After developing three Gyakuten Saiban games following the story of Ryuichi Naruhodo/Phoenix Wright, Capcom decided it was time to pass the torch to another young upstart defense lawyer named Housuke Odoroki, also known as Apollo Justice to English speakers. In doing so, Capcom also decided to give soundtrack duties to another composer to take the series into the new era and to create a fresh atmosphere for the new characters and story. They chose Toshihiko Horiyama of Mega Man X and Onimusha fame to man the reins as primary composer/arranger, with Hideki Okugawa and Shu Takumi helping out and also Akemi Kimura (composer/arranger of Gyakuten Saiban 2’s music) returns for a couple tracks as well.
One of the challenges of composing this soundtrack for the fourth game in the series with a new lead character was to not let the established themes dominate and overshadow the new and original material. Upon first impression, it’s apparent that Toshihiko, et al., were trying to create a soundtrack that paid its dues to the familiar themes of the series with an updated sound (such as Questioning, Pressing Pursuit, Eccentric, etc.), and at the same time create new memorable themes that fit in with the old themes of the previous games. The popular themes that fans have come to know have not been tampered with much and sound much like the original incarnations.
So, how about the exciting part, the new stuff? Overall, the newly composed tracks sound good and fit right in with the rest of the music. Some of the new themes are quite good, and two of the most important ones definitely hit the mark, namely “Courtroom Lounge ~ New Prelude” and “Trial.” “Courtroom Lounge ~ New Prelude” is the perfect tune for waiting for the trial to start up and creates a great feeling of anticipation. Meanwhile, “Trial” has some awesome channel-alternating deep bass. In fact, you will notice that a lot of these tracks have a deep bass punch to them, with a synth style similar to that of some of the PlayStation Mega Man X soundtracks.
“Housuke Odoroki ~ A New Trial is in Session!” is reminiscent of Ryuichi’s/Phoenix’s theme in terms of energy, but it’s a bit brief and fails to develop and the strength of the melody hurts because of it. One of the tracks that stand out is “Kyouya Garyuu ~LOVE LOVE GUILTY,” which uses a synth-sounding guitar patch and has a pretty awesome mini-solo. Those familiar with Toshihiko’s Mega Man work will no doubt find it close in style to those compositions. Perhaps the most unique track is “Kitakitsune Household,” and it sounds like what I can only describe as a heavily Eastern flavored reggae island beat. “Investigation ~Core 2007” uses the channel panning effect again with great success, and while I’m sure this effect is lost on the spatially challenged Nintendo DS speakers, it sounds good here, creating a left-to-right sweeping feeling that invigorates a strong investigative sensation within me. The rest of the tracks seem mostly apt and fitting, although the ending track definitely was a bit of a disappointment for me.
If you’re a diehard fan of the series or somewhat of a collector of game music, I’d recommend getting this soundtrack. If you’re a casual fan, I probably wouldn’t. It’s a pretty good effort, but while the new songs fit in and do their job, they’re not entirely up to the caliber of the original great Gyakuten Saiban compositions.