A remake of a game released nearly 10 years ago on the PlayStation 2, Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly borrows from great Japanese horror films such as The Grudge. It pits players against the supernatural, armed only with the Camera Obscura: a legendary device with the ability to defeat apparitions by taking photographs of them.
Young twins Mio and Mayu come across what is thought to be a deserted village. Mayu is drawn to into the village and Mio chases after her double. The deeper the pair descends into the village, the more they discover about their new surroundings and its sordid past. Spectral beings begin to confront Mayu and she must defeat them to progress. But not all of these ghosts are out to hurt Mayu and photographing them assists her to unlock clues to help locate her sister.
The Camera Obscura is a really unique ‘weapon’, for lack of a better term. Predictably, the camera is upgradeable, and different types of film can be used, each dealing varying levels damage. There are also red, green and blue lenses that can be acquired. Each has a different effect, and all can be applied at once. Each photograph successfully taken earns Spirit Points and these points are used to enhance the Camera and its individual parts.
A second player can also join the game with a second Wii Remote. If they manage to press the A button on their Wii Remote and click the shutter at exactly the same time as their partner, greater damage will be inflicted and more points scored.
It’s not all photographing phantoms and searching for siblings however, there is the odd puzzle to complete as well. This may have Mayu traversing from one side of the map to the other, just to perform a single action, and then traipse back again, to find that she can advance ever so slightly. It’s tedious and unnecessary, and usually just an excuse to throw in another apparition confrontation.
There is also a secondary game called Haunted House. Players have a choice of game styles to select from, but all are merely on rails challenges, with minor changes. There is one positive in this game in that a second player can once again get involved, but to hinder, not to help. They have the ability to make ghosts appear in front of the main player, make spooky noises blare from the player’s Wii Remote or make it vibrate to try and throw them off. Invitations to play this mode are unlikely to be received enthusiastically.
The controls can become rather fiddly, with nearly every button on the Wii Remote and Nunchuck being employed. One wrong button push can put players in danger and it seems to happen all too often. The B button (the underside trigger) on the Wii Remote arms Mayu with the Camera. This button would normally be used to ‘fire’ a weapon in a Wii game, so putting the Camera away instead to taking a picture happens all too often until one learns to adjust. The menu and map buttons are well placed at – and +, and performing a 180 degree turn with a flick of the Nunchuck or Wii Remote works very well. Just in time to go nose to nose with a free floating apparition.
Playing through this title at least once with decent quality headphones is a must. The audio is truly creepy, but in doing so players may miss the audio that resonates from the Wii Remote, when listening to voices which are trapped in collected stones through use of a radio. One slight downfall is the ditzy voice acting for the twins. The intention may have been to ooze helplessness, but it comes off broken and whiny.
But Project Zero 2’s speed really covers it in a heaping glob of ectoplasm. The game is painstakingly slow. No doubt this was intended to drum up the suspense, but the developers missed their mark. Even though the lead character is a young girl, one would assume that being chased by ghosts would necessitate – at the very least – a brisk trot and not the game’s saunter that resembles RuPaul chasing down a pack of sailors on shore leave.
Project Zero 2 is a functional game, but it’s really nothing to write home about. It’s a great concept poorly executed and even though it has been slightly updated, it still plays as it did a decade ago.