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Wild Arms the 4th Detonator Original Score :: Review by Chris

Wild Arms the 4th Detonator Original Score Album Title: Wild Arms the 4th Detonator Original Score
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1370/3
Release Date: June 22, 2005
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


In 2005, Michiko Naruke offered her final score to the Wild Arms series for its fourth instalment. Having become ill during production, she was assisted by co-composers Masato Kouda, Nobuyuki Shimizu, and Ryuta Suzuki during the later stages in the project. The final score therefore offers represents a transition from Naruke's distinctive approach for the series' old scores to Kouda's ambitious offerings for more recent titles. However, does it come together to form a cohesive and fulfilling whole?


Michiko Naruke's contribution to Wild Arms 4 might be smaller than usual, but their quality makes up for this. Following the tradition of previous title themes, "The 4th Detonator" instantly takes listeners back to the Wild West with its whistle melodies and punchy orchestration; it's not wildly original, but the melodies are golden and the arrangement is highly emotional. "Gun Blaze" also follows the tradition of the series' battle themes, but exceeds them in terms of quality. The trumpet lead is presented in such a way that it really carries listeners into the battle, while the mixture of rocking and flamenco guitars in the background is vibrant and fascinating. Among Naruke's other contributions include the frivolous jazz-inspired "Time and Rocks Piled Up", the action-packed orchestration "Like a Rolling Stone", and even an arrangement of Wild Arms' main theme. One of the later pieces on the soundtrack, "That Is Where the Spirit Becomes Certain", is also very representative of the gliding pop-orchestral sound the composer built for the series. And yes, the whistle makes a welcome return here too.

While Naruke define a familiar tone of the soundtrack, her co-composers are responsible for the more detailed pieces representing the gam's scenario. The main contributor Masato Kouda was able to continue the Wild West theme in a range of ways. He does offer a few blatant Morricone imitations such as "Friends Who Watch Your Back", but many of his tracks are more personal. Not dissimilar to his work on the Monster Hunter series, "Still Village Ciel" creates soft and contemplative tones with its acoustic guitar arpeggios and dabs of orchestration, whereas "So Close, Yet So Far Away" uses the acoustic guitar lead in a more upbeat and poppy way. "Port Ailinton" meanwhile creates a colourful and diverse depiction of its setting with its French-inspired accordion lead and classical tilt. "Dark Grey Back Ry", "Nanodat the Gardener!?", and "Frontier Harim" are written in a manner closer to traditional country music with their steel-stringed guitar leads. They're not what most would expect from the series, but they sound very authentic and are still convincing in context.

The new composers to the soundtrack are also able to offer plenty of drama into the game's wider themes. Nobuyuki Shimizu serves as a cinematic composer through much of the soundtrack and offers considerably more intricate underscore to the soundtrack. The evolution of tracks such as "The Flower Blooms in the Heart" and "If You Call Out That Name" over their extended playtimes is especially impressive and demonstrates a mature appreciation of the cinematics. Cues such as "Catastrophe Now" and "Force, Storm, and CRISIS" meanwhile present some of the darker scenes in the game effectively, though are less interesting out of context. Masato Kouda also demonstrates his versatility with a range of darker cues, ranging from the horror-inspired ambience of "Unrest" and "From Anxiety to Impatience", to the slow classical progressions of "The Funeral Rain" and "Taste of the Sand". Perhaps the most excellent of all his contributions, however, is "Nightless City Guara Bobelo", which opens with a foreboding chorus before evolving into a half-humorous, half-sinister swing jazz improvisation.

Moving to the battle themes, Naruke is certainly the master in this regard. In addition to some of the aforemntioned tracks, the likes of "Critical Attack" particularly stand out and manage to simultaneously portray the characters and their enemies. Nevertheless, Ryuta Suzuki still makes quite an impact with his first contribution, "Ghosts of the Knights", which mixes bold melodies, jazz rhythms, and, above all, dark ambience into one particularly conflicted yet somehow fulfilling amalgam. "Beckoning Bewitching Princess" and "Manifestation from Hell" are equally bizarre and impressionable hybrids. Unfortunately, Kouda's "Clash, the Fourth Battle Position" references the electro-orchestral fusions of Devil May Cry a little too closely to impress, though "Nightmare Spiral" more than makes up for this with its rich melodies and numerous contrasts. Evidently, there are plenty of excellent contributions throughout the album to make up for the occasional unappealing entry, although some depart from the Wild Arms sound.

The vocal theme "I Look Up To the Sky Because You're There" is one of the few threads that ties the somewhat chaotic soundtrack together. Kaori Asou's voice once again brings out the most of Naruke's melodies and lyrics, while the accompaniment manages to be elaborate without losing the sense of fun and innocence. The opening version of the theme captures the feelings of the characters at the start of the game. However, its full-length rendition at the centre of the fourth disc is much more fulfilling overall and seems to release the emotion the soundtrack was building towards. Naruke and Asou also collaborate on the ending theme, a largely upbeat song nevertheless tinged with a slightly sad and nostalgic quality. One can't help but contemplate whether the title "As Time Goes By ~Never Forgot Me~" had a meaning for the production as well as the game. Naruke closes the soundtrack — and her contribution to the Wild Arms universe — with a dazzling instrumental rendition of the main theme.


Wild Arms 4 is clearly a soundtrack that is enjoyable for its 'highlights' rather than its achievement as a whole. The disrupted nature of the production and employment of four composers means that the score is the least cohesive of the Wild Arms series, although features such as the recapitulation of the main theme do bond the experience. Regardless, there are so many excellent tracks from each composer — ranging from those typical of the Wild Arms sound, to those introducing Kouda's acoustic sound, to various wacky experiments beyond — that the soundtrack still provides good value for money.

Overall Score: 8/10