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Professor Layton and the Curious Village Original Soundtrack :: Review by Mac_Tear

Professor Layton and the Curious Village Original Soundtrack Album Title: Professor Layton and the Curious Village Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Piccolo Town
Catalog No.: PKCF-1007
Release Date: December 24, 2008
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Professor Layton and the Curious Village is a point and click adventure developed by Level 5 (Dark Cloud, Dragon Quest VIII, Inazuma Eleven). It is the first game of a recently completed Nintendo DS trilogy. The series' composer is Tomohito Nishiura, creative head behind soundtracks like Dark Cloud, Dark Chronicle, and Rogue Galaxy. Let's check out his latest projects.


Tomohito Nishiura opens the soundtrack with the game's main theme "Theme of Professor Layton". It features a swinging arrangement of some of Nishiura's favourite instruments, piano, violin, and accordion. The atmosphere created fits the context as it both sounds mysterious and adventurous at the same time. Fans of the composer's previous works will just immediately recognise the similarities of the styles.

The two tracks "The Curious Village" and "Walking in the Village" set the benchmark for the rest of the soundtrack with their persistent use of whimsical accordion notes, bell motifs, and sometimes accompaniment by piano and flute. Nothing spectacular you say? Well, it isn't, but it does work well inside the game if you're familiar with it. The music is created to be held more in the background and suit the current scenes instead of dominating the listener with one melody after another. The fifth track "Puzzle" is a good example of this. This theme is played every time a puzzle is solved and it works just wonderfully. The minimalistic soundscape of chimes develops slowly, serenely, yet mysteriously, almost like a lullaby. It suits its purpose well without beeing too repetitive or annoying.

After a bunch of similar tracks we come to "Mysterious Girl". Here Nishiura creates a bittersweet theme of melancholy and beauty. It's not a masterpiece and I wished that he had used a different instrumentation, but the overall track seems to be one of the stronger themes from the score. Tracks like "Night Falls" or "Memory of the Village" use similar approaches and are definitely some of the best pieces within the somewhat monotonous soundtrack. "Ferris Wheel Park" uses a slow waltz tact to bring up again the whimsical mood while "Pursuit at Night" relies on a humorous combination of woodwinds, accordion, and xylophones, which could come straight out of a circus. The same goes for "Don Paolo's Theme", a piece where the accordion really comes to life. "Rising Tower" may be the longest track from the whole soundtrack, but that doesn't mean that it features a better arrangement. The development is slow and engaging, but the melody gets lost a bit within the overuse of instrumentation and repetitive features. The arranged version later is a lot better.

So far, the soundtrack doesn't have much to offer and is not very attractive for video game music consumers. The album producers may have also thought this so they took the time to arrange seven pieces from the original game music with live instruments and high quality sound in order to lift the soundtrack's calibre a bit. The so called "High Quality Versions" are nothing more than the original themes except with a little more reverb and cleaner sound. The highlights are definitely, like in all Layton albums, the live performances. They were splendidly arranged by Norihito Sumitomo (Code Age Commanders, Front Mission 5) into performances by the Layton Grand Caravan Orchestra — actually a piano and four strings — and accordionist Tetsuya Kuwayama.

"Theme of Professor Layton" begins exactly like the original until some percussion is added and the track revamps into an up-tempo track with extended arrangement and excellent performance. "Curtain of Night" features the same dreamy atmosphere like the original with some beautiful violin and flute sections added. While "Rising Tower" was a rather boring piece in the original version, the live arrangement is much better with additional percussion and a nice use of violin. Still, it's my least favorite of the bunch. Finally, "Ending Theme" transforms a rather mundane piece into a lush ballad with again an wonderful arrangement of of piano, percussion, and the usual orchestration. If all tracks on this disc were on this level, the soundtrack would be one of the finest collections of the year, but sadly we only have these four tracks; the best element of this score for sure and maybe the only reason the purchase this album.


All in all, Professor Layton and the Curious Village is a rather bland collection of repetitive and similar music tracks from the game. It may work well inside the game, but outside it's more or less uninteresting, even annoying; I personally can't stand the accordion anymore after listening to this CD as almost every track features it. Besides that, the disc shines with its bonus tracks and, were all tracks like this, I wouldn't mind and giving it a higher rating. Nevertheless, I'm giving it a more or less fair rating with special sight on the orchestra versions. Let's see how Nishiura manages the other two Layton scores.

Overall Score: 6/10