Now that we’ve had some time to let Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice breathe, I’ve changed my mind on what my favorite track from the game is. It’s not Basics of the Case, although I think it’s a perfect stage-setter for opening statements. And it’s not Cross Examination ~ Allegro, although those songs are always great (and SoJ’s version is the second-best of the group in my opinion).
The more I listen to the soundtrack and process my enjoyment of Spirit of Justice, the more I realize that it’s actually Athena Cykes who takes center stage.
For those less familiar with the series, Ace Attorney is all about the turnabouts, those moments where you scrounge up some obscure contradiction or piece of evidence and start to turn a trial in your favor. This positive feedback loop always feels great (until the prosecutor or judge inevitably ruins your progress with “facts” or some such), and it’s a huge part of why Phoenix Wright games are so enjoyable.
I liked Athena’s theme in Dual Destinies. It’s chipper, upbeat, and seems to fit Athena’s personality to a T. But once we got the 2016 update to Courtroom Révolutionnaire, I realized what was missing from the original: It doesn’t sound like a proper turnabout theme.
This version solves that issue, whether it’s because of the electric guitars in the beginning, the more assertive tone, the new bridge, or the fact that it meshes better with other turnabout themes like Phoenix and Apollo’s. It’s easily the most improved piece of music from the earlier games.
The added bonus here is that it essentially mirrors Athena’s development in Spirit of Justice, even though she’s admittedly a bit quiet in the sixth installment (it’s Apollo’s story, after all). She has plenty of useful moments as secondary counsel and shines brightly in her standalone case. Even though she needs an assist from Simon Blackquill from time to time in “Turnabout Storyteller,” she’s still light years ahead of the attorney she was in Dual Destinies.
My hope is that with the Phoenix and Apollo trilogies now complete, Athena will be leading the way in the next Ace Attorney game, with Phoenix in an advisory role (or as a chief defense attorney, sorta like Edgeworth’s equal on the other side). For now, though, here’s 30 minutes of her theme and the original for comparison’s sake.
Music to My Ears covers soundtracks or individual songs from video games. You can view all posts in the series by clicking here.