Fatal Frame

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This article is in reference to the first game of the Fatal Frame Series.
For more uses of the term see Fatal Frame (Disambiguation)

Fatal Frame
Game Title Image
Zero ~zero~
Project Zero
Developer(s): Tecmo
Publisher(s): Tecmo
Distributor(s): Tecmo & Wanadoo (Euro)
Release date: 2001, 2002, & 2003; reissue (Japan) 2007; PSN (US) 2013
Genre: Survival Horror
Game modes: Easy, Normal, Hard, Nightmare, Fatal (Xbox version)
Ratings: Japan - CERO C (15+); USA - ESRB T (Teen); Europe - ELSPA 18+
Regions: Japan, US, Europe
Platform(s): PlayStation 2, Xbox

Fatal Frame is the first game in the Fatal Frame Series, released for the PS2 and Xbox.


"I wonder how long it's been... since my brother and I... began to see things that other people couldn't see..."
―Miku Hinasaki src

Nine days have passed since Mafuyu, brother of Miku Hinasaki, had disappeared.

It all began about a month ago.

The media reported that the famous novelist Junsei Takamine disappeared while gathering research for an upcoming novel. Mafuyu, an aspiring journalist, suspected that something was wrong. Why would his mentor simply vanish into thin air? Mafuyu decided to conduct a private search for his friend, with the investigation eventually leading to the grounds of a secluded mansion. The Himuro Mansion stands silent and imposing deep within the forest. It's said that years ago the mansion belonged to a powerful landowner who had absolute control over the area. But now it's a shadow of its former self, dilapidated and desolate...

As Mafuyu searched the mansion, he found scraps of paper left by Junsei and his staff throughout the mansion. The writings recounted a number of ominous events that happened in the mansion's dark past. Eager to find additional clues within the mansion, Mafuyu rushed in and suddenly realized that he wasn't alone...

Miku came to the Himuro mansion in search of her missing brother. But she had no idea what she was getting into...

- - -

- Opening description from the "Fatal Frame" Manual

Release dates

PlayStation 2

  • Japan - December 13th 2001
  • South Korea - December 13th 2001
  • US - April 3rd 2002
  • Europe - August 30th 2002
  • Japan re-issue (PlayStation 2 The Best) - August 1st 2002
  • Japan re-issue (PlayStation 2 The Best) - November 11th 2007


  • Japan - February 6th 2003
  • US - November 22nd 2002
  • Europe - May 2nd 2003
  • Asia - February 6th 2003

PSN Store (Digital Download)

Main Characters

Miku Hinasaki (雛咲深紅) (17)

Miku is a high-school student with a strong sixth sense. Miku relies on her brother Mafuyu, her only living family, and the only person she can talk to about the impossible things they can both see. When Mafuyu leaves for Himuro Mansion and doesn't return, Miku goes after him.

Mafuyu Hinasaki (雛咲真冬) (21)

Miku's older borther, a journalist. Like Miku, he possesses a strong sixth sense. Since his parents died, Mafuyu has been taking care of his sister. Upon hearing that his mentor, Junsei Takamine, has vanished while doing research at Himuro Mansion, Mafuyu himself goes to investigate, taking with him a special camera his mother left to him and Miku.



The idea for Fatal Frame originated with Makoto Shibata, who had always loved old Japanese houses and wished to create a horror game with a Japanese style. He had even suggested making a new Deception game set in a Japanese mansion instead of a Western castle.[1] He and Keisuke Kikuchi, along with others from the same team that had worked on Deception, eventually started working on a brand new title from scratch.[2]

The Camera
From the beginning, Shibata had the idea of using a camera as a weapon; however, Kikuchi was highly dubious, and the team discussed other possibilities, including talismans, magic arrows, stunning ghosts with a torch,[3] or even filling up a fear gauge to enable a 'shout' mechanic that would drive ghosts back.[4] However, Kikuchi wished to create an original and terrifying combat experience that he felt other horror games lacked, and eventually he was won over by the idea of the camera, which would force players to confront their fear and see the enemy up close.[2] The camera also felt appropriate as a weapon against ghosts, because of old superstitions about spirit photography, and photographs stealing people's souls.[3]

Main characters
Shibata and Kikuchi decided to make the main character a girl, feeling that women and children are more in touch with the spirit world than burly men.[5] Originally, the developers planned to show Miku and Mafuyu arriving at Himuro Mansion in a car, but this was deemed too similar to other horror games. (A detailed summary of this unused prologue was included in the Fatal Frame Fanbook and can be read here, under the heading "The illusionary introduction.")

Creating a scary setting
A great deal of attention was paid to details like ghost movements, and the contrast between the beam of the flashlight and the surrounding darkness.[3] The sound effects were also carefully crafted to be as atmospheric as possible, and the creators encouraged players to wear headphones while playing. In order to increase the sense of isolation, they also decided to set the game in the 1980s, before mobile phones became common.[5] They also set out to give each ghost a distinct story and design, so that the player would feel empathy even with the enemies.[2]

The title
During development, the game's codename and tentative title was Project 0.[2] Finally, the creators settled on 零~zero~, to represent the idea of ghosts as 'beings of nothingness', as well as the player being driven to their limit.[6] The characters 霊 (ghost) and 零 (zero) can both be read "rei", but this was a coincidence, not intentional wordplay.[5]

Regional & Console Differences


  • Miku's character design was changed for the Western release. Her hair was a lighter shade of brown, her facial features were slightly altered, and her costume was redesigned. This design is also used in the Xbox version of the game, even in Japan.
  • After the game was originally released on the PS2 in all regions, it was ported to the Xbox with several new features and a few other changes that will be detailed below. The Japanese version of the game uses the "Fatal Frame" series name instead of 零~zero~.
  • Another re-release of the PS2 version from the Best series was issued for the first three games in anticipation of the fourth game for the Wii console.
  • The names and unlock conditions for the Ganguro Costume and Orange Shirt Costume were swapped between the Japanese and global versions.
  • Miku's running speed is slightly increased in the US Xbox version of the game.[7]


  • The Xbox version contains additional notes and diaries, a new "Fatal" difficulty level with an extra boss and an exclusive ending. It also includes four new costumes and eleven extra ghosts on the ghost list. The numeric puzzle dials were also changed from Japanese kanji to Roman numbers.
  • Only the PS2 version of Fatal Frame will result in a Miku Monster for Monster Rancher 4.
  • While the final ranking for the PS2 version is determined by completion time, the Xbox version also takes total score into account. The points allocation during battle was adjusted accordingly, and the Xbox version no longer has a maximum of 9999 points per shot.

Compatibility Issues

  • When the Xbox Version is being played on a Xbox 360, some cutscenes are seen with a black screen and audio still playing.[8]
  • Although it was included in backwards compatibility lists, the PAL Xbox version of the game is not backwards compatible with the Xbox 360.

Box Art

Promotional Material

Game Inspirations

Based on a True Story?

Main article: Based on a true story?

When Fatal Frame was released to the US, the tagline "based on a true story" was added to the cover. This caused a huge debate—that continues to this day—over what events (if any) in the game are actually factual. In a press release, Tecmo said the game was based on two Japanese folk tales.[9] Interestingly, while the other games in the series have also drawn inspiration from Japanese legends and notorious ghost spots, supposed descriptions of the "real" Himuro Mansion are far more common than any references to locations from the other games in the series.


  • "Monster Hunter" by Daijirou Morohoshi - although this manga is not intended to be scary, it makes use of ancient Japanese beliefs about people crossing into the spirit world, which had a strong influence on the lore of Fatal Frame.[5]
  • The Haunting (1963) - the creators refer to an atmosphere of "comfortable darkness",[3] when the haunted house goes from a place of terror to a "dreamlike space where the heroine feels at ease".[4]

Supplemental Material

Misc. Info

  • The game's infamous tag line "based on a true story" was not present in the original Japanese version of the game, or in the European version.
  • At the time of the original Japanese release, a lottery was held in which one thousand respondents to the survey enclosed in the game case were randomly drawn to receive a pair of Zero headphones.[10] Pictures can be seen here.
  • On the PS2 version Miku's Camera Obscura is the save icon for the game.
  • The game sold 0.14m copies globally.[11]
  • The game's theme colours are black, white and red, representing darkness, light, and life/blood.[2]

Official Links


  1. Post-Development/Creators Episode - The Men Who Created Zero, Fatal Frame Fanbook, p78-82. (English translation)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Keisuke Kikuchi Interview, Zero Official Site (Japanese), 2001. Originally published in Hyper Playstation Magazine, 2 September 2001. (English translation)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Why Zero Was Born, Zero Official Site (Japanese), 21 December 2001. (English translation)
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Making of Project Zero 1-3 by Robert Zak, Retro Gamer Issue 216, January 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Developer Interview, Zero Perfect Guide, p146-151. (English translation)
  6. Zero, the ultimate title, Zero Official Site (Japanese), 2001. (English translation)
  7. Xbox Versions Differences, speedrun.com forums, 18 November 2019.
  8. [1]
  9. Tecmo unveils Fatal Frame's true story, PS2Fantasy, 10 April 2002.
  10. Famitsu article (Japanese)
  11. VG Chartz, retrieved October 21 2012.
Fatal Frame Series
Fatal Frame - Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly - Fatal Frame III: The Tormented
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse - Fatal Frame: Deep Crimson Butterfly - Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water

Player Characters
Miku Hinasaki - Mafuyu Hinasaki
Major Characters/Ghosts
Kirie Himuro - White Kimono - Himuro Family Master - Kirie's Lover - Junsei Takamine - Koji Ogata - Tomoe Hirasaka - Ryozo Munakata - Yae Munakata - Mikoto Munakata
Minor Characters/Ghosts
Mr. Hinasaki - Masato Hinasaki - Miyuki Hinasaki - Tokitada Kyuki - Blinded Maiden - Bound Man - Broken Neck - Boy Hiding - Crawling Girl - Female Head - Floating Face - Floating Woman - Former Rope Shrine Maiden - Girl in the Well - Hands from Floor - Headless Priests - Long Arms - Long Hair Woman - People Killed - Wandering Man - Wandering Monk
Blinding Ritual - Calamity - Camera Obscura - Ceremony of the Ropes - Demon Tag - Demon Tag Children - Demon Tag Ritual - Flashlight - Folklorist - Himuro Family - Hinasaki Family - Holy Mirror - Kagome, Kagome - Laceration Rope - Malice - Munakata Family - Overexposure - Rope Curse - Rope Shrine Maiden - Spirited Aways - Strangling Ritual
Abyss - Backyard - Blinding Room - Buddha Room - Burial Room - Cherry Atrium - Demon Mouth - Doll Room - Dungeon - Entrance - Fireplace Room - Fish Tank Room - Five Gods Shrines - Grand Hall - Hell Gate - Himuro Mansion - Koto Room - Library - Mask Room - Moon Shrine - Narukami Shrine - Rope Altar - Rope Hallway - Square Garden
Camera - Save points - Films - Flashlight - Lenses - Functions - Fatal Frame Spirit List - Health items
More Pages
Items - Nights - Notes - Photographs - Costumes - Endings - Zero Novel - Pachislot Zero