With no signs of Project Zero 4, on Wii, coming to the West it was quite a surprise to see the Tecmo cult-horror, Project Zero 2, being released on this aging platform.
Project Zero 2 was originally released on PS2 back in 2004, and was lauded as one of the scariest games on the system. It perfected the formula, started by the first game, and also milked the processing power of the PS2 to churn out some memorable moments amongst horror games.
In the Wii Edition you still play as Mio, and sometimes Mayu, as you try to get yourself the hell out of a mysterious village. The village’s undying ghosts have their eyes set on you as the replacement for a failed ritual, that completely eradicated them years ago. Previously, anyone who accidentally stumbled into this cursed landscape had absolutely no chance of getting out alive. Fortunately enough, you found an antique Camera Obscura on the way, that can help you fend off the relentless ghosts and undying bosses. If you time yourself right to ‘shoot’ these spirits right at the time they attack, you can score a fatal frame that can ‘kill’ them off quickly.
The core premise and gameplay have not changed much in the Wii Edition. However, to ensure that you know this is a Wii game, motion controls have been applied. At first it feels weird; for example you need to shake your Wiimote to turn around and in Resident Evil 4 style you need to shake your Wiimote vigorously when the ghosts grab you. However, these new controls start to become very natural as you continue to soldier on. Tecmo has been very diligent in applying the movement control for this game, and I think that it paid off handsomely with Project Zero 2. On top of movement controls, Tecmo also considered other aspects of the Wiimote controller — one of them being the sound effects of the ghosts from the speaker of the controller (eek!). Also, when you listen to voice recordings trapped inside spirit stones or items, it is broadcasted with static from your Wiimote, which I think is a nice touch.
Project Zero 2 Wii Edition is not just another remake. Apart from graphics being enhanced from the PS2 edition, Tecmo had put in a lot of new content. For example, you can now peep into corners or remove the cover off objects in a more interactive way and in doing so I felt a lot more tense, as you never know what will show up. Also, picking things up in Project Zero 2 now is not always safe. To pick things up you have to initiate it with the A button and then hold the A button for your character to reach for the item. At times, a ghost hand might appear to grab your wrist and causes damage to your characters. But if you time correctly to release the A button as the ghost hand shows up, you can avoid that attack. Tecmo has also rearranged some items and placed additional events in the game to provide a fresh experience to seasoned players of the game.
The Wii Edition also added the Haunted Mansion mode where you can play by yourself or with a friend to hunt down different, scary, spiritual beings. The Haunted Mansion mode is basically a set of Project Zero themed mini games, such as taking pictures of shy but spooky spirits or collecting a number of dolls while running away from deadly ghosts. They are nice but not exactly essential. But if you want to share your Project Zero experience with someone who had not played it before, it is a good start.
The Wii Edition also reworked the dialogue and voice acting, utilising British actors. There are some fans who did not like this but I personally felt that it is a lot less cheesy than the original.
So if you have not played Project Zero before and you are dying for a true survival horror that is indeed scary, Project Zero 2 Wii Edition is a game you should not miss. As usual for survival-horror themed games Project Zero 2 Wii Edition is best played on your own with lights off, so you can be shrouded in darkness, just like the protagonist. One thing though, if you come across a save point, remember to save as certain sections of the game are as brutal as the enemies.