For those who have played the past three Fatal Frame titles on the previous generation consoles, the Camera Obscura is an easily recognized item that is tied to the entire series. With the Camera Obscura granting its user the power to see supernatural beings through it lens, everyone has a chance to own a real one through the use of the Nintendo 3DS. Long time fans who have been demanding a Fatal Frame title on the portable handheld, the team behind the series listened and finally released Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoire on the Nintendo 3DS and it fully utilizes the Augmented Reality feature.
Will Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir live up to the expectation of Fatal Frame fans? Does the AR feature work as it should? Let’s take a look at what’s HOT and what’s NOT in our review of the game.
Solid Story & Presentation
One of the aspects that made the Fatal Frame series a hit in North America is the good blend of the story and the way it scares people through its atmosphere. In Spirit Camera, fans of the series can expect the same level of quality when it comes to the story. Along with the game that you’ll receive upon purchase, you will receive a diary book that you will be using as you progress through the game. The book, called the “Diary of Faces”, will be the main focus of Spirit Camera. You will be helping a trapped soul named Maya to uncover its secrets and solve the mystery surrounding the woman in black that’s been taking away its faces and trapping them within the diary. Through the use of the 3DS AR feature, you will be using the front camera to interact with the game as you flip through the diary of faces.
For fans, the scare factor is one of the main attractions. While Spirit Camera will use your surroundings during gameplay, the tension and atmosphere will not be as intense as the ones on the console titles. However, if you have headphones and you’re playing it at night with a good amount of light source, you will experience some cheap scares. Even though the game is not too scary and most likely won’t provide the tension of past titles, Spirit Camera still has its moments thanks to its solid soundtrack, which remains true to the Fatal Frame series, and phenomenal voice work.
Great Way to Use its AR Feature
In the first year of the Nintendo 3DS’ release, no games have really taken advantage of its AR feature. At least, none that anyone consider worth using. That is, until Spirit Camera was released. Throughout your adventure helping Maya solve the mystery of the diary of faces, you will be spending your time using the AR feature of the game. In the ten or so pages of the diary, you will be flipping back and forth trying to locate what you need to find in order to advance through the story. Once you find the page, an image or a video will pop up and, following that, you’ll be fighting ghost in your own environment! When that happens, the 3DS turns into a Camera Obscura and you can use it to expel demons. Just like in previous Fatal Frame titles, you can use the Camera Obscura to deal damage to the ghosts by simply focusing on them and make sure you flash the light when you fill the whole circle. So the flow of the game is as follows: find something in the diary, take out demons and proceed to the next chapter.
Aside from the story mode, there are small mini games where you will use the AR feature as well. These mini-games are a nice way to take a break from the core gameplay. If you somehow enjoy the use of its AR functionality, playing the mini-games will be a good way to enjoy it even more.
Short Campaign for its $40 Price
If you expected Spirit Camera would have the same amount of content as the ones on the consoles, you’ll be disappointed. From beginning to end, you can pretty much complete the main story mode somewhere around 2 hours. Once past that, the game has absolutely no replayability aside from the mini-games it offers, but those will get old quickly. For the $40 price tag, I feel that the content isn’t enough to warrant the price tag it carries. Everything within the game is phenomenal, but it all falls short due to the lack of content. Let’s just say that the $40 you spend will disappear quicker than the ghosts on your 3DS.
AR Feature is a Hit & Miss
The experimentation of the AR functionality works well with the game. However, there will be times when you’ll notice that it doesn’t work as expected, especially with the lighting. One of the problems of using the AR functionality is that it depends on the light source currently available. If you’re playing it in a poor light setting, you can expect the experience to be abysmal as it will sometimes work or it will just decide to not work at all. Another factor that contributes to the problem is the low resolution of the camera and, without proper light, the way the 3DS camera captures the image will look pixelated, thus making it hard to play the game. So, if you’re buying the game, make sure you have plenty of light, but remember that this will reduce the “scare factor”.
Not Meant to be Played Everywhere
If you’re thinking of playing Spirit Camera on the train or somewhere like a car, you will most likely not be able to enjoy it. Why? It’s because when you play Spirit Camera, you will be required to move. In these situations, you can expect to go in circles as you find Maya or other ghosts. Throughout the the short two-hour story, you will not be sitting in your chair, but instead you can expect to move around a lot. This defeats the purpose of the game being a portable handheld that you can play anywhere.
The team behind Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir did a terrific job utilizing the AR functionality of the Nintendo 3DS. Depending on your definition of a full game, Spirit Camera will most likely fall short of expectations as the game offers a short AR demo. The measly content doesn’t warrant the $40 price tag, but there are some redeeming qualities that fans of the Fatal Frame series might be interested in trying out. While the game has its limitations, The Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir helps us see what the 3DS can achieve, and where it can go in the future, with Augmented Reality.
[Editor’s Note: Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoire was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir Review,