Wild Arms the 4th Detonator Original Score


Review by · March 26, 2006

Ever since the first Wild Arms game was released on the Playstation back in 1997, I’ve been a huge fan of the series and its music. Michiko Naruke is one of my favorite composers because of her impeccable style, which mixes the Wild West with everything else under the sun. I was saddened to learn that Michiko Naruke fell ill during the production of the WA4 soundtrack, and was only able to produce about a third of the total songs. Her three replacements, Masato Kouda, Nobuyuki Shimizu, and Ryuta Suzuki, did a fantastic job filling in for her during her absence. The soundtrack isn’t as good as the past Wild Arms titles, but it is still worthy of praise.

Instead of doing the typical “disc by disc review,” I’m going to review each separate composer and how their work contributes to the piece as a whole. I feel that this does the soundtrack more justice.

Masato Kouda contributed the largest amount of songs to the soundtrack, composing about two thirds of the songs. Kouda’s style give the soundtrack most of its flavor, and whether or not you like him will affect how you view the soundtrack. Of all the composers, Kouda is certainly the most varied. He has a keen ability to write music in different genres, and I believe that he is the reason that the album is so solid. “Perilous Change” is a smooth jazz piece with a jazz flute that sounds like something from a Hubert Laws album. “Gloom of the Duelists” follows the same suit, except with a swing band. Kouda also shows his talents in writing great town themes with “Port Alinton,” which is a French-inspired waltz with an oboe duet and an accordion accompaniment. Kouda also dabbles in the orchestral genre with “Run Without Stopping Time” and “Still Village Ciel,” which are very well done and easy on the ears.

The only problem with Kouda’s compositions is that they get progressively worse as the soundtrack goes on. He throws his best at you for the first two discs, but his works on the last two discs aren’t as memorable. Some of the songs I didn’t care for were “Secret of the Thin Line Between Truth and Lies,” which is a standard march, and “You are to take the Sword,” which is an urgency theme with no substance.

Ryuta Suzuki does a great job too, although his contributions are only a handful. Suzuki split the bill with Michiko Naruke and composed around half of the battle themes, which, I must say, are some of the coolest battle themes ever written. Suzuki’s irregular rhythm syncopations have you guessing what’s going to come next, and his battle themes are full of orchestra hits, crash cymbals, and toms. My favorite battle theme, “Ghost of the Knights,” is just an amazingly cool song that is difficult to describe. I’ve never heard a composer with such a unique style. “Beckoning Bewitching Princess” is a battle theme of similar stock. Suzuki also contributes to some of the album’s area themes; “Howling at an Unstoppable Fate,” “Buried City,” and “Taking the Name of the Exorcist.” These are some of the best songs on the soundtrack, and they sound closer to Michiko Naruke’s style than the other two composers. I personally would like to see Suzuki play a larger part in the next Wild Arms album if he’s involved.

Nobuyuki Shimizu has only a handful of songs as well, and they aren’t as meaningful as Suzuki’s or Kouda’s compositions, but they do hold the album together. Mixed together with Kouda’s versatile palette and Suzuki’s wild side, Shimizu’s dark and melancholy themes are a perfect fit. “Starlight and Passing Breeze” is a slower, instrumental version of the game’s vocal track, and it sounds as if Naruke could have written it. “Until the Sorrow Ends” is your typical melancholy song with sad chords, a mandolin and a pan flute. I didn’t particularly care for many of Shimizu’s compositions, but without him, the soundtrack would not have been as coherent.

Last but not least, let’s talk about Michiko Naruke. I feel that it is best to talk about her last because the focus of the album isn’t on her. However, her contributions (mostly battle themes) are awesome, and she does not fail to please. Along with Suzuki, Naruke rocks the battle scenes. “Gun Blaze,” is exactly what you’d expect the game’s main battle to sound like, and “Critical Boundaries” is the best WA boss battle theme in years. I must also mention the vocal theme, “I Look at the Sky Because You are There.” This is a fantastic vocal track, and it proves that Naruke can still write decent vocal tracks. Suffice to say, she pulls her weight and her style mixes well with the other composers, and I hope she is well enough to take head of Wild Arms: Vth Vanguard.

All in all, Wild Arms 4th Detonator is a fantastic album and a great start for three blossoming composers. If Kouda, Shimizu, and Suzuki help compose the next Wild Arms soundtrack, I wish them well. Wild Arms 4 is not as great as past Wild Arms outings, but it is a great soundtrack worthy of your ears and the most varied. Despite a few filler tracks, it deserves a 8 out of 10.

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Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson

Mike was part of the reviews and RPGFan Music teams from 2005-2006. During his tenure, Mike bolstered our music review offerings by lending his unique voice and critique of the world of RPGs and VGM. His steadfast work helped maintain the quality of reviews RPGFan is known for.