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Gyakuten Saiban 4 Original Soundtrack :: Review by Muzza

Gyakuten Saiban 4 Original Soundtrack Album Title: Gyakuten Saiban 4 Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Suleputer
Catalog No.: CPCA-10187
Release Date: June 27, 2007
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Released in 2007 to accompany the release of Gyakuten Saiban 4 (Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney in English-speaking nations), the Gyakuten Saiban 4 Original Soundtrack sticks to the norm of the series, in that a new composer is present for (a sizeable portion of) the game's music. From Masakazu Sugimori to Akemi Kimura to the renowned Noriyuki Iwadare, composer Toshihiko Horiyama now steps up to the plate after following three teammates who hit home runs on a number of levels. Much like the game series itself, the soundtracks for it garner quite a similar cult following. I'm a member of this Ace Attorney music appreciation group, so I was intrigued and excited to see how this newcomer (well, he's handled some Rockman and Onimusha stuff before) would handle the game's music!

Gone are the classic compositions of the first installment, and I don't think I can see the musical charisma of Iwadare's effort on the third anywhere. No, this soundtrack takes the series in a new direction. More contemporary in style and unconventional in scope, the Gyakuten Saiban 4 Original Soundtrack is fairly different to what us listeners are used to, I imagine. Does it live up to its predecessors? Let's find out what exactly this soundtrack does right and how many bumps there are along the way.


I mentioned that this soundtrack doesn't stick to the norm: this is only half-true, as the structure of the soundtrack is parallel to the previous three. You've got your courtroom suite, your character themes, and your event themes, all of which cohere to the successful Gyakuten Saiban soundtrack formula. Honestly, when listening to this soundtrack all the way through, it's as if you're taken right into the game and placed in Apollo's shoes. Indeed, not only do these tracks work well in game, but they're all right to listen to on a standalone basis as well (for the most part). I think this vivid musical consistency is one of the soundtrack's most redeeming characteristics, as on the whole it's more listenable than the other soundtracks of the series.

The first twelve tracks, almost a third of the game's music, encompass the trials you undertake in the game. In between the dark prologue track and the bouncy jingle that is track 12, we're presented with a myriad of solid themes. "Courtroom Lobby ~ New Prelude" gets the typical courtroom lobby mood down pat, with some foreboding piano lines and intense percussions. "Gyakuten Saiban 4 � Trial" doesn't live up to 1 and 3's trial themes, but it isn't too far off; some judicial bell gongs and piano undertones bring the daunting courtroom to life. Listening to this during your first ever court case would surely get you sweatin' bullets! Then we move on to "Testimony ~ Moderato 2007" and it's faster counterpart "Testimony ~ Allegro 2007", used when Apollo questions suspects or seemingly innocent witnesses. Repetitive yet effective, these two tracks are wonderfully unobtrusive in the game, but aren't anything to lick your lips over (although I did find myself tapping my feet to the Allegro version at times).

"Telling the Truth 2007" and "Pressing Pursuit ~ Cornered" are similarly effective, even though the former falls under the category of filler music quite easily. The latter (composed not by Mr. Horiyama but instead guest composer Hideki Okugawa), however, is an awesome taste of traditional Ace Attorney courtroom action. It's damn catchy in its unrestrained enthusiasm, and really makes me want to point my finger at the fallacious testimony presented before me and yell "Objection!" We've also got a few spooky, mysterious tracks in this "courtroom suite", which aid in emphasising the confusion that can potentially arise from the (sometimes-convoluted) cases in the game. "Trance Logic" is a decent piece of down tempo minimalistic electronica that proves to live up to previous "Logic and Trick" offerings, even bettering one of them; "Thrill Theme ~ Suspense" is your typical tension theme that successfully gets your blood pumping and brain a-whirlin'; and finally we have the heavily distorted and somewhat hypnotic "Seeing Through ~ Surge, Glance", using the same melodic patterning found in the questioning tracks to interesting effect.

Now to act as a great segue is "Housuke Odoroki ~ A New Trial is in Session!", the theme for the main character Apollo Justice, which plays whenever he senses something suspicious and speaks out during court time. The climactic melodic progression and high doses of energy easily make it one of the strongest compositions on the score, and perfectly indicate that there's a new attorney in the courtroom, who's just as worthy of your attention as any other. Hideki Okugawa returns again to gift/burden us with the theme to Apollo's friend... sidekick... annoying female acquaintance Trucy. Infectiously bubbly sometimes, and otherwise annoyingly chirpy, the theme to Trucy, "Minuki's Theme ~ The Young Sorceress", nicely complements her excessively frivolous demeanor by utilising a memorable melody and some innocuous instrumental rhythms (h-game music much?). Then we get to (objectively) the best, most accessible track on the score: "Kyouya Garyuu ~ LOVE LOVE GUILTY", the theme of prosecutor and rock god Klavier Gavin. This piece sounds incredible for a DS tune, both in terms of composition and sound quality; the realistic guitar riffs and melodious soaring rock harmonies make this a character theme of epic proportions!

In contrast, "Akane Houzuki ~ Scientist Detective" is one of the worst tracks here. It completely butchers the original melody (apparent on the Gyakuten Saiban Yomigaeru Gyakuten Original Soundtrack) and ultimately makes the track almost unlistenable. The shifty "Eccentric 2007" returns here from the second soundtrack, and I still find it really interesting; this arrangement is boring on a musical level, but it maintains the original's distinctive quirkiness quite competently. "Kikakitsune Family" is another good, fresh composition; this piece of Asian-dub gangster-like music is completely awesome in its short-lived splendor and intrigue, with its clichéd yet admittedly fun Asiatic developments. "Arumajiki Troupe" is the theme music for the Gramarye Troupe of magicians (magic is a prevalent theme in the game, by the way). Ridiculously ostentatious and only slightly annoying, it's not a track for everyone, but it's a pretty nice twist regardless.

The final character theme is my personal favourite, due to its sublimely serene and celestially soothing atmosphere and melody. Unknown composer Shu Takumi lent a hand with this piece, "Lamiroir ~ Sound of a Landscape Artist", the theme to the mysterious yet gentle singer Lamiroir; the piece beautifully represents her foggy past and gorgeous voice and personality. Also of note is "Loving Guitar's Serenade", a song with a heavy plot behind it that uses the aforementioned melody in a peculiar "doo-da" vocal manner. The lyrics (shown numerous times in game) really work with the melody, surprisingly!

We now hit the comparatively less important location themes, which rely less on melody and attitude and more on mere appropriateness. What I mean by this is tracks like "Investigation ~ Opening 2007" that uses a very simple 40-second tune to fit with moments of investigation. Similarly, "Investigation ~ Core 2007" is fitting, but its uninspired electronic backing makes it hideous on a standalone basis. The atmospherics pick up in quality with pieces such as the awfully intriguing "Doburoku Studio". Subtle finger clicks and some jazzy melodic lines help sustain an almost ineffable tone of suspicion and shiftiness. Despite being a tiny bit too long and undeveloped, it's still nice and effective. "Solitary Confinement" is almost identical in approach with its subtle ambiance and jazzy instrumental solos: simple, but equally effective. "Detention Center ~ Interview Tragicomedy" is conveniently somber and regretful in its execution, however the musical backing is far too uninteresting to warrant any attention; there are better detention center themes in other scores, trust me.

I suppose I should quickly mention the recollection themes, which play when characters retell or recount things that happened to them in the past, pertaining to whatever case you're undertaking. "Recollection ~ A Hurt Kitsune" is mellow and sad in its musical simplicity; "Recollection ~ A Fate Smeared by Gadgets and Tricks" is surprisingly good with some nice piano work and erratic sound-effect progressions; "Recollection ~ Forgotten Legend" is the most boring and musically tedious of the three, despite having a solid woodwind solo at the climax. Now to the final two tracks: "We Won the Case! ~ Our Victory" is actually really poor in comparison to past victory melodies, since the subdued pacing and unvarying pitch don't offer a sense of pride or success whatsoever. The end credits track, "Gyakuten Saiban 4 � End" uses some familiar motifs to reflect on the concluded journey, and some guitars and synthesizers culminate the adventure with a mellow tone of satisfaction, making this one of the stronger ending themes by a small margin.


So, am I satisfied with the work present across these 39 tracks? Yes and no. Like I mentioned in my review, the soundtrack is very listenable on a standalone basis, due to the modern compositions and realistic attitudes that are encompassed. In regards to the compositions themselves, though, I'm not entirely convinced that they live up to the standards set by previous soundtracks on the whole.

The courtroom suite is sweet and lives up to the Ace Attorney name, with emphatically awesome mood-setters like "Pressing Pursuit ~ Cornered" and the energetic bundle of musical confidence that is "Housuke Odoroki ~ A New Trial is in Session!" The soundtrack also succeeds in other facets, particularly with the character themes, housing some of the best the series has ever seen; the absolutely lovely "Lamiroir ~ Sound of a Landscape Artist", insanely rockin' "Kyouya Garyuu ~ LOVE LOVE GUILTY" and seriously weird "Kikakitsune Family" add a whole other layer to the score with their respective melodies and niche styles. Sadly, however, a large portion of the tracks on this disc fall flat. Tracks like "Detention Center ~ Interview Tragicomedy" simply don't live up to the series' expectations, whereas the bastardisation that is "Akane Houzuki ~ Scientist Detective" really taints an otherwise relatively consistent soundtrack.

So in conclusion, while the soundtrack does have some amazing highs and exceptional sound quality, you might want to look elsewhere for your Gyakuten Saiban music fix. It's a good piece of work, but I'm under the impression that only real fans of the series will want to get this soundtrack.

Overall Score: 7/10