Project Zero 2: Wii Edition – why do I do this to myself?!

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Welcome to “January Back Catalogue”, where we’re taking advantage of this quiet release month by catching up on all the games we’ve been meaning to play.

-Stefan Bradley

Project Zero 2: Wii Edition is a remake of the Playstation 2 classic Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly, which in the US had a more meaningful title of Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly.

Don’t let the Wii Edition subtitle fool you, this is not a kiddie, dumbed down shovelware port with redundant motion controls that Santa leaves under the trees of gamers who pirate their games. Project Zero 2: Wii Edition is the scariest game I have ever played, easily. And I made that declaration while playing the first chapter.

Okay, so the only other horror games I’ve played is the first three Silent Hills, Resident Evil 4 and The Last of Us mind you, but Koei Tecmo’s Project Zero 2 outdid them all.

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Mainly because no one suspects the butterfly, I certainly didn’t.

This Japanese horror story follows twin sisters Mio and Mayo, who encounter the “abandoned” Minakami Village. There’s no-one around but the ghosts of villagers who perished after a botched ritual, referred to as the “Crimson Sacrifice Ritual”, failed to satisfy the Hellish Abyss, the malevolent gateway to the land of the dead.

The ritual required an eldest twin to murder their younger sibling in order to please the Abyss, which revels in unfathomable pain and suffering, and in return it will refrain from unleashing an event called the “Repentance”, which shrouds the village in endless darkness. But given the ritual’s failure, the Repentance did occur, and the villagers of Minakami are stuck in an endless time loop forcing them to relive the horrors leading up to it, many of them not even realising they are dead.

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“No, it doesn’t look obvious, you look great! Drop dead gorgeo- wait…”

Upon entering the village, Mio and Mayo encounter Sae, the spirit of the elder twin from the original sacrifice. She mistakes Mio for her younger twin, Yae, and takes control of Mayo in an attempt to complete the Crimson Sacrifice and end the everlasting night.

The twins are armed with nothing but the Camera Obscura, which hasn’t hit the digital age unfortunately, thus still utilises film. This special type of film can see hostile spirits and exorcise them and functions as the central mechanic to combating the spirits attacking the player throughout the game.

The Wii Edition adds some features that utilise the console’s quirks, like motion controls as well as the built in speakers, to great effect. as an example, imagine walking through the dark corridors of a seemingly empty house, pointing the Wii Remote up and down to light up the creepy items with the torch as freaky music plays. Suddenly a ghost appears. The Wii Remote’s rumble feature starts pounding like a heartbeat, out comes the Camera Obscura and you start fighting the ghost. As it’s defeated, its last words are heard through the Wii Remote speakers, seeming to echo in your actual lounge room.

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This is why I dropped high school photography…

All these elements create the scariest atmosphere I’ve ever seen in a game. To put that in perspective, it became an instinct for me to hit that pause button the moment a ghost encounter appeared. Hey, even I have my limits.

And that ending. There are multiple endings, but most players on their first playthrough will see the canon one. It hurt me. It was so quick, and I probably should have seen it coming, but my reflection on the game instantly changed.

Project Zero 2 is a great example of how games can affect you emotionally and psychologically through story and atmosphere, in ways that no other medium can. It may be a bit dated now, but if you’re a fan of Japanese horror it is definitely a must-play.

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