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Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, also known as 零～紅い蝶 in Japan and Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly in Europe. It is the second installment in the Fatal Frame series and is considered by some gaming magazines as one of the scariest video games ever created . It was originally released in 2003 for the PlayStation 2, and a "director's cut" version was released for the Xbox in 2004 with better graphics and some additional features.
Fatal Frame II uses gameplay mechanics very similar to its predecessor, with some changes and updates. For most of the game you control Mio Amakura, except for some short scenes where you control her elder twin sister Mayu. Mayu's scenes are unlike the regular game, however, viewed with a gray filter as she moves from one place to the next, giving the player clues as to where to go. In normal gameplay, Mio's health is shown as a bar in the lower right corner, although only during combat and in Finder mode. If her or Mayu's health runs out, the game will end. Life can be replenished using different healing items scattered throughout the game. There is also a special item called Stone Mirror, which restores Mio's life to full once when it runs out, and then breaks; only one can be carried at any time. Mio also has a flashlight, which can be aimed in different directions, although the flashlight will not work in all areas. Mio's only weapon is the Camera Obscura, an antique camera with the ability to take pictures of ghosts and exorcise them. As "ammunition" the camera uses films of different quality. Type-07 film, the weakest type of film, is unlimited, but the other types have to be collected throughout the game; the strongest ones being the rarest. The camera can be equipped with special functions and with special lenses, all of which grant some special ability useful in combat; these have to be found in-game, or are earned as a result of multiple playthroughs. Finally, the camera's Basic Functions and the special lenses can be upgraded using spirit orbs found in the game, and points earned from photographing ghosts. The points earned from each picture depend on the accuracy of the shot and, during combat, the timing and damage caused, as well as stacked shot bonuses (obtained by using lenses and taking special shots). The camera's features also include a filament, which is displayed in the lower right corner. The filament glows red when facing a hostile ghost, and serves as an indicator of both direction and distance; it will also glow blue when there is a non-hostile ghost nearby.
During the game, Mio must explore the entire village area and its central buildings, and needs to find various objects and solve puzzles in order to advance. Throughout the game, Mio will encounter different kinds of ghosts, some of which appear unexpectedly while some appear during cutscenes. In addition to hostile ghosts, there are numerous vanishing and hidden spirits Mio can photograph for points. The vanishing ghosts often talk, giving some information related to the story, or a hint on how to progress. One ghost is a special case: the ghost of the boy locked in the storehouse, Itsuki, will give clues as to what to do and help Mio. The game is divided into chapters, mostly related to certain areas which Mio visits as she chases after her sister. In the seventh chapter, Mio briefly loses both the flashlight and the Camera Obscura, and has to resort to dodging ghosts with no means to fight back. The total number of chapters is nine, with a special tenth chapter available in Hard and Nightmare difficulty settings.
The game can be saved at red lanterns scattered throughout the village. There is no limit on how many times you can save; however, you cannot save if there is a hostile ghost nearby- in those cases, the lamp will go out and be unusable. Unlike in the first Fatal Frame, there is no way to restore film ammunition; should you run out and use up all the film found in the game, all you will have left is the weakest type.
The game has a new game plus feature, where you can start a new game while keeping your camera with all the special functions, lenses and upgrades from the previous game, as well as all your stored healing items and film. Over multiple playthroughs you can unlock various bonus content, including a mission mode, different outfits, gallery features and special lenses for the camera. In mission mode, the player is presented with a challenge, usually to defeat certain ghosts as quickly as possible or getting the highest points possible, either overall or with a single shot.
The Director's Cut edition for Xbox also has an FPS mode, where you can play through the entire game in first person. This does a lot in fixing the problems inherent with fixed camera locations; at the very worst, there are some small closets which are difficult to walk into, as when the camera switches locations the character will spin around and step right out of the closet you tried to enter. Unfortunately, the FPS mode also takes away some of the game's atmosphere. The Xbox version also has a new feature with gameplay effects: a shop where you can trade points from pictures for healing items and film.
Twin sisters Mio and Mayu Amakura are visiting the spot where they used to play as children, which is due to be swallowed by a dam soon, when Mayu, who walks with a limp after a childhood accident, follows a mysterious crimson butterfly deep into the woods. Mio, concerned for her twin, follows, and the two girls are led to a village shrouded in fog. While it seems abandoned, the twins soon realize that the tortured souls of the dead roam, forever reliving the day of the failed ceremony that trapped them in this state.
Mayu soon falls under the village's spell and, beckoned by the crimson butterflies, she leads her sister deeper into the village. As Mio chases after her, she slowly learns of the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, the failure of which caused the disaster known as the Repentance, which shrouded the village in darkness. Under the village there is a system of tunnels, and at its deepest point there is a deep hole called the Hellish Abyss, where the souls of the dead collect. In order to keep this hole sealed, a pair of twins born in the village is required to perform a ritual approximately every decade, in which the elder twin strangles the younger, after which the soul of the younger twin stays to guard the village as a crimson butterfly. The last pair of twins, Yae and Sae Kurosawa, tried to escape this fate, aided by Itsuki Tachibana, the Remaining twin of the previous, unsuccessful ritual. During their escape attempt, Sae was caught and brought back to the village, while Yae became lost in the forest. The villagers tried to improvise and complete the ritual with a single twin, and hanged Sae. The attempt failed, and resulted in the Repentance and the disappearance of the village.
Throughout the game, several ghosts refer to Mio as Yae and seem to expect her to perform the ritual with Mayu, with the exception of Itsuki, whose ghost tries to help her- believing the two to be the Kurosawa twins, he tries to aid their escape from the village again.
Near the end of the game, when Mio is finally reunited with her sister and planning their escape, she discovers a document left by a visiting folklorist concerning the twin order. In the village, the twin born second is considered the elder, as they let the weaker, "younger" twin be born first. This completely reverses Mio's intended fate: instead of being sacrificed herself, she is to strangle her twin sister, a fate which has driven many previous Remaining twins to madness and suicide.
There are four potential endings for the game.
Crimson Butterfly Ending (Easy/Normal difficulty): Mio enters the sacrificial site to see Mayu standing by the stone altar, and approaches her. Mayu says how overwhelmed she felt about having to live and die separately from her sister, but by doing the ritual they could be united as a single being, as the villagers believed. With that Mayu lies on the stone altar, pulling Mio over her and wrapping Mio's hands around her neck as she asks Mio to kill her. Prodded on by Mayu's quiet pleas and the ghostly priests banging their staffs, Mio strangles Mayu. The ghosts of two Mourners pick up Mayu's dead body and toss it into the Hellish Abyss. Horrified, Mio slowly realizes what she has done, only to see the butterfly that is Mayu's spirit rising from the Abyss. She chases it through the village desperately, apologizing. The butterfly that is Mayu flies back, only to graze Mio's finger and then fly off, lost among the thousands of butterflies. At the end of the credits, Mio is seen sitting alone on a bench by the new lake. The mark of the Remaining, a bruise in the shape of a crimson butterfly, can faintly be seen on her throat.
Hellish Abyss Ending (Hard/Nightmare difficulty): Mio uses the Camera Obscura to separate Mayu from the spirit of Sae Kurosawa, the last sacrificed twin, who has possessed her. The two fall back towards the Abyss, but Mio grabs hold of Mayu's wrist. The girl's spirit plummets into the Abyss with a scream. Mio remembers Itsuki's warning not to look into the Abyss, only to do so. Deep below, she sees a mass of damned spirits. Mio manages to pull up her sister and is shown rubbing her eyes. She then narrates how she didn't know how they escaped the village, but she and Mayu were found passed out in the woods. Before the credits, Mio and Mayu are seen sitting together on the same bench as in the first ending. Mio is then shown to have a bandage covering her eyes, indicating that she lost her sight looking into the Abyss.
Lingering Scent Ending (run away in any difficulty, only named in Director's Cut also, a "Game Over"): Mio realizes she cannot keep her promise to Mayu and runs away alone. While running, she hears Sae's voice asking, "Are you leaving me again?" She hesitates, hearing Itsuki's voice tell her not to look back. Mio hears Mayu's voice say, "Mio... didn't we promise? Together always..." She turns around, thinking it is Mayu, only to see a menacing Sae moving towards her. Mio freezes in shock and fear as Sae approaches her, and all goes black. Afterwards, Mio wakes up by a river alone. Worried, she calls out to Mayu repeatedly, but receives no answer. Both Sae and Mayu vow to wait forever for their sisters.
Promise Ending (Fatal difficulty, Director's Cut only): Mio is running down a tunnel to get to the sacrificial site. When she sees Mayu heading towards the Abyss in a trance, she calls out her name and runs to her. The priests banging their staffs vanish and, as Mio runs, Yae's spirit separates from her body. Yae walks toward Mayu, who takes on the form of Sae as she turns around to face her twin. Yae apologizes for leaving her sister alone and Sae forgives her. The twins join hands and walk towards the pit, promising to be together for eternity. Realizing that they both intend to jump, Mio runs towards to Sae, who is using Mayu as a host. Just before they fall, she wraps her arms around Sae's waist and pulls Mayu to safety. With the ritual succeeding, the crimson butterflies fly from the Abyss and off into the sky. The souls of the villagers and victims of the Repentance are seen throughout the village, watching the butterflies. Mio and Mayu leave the village, hand in hand. Mayu confesses that she was overwhelmed by the fact that they would live and die separately. Mio tells her that, even though that will happen, she'll never let Mayu go again. The sun rises as the game ends.
Mio Amakura: The younger of the Amakura twins and main character of the game. She is spiritually less aware than her twin sister, but also less vulnerable to ghosts. Since Mayu injured her leg while they were playing together, she has felt responsible for the accident.
Mayu Amakura: The elder of the Amakura twins. She has a strong spiritual sense, and this leaves her vulnerable to being influenced or possessed by ghosts. At points while in the lost village, she becomes possessed by Sae. She walks with a permanent limp after a childhood accident, and depends heavily on her sister Mio.
Yae Kurosawa: Considered the elder of the Kurosawa twins, although born second. Yae tried to escape from performing the ritual with her sister Sae, but they were separated and Yae was lost in the woods. When she found her way back, the village had disappeared, and she lost her memory. She was found by Ryozo Munakata, and they later married.
Sae Kurosawa: Considered the younger of the Kurosawa twins, although born first. She was less determined to escape from the ritual than her sister Yae, and was content with them being together. They were separated during their escape attempt, in an accident eerily similar to the time Mayu injured her leg. Sae was brought back to the village and hanged in the ritual. Her feelings of having been abandoned by her sister caused the ritual to fail. Her spirit, overcome by the Darkness spread by the failed ritual, and that of the Kusabi's returned from the Hellish Abyss to slaughter the villagers. She cannot be defeated using the Camera Obscura (except for in Hard and Nightmare modes of the game).
Itsuki Tachibana: Considered the elder of the Tachibana twins, although born second. He wanted to escape from the ritual, but his brother Mutsuki was too sickly for the attempt, so they performed the ritual hoping their success would spare the Kurosawa twins from the same fate. The ritual, however failed, and Itsuki tried to help the Kurosawa twins escape. He then hanged himself after Sae was recaptured, in hopes of meeting her, Yae, and Mutsuki in the next life. His spirit is the only one that cannot be exorcised by the effect of the Camera Obscura.
Mutsuki Tachibana: The younger of the Tachibana twins, and Chitose's older brother. He was strangled by his twin in the Crimson Sacrifice ritual, but it failed nonetheless. He is almost never seen in the actual game, he only appears three times - once in the ghost list; once in a photograph and once in the "Promise Ending". Nevertheless, he is referred to by several diary entries written by Chitose and Itsuki.
Ryokan Kurosawa: The ceremony master of the village, and father of Yae and Sae. He was himself a Remaining twin from a ritual, and though he was miserable at his daughters being forced through the same, he was still determined to use them to save the village. He was killed in the Repentance.
Chitose Tachibana: Younger sister of Itsuki and Mutsuki. She was a shy child with poor vision, and often hid when there were strangers in the house. She was deeply attached to her brothers, and while she never knew what happened to Mutsuki, she blamed Yae for running away and getting Itsuki locked up. When the Repentance came, she hid in a closet, hoping Itsuki to find her. She witnessed the souls of Sae and the Kusabi killing several of those in her home. She died shortly thereafter as she couldn't leave the closet.
Seijiro Makabe: A traveling folklorist who visited the village just before its disappearance. He was initially welcomed by the villagers, but this was merely a ruse, as they wanted to use him as a human sacrifice called a Kusabi. He was captured and tortured, and finally thrown alive into the Abyss. He returned during the Repentance, his soul having been take over by the Darkness, and began killing the villagers with Sae. Up until the last chapter of the game, he cannot be defeated using the Camera Obscura.
Ryozo Munakata: An assistant of Seijiro Makabe and friend of Itsuki and Mutsuki Tachibana. He was sent away from the village before its disappearance, but he returned on the day of the ritual to fulfil his promise to Itsuki to take care of Yae and Sae after their escape. He only found Yae, however, crying where the village should have been, and they later married.
Masumi Makimura: A land surveyor sent to investigate the area to be submerged due to the dam construction. He wandered into the village where he was trapped, and was soon joined by his girlfriend Miyako Sudo, who came looking for him. He was killed by the ghost of the Kusabi whilst trying to find a way out of the village.
Miyako Sudo: Girlfriend of Masumi Makimura. Her ghost is the first encountered in the game. After Masumi's disappearance, Miyako went looking for him, only to become trapped in the village with him. She was strangled to death by Masumi's ghost after he had been killed trying to find a way out.
Akane and Azami Kiryu: Twins who performed the ritual long ago. Akane strangled her sister Azami, but the ritual left her depressed and guilty. To comfort her, her father made her a doll in Azami's image, and they became inseparable. The doll was possessed by an evil spirit, who brainwashed Akane into killing her father when he realized that the doll was evil, and tried to destroy it. Some time after this, the doll sucked out Akane's soul, and she died.
Yoshitatsu Kiryu: A doll-maker, and father to Akane and Azami. He made a doll in Azami's image to comfort his Remaining daughter Akane. When he learned the doll had become possessed and he tried to destroy it, but he was killed by Akane, who was being controlled by the doll.
Almost all of the ghosts featured in the game are victims of a disaster known as "The Repentance". The Repentance occurs if the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual is not carried out correctly, which causes the Darkness to break forth from the Hellish Abyss and envelop the land. In-game there are two kinds of ghosts; there are neutral ghosts, which are indicated by the filament in the bottom right hand corner of the screen turning blue, and hostile ghosts, which turn the filament orange (or red). The neutral ghosts are usually featured throughout the game to help the player progress through the story. The hostile ghosts will attack the player, and can be exorcised due to the special properties of the Camera Obscura. Typically, throughout the game the ghosts can be heard mumbling to themselves, or giving warning to Mio to leave immediately. The ghosts usually mumble or speak about the ritual that apparently "cannot be seen." However there are moments in the game where even the ghosts themselves express fear such as the Man in the Dark who is scared of the Kusabi, or Chitose who admits during combat to be afraid to leave the closet. The only exception from these words are the children playing tag who call to each other and taunt Mio about being unable to follow them. Some of the blue filament, or friendly ghosts, help to explain the storyline and point to hidden objects or doors in one way or another. There are points in the game where Mio's way is blocked by a strange looking ghost that appears to have four faces, and the only way she can move them is by finding them in a place specified by them after taking a picture. After finding the other place they dissolve and the way is free once more. In-game, there are also ghosts who have nothing whatsoever to do with the storyline. There are four different pictures the player can take optionally, the pictures are the result of a contest held to get fans of the original games faces into the sequel as optional shots. Below is a list of some of the hostile ghosts that Mio will face throughout the game.
Miyako Sudo: This is the ghost of a woman who disappeared into the village to find her missing boyfriend but died in the attempt. She is encountered in the first part of the game looking for her boyfriend Masumi. She later attacks Mio in the upper level of the Osaka house.
Man in the Dark: There is no given explanation for this ghost, only that his death was a result of the Repentance and he tried to hide but was discovered by the Kusabi or by Sae and then killed.
Woman in the Box: Mio first encounters this ghost in the Osaka house. While fighting this ghost the player is able to hear a baby crying in the background. The woman is a mother who tried to hide in a box to escape the Repentance but her baby began to cry which revealed their location.
Priest: During the game Mio encounters a few of these in separate places. They can be heard issuing commands about the ritual, particularly that it cannot be seen. In the game's story, they wear veils to protect themselves from the hellish abyss, the pathway to hell.
Mourners: Outsiders are not allowed to enter any of the villagers secret places, they are referred to by the townspeople as Sinners. Those who discover the ritual are subsequently turned into mourners, who throw the body into the hellish abyss, and then are later killed by the priests.
Boys and Girls playing tag: These children's ghosts appear in only three places in-game, but they are very difficult for the player to defeat, as they disappear and run very fast. The story behind them, is that they were innocent to the meaning of the Repentance, so they took no action to hide themselves when Sae and the Kusabi were killing the villagers. However, they are somehow unaware of their deaths. They still play tag as if they were still alive.
Pole Bearer, Sickle and Torch Bearer: These used to be the villagers that inhabited the small town. They attack Mio whom they think is Sae and they want to force her to do the ritual.
Woman in the Dark: A woman who tried to hide herself in the darkness when the repentance came, but was unsuccessful and then killed.