Kabu Trader Shun is a game that won’t avoid comparison to Capcom’s lawyer simulation series, Gyakuten Saiban, or Ace Attorney if you’re not in Japan. It makes sense, since Kabu Trader Shun is a graphic adventure/stock trading sim and involves the main character, Shun, searching for answers about his life and family while he acts out his role as a young prodigy much like the Gyakuten Saiban games. If you’re unfamiliar with the sim games that Capcom has been producing, these soundtracks typically have very short and repetitive background pieces that set the mood and aid thinking by not stealing too much attention away from what’s on screen with overly complex melodies. The result is often simplistic ear worms that are akin to the old 8-bit days where the music stayed with you even after playing the game.
Moving on to the actual soundtrack itself, it is comprised of 32 fairly short tracks that are in-game (most of them range from a minute and a half to two and a half minutes long, tops), and there are two bonus tracks that are also included. One of the problems with this soundtrack that should be noted right off the bat is the fact that most of the tracks sound somewhat muffled and static-y. I know stuff on the Nintendo DS can sound better than this (and certainly something mastered for a CD!), so I’m not sure who is to blame for this but it is rather disappointing. Despite that, I’m pleased to say that that overall this soundtrack is very pleasing to listen to from a compositional standpoint. These pieces create a real sense of urgency and a buildup of mounting tension at times, and convey an emotional delicacy at other times when it’s required. It’s not John Williams, but it’s really impressive considering that we’re dealing with the soundtrack for a Nintendo DS game, and besides the technical limitations it’s impressive furthermore for reasons of the purposefully constrained nature of the music in Capcom’s sim games.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the enjoyableness of this soundtrack is that it comes from relative unknowns in the game composition industry. The only one I could find any previous info on was Ippo Yamada, who in the past worked on some Rockman Zero and Rockman ZX soundtracks. Takuma Satoh and Yamada together have really achieved something worth noting here and in the future they may be names to watch for.
To get into some of the individual tracks with some detail, one of the ones I really like is “Flowering Smile,” which is a bouncy little tune with a really catchy lead melody. Another one I like is “Give Me A Tea Break,” which sounds a bit like elevator music honestly, but hey, what’s wrong with good elevator music? Of the aforementioned bonus tracks there is a very clean sounding “PV Version” of the main theme “Ray Spark,” buried at the end of the soundtrack, which is very welcome as it’s a good anime styled get-your-blood-pumping theme with some very cool ‘wah wahs,’ funky bass, electric piano and an organ. The other bonus track is the Vocal Version of “I’ll Be There” which is sung by Miki Tsuchiya. “I’ll Be There” is another one of the important themes as I believe it’s the ending track and it is also heard as a reminiscent theme in “Father’s Portrait.”
As far as recommendations go, I have to say this OST is not for everyone. This soundtrack doesn’t really break any ground but overall it is a consistently solid effort for what it is and what it tries to be. If you’re a MIDI hardware enthusiast who likes to do more with less, or if you like this kind of minimal chiptune style of music, this is probably for you. If you’re used to epic and lush symphonic scores and that’s the way you like it, then no, definitely not. But for those of us that do enjoy a few good chiptunes, then yes, why not get this one?