Spinning off of the Fatal Frame series — generally acknowledged to be some of the scariest games ever — Spirit Camera has a lot to live up to. Tecmo's horror photography titles puts players inside creepy environments and gives them an occult camera with which to banish evil spirits lurking inside. Spirit Camera does the same thing but comes with a book that you'll scan to trigger events in the "Fatal Frame: Diary of Faces" story mode. Once you can a page, you then need to hunt for spirits that get overlaid on top of the real world. Hunting consists of spinning with the 3DS around 360º until you spot an apparition shambling in the background. Lining them up in the frame makes them move towards you, at which point you power up a photo attack and flash them into oblivion.
Here's where the game's scare factor felt unreliable. If I were demoing the game in a dark room lit only by candles, the hollow-eyed child succubi walking on the ceiling towards me might actually give me the chills. But rotating this way and that in the middle of the day just felt silly and nausea-inducing. That's not to say that Spirit Camera's not fun. The chase-and-catch-them-all mechanics are solid. But scary? Not a bit.
Spirit Camera will also include two other modes designed for quickplay. Cursed Pages has you walking through a haunted location and snapping a certain number of spirit pictures to escape while Spirit Battle capture the faces of you or your friends onto ghostly enemies. The evil doppelgangers get different stats for different faces so the creepy Evan-ghost generated by my face was really fast and tough to nail down in the real world.
Augmented reality's one of the best features of the 3DS and the inclusion of a scannable book with Spirit Camera mixes things up a bit. But my time with the game delivered only mild scares. That may change when the game hits shelves on April 13th.