Background Music Override
"And of course the coolest part about the approach to Zanarkand is that the regular music is so awesome, they play the same music during the battles. No transition. None is needed. It's that cool."
A video game trope, most seen in console RPGs.
In a game, there's generally separate Battle Theme Music
and a Victory Theme. Then there's a piece of Awesome Music
, which is so long that in order to hear all of it in one go, the player would have to sit around in the party-menu screen doing nothing. The developers don't want that to happen, so instead they let the Crowning Music of Awesome stay on during
battles and victories and everything else. The music overrides all other normal themes for as long as the players are in the area or for the entire duration of the sequence. This ensures the player will remember the music as intrinsically tied to that scene, area, or sequence; the player sliced monsters in half to this music, they opened treasure chests to this music, they even saw the characters do a victory dance to it.
Alternately, in an intense situation, the battle theme or the regular boss theme plays during everything. It can be just as effective if the battle/boss theme is good enough.
- In what seems to be a standard rule, most RPGs don't play the victory fanfare after a boss fight, allowing the boss theme to continue into the EXP gain screen.
- Chrono Trigger:
- The Ocean Palace, where the ominous music keeps going through the battles. This also happens during Magus' Castle.
- After the Wham Episode in 2300 AD (when you discover what Lavos is), "Chrono Trigger" starts playing, and plays until you leave the Storage Area, fights or no.
- If you have Magus in your party during the final battle against Queen Zeal, his theme plays instead.
- In Disgaea 2, calling Kurtis or Axel with a cell phone will cause the music on the map to be replaced by their respective theme songs for the duration of the battle. Also, throughout the series, the Item World music changes whenever any pirates arrive on the scene, only ceasing once they've been dealt with, or if you move to the next floor.
- The Final Fantasy series have many more instances of this.
- FFIV plays the Boss Battle theme throughout the entire siege of Fabul, though your characters spend about as much time retreating further inward as they do fighting.
- The After Years also plays the boss battle theme throughout the entire siege on Baron Castle; there are a couple of other instances as well with the Mysterious Girl's theme and the Archfiends' theme.
- FFV has the Battle on the Big Bridge, the escape from Exdeath's castle takes you over the Big Bridge, which has many battles, but only one song, the awesomely, epic theme of Gilgamesh. Later in the game, when you fight randomly encountered palette swaps of Exdeath, you still hear the dungeon music and not the battle theme.
- FFVI: The encounter with Kefka in Narshe where you split your party in three groups to defeat the incoming soldiers. "Protect the Espers!" is playing through everything up until the confrontation with Kefka himself.
- In the scene where you team up with Moogles to protect Terra, Locke jumps down a hole, a bunch of Moogles decides to help, heroic music ("Locke's Theme") starts playing, you fight your way to boss, the music changes to the equally awesome "The Decisive Battle" as you get destroyed by the Marshal's Charge attack, then, as you prepare to try again with a better team, the music reverts. Yes, the music is just that awesome.
- There's also minecart sequence where you're escaping from the Vector magitech laboratory, the sequence when you're trying to get to Ultros in order to stop him from ruining the opera, and the sequence where Sabin is holding up a house while you try to save the child inside. FFVI seems to like this trope A LOT.
- Further, during the sequence where everyone is escaping from the falling Floating Continent, the battles continue "Metamorphosis".
- One of the two most prominent examples would be the Aerith Death scene, where Aerith's theme plays from Aerith being stabbed by Sephiroth, through the fight with Jenova-LIFE and until it's time to switch discs.
- "Opening ~ Bombing Mission" is still playing during the first boss fight.
- The battle theme version is done when you're climbing the section 7 Pillar. The regular battle theme plays through the entire climb.
- There's also the Shinra HQ. After you break out, all you hear is "Trail of Blood", even during battles. Then, after the battle with Rufus, the game's normal boss battle music continues with the sequence with Rufus and as Cloud and Tifa make their escape.
- To add to the list is the "Weapon Raid" Track, which plays whenever the Weapons show up, and during the fights with them.
- "Shinra Corporation" plays during the battle against Proud Clod in Midgar by the end of Disc 2, instead of a regular boss theme.
- This also happens in one dungeon in Crisis Core, with its creepy slow-paced dungeon music.
- Also appears during the first flashback after leaving Midgar with just the chimes from the start of "Those Chosen By The Planet". Very creepy.
- Early in FFVIII, during the SeeD exam, "The Landing" plays from the start of the FMV sequence of the arrival at Dollet until you've reached your checkpoint at the central square.
- FFIX: The most notable is "You Are Not Alone". The song plays while Zidane doubts himself and his right to live, and is considered by many an absolute masterpiece from the beginning of Zidane's black thoughts until his friends have made him see that he's not alone.
- "Protecting My Devotion" is also pretty epic and memorable. It plays when you are defending the city of Alexandria from Kuja's monster invasion with Steiner, and the badass guest character Beatrix.
- FFX: The stretch from the hill where Tidus tells his story, to the gates of the Zanarkand Ruins, plays "Fleeting Dream" (also known as Someday the Dream will End) continuously through battles.
- In FFX2, "Yuna's Ballad" is used as the battle theme for Bahamut.
- FFXIII sports the latest use of this trope in the series. It's used at least a couple of times throughout the game, most notably with the song "Dust to Dust" playing through the ruins of Oerba. In fact, Final Fantasy XIII absolutely loves to do this, and does it all the time, with themes such as "Defiers of Fate" and "Can't Catch a Break."
- After the initial string of battles in FFXIII-2, the game allows "Full Steam Ahead" ("Dash" in Japan) play through on repeat until the first fight with Gogmagog. Of course, this song features a badass violin playing like a fucking guitar, and solos for every instrument. As with Final Fantasy XIII, XIII-2 is fond of this as well and uses it in a number of other instances and areas, such as A Dying World.
- In FFXIV:ARR, the background music played in Garlean Castrum outposts plays even during battle.
- Used to amazing effect in Fire Emblem Awakening. After the tragic death of Emmeryn, when you start the next chapter, a soft, solemn piano piece is playing. Then Plegians arrive to attack you, and all you want is to run away, but you're forced to fight. So the preparation screen shows up, and...the piano piece keeps playing, instead of the usual preparation music. The simple act of choosing your units and equipping them suddenly feels somber due to what has happened. And once you actually start the chapter, you find out that the boss is a really nice and honorable guy who's only following orders to hunt you down, and is more than willing to spare you if you surrender, and that his men don't want to fight either, but he rallies them on to fight so Gangrel won't have their head. And once the fighting starts, a more bombastic, but equally tragic piece takes over, and unlike other themes, where the music will change whether you're on the map or in a battle, the same music stays throughout. All of this combines to make it one of the most emotionally powerful moments of the game, and of the series.
- Sonic Riders features two bikes named Hang-On and Super Hang-On, which are modelled after their respective arcade cabinets and replace the background music of all tracks with their themes (in Super Hang-On's case, Outride a Crisis).
- Used at least once in Chrono Cross, during the "save Marbule" quest, the Magical Dreamers music continues through battles. Justified since it's a live performance.
- It's also used during the battle with Miguel in the Dead Sea.
- And in the beginning of the game we have a battle theme version, where the boss theme plays through almost the entire dream sequence (though without the chanting).
- When Serge travels back in time to Lucca's house, "Orphanage of Flame" plays exclusively, including during battle.
- At the beginning of MARDEK, the "Mighty Heroes" track plays throughout the entire sequence up until the boss fight.
- Also done in the arena. The battle music is never interrupted until the last fight, which is the only one that plays victory music.
- Subverted in Star Ocean: The Second Story. When you beat Gabriel Celesta and finish the Cave of Trials, the "Star Ocean Forever" fanfare tune will start to play and will keep on playing as long as you stay in the cave. However, there won't be any enemy encounters until you exit the cave and come back (which will also reset the music). It's a swap but not an override.
- In the Super Robot Wars games, player characters have a specific BGM that plays during the battle animations, however powerful enemy bosses will sometimes have their own BGM which will override the player characters' music.
- In the first Super Robot Wars Original Generation game on the Gameboy Advance, a bug in the programming for an enemy boss which switches to the player's side prevented his BGM priority from being reset, making it so his music overrode all the other themes in the game, including the Final Boss theme. This has become known as "Trombe Override" after the name of the song, Trombe!. And has been added as a feature for every subsequent game in which that character appears.
- In some climactic moments, a special theme, belonging to neither the players or the enemies will play throughout the stage, overriding both the player's and the boss's themes.
- Of special note is the final battle of Alpha 3, where the heroic "GONG" plays for the entire fight... unless the Macross7 crew attacks, in which case their music kicks in. Thoroughly justified, however: they're the ones playing GONG in the first place.
- In Super Robot Wars UX, Fei-Yen HD overrides the music with her songs when she attacks And, unlike with previous games with licensed songs, Banpresto went the extra mile by having them be full vocal versions. Notably, this is the first time one of them, In The Blue Sky, is shown as having vocals at all!
- In Second Original Generation: Dark Prison, when Shu Shirakawa gets the Neo Granzon, Dark Prison : Dark Prison (Ver.OGDP) will override any theme music including the Final Boss.
- In the third case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the normal cross-examination music is overridden with the more intense "Pursuit ~ Cornered" theme, after a testimony flaw is pointed out by Edgeworth, allowing you to continue.
- Played straight in Ace Attorney Investigations 1, where the "Presto" confrontation theme plays near the end of case two despite not actually cross-examining the killer, and Played for Laughs in the sequel, where Yumihiko Ichiyanagi's first argument is so overwrought and nonsensical that his extremely loopy theme music plays throughout it.
- This carries over to Wright's playable appearance in Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3. His normal theme is a remix of first game's "Objection!", but once he reaches Turnabout Mode, the music automatically changes to a remix of the iconic "Pursuit ~ Cornered". This theme will override any other theme playing at the time, and it will only stop playing until either Turnabout Mode ends or Phoenix gets K.O.'d.
- Also happens with Athena's theme, Courtroom Revolutionnaire, in the final case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies . It's very fittingly used in a Mood Matrix segment, as Athena is examining Bobby Fulbright with it to show that he expresses no emotions in his voice, exactly matching Dr. Metis Cykes' psychological profile on the Phantom.
- Bang Shishigami of BlazBlue fame can use a super attack once his Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan meter is full, that overrides the battles theme song, changing it into "Beat a nail with your hammer"; although his never stops playing untill the match is over, as his Super Mode doesn't run out once it is activated. This is subverted as of Chronophantasma, where Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan is now his overdrive, which has a time limit, however this does not affect Unlimited Bang, who regains Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan as a distortion drive.
- In Cave Story's hidden final level, Sacred Grounds, the fanfares for Heart Containers and new weapons don't appear, so the track "Running Hell" plays uninterrupted until the Boss Bonanza at the end with the Heavy Press and Ballos. There was a new Life Capsule added in the 3D remake that they forgot to edit the jingle out for.
- Monster Hunter Tri Has three possible battle themes for each stage: The Great Jaggi/Baggi theme, each stage's normal Monster Battle theme, and the theme for the online-only nomad beast "Deviljho". Each overrides the themes before them (Jaggi/Baggi < Stage < Deviljho). Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate adds a few more songs to the mix, thus becoming Jaggi < Arzuros < Stage < Nargacuga < Zinogre < Brachydios < Deviljho.
- In the beginning of Super Mario RPG, the standard battle music doesn't kick in until Mario is at Mario's Pad, until then, the overworld music just keeps playing.
- Mega Man Star Force 3 had a particularly memorable bit where the WAZA HQ is under attack by clones. The Satella Police theme plays throughout, uninterrupted, until all the clones are dealt with. Unfortunately not repeated in the final stage, where touching the Crimson bits only plays the regular battle theme. Repeated in the post-game, where if an area contains an Omega Boss, a very special, dark and foreboding theme plays, not interrupting until you either leave or find the boss.
- Dark Cloud had the Gallery of Time.
- In Red Dead Redemption, "Far Away" upon landing in Mexico.
- The Japanese-only PS2 Version of Tales of Symphonia changed a few things during the Seed Chamber scene. When the party members, thought to have been left for dead, save Lloyd, the instrumental of the opening begins to play and plays throughout the first boss battle.
- In Super Castlevania IV, Simon's Theme starts playing once you get Dracula's health below half.
- In Baten Kaitos Origins, during the boss battle with Guillo, the amazingly creepy song 'Into the Spiral Tention' plays over the fight, instead of the regular boss music. Fitting, considering this is a massive Wham Episode. Earlier on, during the segment where Sagi and Guillo escape Mintaka, the normal battle music doesn't play over the first few scripted fights.
- Tales of Phantasia has the regular battle theme replaced with "Open Fire" during The War Sequence in Valhalla Plains and replaced with "Threatening Sky" during the Pegasus sequence following shortly thereafter.
- The climax of Professor Layton and the Last Specter has, in lieu of the normal puzzle theme, "Theme of the Last Battle" play while you're puzzling the antagonist into submission as well as during the intermittent cutscenes. This is repeated in Miracle Mask with the puzzle just after Randall falls into the ravine in the ruins. It also happens to be Puzzle #100.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: If Link gets to the point where there are only six in-game hours left until the moon falls, the theme of the final hours will play in the background until the moon falls or Link goes back to the first day. The theme overrides any and all songs in the game other than those of the current dungeon, mini-boss or boss.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess when Midna is nearly dying; "Midna's Desperate Hour" will play in all areas unless an enemy is nearby, in which case it gets overriden.
- In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, when the Big Bad Nemesis is stalking you, the BGM is overridden by "Feel the Tense". If playing with a scratched disc, it may be replaced by dead silence, making it even scarier.
- In The Adventures Of Rad Gravity, if for some reason you decide to exit a boss's lair, the boss music continues to play. Conversely, the Final Dungeon uses the boss music for its main theme, but switches to the regular action music when you fight Agathos.
- In Super Contra (arcade), the miniboss of the final stage has its own unique BGM and victory fanfare, but when the Final Boss appears, it plays the original stage music again! This may have been a programming error.
- In Twisted Metal: Black a more frantic music theme (different for each stage) takes over when there's only one opponent left.
- In Legend of Legaia, when you are traversing a Mist Generator dungeon, the dungeon theme continues to play during random battles. This happens again for a certain sequence in Ratayu, and then again inside the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, the Bio Castle.
- In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, when either the sun has intensified or there is a massive downpour, all overworld music (including surfing and cycling) will be replaced with one ominous track.
- In Pokémon Black and White, the dynamic music in Village Bridge will also override the surfing and cycling music.
- Route 23 in Kanto gradually became this trope. Beginning partially with Yellow (the surf music would still play) and entirely in FireRed and LeafGreen, the dramatic background music would continue regardless of the player's current mode of transportation.
- Kalos's Victory Road's theme overrides the surfing and cycling music as well, and its Pokémon League's theme plays even when you enter the nearby Pokémon Center.
- In The Binding of Isaac, after beating the game 10 times, the music changes to a corrupted version of "Jesus loves me".
- In The Chest, the entire level consists of nothing but bosses, chests, and fire. The usual boss music plays nonstop until you reach the final boss, and it really sets the mood that the game—and maybe you, if you've managed to pick up a combination of game breaking items—is at an absolute breaking point and climax.
- In Project X Zone, one of the stages is from a game called -Primitive Force from a game called Gain Ground and it's from SEGA. It's the only bgm that keeps playing throughout the entire stage and at Operation Crackdown. Even better, "Rocks" in Chapter 27.
- In Donkey Kong 64, when you get to Hideout Helm, the level music keeps playing, even inside of the Tag Barrel or when your Kong has transformed. The only exception is during the mini games.
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star has one battle where battle music doesn't play: five Boos in a room with a disco ball. With disco music playing after revealing them and lasting through the battle.
- A secret code in Street Fighter X Mega Man lets you override any stage song in the game with Guile's theme from Street Fighter II (a reference to the "Guile's theme goes with everything" meme, and also the name of the track).
- Wild ARMs 2 has the Knightblazer theme overriding any battle theme music when Ashley transforms into his Superpowered Evil Side.
- The stages in Playstation All Stars Battle Royale run on the theme of one PS world being attacked or taken over by another. This happens every time a new franchise shows up, most amusingly with the music from Patapon overtaking the Duel With Hades theme.
- Also happens in the Ar tonelico series, as whenever a Hymn is being sung for any reason in any of the games, it overrides all and any of the music played at the moment.
- A very rare horror example occurs in Mad Father during the True Ending. If the player knows Maria's backstory and chooses to heal her after she is injured by Dr. Drevis, her theme will replace the segment's usual silence, until the Doctor catches up.
- In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, the Pip-Boy radio overrides the normal ambient BGM, which can be dangerous since it also cancels out the panic music.
- In Saints Row IV, whatever music you have playing is replaced by the Warden theme whenever one of them comes into play. However, even the Warden theme has to give way against the might of the Dubstep Gun.
- In Star Fox 64's Bolse stage, the boss theme for All-Range stages plays when the reactor emerges...but if you didn't finish off Star Wolf at Fortuna/Fichina or don't pass through that particular stage at all, Star Wolf will appear during this phase and their theme plays until you complete the stage or die, even after all of Star Wolf has been defeated.
- The theme of the FireCrawlers in Star Fox Adventures is capable of overriding any other theme, including the barrel chase theme (as seen when Fox rides an EarthWalker in Dragon Rock and then approaches a FireCrawlers).
- In Sonic Unleashed the jazzy battle theme takes over from the night stages' regular music whenever you get into a scrap with some enemies, except in the final level, Eggmanland, whose moody, climactic theme plays nonstop throughout its numerous nighttime segments.
- Pikmin 2, normally, has the area or cave theme heard during gameplay, subtly remixing it when an enemy is close, or when the characters start retrieving a treasure, or when the player switches between characters. But all of that is subject to change in one of the caves, Submerged Castle. When the Waterwraith comes into scene, the cave's music is completely gone and replaced with a sinister theme, which will keep playing even if the characters approach a treasure or enemy, and no changes will occur during a character switch either. The only music that isn't overriden is the boss theme, which is heard when the Waterwraith can be challenged for a definitive battle.
- In Tetris: The Grand Master 3, the rather mellow Sakura mode music overrides all over BGM when two players are present and not playing versus mode. This leads to some completely unfitting situations for the music to play in, such as the invisible roll in Master mode and the final 300 levels of Shirase mode.
- Guilty Gear Xrd has several moments when the BGM is overridden. For any character, successfully landing an Instant Kill switches the BGM to the game's theme, Heavy Day. Second, if while playing Ky Kiske you take too much damage, his hair becomes undone and the music switches to Holy Orders III from Guilty Gear 2. Finally, activating Sol Badguy's Dragon Install changes the BGM to Ride the Fire.
- In the fourth Touhou fighting game, Hopeless Masquerade, after one of the fighters reaches 100% Popularity (which enables use of their Last Word), the background music is overriden by a souped-up version of that character's musical theme.