Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly/Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly
- Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation 3 (PS2 Classic), Wii (EU and JP only).
- Suggested Platform: Xbox.
- Developer: Tecmo
- Genre: Survival Horror
- Release Date: 10/10/03
- Why Play It?: Great story, atmospheric, more of that Fatal Frame goodness.
- Why Skip It?: If you don’t like survival horror. Otherwise, a very good game. The canon ending kind of tugs at the heartstrings though.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly in Europe) is widely considered to be the best of the Fatal Frame series. I beat Fatal Frame and Fatal Frame II many times over, to see the additional endings and get the extra costumes, however, somewhere between 6 and 8 hours in to my first playthrough of Fatal Frame III: The Tormented, my PS2 memory card died. The same memory card that had my all of my Fatal Frame trilogy data on it. I’ve been too heartbroken to go back to Fatal Frame III: The Tormented, but of what I’ve played, I would agree that Fatal Frame II is the best of the series.
In Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, you take the role of Mio, the younger half of two identical twins. One day, while playing in the woods, Mio and Mayu accidentally stumble into the hidden (fictional) village of Minakami which is inhabited mainly by vengeful spirits who suffer an eternal night. Not only that, but anyone who stumbles into Minakami is cursed to never leave…
Including the spirits, it seems. Or so they say. Mayu (who walks with a limp due to a childhood accident) ends up getting lured away from Mio (multiple times) by crimson butterflys and Mio must find her and escape the village with her. The village is creepy and very atmospheric, Tecmo did a great job with the atmosphere, just like in Fatal Frame. Also like Fatal Frame and many other survival horror games, the story is told mainly in notes, journals, news clippings, and a new radio feature that allows audio to be played by collecting gemstones, holding the thoughts and feelings of their original owner. These objects help you find out about the town, telling stories of dark rituals and a dam project threatening to put the whole village underwater, not unlike the anime/manga When They Cry, although Fatal Frame II came first. I don’t want to say any more than that, because the story truly is a ride, and the ending will really grab you. You don’t need any knowledge of the first game to enjoy this one.
The gameplay is virtually unchanged from the first Fatal Frame, but the HUD looks better (as do the graphics), and, in Fatal Frame, the longer you kept the finder trained on the spirit, the more damage you did, while in Fatal Frame II, the damage is based on the proximity to the ghost in question. The closer you are, the more damage you do. If you take a picture right before the spirit is about to attack, you’ll do additional damage and also stun the spirit, just like in the first game. Also, they added a combo feature. If you take the picture at the perfect moment, you can chain another photo without having to wait, potentially chaining damage until the spirit is gone.
Spirit Stones and special functions return to Fatal Frame II and are mostly unchanged. You can still level up your camera with points accrued from your photos as well. You still solve puzzles in the same vein as the first game as well. Check my first Fatal Frame review on my Best Games Ever List for more information on the gameplay, I’m not going to recount it all here.
Fatal Frame II, in my opinion, is a bit more forgiving than the first game. The difficulty doesn’t seem as intense and save points are numerous. That being said, just like in Fatal Frame, the items you find are the only ones in the game (unless you’re playing the Director’s Cut, more on that below) so you may need to keep on top of your healing items.
The Xbox version of Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, considered the Director’s Cut, is the superior version of the game adding an additional ending, a survival mode, even more costumes to unlock, the ability to play the entire game from a first-person perspective, and even a shop to obtain more healing items and film, combating one of the main gripes of the first two Fatal Frame games.
While Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly is superior to Fatal Frame, I feel as though they are both fantastic games and deserve a spot on my Best Games Ever List. If you’re looking for a good survival horror game with unique mechanics, a chilling atmosphere, and heart-wrenching story, look no farther than Fatal Frame and Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly.