Code of Princess Original Soundtrack :: Review by Marc
The latest effort from the ACE sound team, Code of Princess is a brawler that was recently released for the 3DS in Japan and will be coming to the West through Atlus later this year. The game has been garnering a good deal of attention since its release, but how about the music? Can ACE successfully complement this title with their rather effulgent style? A two disc soundtrack was released by the game's publisher in Japan.
Reflecting ACE's talents in writing vocal themes, "Gather the Lights (Opening Song)" is very well-produced and fun to listen to. But given their reputation for creative songs on other projects, this sounds frustratingly similar to typical pop-flavoured anime and video game opening themes. "Code of Princess" exposes the bombastic main theme that recurs several times through the soundtrack. With this rendition, the album quickly defines itself as possessing sort of a classic arcade flair due to a simple, repeated, descending motif, while still retaining a large degree of cinematic excitement from its melody. That said, it is a bit too short in this rendition to generate any real pleasure. More impressive is the longer, richer variation "Holy Princess", the theme for the main character Solange. The piece is just as bold as its original version and sparks feelings of a grandiose adventure.
Most of this first disc is comprised of various character themes, and the results are mixed, though generally positive. "There is Nothing Which Cannot be Stolen (Ali's Theme)" successfully engages listeners with its flamenco guitar and beat, as well as its thrilling strings. It's a bold contrast to Solange's theme and fits the tomboy thief well. "The Diminutive Great Magic-Using Alchemy (Cocoa's Theme)" is a silly waltz with curious percussion and instrumentation light at first with a darker phrase thrown. It gives the whole track and its accompanying character a childish, yet endearing, feel. "Slice! Tsukikage" contains an Eastern vibe with some neat percussion and bass, whereas the Arabian-flavoured melody of "We Are the Alibaba Group" adds further diversity to the mix.
One of the most surprising additions to the cast, muscleman Mr. T receives a suitable amazing theme, "You're Amazing Mr. T!". Blending a heroic melody played by the erhu with string accompaniment, it's certainly an eclectic combination that is very enjoyable to listen to. The mysterious and enigmatic "Dark King Destiny (Destiny's Theme)" is one of the best pieces on the album, despite its repetitiveness. The melody is quite moving due to the ethereal wispiness of the vocals, in combination with light strings and glockenspiel. Another darker track, "They are Called the Nuns of Hell (Sister Hel's Theme)" is a rocking piece that will have any listener's head banging to the beat. The epic "Resurrected Fallen Angel (Distille's Theme)" rounds off the first disc, with its dramatic choir and strings.
Not all of the character themes are as enjoyable, however. "Horror of the Lion Gate (Liongate's Theme)" is somewhat vapid with its usage of electric guitars and synth, creating an upbeat theme that doesn't do much to hold the listener's attention. Equally vapid for its first half is "Squid Ninja Army! (Baku's Theme)" and the remainder of this synth heavy piece isn't more enjoyable. Lastly, "Is He Cursed (Zozo's Theme)" is focused more on ambient sound design and percussion backing than melody. While the overall is appropriate and fitting in context, it's a bit tiring to listen to. This zombie girl could have received a more imaginative or amusing depiction.
The second disc is comprised mostly of event themes. While all are capable with their rich sampling and cinematic flair, few stand out out of context. The poignant "Meaning of Tears" and "Sad Determination" both deserve listens, since they prove among the most evocative pieces on the soundtrack. The former won't win any awards for musical innovation simple melody on two guitars with some light synth and percussion but it works and is certainly pleasant. "Memories in the Courtyard" is similar, written for piano, strings and a guitar, though the melody is slightly more complex and less predictable. "Ah, My Love" and "A Normal Day" both sound quite sappy the Spanish-influenced former probably intentionally, the latter probably not and seems to try too hard.
"Of Journeys and Parties" is one of the better tracks on the disc, with a distinct Celtic flair that is hard to not find agreeable. "Tower of Ruin" is also quite enjoyable. Similar in tone to "Dark King Destiny," this track effuses more of a hopeful feel, yet while sounding no less profound and ethereal. The disc closes with two bonus tracks. The first, "Holy Princess Gt Ver" is, exactly as it sounds, a variation of the theme with a heavy reliance on an electric guitar. The instrument change does indeed lend the track a bit of extra oomph, though besides its addition, the piece is virtually unchanged. "The Massacre of the Holy Death Strike" sounds perhaps like a final boss theme, though if so its placement is awkward on the disc. With an exciting, climactic melody presented on strings and electric guitar, it's a fine way to end the album.
Overall, this soundtrack seems to be an effective accompaniment to Code of Princess with its rousing main theme, diverse character themes, and dramatic event cues. As with all of ACE's works, it is well-produced from both a compositional and technological perspective. However, not all tracks on the release stand out due to their bland stylings or unmemorable melodies. For hardcore ACE fans this album is likely worth a purchase, but for someone looking to see the best the team has to offer, I would recommend the scores to Emil Chronicle Online or Xenoblade Chronicles over this one.
Overall Score: 7/10