Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir Game Poster Image
Augmented reality horror game fascinates but lacks depth.

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Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

Positive Messages

This game's primary intent is to frighten and entertain players by using the 3DS's camera to make it appear as though nasty spirits inhabit our world. It hasn’t any agenda beyond providing some spooky thrills.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The player -- meaning the person who actually wields the 3DS, which we are meant to believe is the game’s magical camera -- is the game's primary protagonist. His or her actions, as dictated by the game, involve helping a ghost recover its memories and keeping it from becoming the latest victim of a mysterious curse.    

Ease of Play

Onscreen instructions are provided throughout the game whenever the need arises. Most of the controls are movement based, and highly intuitive. Some of the puzzles are a little tricky, but can be solved via trial-and-error when all else fails.


This horror game depicts scary sequences in which players see the remnants of violent acts, including bloody handprints and red smears on objects. Some characters -- including the player, who inserts his or her picture in the game by snapping a photo -- appear with their faces removed, scratched out, or eyes and mouths sewn shut. Combat sequences that pit the player against evil spirits force kids to take pictures of their assailants before they attack. If they fail, the screen appears to crack from the impact of ghost’s assault. Scary sounds, including groans, can be heard at different points throughout the game.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir is an augmented reality game targeted at teens and older players. It is filled with scary images and uses the 3DS camera to create the illusion that evil spirits occupy real space in the same room as the player. Players will see some bloody smears, cracked camera lenses, and people with their faces missing (they may appear scratched out in pictures or have their eyes and mouths sewn shut). There is combat, but players fight simply by snapping pictures of their ghostly assailants. Parents need to remember that Nintendo is warning parents not to allow kids age six and under to view the graphics in 3D because that viewing "may cause vision damage." The Nintendo 3DS offers parents the ability to lock out the use of 3D graphics in the system's Parental Controls.   

User Reviews

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Kid, 8 years old May 27, 2012

Really stupided-up game!!!

Stupid game. Very scary for babies and little children. Don't let teens buy this horrored-up stupid game.

What's it about?

SPIRIT CAMERA: THE CURSED MEMOIR is an augmented reality horror video game that relies on the Nintendo 3DS's cameras and motion sensors to provide an altered perspective of the real world. The game places the player in the shoes of an unnamed protagonist who has just discovered a supernatural camera (the 3DS) and a spooky diary (a 16-page paper booklet that comes with the game). Players learn of an urban legend that suggests that anyone who can see words on the diary's first page will become cursed, fated to lose his or her face. By pointing the magic camera at the pages (meaning the player views the pages through the 3DS screen) hidden messages appear and drawings come to life. Virtual objects are often superimposed upon these pages, including masks, dolls, and hands, and some pages host riddles which, once solved, provide clues concerning the curse's origin. Sometimes a malevolent soul will escape the diary. When this happens players must move the 3DS around (it helps if you play on a spinning office chair) and search the room for them. Snapping a picture at the right time causes evil spirits damage; failing to do so provides them an opening to attack. A few simple camera-based mini-games take the augmented reality concept further, allowing players to see whether spirits are currently hovering around them.

Is it any good?

Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir is one of the more interesting augmented reality games yet to be released. It has some neat and legitimately spooky ideas that work well within the context of the game's story. It's just a shame that the developers didn't focus on expanding the narrative, which lasts only a handful of hours, and delve more deeply into its characters, which are as thin as the paper from which they spawn in the game’s diary. Tales of horror tend to be much more compelling when we actually care about the souls being terrorized.

Another problem is that the battles feel forced. It's as though the designers wedged them in simply because this is a video game, and, well, video games need fights. But that’s not true. Spirit Camera would have been much more immersive had it relied solely on the eerie puzzles and sinister imagery sourced from its creepy diary. Spirit Camera has moments that foretell a fascinating future for augmented reality games, but it leaves the fledgling genre still awaiting a breakout hit.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in media. Do you think that scariness and violence are similar? Does one bother you more than the other?

  • Families can also discuss augmented reality. Have you ever been fooled, even for a moment, into believing that the virtual objects and creatures in these games are really in our world? How could these games be made even more believable?

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