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Level 1 Music Represents
The background music of the first level in many video games frequently becomes the theme associated with the series. Sometimes, the "first level" theme becomes so representative of the series that it supplants the planned Main Theme in later games and advertising material. After all, chances are that people will spend more time on the first level learning the ropes rather than admiring the title screen. Since most developers are aware of this, they'll be likely to spend a little more time on the Level 1 music, and perhaps put it in a higher number of levels due to the extra work put into it, further feeding into this trope. This trope is more common in linear games (like platformers and shoot-em-ups) as opposed to Sandboxes or RPGs, where level 1 is often either not clearly defined or played after spending an appreciable amount of time on the Traversible World Map.

A Sub-Trope of Bootstrapped Theme. If sequels continue to use the level 1 music from the first game, it's also a form of First Installment Wins.

Straight Examples of this trope include:


Subversions, aversions, and inversions include:

  • The Bionic Commando theme appears to be a straight example, being the zone 1 music from the NES game but in the original arcade game the music is used on the second level.
  • In the original Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, this trope was in effect for most of the stages (including the aforementioned Mario, DK, Zelda, etc.). However, Kirby's stage uses the "Gourmet Race" from Kirby Super Star instead.
  • The Mega Man series is all over the place with this trope:
  • Double Dragon: the title theme is played during the final boss battle, but during the bonus sibling match that occurs when two players complete the game together, the music changes to the Mission 1 theme. This also holds true to the NES version, which has Machine Gun Willy as the penultimate boss and Jimmy Lee as the final boss.
    • The arcade version of Double Dragon II uses a Boss Remix of the title theme in its penultimate battle (again with Willy), prior to the final battle with the Lee clones. In the NES version, where Willy is absent, this remix plays during the tractor battle in Mission 6.
    • Super Double Dragon has a different title theme and the classic Double Dragon Theme is instead used as background music for Mission 5. The Japanese version (titled Return of Double Dragon) restores the Double Dragon theme to its rightful place and uses an arranged version of the Mission 1 theme from the original arcade game for Mission 5.
  • In Dynasty Warriors 2, the theme for the Battle of Hulao Gate, "Jump Into the Battlefield", is extremely popular and well known, even though the Battle of Hulao Gate is the second stage in the game after the Yellow Turban Rebellion.
  • MOTHER: "Pollyanna" is the overworld tune that plays at the start of the game when Ninten is the only party member. It is not considered the theme song for the game (that is usually either the title screen theme or Eight Melodies), but it is considered the theme for the MOTHER series as a whole.
  • NiGHTS plays with this trope. While the main character's theme, Dream Dreams, is considered the series' main theme, the first level's song, Paternal Horn, is treated as a secondary theme and is used in every Sega Superstars game that features a NiGHTS level.
  • Anarchy Reigns has many Leitmotifs for its characters, but the theme that caught on most is Tre-Dot's Ruthless, which was used as the first song in-game from the demo.
  • Reversed in Mega Man Zero where the first level's theme was Zero's theme from the original X game.
    • And on the topic of Zero Marvel vs. Capcom 3 averts this by using the Copy Zero battle theme from X2.
  • The Stage 1 music in Shockman is the title theme.


Letting the Air out of the BandScore and Music TropesLohengrin and Mendelssohn

alternative title(s): Level One Music Represents
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