Spirit Camera is a spin-off game for the Fatal Frame series, and I got this about a year ago when I bought the entire Fatal Frame series in a single giant lot on eBay. I didn't get around to playing it until now, however, and honestly, I wasn't really missing anything. First and foremost (and least importantly to be frank), the name drives me insane. It's a Fatal Frame game; I feel like that should be somewhere in the game's title. I mean, when you get to the game's main menu, the story mode is called "Fatal Frame: Diary of Faces," but it irks me in a really pet peeve-y sort of way that the game itself isn't called Fatal Frame: Diary of Faces. But I digress
Spirit Camera is a beautiful example of a brilliant concept with atrocious implementation. Most of the game is augmented reality; the central character is a ghosty girl named Maya, and she appears in your living room (or bedroom or bathroom or office or wherever you're playing) through use of the 3DS's two external cameras. The Diary of Faces itself is actually an AR book that ships with every copy of the game (don't worry, guys who buy games loose; Nintendo was kind enough to provide a PDF online that's only mildly irritating to use). My first complaint about the AR format lies in the quality of the 3DS's outer cameras; they're just too low resolution to really feel any immersion. Don't get me wrong, the effect is cool, and I'm glad they did it - I'll take a "meh" creative idea over a bland idea - but with the low resolution of the cameras used, the game relied on it too much. Using them if fantastic, but for probably 75% of the game, you were looking at a blurry version of what's actually right in front of you. My other complaint comes from my atrocious sloth - it made me move around. I didn't have to chase the ghosts or anything, but you have to be able to turn 360 degrees at any given moment and look up and down quickly because the ghosts do surround you. For those as lazy as I, moving the system to aim or look is super cool, but I'd prefer it stick to a 150 degree or so angle in front of me..
As for the visuals that aren't captured with the camera, they actually look quite good. I haven't seen character models look this good in many other 3DS games. It's no PlayStation Vita, but they look good. The sound design is exactly what you'd expect from Fatal Frame - the most important character has decent voice acting, but the rest suck and talk way too slowly. That's okay, though; that's become pretty standard for the series. The story is also extremely business-as-usual for Fatal Frame and reminded me a LOT of Fatal Frame V. There's some village that has to perform some ritual to keep something spiritual from destroying it, so they get a shrine maiden who's been kept in total isolation her whole damn life to undergo some horrific ritual to appease imaginary spirits and save the world. Or something. It's not bad, but it's not great either. Hella "meh."
The biggest problem the game has other than just generally not being all that interesting is that it's super short; from the time I first loaded the game to the time I finished the final boss, two hours passed. That's it. Two hours. There are a couple of other game modes that I was way too bored to feel like trying out, but the story mode, start to finish, is two or (at the maximum) three hours. Fine if you're at the DMV and don't mind looking like an idiot spinning in circles, but don't expect a grade A horror experience from this like the other Fatal Frame games provided. It sucks that I'm left so utterly disappointing in Spirit Camera because I am a HUGE Fatal Frame fan. I have a Japanese copy of Fatal Frame 5 that I can't run on my North American Wii U and couldn't read or understand even if it weren't region locked JUST because I love the series so much that I wanted a physical copy of the game on my shelf (and it was cheaper than the PAL version). I'm sorry, but I just can't recommend this one. If you want a horror experience on your 3DS, stick to Corpse Party or Resident Evil: Revelations.
My Rating - 2 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.