Image: Level-5/Team Layton 2009/Toho/Viz Media

Music Box: ‘Professor Layton’ part two – ‘Lost Future’, ‘Spectre’s Call’, and ‘Eternal Diva’

Welcome to part two of this series and Professor Layton and the Lost Future, the peak of Layton’s storytelling and one of the first games to ever truly make me cry, and deservedly so. The music again is a step up and rounds off the original trilogy in style. While there is no common plot thread, unlike the prequels, it is the characters and their stories that shine as the focus and bring the trilogy together to a masterful but painful conclusion.

The opening theme, ‘The Unwound Future’, is an iconic masterpiece with ‘Puzzles Reinvented’ reworking the original for another amazing instalment of frustration inducing music. The walking about and exploring tracks are again on point with the French accordion focus and ‘Tension’ is yet another example of the composer’s ability to build something grand from small and simple foundations. ‘Sorrow’ is a heartfelt track perfect for getting across exactly what it says on the tin and ‘Suspicion’ does the same for its purpose, a worthy successor to Curious Village’s ‘The Plot Thickens!’. ‘Puzzle Battle’ is an iconic piece from the game as is, for other reasons entirely, ‘The Mobile Fortress’. Just don’t question the fortress or Layton’s ability to create a slot machine coin machine gun out of random parts. We even get a ‘Puzzles Reinvented 2’, if that is any indication of the shifts in this game, requiring three tracks related to puzzles.

[Spectre’s Call] is also the peak of composition for the DS with one of my favourite OSTs in the series with music that stands tall even outside the Layton context

The game began to experiment more in tone and plot and I can say it certainly succeeds in taking the player along on this adventure – all the way to a heart-breaking end to the original Layton timeline. This game and its music really make you sympathise with Clive, Claire, and Layton, and really makes me hate the odious Bill Hawks. For a DS game originating from Akira Tago’s puzzle books, Layton has no right to throw at you what it does, but it earns this right and more. If you’ve played the game you know what moment I’m talking about, as the ending theme ‘Time Travel’ begins and draws your journey to a close. Except not, it is now time to see how Layton’s self-styled apprentice, Luke Triton, happened to meet the professor and become involved in Layton’s journey.

Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call is the end of the DS era of Layton. It is also the peak of composition for the DS with one of my favourite OSTs in the series with music that stands tall even outside the Layton context. Nothing epitomises this more than the title music ‘The Last Specter’s Theme’, setting a high bar for what’s to come. The immediate next piece, ‘The Specter Appears’, dutifully delivers for its short one-minute run. The ‘More Puzzles’ track uses a chime-based focus which is both relaxing for when puzzles go well and infuriating when they don’t – the hallmark of a good puzzles track. Layton is also renowned for its relaxing rural or countryside locations and themes and ‘The Wind on Highyard Hill’ is great, you can listen to this waltz-like piece for ages and wonderfully contrasts the next track ‘The Darkened Manor’, which displays a trademark Layton style of sad and sombre strings.

No matter how many ways the Professor Layton theme is remixed across the franchise it can always fit the situation at hand

We also have ‘Puzzle Deductions’ and ‘The Black Market’ which craft the atmosphere well – the puzzling in the former and the eclectic, shady, and intriguing of the latter. The flute in ‘Foggy Misthallery’ is another gem to listen to as you explore Luke’s hometown before we reach some of the best tracks to come from a humble DS series. Starting with the moody and dark ‘The Abandoned Factory’, it is par for the course for the first ten seconds, then it kicks up a gear. The OST exceeds itself when we are introduced to our new cloaked villain, Jean Descole. The sudden organ and timpani of ‘Descole’s Theme’ – which is breath-taking in the Live Version – establishing our new bad guy flawlessly. It is a must-listen.

But the game isn’t done impressing you yet as it hits you with ‘The Final Battle’ (of which this is the Live Version again) which was the point I wondered to myself when did we move from the humble beginnings in Curious Village to this orchestral wonder? Having had your fill of epic music, the game decides it’s time for you to be sad, delivering ‘Loosha’s Theme’. Then there’s a one-two punch as you leave the discovery of the Golden Garden and you’re given the ending theme, ‘Paxmáveiti’, bringing the game and the DS era to a fitting end. The orchestral tracks are stunning and the peak of composition for a humble handheld device, giving us an OST that can stand solely on its own and propelled us into the 3DS era.

We have all the opera-style music from Janice Quatlane, a student of Layton’s who invited him to her opera performance at the Crown Petone along the White Cliffs of Dover

Before we go any further with the games we must talk about the film. The story directly ties into the prequels with the Lost City of Ambrosia being the second Azran relic after the Golden Garden and fits between Spectre’s Call and Miracle Mask and begins with Layton and Luke reminiscing about a past case after the events of Pandora’s Box. Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva was an anime film released in December 2009. The localisation times of the games and film created some awkward timings with the film arriving at the same time as Lost Future, meaning we had to wait for another year for Spectre’s Call to give us the context of the film. But I digress. It is a fun 100-minute film that manages to work in puzzles well and ties in with the plot and new characters.

We have all the opera-style music from Janice Quatlane, a student of Layton’s who invited him to her opera performance at the Crown Petone along the White Cliffs of Dover. ‘The Eternal Diva’ track is worthwhile on its own, especially in the context of the film. ‘Song of the Stars’, ‘Sea’, and then ‘Sun’ in particular are amazing tracks when combined with why they exist and how they originate in the film. We see plenty of music reused from the four DS games but we get plenty of original music too. For the puzzles we see Lost Future’s puzzle theme used for the first, Spectre’s Call for the second, this for the third, and a version of ‘The Plot Thickens’ from Curious Village for the fourth. Then when the mystery is revealed we get ‘The Puzzle Explained’, and no matter how many ways the Professor Layton theme is remixed across the franchise it can always fit the situation at hand.

With the reveals of the mystery, Oswald Whistler, Descole, and the Lost City of Ambrosia the film succeeds in pulling at the heartstrings like the games perfectly

The same goes for Descole’s theme, of which ‘Great Conspiracy ~Descole, Ambrosia’s Theme’ has to be a personal favourite, hitting the bad and also sad vibes required before evolving back into the ‘Overture to Destruction ~Descole’s Theme’. Luke receives a personal theme with ‘Future British Gentleman ~Luke’s Theme’, a fitting title considering his grow-up form after he travels to America after Lost Future. It is a rather different style of track but is very triumphal for young Luke. But the emotional music is never too far away with Layton, as we hear ‘The Dream Collapses ~Theme of Ambrosia’, beginning with sadness and building to an image of hope. With the reveals of the mystery, Oswald Whistler, Descole, and the Lost City of Ambrosia the film succeeds in pulling at the heartstrings like the games perfectly.

The film closes out with Janice’s ‘The Eternal Diva’, sung for the Japanese version by Nana Mizuki. This film cannot be mentioned without talking about the varying tracks for ‘Whistler’s Theme’, maybe I just have a thing for organ music? My favourite is the less dramatic but beautiful ‘The Feelings Will Always Be Close’. It is a shame that Level-5 planned to create a Layton film every winter and were said to be working on another film at the time of Eternal Diva’s release, but this never happened. Akihiro Hino, Layton’s director, said that the prequel series was originally imagined with a second film and there was also a British/Japanese live-action film in the works, but nothing ever came of it. It’s a shame so much was planned but never happened, and nothing has been heard since 2010/11 so this likely will never happen. All the DS games and the film received official soundtrack releases, fitting for a series with such high-quality music, but as we move to the 3DS this oddly stopped being the case.

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