It's something of a disappointment that over the years the Project Zero series (also known as Fatal Frame in some parts) has disappeared by the wayside a little, while its main rivals - Resident Evil and Silent Hill - have spawned countless sequels and spin-offs.
In true bus fashion, though, the years of waiting have finally paid off and Nintendo fans have been treated not only to a Project Zero spin-off (Spirit Camera, which is released at the same time), but also to a full game from the main series. Granted, Spirit Camera felt more like an eShop game than a full-price effort and Project Zero 2: Wii Edition is only a remake, rather than a completely new story, but considering the last entry in the series - Fatal Frame 4 - wasn't even released outside Japan, we should count ourselves lucky that we've got anything at all. We should also feel fortunate that the remade game is arguably the best in the Project Zero series and, since it was hardly a million-seller in its PS2 and Xbox days, it's more or less a new experience for most Wii owners.
Zero To Heroes
Project Zero 2 tells the story of Mio and Mayu, twin sisters who revisit the spot in the countryside where they used to play as children before it was knocked down to make a dam. Though the area has some bad memories - Mayu had an accident that left her with a limp - it still holds something special for the two, so they decide to see it one more time before it's cleared. While they sit around talking about their past, Mayu sees a mysterious crimson butterfly and follows it into the woods. As Mio follows her sister to make sure she's okay, the two are led to a small, seemingly abandoned village.
As they explore its houses it very quickly becomes clear that the village is haunted by the spirits of its previous residents, souls that are trapped there for some odd reason, like Ikea shoppers, but with the advantage of being dead. It's therefore up to Mayu (who's falling deeper and deeper under the village's spectral spell) and Mio (who continues to follow her sister) to find out what's going on and try to get out of there in one piece with their sanity intact
Despite being based on a nine-year-old game, Project Zero 2 looks superb, mainly because it's been given an extensive makeover. The lighting is far more realistic and atmospheric, the character models are more detailed and little details, like curtains blowing in the wind, add to the atmosphere. The CGI cutscenes have also been completely recreated from scratch and are a genuine treat to watch for fans of spooky stories.
That said, there are still some moments when it's clear you're looking at what was originally a last-gen game and at times it seems the upgrade process didn't go so well. Often, when the camera changes in-game and you see a close-up (usually of a hand slowly reaching for something) the wall and floor textures are exposed as pixellated, blurry messes. The camera's usually far enough away that this isn't an issue, of course, but considering these close-up scenes are almost always moments of tension, the noticeably ropey textures can catch your attention and take away from the situation.