Ace Attorney -Judicial Reversal- Original Soundtrack
Ace Attorney -Judicial Reversal- Original Soundtrack
November 30, 2005
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Released in late 2005, in light of the original Ace Attorney‘s re-release on the DS, the Ace Attorney -Judicial Reversal- Original Soundtrack covers the newly arranged music from this much-publicised port. The music, composed by Masakazu Sugimori, was arranged in this release by Ace Attorney -Justice for All- soundtrack composer Akemi Kimura, who also composed a few new tracks to go along with a brand new court case featured in the dual-screened port. I’m going to conclude this brief overview by saying this: What do you get when you improve the sound quality tenfold of the original game’s masterful compositions? You get one hell of a soundtrack, that’s for sure.
Simply put, “Ace Attorney – Prologue” is an awesome mood-setter that correlates perfectly with in-game FMV usage. You’ve got it all: an ominous organ-piano intro, a rapid, intimidating beat progression, and some fast paced mayhem comprising of sounds similar to those of a gunshot… intrigued, aren’t you? And to think this is only a 40-second sniff of what’s to come! One of my favourite Ace Attorney themes of all time, “Ryuichi Naruhodo ~ Objection! 2001” is the first theme to our hero, Phoenix Wright. Even though after it gets going it’s essentially comprised of 10-second loops on repeat, it’s the infectious beat and almost unmanageable levels of energy that hooks me in every time. Plus, the entire piece positively exudes character and determination, making it fantastic for in-game usage. This is a fan favourite for a very good reason; you can’t honestly listen to this piece without stomping your feet on the floor in harmony or knocking your head like an overzealous fool. Just listen to this minute of musical goodness and let your inhibitions go!
Undoubtedly the strongest courtroom lobby composition in the series, “Courtroom Lobby ~ The First Prelude” puts the intensity level down a notch to create a more “tense” feeling of mental discomfort. It’s your first trial as a defence attorney, and you’re sweating more profusely than a couple of dueling sumo wrestlers. This haunting music doesn’t really help, either! In this piece, a nice beat and some extremely well-placed bass adorn a very simplistic DS keyboard melody. I don’t know why I love it so much, because it’s just so repetitive and musically uninspired. But it’s such a fitting little ditty, and sustains the mood presented by the opener track exceptionally well. In my eyes, it bears enough compositional charm to make it positively exude with nostalgia, so that’s a definite bonus. The first trial theme of the series thereafter is probably the mellowest and most compositionally reserved one of the bunch. There aren’t any strikingly deep bass lines, nor are there any quasi-militaristic elements to try and spook the listener. Rather, a downtempo electronic approach is taken here, which surprisingly works in the Ace Attorney courtrooms. Delicate acoustic guitar strums and some electronic bloops and twangs progress to a particularly moving, courageous B section. It’s this subtle yet effective development that I love the most about this piece. It’s definitely not one to miss, despite its insignificance on paper.
Now that I think about it, the first game’s testimony theme in contrast is probably the weakest one out there (the only part of the soundtrack that pales in comparison to others). Repetitive in a potentially irksome way, some erratic sound samples add to a decidedly unnerving atmosphere; the reverb is also used to decent effect, especially with the quality DS sound chip to back it up. Meanwhile the allegro variation isa bit better than the slow version, but still falls short. The increase in tempo is awfully unflattering on the (scarce) melody, and consequently sticks out like a sore thumb, even on the impressive DS hardware. More interesting is “Telling the Truth 2001”, where the melody is heavily distorted and additional components are incorporated into the undercurrents of the composition. So in effect, you can hardly tell that the tracks are related at all! The hook of this arrangement is definitely the use of a high-quality organ sample. Sends evil little DS chills down my spine, it does!
I like to classify this “Logic and Trick” track as ambient techno, that is, it’s techno in the most down tempo sort of way. A thoughtfully produced and competently executed futuristic melody flutters between a few notes to hypnotising effect, while a few subtle, subdued musical decorations layer the melody intricately and unobtrusively. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but to this listener, it’s an absolute winner. This is the best “Logic and Trick” theme in the series by far. “Pressing Pursuit ~ Cornered” is one of the best action-themes to ever grace the series. Once again, it’s a very repetitious electronic melody that’s bundled with vigor and awesome, inspired beats and rhythms. I just can’t get enough of it! It’s particular enjoyable in its variation. Whereas the original misses something, this track adds the wickedly powerful melodic strikes of discord that hit you periodically. They just add a whole other side to this seemingly one-dimensional composition. It always fires me up! “Suspense” meanwhile is one of the most effective tension themes I’ve ever heard. Just as I’m getting over the chills the last piece left with me, I become absolutely petrified when I put this one on to play… so as you may be able to guess, this one was not fun to review. And so ends the courtroom suite with a rather cute and sweet jingle.
Investigation themes are usually bland. Very bland. The good thing about them, though, is that more times than not, they work brilliantly in game, and manage to not get on the gamer’s nerves. I never found myself aggravated at the ones in the first game (although I can’t say the same for others), so Masakazu Sugimori deserves to be commended for that. Mind you, now that I’m listening to it for review purposes, I’m fully aware of all of the track’s utter musical mediocrities. But it’s not really fair to say that, since it’s pretty decent for an investigation theme. The second investigation themes in the Ace Attorney games / scores are usually drastically better than the first ones; as to accommodate a pick-up in pace and intensity of plot is a pick up in quality of composition. In “Core 2001”, a warped, distorted opening places us right in the midst of an enjoyably busy tempo and a vividly urban (and chaotic) setting. The tone comes across as charmingly neurotic in a way (assuming something can be considered “charmingly neurotic”), and the rhythms and beats counter each other with jabs of musical mischief. Not too great, but it’s a very solid track as far as investigation themes are concerned.
There are also some solid character themes elsewhere on the album. Probably the sweetest melody ever to grace the Ace Attorney series, “Mayoi Ayasato ~ Gyakuten Sisters Theme 2001” is sure to please many listeners with its accessibly frivolous, carefree approach. I’m a sucker for well-composed melodies, however fluffy and vanilla-soaked they are; this one in particular hit a note with me that not many tracks do. It’s very generic in terms of musical structure (you can find a track or several like this in any given h-game soundtrack) but the tone of the melody is exceptionally agreeable and cute. If you’re a person who likes to get a nice melody stuck in their head for days on end, then be sure to check this one out. It still pops into my mind occasionally, and it makes me smile every time. It also a mature and heartwarming acoustic interpretation in “Ballad of the Gyakuten Sisters”. “Oo-edo Soldier Tonosaman” is the best Ace Attorney track ever, bar none. Ask any fan and they’ll agree. I’m so overwhelmed by the awesomeness here that I’m struggling to review… just imagine some subtle Asiatic percussions, in-your-face action rhythms, and upbeat melodic pacing and you’ve got “Oo-edo Solider Tonosaman” (the theme song to the fictitious children’s show, The Steel Samurai). Don’t understand those technical terms? Just listen to the track and you’ll be blown away, I swear! If superhero shows had themes like this when I was a kid, then I’d never be away from the TV!
“Aging, Regret, Repay” is the theme to Marvin Grossberg (read: an overweight attorney who constantly makes references to his hemorrhoids…) is a fantastic listen in its brief one-and-a-half minutes. A lazy time signature and some sleazy jazz undertones immediately give a feeling of corruption, perhaps stupidity. Whatever the theme is, it’s been transformed into an insanely catchy melody that progresses just as any quality jazz piece should. Although it sounds somewhat tinny even with the adequate DS sound-chip, I still consider it one of my favourite character themes. And let’s not forget poor ol’ hapless, dopey Detective Gumshoe. When he’s not getting yelled at during detective investigations, he’s stuck in his (apparently) crummy apartment eating scarcely satisfying meals of instant-noodles. He’s a good man at heart though, as shown by his incredible theme tune. The luckless instrumentation and backing rhythms gorgeously contrast with some rather uplifting progressions, which in turn conclude a wonderful little melody. Brimming with character and thought, and overflowing with compositional expertise: this is what character themes are all about.
In essence, “Recollection ~ Brokenhearted Mayoi” is the theme music to the first case you undertake in game (apart from the opening case, each case has its own recollection theme). These recollection themes are notorious (at least in my mind) for being awfully drab and monotonous, with hit-or-miss melodies and dubious developments. This one, sadly, is accurately representative of this rule. The depressing, reminiscence-like atmosphere is apparent for sure, what with the use of minor scale melodic devices and such; another aspect I like is the chord harmonisation. A melody is there under the shrouds of musical ambiguity, but it’s barely noticeable and hardly memorable. Appropriate in context, but generally a bore to listen to outside the game. “The Light and Shadows of the Film Studios” fares slightly better, as its shorter in length and much more interesting, musically speaking. Look up repetitive in the dictionary and this track will probably play at 100 decibels just to annoy you with its repetitiveness; but that’s beside the point. A mesmerising melodic line is peppered by some clever percussion work. That alone makes this piece tolerable, but be aware that it can make you want to pull your hair if you listen to two-minutes or more of it.
The only recollection theme in the series that I openly enjoy, I personally think “DL6 Incident” is a great work. It relates to the fourth case in the game amazingly well, with appropriate senses of dread and misery, and the musical features that back up this atmosphere just add to the appeal. There’s actually a nice melody in this one, and the progression of said melody is fluid and really tugs at your heart. Congratulations to Masakazu Sugimori; not even Noriyuki Iwadare himself was able to craft such a great recollection theme! But “Classroom Trial” is yet more mediocrity. Almost unsettlingly similar in sound to the second recollection theme (track 20), this one also houses a mesmerising melody, but it’s used to such uninspired, boring effect. Track 20 at least placed some intriguing percussion into the mix; this one can’t even do that. I guess the in-and-out reverb does decently offer a musical notion of time, but otherwise: bleh!
“The Guards’ Elegy” is — you guessed it — the strongest detention center theme in the series (that line’s a bit cliché now, huh?). Unlike a couple of others, this once focuses more on tone than music; what I mean by this is that instead of a convoluted melodic approach being taken, we’re presented with utter somber simplicity. Sad to the very bone, this is basically just a mature sounding composition that I personally find a joy to listen to. Surprisingly, though, the ending theme is not the best in the in the series, as it’s hideously unvarying and musically tedious, but it carries so many emotions along with it (togetherness, cheer etc), so that makes it more than acceptable in the context of the game.
Tracks 28 to 34 weren’t apparent on the GBA releases’ soundtrack. That’s because these tracks cover the added fifth case to the DS port (I’m still impressed that Capcom went to the trouble of adding the case to this very day). “Turnabout Revival – Prologue” is similar to the first prologue track, as it’s a great mood setter, complete with foreboding sound effects and intricate sound devices. What we’ve got here is the sound of heavy rain, thunder, shattering glass and many, many gunshots, all peppered by a nicely structured rhythm. Yeah, if this doesn’t get your blood pumping then I don’t know what will. “SL9 Incident” is the most depressing recollection theme I’ve heard… Not that it’s bad, but it’s just so emotionally draining! As such, it works brilliantly in context and OK in the score I suppose. But I think I prefer my sad themes to have a bit more of a background to them (ironic considering the intricacies of the fifth case). Each to his own, I guess.
“Akane Houzouki ~ Gyakuten Sisters Theme 2005” is not in any way, shape, or form similar to the original Gyakuten Sisters’ theme, and also in no way a better composition, however it’s still a very gentle, amiable track. This 2005 version (the theme for sisters Ema and Lana Skye) has a really clever futuristic feel to it, which really compliments the sweet, whimsical melody. There aren’t really any “wow” factors here, but regardless, it’s an enjoyable listen (despite being one of the weaker character themes overall). “Taiho-kun ~ I Want to Protect” is a pointless and insignificant piece, but it’s still fairly sweet, as indicated by the “bloop” electronic plods of instrumentation. It really makes me think of the circus or something.
Rounding off the release, “Kyosuke Zaimon ~ Detective from the Wild West” represents the detective Jake Marshall with a spaghetti western sound. His musically intricate yet structurally lush theme perfectly correlates with these attributes; in addition, the numerous harmonica “wild-west” melodies apparent are nothing short of outstanding, making this one of my top-five favourite character themes in the series. From a typical yet well-produced wild-west theme, we now come to a comparatively atypical, curiously-produced menacing theme in “Does Everyone Want To Swim?”. I use the term “menacing” very loosely, as even though police chief Damon Gant is a very intimidating, power-hungry individual, the music doesn’t convey this as accurately as I would have liked. The most entertaining aspect of this track is the opening 15 seconds; it’s just so outlandish and ostentatious, it makes me smirk every time! Damon Gant is a character who’s always laughing, so perhaps this musical detail was added intentionally. Less emotional than the game’s other ending theme, but housing much more competent variation and progression, “Gyakuten Revival – End” is ultimately a good theme, though it won’t be sticking with you for long, due to the aforementioned lack of emotional attachment.
In conclusion, I think that this is my number one favourite Ace Attorney soundtrack (and there’s some fierce competition, what with Iwadare and all). A large amount of the tracks are outstanding, memorable and filled with talent. Hearing the amazing Ace Attorney compositions in DS sound quality truly is a treat to the ears, a treat that you definitely shouldn’t deprive yourself of. Surely I’ve persuaded you, by informing you of the energetic awesomeness of “Ryuichi Naruhodo ~ Objection! 2001”, the accessible fun display of action that is “Oo-edo Solider Tonosaman” (best Ace Attorney track ever), the majestic jubilance of “Victory! ~ The First Victory”, and the somewhat hackneyed but oh-so tasteful and memorable wild-western “Kyosuke Zaimon ~ Detective From the Wild West”.
The courtroom suite is the best out there, the character themes are unrivaled, and even the event tracks are even solid (usually). There are a few duds (read: recollection themes), but they’re overshadowed by the shining brilliance of other tracks. It’s not a perfect soundtrack by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s highly accessible, fun, and melodious. It’s just one of those soundtracks that will appeal to any game music fan; I recommend it unhesitatingly!
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Murray Dixon. Last modified on January 18, 2016.