architecture, painting a very sombre and foreboding atmosphere. The locations explored are vast and detailed - not a single wasted space - and each room has a story to tell. The girls are beautifully rendered, supple and delicate, with not a single erroneous pixel or polygon. Extra attention should be noted to how flawless the character animation is - each character has very distinct personality and is finely expressed by their body language and subtle motions, proving that the best animation won't come from motion capture but is crafted by passionate animators. Details like when Ruka clutches her chest in uncertain fear as she is guided onward really stand out and truly do make it easy for to make an emotional connection with her. The design of the spirits have remained consistent throughout the series and Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen is no exception. The ghosts are emotionally charged forces of nature, filled with anguish and rage; tortured even. Each spirit is distinct and unique with an elaborate back-story and even has its own strategies in battle.

Screenshot for Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen on Wii

For all Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen's grace and macabre beauty, it is very obviously not quite fully bug tested. Technical issues include a ghost list that cannot be completed due to some errors in the code, which is tragic for anyone wishing to complete the game 100% and unlock everything. Some unfortunates may even encounter a game-breaking issue and it must be stressed that anyone who imports Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen must really read up on some of the glitches to be found. Aside from the myriad of technical errors, it does have a few comically long loading times when characters open doors. During a few intense moments of being chased, the door opening load times can take around 7-10 seconds as they slowly open the door while being pursued by a very powerful and invincible spirit.

A major point of contention with Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen is the lack of control options. This is especially perplexing since Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition has almost an identical control set-up with one element that holds the game back from being a masterpiece: the motion control does not use the IR pointer, instead using the Wii controller's gyroscope. Why limit people to use just the gyroscopic controls only? Not only is the gyroscopic camera aiming inaccurate, but it also forces players to maintain a steady arm at all times in order to keep a steady view. The experience becomes physically exhausting and it is recommended to play with a means to prop an arm up while playing!

Screenshot for Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen comes highly recommended despite its technical shortcomings. It is very rare when the industry delivers a product that is such a labour of love and the artists and engineers who passionately put so much effort into a game like this should have their work be played by people. The most tragic part of Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen's story is that so few will know its splendour. Whilst there are serious issues, the artist's intent is so strong and profound that it is easy to overlook these matters that threaten to hold it back. A dark and cruel story offset by human emotion and characters that gamers will connect to, all built on what many consider to be the inferior hardware, it holds its own with its contemporaries of today. Substantial gameplay with a charged story is becoming a rarity, and too often modern games will rely on style over substance. Koei Tecmo's game balances the Yin and Yang of both. For a die-hard survival-horror enthusiast, Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen is a must.

Also known as

Project Zero 4 / Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse


Grasshopper Manufacture







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (8 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   


Our member of the week

The game was expensive when I imported ($74.90 on Play-Asia - price is now down a bit more) but I benefited at the time from a relatively good $US <-> € exchange rate so that it wasn't too expensive for me Smilie, and I consider myself lucky to have the game and got the opportunity to try it. Should definitely go back and finish my playthrough as soon as I can!

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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