The Adventures and Resolve of Music Creation

Jul 21, 2021 // Janet Hsu

Hi, everyone! My name is Yasumasa Kitagawa and I’m the music director and lead composer for The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. I’m thrilled to be here today to celebrate this game’s release on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Steam.

Working closely with the game’s director, Mr. Shu Takumi, and my fellow composers, Mr. Maeba and Mr. Terayama, we gave birth to the soundtrack’s distinct sound through a lot of trial and error. In deciding the musical direction of this title, I first researched the Meiji era itself to get a sense of the background that would serve as the setting of the story. Unlike the mainline Ace Attorney games, I refrained from creating anything that would sound too digital or synthesized (and when I did employ such sounds, I made sure to use them in a way that would pair well with the surrounding analogue instruments), and used mostly period instruments in the instrumentation. I then add the finishing touches by making sure the pieces conformed to Ace Attorney music standards; which is to say, more than their musicality, I worked to fine tune each track’s ‘game music’ elements in order to make sure the songs would work properly as gameplay background music.

Beyond each track’s value as a song, the music of Ace Attorney must first and foremost serve the overall function of ‘game music’. In other words, they must fit with the feel of the game’s world and draw the player further into it. After clearing that benchmark, I would then focus on ensuring that the pieces would perfectly portray the key aspects of each moment or situation they are used in. For example, the Dance of Deduction piece must give the impression of two people making a series of deductions, and the Pursuit piece must instill the thrill of the chase within the player. Without this solid foundation, the pieces would fail to pass muster as The Great Ace Attorney music. In fact, Mr. Takumi was especially uncompromising on this particular point.

As for character themes, they required a different approach when composing them. Gameplay segments such as trials or a Dance of Deduction require that the background music prioritizes the overall mood of the piece. But for character themes, the real challenge is in how well I can capture the full breadth and depth of each character’s zany personality – something I can’t do through the overall mood of the pieces alone. So, to accomplish what I must, I highlighted the many facets of each character’s personality by distilling them into their own signature sounds. The tap, tap, tap of Sholmes’s shoes, the drip, drip, drip of Iris’s experimental solutions – and for Madame Tusspells, I gave her the skritch, skritch, skritch of a stick rubbing over a washboard. It may seem like a no-brainer that a listener should be able to instantly envision which character’s theme they’re listening to, but it was something I had to pay great attention to and be very disciplined about as I wrote.

Following these methods, I was able to create a rich musical soundscape for The Great Ace Attorney. I’m very happy to have received so many positive comments from players who’ve already played the game. I’m truly grateful for all your feedback.

This time, I’ve composed a few new pieces for Chronicles, including an arrangement of ‘Partners – The game is afoot!’, which is only available through the Early Purchase Bonus DLC. Featuring Mr. Akihisa Tsuboy on the violin and Ms. Yuka Fujino on the accordion (who also performs the The Great Ace Attorney pieces at every Ace Attorney Orchestra Concert), the hot fire of their passionate playing really brought the whole exciting arrangement together. Nothing would make me happier than for you to enjoy it as much as the rest of the music from the game itself.

And with that, I hope from the bottom of my heart that you’ll look forward to the release of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Steam with great anticipation (and an ear out for the music)!