"Sometimes, music soothes the beast. Sometimes, it just gives it a kick-ass battle tune to fight to."In video games, battles are typically indicated by upbeat or tense music to give a hint of danger. Battle music tends to pop up the most in Role Playing Games, where there are often battle screens separate from the rest of the action. Battle music doesn't usually appear in games where you fight and explore on the same plane of action, but it may fade in when you get close to a threat, particularly in more recent games. Several different types of battle music may appear: Shifting Battle Music - Because you might get sick of the battle theme if it's the same throughout the game, some games may employ several different "normal" battle themes which change throughout the game. These themes may be:
— Troper Glazed
- Progressional: As you progress through the game, the battle theme may change at certain milestones.
- By Dungeon: If the battle music is merely a remix of the dungeon music, each dungeon may have its own music. This is fairly rare, through, because of the extra work involved.
- Situational: A different, more tension-filled battle theme may play in different situations, such as getting ambushed by the enemies. See also Sad Battle Music.
- Aversion: No battle music for separate enemy encounter except bosses. Often done out of realism or to invoke Nothing Is Scarier.
- Normal Boss Battle - The battle theme for 'normal' bosses or minibosses. Some games may have a few different 'normal' boss themes; otherwise, expect to hear it a lot at the end if there's a Boss Bonanza.
- Major Boss Battle - A more dramatic theme for the more difficult or unique bosses. Usually used for a Climax Boss. May overlap with the Villain Battle Theme.
- Villain Battle - The battle theme for major story villains, which may serve as their Leitmotif, or be a Boss Remix thereof. This is usually lighthearted and silly for the Goldfish Poop Gang or Quirky Miniboss Squad, but more serious bosses such as The Dragon or Big Bad will have more tension-filled battle themes.
- Final Boss Battle - The battle theme for the Final Boss of the game. If the Final Boss has multiple forms (as they usually do), each form will have its own theme music. The first form may use the Major Boss or Villain Battle theme for that particular Big Bad, but later forms will be unique. The very last battle music may be marked by the use of live orchestra, organs, ominous choir, or extremely tense rock music or techno music. Or all of the above. Occasionally if the Final Boss is a Tragic Monster itself, Sad Battle Music may occur.
- Final Fantasy style: The fanfare plays, followed by a triumphant theme which lasts until the 'battle screen' is exited.
- Dragon Quest style: A short fanfare is played, after which the dungeon music starts up again.
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- The Legend of Zelda:
- Averted in the first The Legend of Zelda. None of the enemies or bosses, not even Ganon who is the Final Boss, has a battle theme.
- The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past and Link's Awakening have each a tense, fast-paced battle music for all standard bosses. The Final Boss, also in each game, has a smooth-but-ominous one, and the A Link to the Past one is later used for Phantom Ganon in The Wind Waker. This trend is extended to the remaining 2D and 2.5D games (except Spirit Tracks), plus the 3D game Majora's Mask.
- Ocarina of Time has five boss battle themes. Two for the final battle, one for the bosses fought on Death Mountain (dungeons 2 and 5), one for the other bosses, and one for the minibosses. Interestingly, the Death Mountain boss theme was remixed for Stallord in Twilight Princess.
- From The Wind Waker onwards, each boss in the 3D games has a unique boss theme. Twilight Princess goes as far as having a unique theme for the minibosses.
- The boss battle music in Twilight Princess often gets a triumphant version of the game's overworld theme when you're in the process of exploiting the enemy's weak spot with some well-aimed sword strikes. It uses one song for the bosses before the fourth dungeon, and another for the ones after. The switch happens right in the middle of the fourth boss's fight. Also in the game, there is also a tense 'You're Losing' mix when Ganondorf seems to get the upper hand when you've locked blades with him.
- One of the bosses in Skyward Sword, The Imprisoned, has a sophisticated Variable Mix that comes into effect depending on the situation. There's the theme for the boss simply walking, one for when the player is controlling the Groosenator, one for when the boss is close to its destination, and one for when the player is controlling the Groosenator during that dangerous proximity.
- In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, there's separate boss music for Julius (a combination of two old tunes, "Don't Wait Until Night" and "Heart of Fire"), and in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Soma uses Dracula's fight music, "Dance of Illusions". Aria of Sorrow also has a separate boss theme for fighting Graham, and Chaos, the final boss, had two battle themes. There is also both a regular boss theme used for most bosses, and a major boss theme used for Creaking Skull and Balore.
- In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, there is Festival of Servants for Normal boss battles, Death Ballad for Major boss battles like Death or Shaft, Enchanted Banquet for Medusa and Succubus, Dance of Illusions for Dracula in the intro, Blood Relations for Richter, and Black Banquet for the Final Boss against Dracula again.
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has many boss themes, the titles of which reference previous games in the series. They are: a regular boss theme (Symphony of Battle), a theme for the more difficult bosses (and Jiang Shi) (Dissonant Courage), a theme for the bosses fought inside Dracula's Castle (Chamber of Ruin), two villain songs (Sorrow's Distortion and Lament to the Master), and the Dracula battle music (Order of the Demon).
- Dracula usually has at least two boss themes, one for his normal form, and one or more for his One-Winged Angel forms.
- Cave Story generally has one of two themes: The light, fast Normal boss theme ("Gravity") and the deep, heavy Major boss theme ("Eyes of Flame"). The normal final boss and the Perfect Run Final Boss both have "The Last Battle" as their theme. Only three bosses get their own unique themes: The Core ("Oppresion"), the Big Bad (which in turn has one for the One-Winged Angel form, the oddly playful and repetitive "Charge"; and "Zombie" which is played in the first form), and oddly enough a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere ("Run!", recycled as normal BGM during a couple of action scenes).
- Used in Shadow of the Colossus; the music becomes a lot richer and more intense when you climb onto the titans. As the whole game consisted of boss battles, the change of music during the battle is one of the most memorable parts of the game.
- Each boss in La-Mulana has a unique boss theme. One of the developers even references this, complaining about the fact that this was a lot of work, then humorously realizing he came up with the idea himself.
- The SNES version of Prince of Persia has four battle themes: for Mooks(and the Boss Rush in Level 19), normal bosses, the Giant Space Flea from Nowhere in Level 17, and the Final Boss.
- Magicka uses one theme for almost all bosses and minibosses. However, a few major bosses have their own themes.
- Hype The Time Quest has two themes used in boss battles. These tend to fade as the titular character moves farther away from the boss.
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- God Hand goes the extra mile: all minibosses and regular bosses have their own theme music, and when you fight the demon forms of Elvis and Shannon, their regular boss music gets remixed.
- MadWorld uses four themes for its regular bosses: "MADWORLD" (for Little Eddie, Jude the Dude, Shogun, and the Shamans), "Bang" (for Von Twirlenkiller, Frank, and the Masters), "Death and Honor" (for Yokozuna, Kojack, and Martin) and "You Don't Know Me" (for the female bosses Rin Rin and Elise). The final boss, the Black Baron, gets two Villain Song themes: "Look Pimpin'" for the first half and "So Cold" for the second.
- The arcade version of Double Dragon features a standard theme for the first three bosses. For the final boss, it plays the opening title theme instead.
- The NES version of the first game lacked the boss theme, but still plays the main theme during the final battle until Jimmy shows up (where it switches to the Mission 1 theme).
- In the arcade version of Double Dragon II, each boss has a unique theme music. In the NES version, a generic boss theme (the same tune that was used for Abore, the Mission 2 boss, in the arcade version) is used for all the bosses, except the player's evil clone (who uses a different boss theme than the one in the arcade version) and the True Final Boss (which was later used in the GBA version as the theme of Raymond, Willy's bodyguard).
- In both the arcade and NES versions of Double Dragon III, every boss has his own theme music as well, although some of the bosses in the NES version are different (namely the ones in Mission 2 and 4) and other bosses (like Ranzou and the final boss) have different theme music as well.
- Double Dragon Neon had unique themes for each of the bosses in the game. The final boss battle against Giga Skullmageddon uses the remix of the original arcade game's theme that also plays the title screen.
- River City Ransom has four distinct boss themes: a "middle boss" theme (the standard boss theme), a "big boss" theme (played only during two specific boss battles), the Dragon Twins theme (actually a rendition of the Double Dragon theme), and the final boss theme.
- The original Streets of Rage has "Attack the Barbarian" as the standard boss theme and "Big Boss" for the battle against Mr. X.
- The second game has "Never Return Alive" for the standard bosses, "Max Man" for Shiva, and "Revenge of Mr. X" for the final battle.
- The themes for the Mane Six in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan-made game My Little Pony: Fighting Is Magic survive on YouTube even though Hasbro shut down their actual use in a fighting game.
- The Metroid Prime Trilogy series has a unique theme for every major boss.
- The approach of a tank in Left 4 Dead is accompanied by this track, and it continues playing until the fight is over. During a Finale, a slightly modified version of the Tank theme plays, called "taank". The second "Boss Infected", the witch, also has her own score. The other, less dangerous "Special Infected" have shorter leitmotifs that play when they spawn or when they pin a player. There's also a variety of drum themes that play during a horde attack, and a special "slayer" theme that is mixed in when the player is engaging a horde. For Left 4 Dead 2, the horde music is even played by different instruments depending on the campaign, and the Concert finale has two rock remixes of the Tank theme.
- RuneScape has battle themes in dungeoneering. There are several different 'types' of dungeon (frost, abandoned, furnished, occult, warped). Every type of dungeon has 10 different battle themes, and a random track will play whenever you are in combat in daemonheim. On top of this, all of the 30 bosses for dungeoneering have their own theme tune, some of them are among the best music in the game. Also, both the standard combat themes and the boss music in daemonheim really suit the area/boss monster they play for. Quest bosses generally have their own music as well. They are usually better (or at least more intense) than most of the games' music.
- Vindictus primarily saves its battle themes for boss battles.
- Phantasy Star Online 2 is fantastic in this regard. Every single boss in the game has its own unique theme, and many of them use a dynamic soundtrack with variations of the themes depending on the current situation. For example, one of the first few bosses, Vol Dragon, has seven different variants of his theme depending on how enraged he is.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Sonic 3 & Knuckles includes the following themes: Act 1 Boss, Act 2 Boss, Main Final Boss, and Perfect Run Final Boss (Super Metal Sonic and Doomsday Zone).
- Sonic Adventure 2 (and its predecessor, to a lesser extent) featured a unique boss battle theme, which repeated for most major bosses, with the game's Big Bad sporting a unique one.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), there's one boss theme for all of the hedgehog vs. hedgehog fights, and each of the game's Big Bads (Eggman in Sonic's story, Mephiles in Shadow's story, and Iblis in Silver's story) get their own theme, each of which gets remixed for their Final Boss fight. And then the True Final Boss gets a separate theme for both both phases of its fight.
- Donkey Kong Country does this with one boss theme and one final boss theme per game, with the exceptions of Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze (each boss has its own theme) and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! on GBA, which had a really strange variation. Namely, Arich and Kroctopus (two random bosses) got a different theme, yet all the others, including the final one didn't. No, no reason given for it. Though maybe the fact the game was Christmas Rushed had something to do with it.
- Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel, Banjo-Tooie does this whenever you take on a boss with the battle music being a more intense version of level's background music. Donkey Kong 64, made by the same developers who created the Banjo games, does the same thing.
- In Conker's Bad Fur Day, three bosses share a mainstream boss theme, and there is a rural-styled remix of it for the one fought in the ranch, plus a military remix heard when Conker is fleeing from the Tediz island after defeating a boss. The rest, however, have their own themes, except for The Final Boss who averts the trope. When you fight him, all you hear is the wind being blown away towards the empty space.
- The Mega Man (Classic) series is kind of a weird case: Each game has its own boss fight music for the robot masters, and depending upon the game, there may be additional boss fight musics for fortress bosses or the final boss. However, robot masters are usually associated with the theme music that plays during their stages rather than the boss fights themselves, possibly as a result of naming the stages after their bosses.
- In RosenkreuzStilette, the boss characters are mostly associated with the theme music that plays during their stages and the dialogue shared with them before their fights, rather than the boss fights themselves. Nevertheless, Rosenkreuzstilette had "Arima's Music No. 03" by AM3 for Freu as the opening stage boss and seven of the main bosses, "Arima's Music No. 22" by AM3 for Freu's second fight (which is the only boss theme actually associated with a boss other than Zeppelin and Iris), "Arima's Music No. 15" by AM3 for the Zeppelin Stage bosses, "Fighting Eternally" by Unlimited Hellest for Count Michael Zeppelin, "Closed Garden" by Unlimited Hellest for the Iris Stage bosses and the boss rematches at Iris Stage 3, "Pray to Muse For..." by Song! Cat Room: Unkolyn for the Iris Machine, and "Last Battle ~Requiem for Myself~" for the Iris Capsule and Seraphic Iris. In the sequel, Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel, we get "Attacking Game" by Takumi dot Net for Eifer as the opening stage boss and the eight RKS bosses, "Four Heavenly Kings" by DEAD END WONDER for the four Schwarzkreuz bosses and the boss rematches at Iris Stage 3 along with Karl in Pamela's story, "Blue Daemon" by Unlimited Hellest for Count Michael Zeppelin and Eifer as the Dark Devil, "The end of last age final destination" by Kamo King for the Iris Machine, and "Awakening the Profound Evil" by Wingless Seraph for a Brainwashed and Crazy Tia and Seraphic Iris.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- The earlier 2D games, starting from Super Mario Bros. 2, give each a common theme for both the bosses and the minibosses, thus leaving the corresponding Final Boss (Wart, Bowser, Tatanga, Wario) as the only one with a unique battle theme. In contrast, the very first game and by extension The Lost Levels avert the trope even in the final duel against Bowser; the All-Stars remake for both games did add a battle theme for the regular encounters and another for the last ones, though. The trend also applies for all Yoshi's Island and New Super Mario Bros. games, though the minibosses do have a common separate theme in each of them.
- In the case of the 3D games, each subsequent installment gradually increases the variety of battle themes for the bosses. Bowser, meanwhile, has an Ominous Pipe Organ remix of his theme for the final battle in Super Mario 64, a suspenseful drum-and-piano track in Super Mario Sunshine, Ominous Latin Chanting in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Orchestral Bombing in Super Mario 3D Land, Super Mario 3D World, and Super Mario Odyssey.
- In Super Mario Maker, the signature boss theme of each game style available can be implemented to any enemy or space, not just Bowser or Bowser Jr. (if it's put into Mario himself, it will be heard during the entirety of the level, negating the music from the areas used). Since the original Super Mario Bros. didn't have any battle theme, in Maker it borrows the enemy blockade music from Super Mario Bros. 3 instead.
- Each boss has its own battle music in Wario World and Wario Land Shake It!, while in Wario: Master of Disguise there are four battle themes: the normal boss theme, Count Cannoli's boss theme, Carpaccio's boss theme, and the final boss theme. All other Wario Land games use a common battle theme for regular bosses and another for the Final Boss.
- The original three Metal Slug games (including Metal Slug X) have a particularly memorable Boss Battle theme—"Steel Beast"—that actually progresses from game-to-game. In the original, it is in 5/8 time; Metal Slug 2 and X use the 6/8 "6 Beets" version; Metal Slug 3 has its own 7/8 version. Sergeant McNeil appropriates the "Assault Theme" from the first game, and the "Final Attack" theme is widely used for the game's final boss.
- Amagon has a mid boss theme, a main end boss theme for Zones 1, 2, and 6, and a different theme for the end bosses of Zones 3 and 5, whilst Zone 4 continues the stage BGM during its boss battle.
- Final Fantasy:
- Final Fantasy I has the same battle theme for everyone, from common enemies to the final showdown with Chaos. Though when it was remade, they added a number of new pieces of music for Boss Fights, including a new Final Boss fight music for Chaos.
- The Four Warriors of Light has additional "The Boss Turned Red" and "you're dying" music on top of the regular battle theme.
- Final Fantasy XII has no 'normal' battle theme to speak of (the area music keeps playing), but goes crazy with the Boss Battle themes. There's 'Boss Battle', 'Clash of Swords', 'Battle Drum', 'A Speechless Battle', 'Esper Battle', 'Desperate Fight', and 'The Battle for Freedom'. There's also 'Upheaval', and 'Boss Battle' is chopped up, with different sections of it playing in different orders for almost every boss.
- Dual Orb II has one battle theme, from the first fight to the Final Boss. And with its crazy-high encounter rate, you'll be hearing it a lot.
- A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky: Has one for each of its Climax Bosses.
- SaGa series:
- Seiken Densetsu 3 has no battle music for normal enemies at all as they just appear randomly on the screen, but it has separate songs for nearly all bosses (which may also be used elsewhere), and there are a lot of those.
- Very well done in Xenosaga Episode III, where almost every boss had his personal battle theme.
- In Xenosaga ep. I, every boss had the same battle theme. In fact, every battle of the game, with the exception of the last battle, used the exact same music.
- The majority of the story bosses in Xenoblade use the same theme, though the songs from the cutscenes preceding them sometimes carry on into the fight, then are replaced by the usual boss theme once they finish. Another boss theme is used for all of the unique monsters and some of the story bosses as well, usually in situations where the party is making a comeback after getting roughed up by the boss in the previous cutscene.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X has a lot of boss themes. Most of the Tyrants use 'Uncontrollable', the first few story bosses as well as most of the Sidequest bosses use 'z37b20a13t01t08le'note , several later story bosses use 'NO.EX01', the boss of Chapter 11 uses the first half of 'aBOreSSs'note (spoilers) , the boss of Chapter 10 uses the second half of 'aBOreSSs' in the first phase before switching to 'NO.EX01', the penultimate boss uses the first half of 'raTEoREkiSImeAra'note (major spoilers) , the Final Boss uses the first half of 'The key we've lost', several of the Bonus Bosses use the last third of CR17S19S8note , Yggralith Zero uses 'In the forest <X→Z ver.>', some of the Time Attack bosses use an instrumental version of 'Uncontrollable', while Telethia, the Endbringer, the strongest Bonus Boss in the game, uses the second half of 'raTEoREkiSImeAra'. Finally, both the final fight against Rexoskell (from the infamous Definian Downfall sidequest) and the fight against Interfearence (from Murderess's last affinity mission, Serial Thriller) use 'z30huri2ba0tt12le1110'.note
- Chrono Trigger had only one normal battle theme (not counting an unreleased track that didn't make it into the actual game), but had several boss themes. These included a Normal Boss, Major Boss, two Villain Battles (for Magus and Lavos, respectively), and two Final Boss Battles. The Ocean Palace, meanwhile, subverts this by not changing the music when a battle ensues.
- The Pokémon Video Game series has developed this structure, including boss music tracks for Gym Leaders, Rivals, the villain teams, certain Legendary Pokémon, and the "final bosses" (the Elite Four and Champion battles).
- The number of different battle themes has exploded since the series' debut:
- Red, Blue and Yellow have four: Wild Pokémon, Trainer, Gym Leader, Champion.
- The remakes, FireRed and LeafGreen, gave battle music to normal Legendaries, Mewtwo, and Deoxys, the former two being a rearrangement of the normal Wild Pokémon music. In addition, the Elite Four used the Gym Leader music instead of the Trainer music.
- Gold and Silver have nine: Johto Wild Pokémon, Johto Trainer, Team Rocket, Johto Gym Leader/Elite Four, Rival, Champion, and rearrangements of the Wild Pokémon, Trainer and Gym Leader themes from Red, Blue and Yellow. Crystal added one for the legendary beasts (Raikou, Entei and Suicune). In addition, the Johto wild Pokémon theme has two arrangements, one for day time, and one for night time.
- HeartGold and SoulSilver, the second set of Video Game Remakes, have sixteen: rearrangements of all nine aforementioned Gold and Silver battle themes, two new unique and remake-exclusive battle themes for Ho-oh and Lugia, three separate rearrangements for the beast trio, a rearrangement of the Hoenn Weather Trio theme, and the Frontier Brain theme from Platinum. The ten themes present in Crystal also have 8-bit remixes via the GB Sounds key item, for a grand total of 26 themes. Arceus' theme from Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum also appears, but it is not used for any battles.
- Ruby and Sapphire have ten: Wild Pokémon, Trainer, Team Magma/Aqua Grunt, Gym Leader, Rival, Archie/Maxie (Magma/Aqua Boss), Legendary Pokémon, Regi trio, Elite Four, and the Champion theme. Emerald also added three more: Frontier Brain, Deoxys (originally from FireRed and LeafGreen), and Mew (the last of these being the same as Mewtwo's battle theme from FireRed and LeafGreen).
- Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire have rearrangements of all battle themes from Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald, with the exception of Mew's battle theme (since Mew does not appear). In addition, there are now two versions of the version mascot battle theme, one for Groudon and Kyogre and one for Rayquaza, while the final battle with Wally has new music (a remix of his theme from the remakes, itself a remix of Verdanturf Town's music). Legendary Pokémon battle themes from previous games also appear for encounters with the Pokémon they were originally used for, albeit changed very little (if at all).
- Diamond and Pearl have fourteen: Wild Pokémon, Trainer, Rival, Gym Leader, Team Galactic Grunt, Team Galactic Commander, Cyrus, Dialga/Palkia, Uxie/Mesprit/Azelf, Legendary Pokémon (Heatran/Regigigas/Diamond and Pearl Giratina), Elite Four, Champion, Arceusnote . Platinum gave battle themes to Giratina, the Regi trio (again, a rearrangement), and Sinnoh Frontier Brains.
- Black and White have: Wild Pokémon, Trainer, Rival, Team Plasma, Gym Leader, Gym Leader's Last Pokémon (which is an arrangement of the main theme), N, Battle Trouble (a song that replaces the incessant beeping when your Pokémon's low on health), Elite Four, Reshiram/Zekrom, Kyurem (an arrangement of Reshiram/Zekrom's battle theme), Final Battle with N, Ghetsis (the one with the "DENNIS" chanting), Battle Subway Trainer, Legendary Pokémon, Cynthia (which was imported from Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum), Strong Wild Pokémon (an arrangement of the normal Wild Pokémon battle theme that's used for special battles, like Zoroark), Champion, and High Ranked Battle Subway Trainer (an arrangement of the Champion theme from RBY) — bringing the grand total to nineteen battle themes.
- Black 2 and White 2 certainly deliver on that. In addition to the standard Unova Wild Pokemon/Trainer/Rival/Gym Leader/Elite Four/Champion themes and their variants from Black and White, it also contains remixes of every previous generation's Gym Leader and Champion theme, remixes of the Regi quartet and Uxie/Azelf/Mespirt themes, an additional theme for the World Tournament, and remixes for N, Ghetsis, and Team Plasma. Finally, there're new themes for Black and White Kyurem, Colress, and the new Champion Iris, for a whopping grand total of 33 themes.
- X and Y have: Wild Pokémon, Trainer, Rivals, Gym Leaders, Elite Four, Champion, Team Flare (with a remix for Lysandre, the Version Legendaries and G1 Legendaries.
- Sun and Moon do not disappoint, with unique battle themes for wild Pokémon, regular trainers, Hau, Team Skull grunts, Totem Pokémon, Kahunas, Gladion, Battle Royals, Ultra Beasts, Plumeria, Guzma, Aether Foundation grunts, Lusamine, Lusamine merged with the Nihilego, the version mascots, the Tapus, Elite Four members, and Champion fights, plus remixed themes from older games for Sina and Dexio, Anabel, Wally, Cynthia, Grimsley, Colress, and Red and Blue. That's 25 unique battle themes in all, plus a remix of the Champion battle music from Red and Blue that's reserved for official tournaments.
- Pokémon Colosseum has Friendly Battle, Normal Battle, Cipher Peon Battle, Cipher Admin Battle, Miror B., Semifinal Battle, Final battle in a Colosseum (which is an arrangement of the Cipher Admin theme) and Final Battle. The battle with Nascour averts it though; no music plays.
- In Chrono Cross, the theme when the player fights Miguel is the same morose music that is played during the exposition. The penultimate boss battle is also only the one with a unique theme (besides the above-mentioned Miguel and the battle with FATE at Chronopolis), while the actual final boss fight has no music at all and all the sound effects echo slightly.
- Golden Sun has epic scores for its final bosses... and every other battle too.
- The Baldur's Gate and other Infinity Engine games used Battle Theme Music several times, often having specific music for random encounters vs. plotted ones and so on. It also has an interesting example has a special song when fighting dragons. No other enemy type receives this particular kind of special score. Since Dragons are powerful and significant foes, they tend to warrant "boss" status, even if they aren't actually major parts of the story. (with one exception in To B)
- Icewind Dale is interesting in that the climactic final boss music plays during the Big Bad's initial human Mook Maker form (which is actually rather weak). The actual final battle, which takes place a few levels later and pits your party against a 15-foot tall demon, has no background music at all. Conversely, the final battle of the Heart of Winter expansion pack has extremely epic final boss music.
- Neverwinter Nights had four different sets of battle music (3 standard and 1 boss theme) for each region type in the game (i.e. city, forest, etc) as well as unique boss themes for Dragons, Aribeth, and the final battle against Morag.
- The entire Kingdom Hearts series has nearly as many Boss Themes as it does regular battle themes. This is especially prominent in Kingdom Hearts II, as the same boss theme is rarely played twice in a row.
- Major Disney Villains have two themes that they generally use. Heartless and minor Disney villains (e.g. the Hydra) draw from a larger pool of themes. Organization XIII has three themes of their own, not counting the ones for Xemnas, Marluxia and Roxas.
- Several major plot characters have their own themes: the final bosses of each game, Riku Replica, the Lingering Sentiment, and Roxas (a remix of his leitmotif) Riku-Ansem, appropriately, shares his theme with Ansem, er, Xehanort's Heartless himself.. Xion, like Roxas also has a remix of their leitmotif, and Vanitas has one that takes strong cues from the leitmotif of two related characters, going so far as to be a remix of them at times. Terra-Xehanort has one that mixes Fragments of Sorrow with yet another character's leitmotif.
- Chernabog and Sephiroth, of course, have "Night on Bald Mountain" and "One-Winged Angel."
- The final bosses of most of the games even use different themes for different phases of their battle (this being a series fond of marathon-length sequential final bosses.) Marluxia takes this Up to Eleven with three unique themes for his three-stage fight in Re:CoM.
- The folks over at the Kingdom Hearts Wiki have put together a list of what music plays for what boss here.
- Eternal Sonata did this well. Let's see... you got the battle theme, Four boss themes, The Villain theme, the next-to-last battle theme, the Final Battle theme (Which is a remake of Frederic Chopin's Revolution, with a ton of string instruments and an epic choir thrown in for the hell of it) and, for PS3 owners, there's an extra boss who has his own battle theme as well. That's 9 battle tracks in total.
- The battle fanfare, "Well Done", starts triumphant before transitioning into a lighter theme that just repeats until you get past the reward screen (and any level up screens that may have been triggered).
- Ys series: The later games and remakes tend to have multiple boss themes, eg, the dungeon end boss musics are different from the mid-bosses("Beasts as Black as Night" and "Shock of the Death God" in III), major or Climax Bosses have a special theme (eg "The Ordeal Becomes Great" in IV), and The Dragon (e.g. Dalles in II Eternal), Quirky Miniboss Squad(e.g. the Mages in V), and the Big Bad usually have their own unique theme, with variations for multiple forms.
- Phantasy Star IV has a normal boss battle theme, a boss battle song for Zio and Lashiec (Laughter) and a boss battle theme for the 3 forms of Dark Force.
- Phantasy Star Online 2 uses a shared boss battle theme for its weaker bosses, but all of the strong bosses get their own theme with only a few exceptions.
- Almost every Tri Ace game plays some variation of the song Incarnation of the Devil for at least one of the battles with its bonus bosses.
- Megami Tensei II has two boss themes: the regular one and the one used for Final Boss Satan and True Final Boss YHVH.
- Shin Megami Tensei I only has one theme for every boss, from Orias at the beginning to Michael and Asura at the end.
- Shin Megami Tensei II has two boss themes: one for regular bosses and one for climactic bosses starting with the Archangels and fake YHVH.
- Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has a whole lot of them. There's the miniboss theme, the regular boss theme, the Fiend theme, Dante's theme, Beelzebub's theme, Metatron's theme, the Reason boss theme two themes for Kagutsuchi, and finally The Final Battle, used for Lucifer.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has one for minibosses and Fiends, one for major bosses and Bonus Bosses, one for Judge Zelenin, one for Awake Jimenez, and one for Pillar Zelenin, Soil Jimenez, and Mem Aleph.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV has one for most optional bosses, one for minor required bosses, one for major required bosses and a few of the tougher Bonus Bosses, a remix of the Fiend theme from Nocturne for the Fiends, one for Isabeau, two for Merkabah, two for Lucifer, one for the Archangels, and one for Masakado. The Ancient of Days and Sanat reuse the first theme for Merkabah and Lucifer, respectively.
- Persona 3 has three boss themes: "Master of Shadows" for a Full Moon Shadow, "Master of Tartarus" for a Tartarus floor boss, and "Unavoidable Battle" for Strega members. Then comes the final boss battle and the near-legendary "Battle For Everyone's Souls", a Boss Remix of the Velvet Room theme "Poem For Everyone's Souls". And if you get the true ending, you get a remix of the game's opening theme while fighting the true final boss
- Persona 3 Portable adds the catchy "Danger Zone" battle theme for Tartarus Bosses while playing as the female protagonist.
- The Answer adds two more: "Heartful Cry", for when the SEES members fight against each other to determine the proper course of action, and "Darkness", for the final boss Erebus.
- Persona 4 has fewer boss themes than its predecessor. Mid-Bosses use a modified version of Reach Out To the Truth. Character Shadows and Secret Bosses all use I'll Face Myself. Kunino-sagri and Adachi use New World Fool. Ameno-sagiri uses The Almighty, and Izanami has Fog and The Genesis for her two forms.
- Persona 5 has "Last Surprise" for regular battles, which has the thieves giving Badass Boasts about how their enemies are already finished. "Rivers in the Desert" for some of the endgame Boss Battles, which has dueling verses by the heroes and villains about their Well-Intentioned Extremist desires to change the world. There's also unique insturmental tunes for battles after characters first awaken to their Persona, the various Monster of the Week villains, and mid-boss fights against souped up mooks.
- MARDEK has multiple Boss Battle themes, including, but not limited to, the basic Boss Battle, Muriance Battle, Saviours Battle, GdM Battle, Grand Boss, Secret Boss, Guardian Battle...
- Baten Kaitos. Where do you even begin with this game? There's Chaotic Dance, which plays during the fights against Giacomo and his goons, Supreme Ruler of the Nine Heavens plays during the first two fights with Malpercio, Violent Storm for the final boss fight...and for all the other bosses, it alternates between Vitriolic a Stroke, The True Mirror ~ Guitar Version, Rumbling of the Earth, Condemnation of Darkness, and Glowing Cloud. Then there's the prequel, Origins, which has Chaotic Dance 2 for the Giacomo fights, Iconoclasm for the battles against the Dark Service officers, Poacher for the Afterling battles, Evidential Material for miscellaneous bosses, The Valedictory Elegy ~ Guitar Version for arena battles, Crystal Abyss for the fights against Wiseman, The True Mirror ~ Orchestral Version for the battle against Baelheit, Ruinous Commander plays during the fight against Verus. And finally, though it's not technically a boss theme, Le Ali Del Principio plays during the last part of the final boss battle.
- The Last Remnant takes this trope and runs with it. There's plenty of bosses with personal themes, and there's around FIFTEEN battle themes. Just for the normal battles, you have two themes depending on whether you're in a cave/indoors area or outdoors, plus themes for when your morale is high or low. Then during the second half of the game the high and low morale themes change. And that's not counting the large amount of boss themes.
- The Paper Mario series have a music for the minibosses and then a singular theme for each boss, overlapping with the Leifmotif for major bosses.
- Demon's Souls doesn't have in game music aside from the bosses, who (save the Tower Knight and Penetrator) all have their own theme, including the Vanguard who serves as the tutorial boss.
- Shadow Hearts games usually have a Normal Battle Theme and Boss Theme, which changes when the player reaches the halfway point (usually moving to another continent). Covenant also has unique, incidental themes for battles with enemies such as the Wolf Bouts, Astaroth, among others. Also, both normal and boss battles have their own insane versions if at least one character's sanity point drops below zero.
- Skies of Arcadia had a very dynamic regular boss theme was suitably dark, serious and epic to match the situation but when you reached low health (where the characters you control become visibly weak) it becomes a much more tense, desperate and ominous tune to reflect the danger you're in. Recovering health to a normal state will bring back the original music. On the other hand, when the enemy is in danger (and you aren't of course) and nearing defeat the music will drastically soar to a grand and sweeping theme that's almost a reward in itself. This also occurs during the music for the Final Boss, though the themes that play there are noticeably different and more grandiose. The icing on the cake is that these changes that occur throughout the fight are virtually seamless!
- Almost every boss in The Last Story shares the same theme, but plot-critical opponents get a unique theme each.
- While all bosses of Pandora's Tower except the Final Boss use the same music (the Master Battle music), only the first five use the standard version (sung by male vocalists). The following five use a variant sung by female vocalists, while the Dual Boss governing the last two towers gets a unique, more tense rendition by both sexes. The final boss, Zeron, has a Boss Remix of the game's main theme.
- The Mario & Luigi games typically have one theme for the final boss and another for all the rest, but there are exceptions:
- Superstar Saga gave Popple (and Rookie) a unique battle theme.
- Partners in Time has a theme for the fight against Bowser and his past self. The final boss actually uses three separate themes, although only one is unique to that boss: Elder Princess Shroob's first phase uses her sister's battle music, shifting to her unique theme for her One-Winged Angel form, and borrowing the aforementioned Bowser theme for the Shrowser fight at the very end.
- Bowser's Inside Story has two main boss themes: one for Giant fights (a remix of Bowser's Leitmotif) and one for regular boss fights.
- Dream Team once again has separate battle themes for Giant fights versus regular fights. Exactly two bosses get unique themes: the final boss and the final fight against Antasma.
- Paper Jam continues the trend, having one theme for regular bosses and another for Papercraft Battles; each Papercraft Battle does get its own unique melody for the integrated rhythm minigame, though. The final boss gets two different themes, one for each phase.
- EXA_PICO frequently has Hymnos songs in the background of particularly major boss fights.
- Monster Hunter:
- Each game has a battle theme for each area, although some monsters have their own themes as well. For example, lower-rank large monsters (like Great Jaggi, Iodrome or Arzuros) have a soft-paced track that is different from the default stage battle theme. Various monsters that historically served as flagship creatures (like Nargacuga in Freedom Unite, Zinogre in Portable 3rd, Gore Magala in 4, etc.) are also accompanied by their own unique themes; as do Elder Dragons due to their importance and difficulty. Yian Garuga, Rajang and Deviljho, despite being standard large monsters, have their own unique battle themes as well.
- In 4 Ultimate, there's a unique theme for monsters that reached the powerful Apex status. This theme has maximum Background Music Override privileges. There's a similar theme for Deviants in Generations and XX (except for the Diablos deviant, which has its own theme for being the latter's joint flagship monster alongside Valphalk).
- Septerra Core has five battle themes, chosen randomly for each fight, which are slower and more march-like (except for one theme) than most other examples of this. They are also notable for being the only parts of the game other than the world map that have actual music instead of ambient sounds.
- The Tales of RPG franchises were also known to have several changes in battle music themes. This would reflect the difficulty of the bosses and story progression. Most notably with Tales of Vesperia, Tales of the Abyss, and the two Xillia games (Tales of Xillia & Tales of Xillia 2)
- Signs you are about to fight a dragon in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim include a rushing sound of huge wings, a deep roar, and music that changes to a choir chanting your praises in Dovahzul.
- Child of Light has "Metal Gleamed in the Twilight" as the normal boss theme, "Serpent of the Twilight" (not released on the OST) for the Elemental Hydra and Umbra's daughters, and "Hymn of Light" for the Final Boss battle with Umbra herself. All three heavily use ominous choral chanting.
- Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan has seven battle themes: One for the Maze mini-bosses and the sidequest bosses, one for the Maze bosses, one for both the Final Boss and the Bonus Boss from the Bonus Dungeon (which also borrows the main boss theme in its first phase), one for the Elemental Dragons and the overworld's final Bonus Boss, one for the Field-On Enemies (F.O.E.) and three for the main enemy encounters.
Shoot 'em Up
- Star Fox:
- The same battle theme is used on Star Fox 64 And Star Fox: Assault; and whenever the player controls Wolf, it is his Leitmotif.
- Star Fox uses the default theme as well, but also has different themes for each of the planet bosses (Corneria/Meteor, Titania, Fortuna, and Macbeth), a theme for space bosses, and a remix of the latter for the Venom bosses (both orbit and planetside).
- In Star Fox Adventures, while most bosses usually have their own respective battle themes, Drakor is unusual in that he instead borrows the dramatic track that is first heard during the bat plague sequence in Thorntail Hollow (which occurs after Fox puts in its place the Spellstone that was guarded by the previous boss, King RedEye). As for regular enemies, all of them share a common theme except for particularly menacing creatures (which instead share a more suspenseful theme).
- The Touhou series does this in fine form - each boss in each game has her own theme music which is instantly recognizable. Some get more than one theme!
- Iron Tank has a normal boss theme(at 3:28 in this clip) for tanks, trains, and other vehicles, and a different theme for stationary bosses such as base fortifications and long-range turrets.
- Raiden IV alternates between the Raiden II and Raiden I boss themes.
- R-Type Final: Organic Boss, Mechanical Boss, Final Boss.
- The Guardian Legend used more ominous or frantic boss music for the tougher bosses.
- The standard boss theme in Ikaruga is "Butsutekkai", but the Chapter 2 boss uses "Recapture", a dark rearrangement of "Trial", and the Final Boss's third form uses a Theme Music Power-Up remix of "Ideal".
- In the Gradius series, most returning bosses use the music from the game where they originated, with a few exceptions. In the SNES version of Gradius III, there are two alternating main boss themes, and each of the Boss Rush bosses has their own unique music, as does the Final Boss.
Stealth Action Game
- Metal Gear:
- The original game, Metal Gear, has the standard boss theme ("Mercenary"), one for Metal Gear ("TX-55 Metal Gear") and the final boss theme ("Beyond Big Boss").
- Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake has four different boss themes played at specific battles: "Killers", "Battle Against Time", "Mechanic" (played specifically against mechanical bosses) and Night Sight's theme (the only BGM not in the official soundtrack).
- Metal Gear Solid uses "Duel" for all the boss battles and "Escape" during the second phase of the Metal Gear REX battle and for the jeep battle with Liquid. The GameCube version gave all of the bosses unique themes.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty uses a self-titled theme for the battle against Olga Gurlukovich, "Yell 'Dead Cell'" for all the boss battles in the Big Shell and "Father & Son" during the battle against the mass-produced RAYs and later against Solidus Snake.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has a unique theme for each of the Cobras (with the exception of The End, where only ambient noises are played), as well Ocelot and Volgin. During the final battle against The Boss, an extended version of the intro theme, "Snake Eater", is played when the time limit is running out.
- Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops has a unique theme for each boss. Null gets two boss themes, one for each battle with him.
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots gives each boss a unique theme again. Gekkos get their own battle theme and Haven Troopers use a different theme during forced encounters. The fight against Suicide Gekkos uses the same theme as for the battle with Vamp. The final battle against Liquid Ocelot returns music from all the games (except Portable Ops) up to this point.
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has a unique theme for each boss, with Peace Walker getting two themes, one for each encounter. One of these is the main theme.
- In Resident Evil 2, the musics for the battles with each of Birkin/G's forms share a recurring theme, becoming more intense the more grotesquely it transforms. Each version of the theme is titled "The ____ Malformation of 'G'", where the blank indicates the order of the form ("First", "Second" and "Third"). Other multi-forms bosses in the series, such as Nemesis in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Alexia in Code Veronica, also feature different renditions of their themes for their different forms.
- Haunting Ground: Each stalker's chase music is remixed into a more aggressive version for their boss battle, named "Last [Insert Stalker Name Here]" on the soundtrack.
- The Dead Rising games have unique themes for psychopaths, humans who have gone mad due to the zombie apocalypse.
- The Mega Man Legends games have a unique song for every single boss fight.
- WinBack uses a different boss theme for each of the games major areas (Office Building, Factory, and Control Center), another theme for the penultimate boss, and a Theme Music Power-Up for the Final Boss.
- P.N.03 has two standard boss musics, one for robot bosses, the other for Reactor Bosses, and a few unique battle themes such as the Multi-Mook Melee at the end of Mission 4, Orchidee and Loewenzahn's One-Winged Angel forms, and the Final Boss's two forms.
Turn Based Strategy
- Yggdra Union literally breeds battle themes. The game has a separate theme for ALL playable named characters and five generic ones that play for generic units, depending on their affiliation and rank. Which theme plays is decided by who is doing the attacking in the current battle. And then there's Blaze Union and Gloria Union, which do the same thing.
- The Fire Emblem series generally uses the Normal, Major and Villain formula for boss themes, but Radiant Dawn deserves particular mention for having an absolute ton of Villain themes, with nearly every major storyline boss getting their own unique one, including an NPC you never get to fight outside of scripted cutscenes! Well... sort of. It even somewhat Inverts this by giving several late-joining (but extremely powerful) playable characters their own unique battle themes.
- The Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series employ their respective styles of fanfare.
- The MOTHER series employs a more subdued version of the Final Fantasy style, with the first game going to silence after the fanfare and the other two going to a soft, ambient theme after the fanfare.
- The victory tune for each Grandia game would change if you got a perfect battle, which means finishing battle without taking any damage.
- Super Mario RPG and the Mario & Luigi series use the Final Fantasy style, while the Paper Mario games use the Dragon Quest style.
- Pokémon has three variants of the Final Fantasy style, one for defeating and capturing wild Pokémon, one for defeating a Trainer, and one for defeating Gym Leaders and Elite Four. The console games (the Stadium series, Colosseum, XD, and Battle Revolution) exclusively use the Dragon Quest style. Later games also add a fanfare for defeating members of the villainous team.
- There are two for MARDEK: one for after regular battles, and one for after boss battles.
- The fanfare in Chrono Cross is a reworked version of Lucca's theme from Chrono Trigger. Defeating regular enemies plays the victory theme with a soft flute, while defeating a boss plays the same theme with loud brass horns and a percussive snare drum. A bit unusually, the same fanfare plays when you recruit characters and at certain (usually triumphant) events in the story.
- RPG Maker games are set up to use the Dragon Quest style of fanfare by default. Prior to XP one could easily use a Final Fantasy-type fanfare in their game if they chose to, but afterwards the victory theme is designated as a Music Event which cannot be made to loop (although some scripting trickery will allow for a simulation of the Final Fantasy style anyway).
- Fallout 4 has standard "Level Up" and "Quest Completed" fanfares, plus fanfares based on the four story factions' leitmotifs when completing their respective quests.
- Yggdra Union does this for the damage calculation screen.
- All games in the Star Control series had victory fanfares for each type of ship (upwards of 30), giving a specific feel for each of the races. And of course, the (single) combat theme music in Star Control II is arguably the most memorable musical piece in the entire game (which is surprising, considering the amount of unique music themes this game contains).
- The Legend of Zelda:
- 3D games deserve a mention for their normal battle music, which only activates gradually when an enemy is nearby. This gives it a secondary function of a sort of Spider Sense, if you will, since you'll sometimes know when an enemy is approaching even if you can't see it yet. Then it seamlessly transitions back to the regular music.
- The night battle music in Wind Waker, heard when sailing during night, differs from the regular enemy theme.
- Ocarina of Time has the Hyrule Field battle theme, and the Dungeon/Nighttime battle theme. Twilight Princess has day, night, and Twilight Beast battle themes, as well as Variable Mixes of the local music themes.
- Another thing to note is that often times the battle music is less intense until you the first blow is dealt (by the player or the enemy), then the music gets more intense.
- The Splinter Cell series makes extensive use of situational music, supposing you're less than a perfect sneak. By the time Chaos Theory rolls around, there are three levels of music corresponding to the enemies' awareness of Sam (they know someone is lurking, they have spotted him, they have severely wounded him/boss battle), with clean tempo cuts between each. Otherwise, complete absence of melodic music is the norm.
- Magicka generally uses a Variable Mix where the level theme becomes louder and more intense when enemies appear. However, for Hold the Line segments and other such larger battles, the music changes completely into a much faster and more intense track. Challenge Maps also all play a single music track.
- Hype The Time Quest has a battle fanfare. The same one for every boss.
- Besides the Boss Themes, the Metroid Prime series employ Villain Music quite often. Any time you're in a Space Pirate research facility in the first game, a drone ambient track starts playing, changing to a full-fledged "Space Pirate Battle" theme when the Pirates appear. Another special battle theme is used for both the Chozo Ghosts in the Chozo Ruins and the Elite Pirates in the Phazon Mines. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has a theme for Ing battles and another to possessed Trooper confrontations.
- Metroid II: Return of Samus (and, by extension, Metroid: Samus Returns) have different music for the evolved Metroid battles (also, unrelated to Villain and Boss, regular monsters that are more dangerous get an ominous theme).
- Deus Ex shifted adeptly between regular music and battle music, with each location having its own.
- Left 4 Dead uses distinct musical cues to alert players to the presence of the special Infected; as the game is presented as an interactive zombie movie, it's treated as the "score" adapting to the AI Director's sadism.
- Star Trek: Elite Force 2 has this big time. You have the dinking around music, the scary suspenseful music, then the Scare Chord followed by the battle music. Also another Scare Chord for death and an "end the level" diddy.
- In Borderlands the local dungeon music for each area gradually shifts into a more intense theme when in combat, then shifts back once everyone is dead.
- Serious Sam has several different songs for every area, from a calm variant (no enemies) to tense battle themes which fade in and out depending on whether there are enemies nearby.
- Super Robot Wars does this in a very unique way, as battle themes are mostly dependent on the character attacking, depending on which series they represent. For most characters this is usually their series' opening theme, but certain characters may also use different themes (minor pilots, for example, may use the series' Battle music), while a Special Attack or Finishing Move that has it's own theme in-series will use that. The Original Generation by series' developer Banpresto takes it one step further, where nearly every heroic and villainous character gets his or her own unique battle theme.
- Final Fantasy XI is one of the few MMORPGs that change the music when you go into a battle. What's more, the music changes depending on whether or not you're on the overworld, in a dungeon or fighting a boss... and expansion regions have new versions of all of these. There are at least fifteen battle songs in all.
- Aion is another MMORPG that has different music for when you go into battle, a different one for each sub zone. Some of them are orchestrated peiced, others are metal, but in the large pvp area, the Abyss , there are ten different techno themes that can play any where at any time when you battle.
- World of Warcraft normally has nothing battle-specific (though some themes play specifically in the boss room) but seems to slowly get into the idea of it. The Trial of the Champion/Crusader dungeons, where you fight bosses one after another, play battle-oriented music, and the Gunship encounter in Icecrown Citadel has theme all of it's own, as do some of the bosses of the Frozen Hall dungeons. Note that there is an addon that lets you use MP3s for this purpose.
- EverQuest II has dynamic music, where the music changes on how well you do you in a fight and there are several diffrent themes and even a victory/player death music.
- Phantasy Star Online 2 also gives each area its own battle theme when enemies appear, although unlike much of the game, field encounter themes are generally static, compared to the boss music, most of which have dynamic soundtracks.
- Shows up in a couple of Real-Time Strategy games - Homeworld has exactly three (excellent) battle-music tracks that play at certain scripted points in missions.
- Command & Conquer: Generals uses a heavy metal remix of your faction's music whenever your troops are fighting.
- Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars switches over to a faster, more upbeat track if there's shooting going on, even if you order one of your own units to shoot the ground. Presumably it is scripted to go off if any of your units are in the "shooting" state.
- The series has some uplifting "Victory" Music as well as combat and "calm before the storm" themes for each faction, some games even have an version of the Enemy's theme intrude on you when they fire off their superweapon and a more epic theme for when you're winning and thus sacking their base.
- In Homeworld 2, regular battles have upbeat tracks but boss battles have creepy ones. Keepers and Movers have their own battle tracks, here and here. The boss battle with Makaan goes to an eastern-sounding tune with Sanskrit lyrics (a remix of this plays during the credits as well) while the final battle goes with a really depressing one. Note that these tracks play during space battles. The original Homeworld avoids it entirely with the entire soundtrack including battle musics being composed of monotone, Middle East-style music. A little sample...
- Haegemonia Legions of Iron has a lot of different battle tunes.
- Tales Series:
- Tales of Eternia and Tales of Symphonia had a battle theme for each world. Symphonia, in particular, went nuts with this: it had separate battle themes for Sylvarant, Tethealla, the Renegades, the Desian Grand Cardinals, angels, Summon Spirits, Kratos and Yggdrasil, as well as a separate theme for the battles with party members.
- Tales of Hearts has thirteen battle themes. Several for different stages of the game, separate subclasses for dealing with normal and boss-type Zerom, and some more for dealing with regular bosses, a couple for The Rival, one for The Dragon, one for each phase of the final boss...
- Symphonia's sequel similarly has a ton of battle themes - one for Sylvarant areas, one for Tethe'alla areas, one for new areas, one for the Coliseum/Ginnungagap, two general boss themes, one for the Vanguard, one for Richter, one for Lloyd and Marta, and one for Emil/Ratatosk.
- Tales of Vesperia gave us four regular battle themes (one for each third of the game and one for the Very Definitely Final Dungeon), one for the coliseum, the major boss theme, the Entelexia battle theme, and a battle theme for various major characters: Zagi, Flynn, Estelle, Alexei, Duke, and the cameo fights each have their own battle themes. Yeager is given one as well in the Updated Re-release.
- Tales of Xillia ups the ante further with six regular battle themes: depending on whether you chose Jude or Milla as the "main" character at the start of the game, you get a different set of three battle themes (one for each third of the game) and a seventh for the Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Jude's battle themes use electric guitar as their main instrument, while Milla's use the violin.
- In Dragon's Dogma, depending on your character level, enemies you encountered and your health, the instruments of the battle theme varies.
- The EarthBound series has different themes depending on what kind of monsters you fight, including the bosses. It's worth noting that EarthBound's sequel, MOTHER 3, has an absolutely astounding number of different battle themes, not counting remixes (for the purposes of the rhythm-based battle system). And they cover a stunningly wide variety of musical genres, from rock to blues to jazz to Latin to orchestral to techno and back again.
- Suikoden II has a variant - when the plot takes you to the country where the first game was set, the battle music changes to a remix of the original Suikoden battle theme.
- In Suikoden V, having certain characters in your active party would change the battle music. Having the conductor would change it to a stirring orchestral piece, having the rock star would invoke an Ys-style heavy metal remix, and having the flutist would change it to a flute-heavy arrangement.
- Skies of Arcadia had a number of battle themes. The music would even change in boss battles between "normal", "crisis" when the party had low HP, and "triumphant" when the party had high HP and the enemy had low HP. Hearing the switch from one to another when using a particularly meaty special move is very satisfying.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story's regular battle music changes depending on whether you're playing as Mario and Luigi or Bowser.
- Dream Team featured different battle themes for the Real World and the Dream World.
- Paper Jam featured two battle themes. One of the being a remix of the battle theme from Superstar Saga and the other being a new one for when Paper Mario joins the party.
- Fire Emblem has a Battle Theme for both the player and enemy army, Boss Theme and Big Bad Theme until the third game. From the fourth game on there is also a Villain Theme and a special theme for enemy units that could be recruited was only present in the fourth game. Path of Radiance mixed things up by giving new battle themes for both sides midway through the game and Radiant Dawn added battle themes for each army present in the game.
- Dark Cloud: most of the battle music early on was the same, but in the later parts of the game the battle music was removed entirely in favour of dungeon-specific music. This was very welcome seeing as the normal battle music sounded like someone throwing marbles at a xylophone.
- The Kingdom Hearts games feature separate battle themes for each world. As with the Legend of Zelda example above, it activates when an enemy is nearby even if you can't see it.
- Freelancer has different background music for Liberty, Bretonia, Rheinland, Kusari, and the Independent, Border, Outer and Edge Worlds. The battle theme for each of these is a faster-paced Variable Mix of the normal BGM.
- Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Along with having different themes for each area you fight in those themes also have different solos to keep it fresh
- There's a special case in the Japanese RPG Dual Orb 2, which has one battle theme. ONE. For EVERY BATTLE, from the first all the way to the final battle. And given the skewed chances for a random encounter, you'll be sick of it far before then.
- The World Ends with You has a soundtrack that it picks from at random for each random encounter. Has the effect of keeping all of the music fresh, since you never get one single tune repeated ad nauseum.
- Every Pokémon game after and starting with Crystal typically have different music than the normal encounter theme when you go up against a legendary Pokémon. Sometimes, a legendary Pokémon that roams around the game world will have a unique encounter theme. In Pokémon Gold and Silver there is an additional battle theme for the regular encounters in Kanto. In Pokémon Black and White, there is an additional theme for the Pokémon fought in Victory Road, or just special encounters in other areas.
- Almost every LucasArts game with both combat and non-combat sections ever, since the creation of iMUSE. Including, but not limited to, the many Star Wars space simulators, where original Star Wars themes were worked into each other so that the music escalated from one famous tune to another, more upbeat one, as the combat situation evolved.
- The Final Fantasy series, obviously. The themes reference each other a bit, as you can hear in this here retrospective covering ones from the main series up to number ten.
- Star Ocean: The Last Hope had a standard battle theme used for most worlds with two exceptions. The battle music for Roak is a remix of the first game's battle music, while the battle music for En II is remix of the second game's battle music. And Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has a standard battle theme which is essentially a remix of the second game's battle system with some original notes, and have some boss battle themes that are from other tri-Ace games.
- Wild ARMs 1 AlterCodeF does something interesting with random battle music. If you have less than a full party (due to plot-related circumstances), then it plays a remix version of the standard battle music. And if you're in control of Calamity Jane (due to plot-related circumstances), it plays her music as battle music.
- The Elder Scrolls: Starting with Morrowind, the series typically has "exploration" themes, which are softer and make for nice background music. When a nearby enemy is aggro'd, the music will shift to a sharper "battle theme". Starting with Oblivion, a "tension theme" is also present. This plays when enemies are nearby, but have not yet detected you and are not aggro'd. As an aside, when modders tried to disable audio track shifting to improve game speed, the game threw a fit.
- Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, the latter having more dynamic changes between ambient and battle themes. FNV's battle music also changes between good and evil karma levels.
- Fallout 4's three situational battle themes are based on the game's own main theme, the FNV theme, and the Minutemen settlement theme. Similar to the above examples, dungeon encounter music is usually preceded by a "tension" variation.
- Breath of Fire IV gives you two battle, boss, and victory musics apiece, three for the eastern side of the world, and the same for the west. The eastern side music is your typical RPG high-fantasy epic-adventure fare, but the western side music consists of Chinese-influenced drum-n-bass pieces.
- Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis features at least three different random battle themes, one for every grade the characters are in, plus several boss battle themes; most of them are incredibly catchy. The sequel has three more themes for random battles, with a much greater emphasis on guitar. It's also possible to change the random battle music from the second playthrough on, with choices including most of the first game's battle themes.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, you'll know you're about to fight Darkspawn when this theme starts playing.
- Phantasy Star III has four different Random Encounter themes. The first one plays when you see the enemies appear. Once the battle actually starts, the game plays one of three other themes. Which one is played depends on how well your party was doing. If your party is at a major advantage, or has just surprised the enemy, upbeat, optimistic music plays. If neither side has a major advantage, tense music plays. If you're ambushed or in trouble, the music will reflect this very clearly with a 'You're in trouble now' soundtrack. The music changes between these 3 themes in battle to reflect how well you're doing (or not).
- MARDEK 's normal combat music carries a more classical feel to it, though still engaging and epic, and feels right for a combat theme. Word of God says that this theme will change with the latter half of the series, though.
- For a GBA game, Golden Sun has quite a few battle themes. As of Golden Sun: The Lost Age we have the battle themes of Isaac, Felix, Jenna; the first and second boss themes; the battle themes of Saturos, Saturos and Menardi, Fusion Dragon, Doom Dragon, Linked, Colosso, Ship, Karst and Agatio's, the Dragons, and 'finally the "non-adept" battle theme.
- Beast Signer got 6 different battle teams and the game is not even done yet.
- In Endless Frontier, each character has a battle theme associated with them, and whenever the player gets into a random encounter, one of those themes were selected at random for that battle. The sequel, however, had so many playable and assist characters that the game only selected battle themes from your active party and their supports... and since certain characters had two battle themes associated with them in that game, you could have a pool of ten battle themes used in random encounters. Out of twenty-one.
- Outside of boss battles, every battle theme in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a more intense remix of the theme for whichever area the battle was taking place in.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona:
- Persona 3 has the rather catchy "Mass Destruction"note as its normal battle theme. Persona 3 FES adds a heavier remix for the Playable Epilogue. Persona 3 Portable adds a new theme, "Wiping All Out", for the female main character.
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth has "Light the Fire Up In The Night", which is not only arranged differently depending on whether you pick the main character from Persona 3 or Persona 4, but also features a different female vocalist from that character's gamenote .
- Atelier Rorona and Atelier Totori both feature your standard battle themes with a catch: If it's your first time fighting a strong random encounter enemy, the battle themes in both will switch to a more off-tune, violent and overall chaotic version of the normal battle theme. You'll know it when you hear it, and god help you if you didn't bring enough healing items...
- The battle themes in Xenoblade differ based on whether you or the enemy takes the initiative in the starting the battle. There's a pair of themes used for the majority of the game, a pair that's only played in the Mechonis areas, and a theme that's used exclusively for the enemies fought past the Point of No Return on the way to the final boss. Save for a few exceptions, all of the battle themes, be they boss or otherwise, can also be overridden by one of two other themes; one that plays when you change the future, and one that plays when your party is in low spirits.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X has one battle theme for fighting wild beasts, one for fighting hostile sentients, and then another two for engaging each type of foe while piloting a Skell. Unlike the previous game, an enemy getting the drop on you results in a tense riff that transitions into the main battle theme instead of an entirely separate track.
- The RPG Maker game OFF uses Pepper Steak as the main battle theme for most of the game, until you get to a certain point, at which it starts using this nightmare straight out of Silent Hill as the battle music.
- The Last Remnant has different battle themes for indoors and outdoors areas. Additionally, the music can change mid-battle if your morale meter drops too low or gets high enough.
- Child of Light has three location-based mook battle themes: "Dark Creatures" for the Mahthildis Forest and Greater Lemuria, "Jupiter's Lightning" for the Plains of Rambert and Cliffs of Erin, and "Sword of Mars" (not on the OST) for the Flooded Lands and Cynbel Sea.
- Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan has three music themes for the enemy encounters:
- The standard battle theme, heard during the first 60% of the main campaign.
- The music for encounters that take place in the Cloudy Stronghold, its main dungeons and mini-dungeons, and the portions of the previous dungeons that are unveiled near the end of the game.
- The music for encounters inside the Bonus Dungeon.
- When enemy ships approach in Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator, the music changes from sweeping strings & synth to blaring horn fanfares.
- Freespace generally has very slow, quiet themes for its missions, that almost seamlessly switch to more upbeat battle themes whenever enemies show up using a Variable Mix. All of its soundtracks have three different battle themes, varying in intensity, to use accordingly with how much action is currently taking place.
- Wing Commander's use of situational music was part of what made Sound Blaster a home name in computer gaming. Special mention goes to WC2, when you target a capital ship and arm a torpedo. It has a unique tune that's timed to play differently with each stage of a typical torpedo run.
- In Star Trek: Bridge Commander, the music shifts depending on how well you're doing. If you and your allies outnumber and out-match the enemy, an almost fanfare-like, optimistic theme plays. But do poorly, or be totally outmatched (like going up against a Borg Cube alone) and the music turns deadly. It should be noted that Borg Cubes don't exist in the original game, but the "This Is Gonna Suck" theme plays anyway WITHOUT any extra scripting or programing due to the Cube having a higher HP total than your ship.
- In the original Alone in the Dark (1992), a Scare Chord plays and the music gets creepier when an enemy appears.
- In Resident Evil 4, mooks, especially Ganados, have various creepy battle musics depending on the location. Picked up again in Resident Evil 5, one of the most notable examples is the prologue level, when Sheva and Chris are holed up in a shack fighting an endless horde, then the "second stage" begins and the Executioner shows up accompanied by his own heart-pumping terror-inducing theme.
- As battle is separate from other screens, the Heroes of Might and Magic games naturally have battle music, randomly selected from a handful of tracks.