Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir – What Went Wrong?
Despite Nintendo’s general image as the family-friendly company, there are some terrifying, excellent horror games available for Nintendo’s consoles. Then there are some that didn’t quite work out… like Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir for the Nintendo 3DS.
Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
The game is a spin-off of the Fatal Frame series, but unlike the oft-praised Fatal Frame games, Spirit Camera saw an abysmal reception. It was criticized for its length, lack of scares, and awkward gameplay. But despite having a campaign you can finish in around 3 hours and only a small amount of side content, its content isn’t really what doomed it.
It was the camera.
Spirit Camera has a great premise. It tried to be an augmented reality horror game, which is a terrifying concept. A notebook called the “Diary of Faces” is a key part of the plot, and the game came with a physical AR “notebook.” By scanning this notebook, Spirit Camera used the 3DS’s cameras to bring the game into the world around you.
When it worked, it was wonderful. The campaign may be short, but it’s a dark, twisted story with many disturbing elements. Some uses of the AR–such as a ghostly hand closing over your own–were genuinely creepy. Unfortunately, the 3DS’s camera just wasn’t up to the task.
For the camera to properly register the Diary of Faces, it needed to be in light. Bright light. I had to play directly beneath a lamp at times. There’s a clear problem with a horror game that can’t be played unless you’re in a well-lit environment, but the bigger problem is that the game often doesn’t work.
It’s hard to find augmented reality creepy when you’re in a constant struggle to even make it work. It’s hard to be afraid of ghosts when you’re more afraid of the error message that says it doesn’t recognize the AR notebook.
If Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir came out at a later time, on a system with a better camera, it might be remembered as a short but brilliant horror game. As it is, the technology let it down and Spirit Camera sunk into obscurity as a failed horror title.