Code of Princess is a fun, side-scrolling action RPG for the 3DS by Agatsuma Entertainment. The average player would likely refer to Code of Princess as a spiritual successor to Guardian Heroes (some of the Guardian Heroes staff are part of Agatsuma), which is just fine, because Guardian Heroes was a good game. Code of Princess doesn’t reinvent the wheel but does what it does quite well and is a fun hack ‘n slash. In much the same way, ACE’s music doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does what it does really well. The 8-song soundtrack CD I received with my copy of the game was not enough for me, so I happily chose to review the complete two disc soundtrack.
Code of Princess is not a heady or somber RPG, so the music is generally quite bright and vivid. The heroic pieces sound delightfully heroic (well, maybe not Zozo’s theme, since she’s a socially awkward necromancer comprised of zombie parts), the villainous pieces make no bones about being cartoonishly villainous, and the event themes invoke the appropriate emotions. The melodies and harmonies presented here do not have the meandering complexity of freeform jazz or progressive rock, but they are far deeper than vapid top-40 pop songs. There is also a variety of musical styles employed throughout the soundtrack, from classic to modern, making the entire listening experience dynamic and balanced. The game itself is a classic type of game with modern sensibilities, so it makes sense that the soundtrack reflects that as well.
The first disc consists primarily of character themes. My personal favorite is Solange’s theme. I simply cannot stop listening to it. It’s a song that screams “let’s go on an adventure!” and gives me a nice energy boost during my early morning commute to work. The other character themes presented here are generally very good as well. My favorites are the “fusion” type themes like Tsukikage’s and Ali’s themes. Tsukikage’s theme could best be described as “Samurai jazz” because it evolves from standard wood flute and bells samurai music to a cool jazz fusion piece. Ali’s acoustic guitar driven theme sounds like a harmonious blend of Arabian and American Wild West melodies. Other standout themes include the sparse music of Distiny that absolutely screams “ice queen,” the whimsical music of Maruneko’s theme with its cat noises and Shoji Meguro style vocalizations, Sister Hel’s driving rock theme, and the charmingly atmospheric Zozoko’s theme. The first disc also has the main vocal theme, with a guitar-pop style that does nothing new, but is enjoyable to listen to and works well with the overall vibe of the game.
The second disc contains primarily event, location, and “eye catch” (i.e. level up, game over) themes. The music is great on this disc, but is not as cohesive as that of the first disc. As an example, the first three tracks vary wildly from each other: the first one is tranquil, the second is driving rock, and the third is whimsical. This initial impression sets the stage for a disc with a variety of music played in no particular order. I felt like I had hit the shuffle feature on my iPod as it played a smooth jazz song followed by a metal song followed by an Asian pop hit. Every piece is something I like, but it’s a rapid fire of a million flavors. Although I like it all, the slower and more tranquil pieces are the highlights in disc 2, my personal favorites being tracks 5 and 9.
Disc 2 also has two versions of the guitar driven theme for Allegro, the game’s surprisingly powerful bard. The first one is rather dark and stands in sharp contrast to a brightly garbed bard. His second theme is very happy and heroic in an exaggerated way that only bards can pull off in their songs. Closing out the disc are two cool bonus tracks. The first is an electric guitar rendition of Solange’s theme. I enjoyed it, sure, but it does not really add anything new to the original save for a cool solo around the halfway mark that is all too brief. I would have liked to hear more of that instead of just a straightforward cover. The other bonus track is fantastic, though, and absolutely rocked my socks in all the right ways. It starts out sweetly enough, but ramps up the intensity very quickly and maintains it till the end.
There’s no question that I thoroughly enjoyed Code of Princess’s soundtrack — there was not a single track I disliked. The tracks had solid hooks and melodies, but also had depth beyond those hooks to invite multiple listens. There was also a lovely variety to the music, so I was never bored by lulls or burnt out by just one sound. This is one soundtrack I simply could not stop listening to, and it will probably be my morning commute jam for a long time to come.