I don’t think I’ve ever heard a name as bad as Project Zero 2: Wii Edition. Honestly, why they picked that god awful name over something like the more fitting ‘Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly’ moniker it goes by in the east leaves us utterly perplexed.
It’s a great shame too because the game itself, a ‘Wiimake’ of an aged PlayStation 2 fright fest is far from a bland or uninteresting horror.
Whereas survival horror favourites such as Resident Evil and Dead Space are swapping their spooks and chilling atmospheres for shotguns and a cover-laden battlefield, Project Zero 2: Wii Edition delivers some well-executed frights against a spine-tingling backdrop.
A horror for the sorts of thrill-seekers who get their jollies from children with long black hair crawling out of TV screens, twins Mio and Mayu are the stars of Project Zero 2: Wii Edition, who find themselves lost in a desolate village in the middle of the woods shrouded in darkness.
They soon discover that its residents now roam the streets and houses as spirits, the result of a sacrificial ceremony to protect the village from a nearby evil gone tragically wrong.
The two regularly become detached leaving players in control of Mio who must explore every nook and cranny of the village searching for clues while keeping tabs on her missing sister.
It’s a little lighter on puzzles than you’d hope and signposting waivers between the obvious and misleading leaving you checking every room in town. You’ll also have to defend yourself from angered spirits using the Camera Obscura, a device that puts players into a first-person perspective to face any threats head on.
It’s a clever set-up that tasks you with keeping your subject in the frame before taking the shot. Hold them for longer and you’ll deal more damage and rare occurrences allow you to execute Fatal Frames, snaps that sap massive chunks of a spirit’s life meter.
There’s also a decent amount of customisation with lenses allowing you to increase damage, knock enemies further away from you, or increase the points earned allowing you to afford more upgrades.
In the vein of the earliest survival horrors, Project Zero 2: Wii Edition successfully puts the player on edge in both unique and excruciating ways. Controls are far from perfect causing Mio to move rigidly round rooms and aiming down the camera can often be a frustrating experience.
An interesting touch makes you approach every examinable object with caution. See a room you can peek into? You’ll have to hold down the A button in order to slowly zoom in and get a better view of what lurks inside, if anything.
There’s also the Ghost Hand, a pesky little b*stard who will randomly swoop in as you hold down the A button to pick up an item who hopes you’ll proceed without caution.
Non-lethal spirits can be spotted all over the place too although only for a split second, rewarding your quick trigger finger with points towards upgrades.
Ultimately, if you don’t buy into the sort of hokum that often personifies Japanese horror, Project Zero 2: Wii Edition is likely to pull a couple of jumps out the most hardened player, but those a little more inclined will find its creepy narrative reaches some interesting conclusions in its final hours.
The game’s voice acting and almost eventless cut-scenes don’t do Project Zero 2: Wii Edition any favours leaving the best storytelling to notes and books scattered around the village.
For those returning as seasoned Project Zero 2: Wii Edition players should be happy to see an improved visual fidelity in both the village and its inhabitants – even if the items dotted around all look the same.
They’ll also be able to try their hand at Haunted House, a two-player amusement ride that bombards you with random scares as you try to avoid shaking the controller and raising your heart meter. A novel idea but one that arguably would have been a much better fit for Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata’s unreleased Wii Vitality Sensor.
Project Zero 2: Wii Edition isn’t going to get the lion’s share of attention arriving as the Wii is already saying its last goodbyes but then it’s already an acquired taste. For those who’ve been burnt by horrors that face their fears with bullets, however, no game quite leaves you on your toes as consistently as this one.
Version Tested: Wii
Review copy provided by Nintendo