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Soundtrack Dissonance: Videogames
Why is this music so very happy?
It doesn't fit Dr. Wily at all,
It makes the tower sound like a theme park,
It doesn't make any sense.

  • As a general note, game developers spend a lot of time and money to try to avert this. Modern games often have massive codes that try to predict the general mood of the setting based on what has happened so far, how long ago that happened, and what the player is currently. Simpler games then use this info select which track play, or if they run multiple tracks, how loud each one is, though even more dynamic soundtracks are possible.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals has a rather intense music the entire time, even when you just start the game and you're in charge of a bulldozer and a command center note . No, awesomeness does not belong in telling your troops to set up camp.
  • Batman: Arkham City : As the end credits roll, the Joker sings a sickly, sad rendition of The Platters' "Only You (And You Alone)"— here, for Batman. It actually sadly explains their relationship quite well.
  • Bio Metal for the SNES had two soundtracks by region- the Japanese version and the North American/European version. The Japanese soundtrack is generally considered to better fit the rather dark mood of the game, while the English soundtrack is much-hated by the shmup community because the 2 Unlimited music used spoils the mood.
  • Blast Corps. for the Nintendo 64 had an ill-placed theme, to quote composer Graeme Norgate, "Oh, Jesus. One of my tracks for Blast Corps on the N64. It was when the space shuttle took off. It was completely inappropriate. I still cringe every time I hear it."
  • Breath of Fire IV has a soundtrack consisting of medieval age european or asian music themes, depending on which continent the player is on. Then we have Ershin's theme that's very techno-ish, and Kahn's theme which is like 50's beach rock and acts as his Leitmotif and boss fight music.
  • This amusing piece from Turok: Shadow of Oblivion.
  • Conkers Bad Fur Day ending theme is a punch in the face, considering the nature of the whole game.
  • The Nintendo Hard bramble levels of Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest are backed with the most insanely relaxing music in the history of gaming. (This might be deliberate, an attempt to keep the player from experiencing a psychotic episode.) Just have a listen.
    • The last bramble level was an exception. It was a race against an evil parrot that used intense music for a good portion of the level. However, the music still played during the rest of the level, and to make up for this brief period of fitting music, this was the last level before the epic battle to save DK. That means that if you go straight into the next area, ignoring the map screen's music, you go straight from the above song to a different song that the Japanese record industry doesn't want us spoiling.
    • "Forest Interlude" is equally, if not even more relaxing than the above song. It shows up in a haunted forest.
    • Or what about when you go into a Bonus Level and that jazzy rendition of the Jungle Hijinx starts playing? Sure, it is for a bonus game, without the danger of being killed, but it sounds really funny (and quite relieving) when you've been navigating your way through a claustrophobic ship wreck.
    • The Donkey Kong Land series, being based on more limited hardware, naturally had to excise a few songs to stay within the Game Boy's space restraints. The second game in particular has several egregious examples: the claustrophobic "ship hold" music, for example, tends to show up on every stage related to a pirate ship in any way. Even the rigging stages, which are not claustrophobic in any sense of the word.
      • Donkey Kong Country 2 especially has a fantastic soundtrack with a powerful series of songs that are by turns, epic, haunting, intense, unsettling, and uplifting. Most of them wouldn't be out of place in an epic TV show or blockbuster movie, but instead they're used in a game where you play two monkeys fighting pirate-themed reptilians in a feud that stems from the reptiles' ongoing attempts to steal said monkey's bananas.
    • When Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! was ported to the GBA, the music was redone, including this ditty for levels taking place inside the trees. However, one of these levels involves a giant saw destroying the tree under you. To quote one of the YouTube comments:
    "This song does not suit a situation involving a rising bandsaw. It just doesn't."
    • It DOES however, fit the situation for every other stage with that theme. (bouncing spiders and monkeys throwing coconuts, for example.)
  • Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II both play pop songs during the credits.
  • The original Fallout begins with a close-up on a TV flashing classic 1950s images and icons, while The Inkspots' "Maybe" plays. Slowly, the "camera" pulls out to reveal the TV set is in the midst of a landscape utterly devastated by warfare.
    • To make it worse, "Maybe" is played again in the ending. Y'know, as the hero is exiled from Vault 13, and marches depressingly into the wastes. Alone.
    • Fallout 2 goes the same route; "A Kiss To Build A Dream On" by Louis Armstrong is played over a slightly humorous instructional video about leaving the Vaults and the tools they'll be using to build their new life, which ends with the people doing so... and running smack into the Enclave soldiers waiting for them at the entrance. The folks wave "hello" to the Enclave, and then the miniguns open fire.
    • Fallout 3 opens similarly, with "I Don't Want To Set the World on Fire" by the Inkspots playing on a bus radio while the camera pans slowly over the bus interior. The camera then zooms out from the bus, which is now shown to have been blown in half, and, while the song echoes faintly and ominously in the background, reveals the burnt-out ruins of Washington DC.
      • "I Don't Want To Set the World on Fire" was, appropriately, the first choice of music for the first Fallout, but had to be dropped due to confusion over the rights of the song. For many fans, seeing the teaser trailer for Fallout 3 is a pretty amusing taste of What Could Have Been.
    • For the second trailer to Fallout 3, the happy-go-lucky "Dear Hearts and Gentle People" was the music used. It played over images of the nuke-scarred wasteland and both mutants and people alike being blasted to pieces with shotguns, grenades and miniguns.
    • There is also a radio in the game, so you can listen to more cheerful tunes from The Forties and The Fifties as you blow things apart and/or are blown apart.
      • There are radios in game as well as built into the player character. So while the ambient sound track is germane to the reality of a blighted world, if the player chooses not to play the recommended GNR Radio at all times, you can still hear cheery tracks like 'Let's Go Sunning' drift in during three-way firefights between super mutants, mercenaries and genocidal fascists.
      • The Enclave radio station plays Sousa marches and other patriotic American music, as a counter-point to walking around the wrecked hellscape of the former American capital.
      • In the last mission in Tranquility Lane the game plays relaxing, happy-go-lucky music that you would hear in a 50s sitcom set to your character going around and violently stabbing all of the residents of the town with a knife
      • Fallout 3 is a bit of a subversion, as well, since the radio is both under the player's control as well as being a larger plot device. Being replaced by a more fitting dark ambient soundtrack if you choose to not keep the radio on adds to this.
    • Soundtrack mods for Galaxy News Radio in Fallout 3 play this up even more. Bob Crosby's "Dear Hearts and Gentle People" starting up just as you get tossed out of Vault 101, anybody?
    • Fallout: New Vegas has this in its E3 reveal trailer: a montage of violent gunfights and sinfulness... to 'Jingle Jangle Jingle', a song which is basically impossible to frown to.
    • New Vegas itself has the same Radio-pick "problem", as you can pick up the Mojave station and blow giant scorpions apart while listening to cheery cowboy songs, tune in to the New Vegas radio and get in massive firefights while Frank Sinatra sings, or listen to Old World Blues's Mysterious Broadcast and let slow Jazz accompany you as you're assaulted by robot scorpions while a Mad Scientist yells at you.
    • The Fallout series as a whole can probably be seen as a great example of this: cheery 50's pop and post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland.
      • Quite possibly intentional in universe, either for Gallows Humor or some other way to cope with the environment.
  • Bioshock, a game set in a horrific undersea dystopia, features a lot of dissonant music from the 1940s and 1950s playing in the background at certain points. Don't be surprised to find yourself in a shoot-out with some splicers while a song like "Beyond the Sea" (which was used in one excellent commercial for the game) or even "How Much is That Doggy in the Window?" plays in the background.
    • The fans like doing this too.
    • Even more memorably, at around the halfway point in the game there is a combat sequence where Mad Artist Sander Cohen sics a whole bunch of splicers on the player at once. His choice of background music? "Waltz of the Flowers" by Tchaikovsky.
    • The complete soundtrack listing is here. Points for the most ironic song (considering the theme of the game) has to be "The Best Things in Life" by The Ink Spots. Another particularly creepy one is "God Bless the Child" by Billy Holiday, especially since it's played the first time you get the choice to harvest or free a Little Sister. If there's any game where this trope is a significant part of the experience, Bioshock is it.
  • Kat and Ana's segment in WarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgame$ has you playing cutesy Nature microgames with a serious samurai epic song in the background.
  • I Made A Game With Zombies In it. Watch and listen.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei Games for the SNES had a heavy dissonance when it came to the final boss battles, The only dissonance in Nocturne was the First Round of the Final Boss Battle. It had a techno like theme [1]
  • Kingdom Hearts II; in the Final Mix version of the game during the difficult battle with Roxas, a Boss Remix of his theme song accompanied by the piano plays. It lies in stark contrast to the game's typical agitated battle music.
    • 358/2 Days brings in the battle with Xion's One-Winged Angel form, which is also a melancholic Boss Remix of the character's theme
    • An example that doesn't have to do with mood, but "This is Halloween" still is the background music... in Christmas Town.
      • This is changed in the Final Mix version to include new themes composed just for Christmas Town.
    • And in Kingdom Hearts 3D, try listening to The Nutcracker while beating the crap out of (or getting the crap beat out of you by) dream eaters.
  • In Railroad Tycoon 2, the soundtrack is limited to instrumental bluegrass music. It's not exactly appropriate when you're building railroads in the Russian Empire or 19th-century Japan.
  • Any Bemani (like Dance Dance Revolution and beatmania) game has songs that don't fit in with the theme of the game, mainly the crossovers from one game to another. Osamu Kubota and Hirofumi Sasaki songs are the biggest offenders mainly. Of course, everyone has went to a nightclub and heard the DJ play a piano etude or a slow, Japanese instrumental.
    • Pop'n Music has any number of songs that contradict the series' light-hearted, cartoony tone; everything from death metal, to moody-sounding trance, to a "nightmare carosel" song, among others. Additionally, some of the characters do not fit their respective songs; a librarian for Days, a "smirking kid on a skateboard" (to quote a review on GameFAQs) for a classical medley song in Beat'n Groovy, among other issues. Oh, and wanna know what song has a reputation as the hardest song in this series? This song!
    • Would you believe that KIMONO PRINCESS is a Dance Dance Revolution boss song?
  • Final Fantasy VII played Aerith's theme music over the Jenova LIFE boss battle to show Cloud's complete disconnection from the fight in light of Aerith's death. More subtly, it also showed the whole of Sector Seven being obliterated; we cut to President Shinra, who ordered the destruction, sitting in his office watching it all while listening to Haydn.
    • A more amusing instance was the Serious Business boss music playing while you fought Palmer, who spent most of the battle dancing around or spanking himself.
  • In Final Fantasy IX Black Waltz 3 kills a group of black mages while Vivi looks on in horror; a soft, sad piano theme plays in the background. Yeah, it's a Tear Jerker.
  • Final Fantasy X had Lulu's calm and melancholic theme song plays when you fight the soul of the summoner she failed to protect, who had morphed into a fiendish version of her Aeon. In a similar example, the battle music in Zanarkand is the same bittersweet tune that plays out of battle.
  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy has bonus songs, one for each game, that are purchasable through the game's PP catalog. The bonus songs are all in their original game's style, so the ones for the first three games are 8-bit chiptunes, which is dissonance on its own. The bonus song for the original Final Fantasy, however, is an 8-bit track of the quiet, peaceful town theme. Just try taking your epic battles seriously while listening to this.
    • And in case that wasn't strange enough, Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy gives us the beautiful, romantic, and heartwarming Theme of Love from Final Fantasy IV as a battle theme... how does that even work?
  • The aptly titled An End Once and For All that plays over the ending cutscenes of Mass Effect 3 is a classic example of this. You get to watch all sorts of explosions, deaths, and heartwrenching shots of your squadmates as a beautiful, quiet piano plays over the scene, while most of the audio is muted. It's utterly heartbreaking, especially with the Extended Cut DLC.
    • In a similar vein, you have the music in the opening cutscene Leaving Earth: A soft piano/orchestral piece, which plays while you watch hundreds of enormous mechanical Eldritch Abominations lay waste to Vancouver.
  • The final battle of the original version of Final Fantasy I pits you against the Big Bad Chaos, and the background music is...the normal battle music.
    • It was standard in NES era for final bosses to have the same boss battle theme as the rest. Finding such games made nowadays... is a challenge.
  • Kefka of Final Fantasy VI tends to cause this.
    • Similar to the Joker example below, Kefka's theme is a whimsical tune which you soon learn to equate with "something horrible is about to happen".
    • Kefka's theme only STARTS with whimsy. After a minute or so, it suddenly becomes a bombastic, military march... then goes back to whimsy when it loops. At first it's silly, ("AHEM, there is SAND on my boots!") later it's obvious scary how well the music parallels how quickly and seamlessly he shifts from silly one-liner jokes to quite-serious declarations of worldly destruction.
    • The epic Dancing Mad final boss theme in has an unexpectedly peaceful segment during the third tier of the fight. It's a virtuoso organ piece that borrows from Kefka's own Leitmotif if you're listening close enough. It also shamelessly rips off "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" and draws on a distinct similarity to Handel's "Messiah", appropriately enough considering that the third stage has you fighting against a rather blatant case of Pietŕ Plagiarism.
  • The DS version of Final Fantasy IV has Whyt's training. It's kind of weird hearing Rydia's beautiful theme music playing over the solving of simple math problems.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 has "Yakusoku no Basho" or "New World" playing during the ending sequence in an initially cheerful scene, and continuing while everything starts to go wrong and Serah dies.
  • Prey tore a whole Native American reservation apart — the main character's Doomed Hometown — while "Don't Fear The Reaper" played on the jukebox in his grandfather's bar. (This might be a double-subversion. The song is about the acceptance of death as part of life — but the scene could hardly be called an example of "natural causes".)
  • Killer7 features a finale in which we are shown flashbacks of brutal murders while someone faintly whistles "Greensleeves" in the background. (Note, however, that "Greensleeves" and "What Child is This?" have the same melody; the latter would fit quite nicely.) Then there's "Rave On", an incredibly fast techno number, which plays... on a completely empty staircase as you head for the level's boss. No enemies, no background, just a brown staircase on a black void. That takes maybe ten seconds to traverse. The song itself is five minutes long and gets really good around the last minute.
  • An intentional example takes place in the first Earthworm Jim game. In the level What the Heck?, which takes place on Evil the Cat's home planet, the intro of Modest Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" starts playing, but suddenly changes to... elevator music accompanied by random screams in the background. "Oh, the humanity!" indeed.
  • A Gears of War commercial uses Gary Jules's "Mad World" to this effect. While not a happy song, "Mad World" is an unusually reflective and calm song to play while showing scenes of carnage involving alien monsters. A slightly extended version of the trailer is here
    • And then there is the ad for the sequel, with "How It Ends" by Devotchka.
      • The Gears of War 2 campaign does this with elevator music. The building in question however, has been toppled over, so you ride the elevator sideways as you watch the Locust rampage through the burning cityscape through the holes blown in the wall of your building.
      • "Unbelievable."
    • Gears of War 3 continues the trend with "Heron Blue" by Sun Kil Moon and the frankly bizarre choice of "Into Dust" by Mazzy Star, a minimally arranged ballad that's even more reflective than "Mad World".
      • Then there's the campaign where Gary Jules' "Mad World" makes a comeback when Dom drives a truck into a fuel tank filled with immulsion, killing himself along with most of the lambent attacking his friends in a massive chain of explosions and pyrotechnics.
  • Another commercial example: The commercial for Mercenaries 2 has a lighthearted, upbeat song playing through all the havoc and destruction going on in the background... which, while its tone is perhaps against the game's subject matter, including the lyrics (listen here) the song as a whole is very fitting for the game.
  • When Dick Gumshoe bursts into the room for a Big Damn Heroes moment in Ace Attorney Investigations his theme music plays. While this makes sense since he's become the focus of the scene, his theme song is not-particularly-exciting piano and guitar piece that makes it feel a little less epic.
    • Likewise, Shih-Nah/Calisto Yew's reveal is an intense dramatic moment, but the mood is rather ruined by her theme song being a happy, bubbly piece of jazz.
    • Yet another Investigations moment. In the fourth case, it's a bit jarring that heroic "Great Revival" theme is heralded by the arrival of Manfred von Karma.
  • Red Faction II commercial. "White Rabbit." FEEEEEED YOUR HEEEEEEAD! Not quite dissonant, because it feels pretty epic, actually, but come on. That's just insane. And awesome.
    • A commercial for Lost Odyssey used the same song. And it was glorious.
  • Dead Rising follows the adventures of Frank West, photojournalist, as he tries to single-handedly fend off a zombie apocalypse from inside a shopping mall. Its soundtrack consists almost entirely of blandly cheerful muzak wafting over the mall's sound system... except when you get into boss fights. That's when the dissonance fades and more appropriate music kicks off. Fighting a Monster Clown to the tune of muzak might make Your Head A Splode.
  • At the end of Portal, the player is introduced to a devastated outside world after having escaped from a facility where she was subjected to psychological torture. The camera then moved to spare parts of the Big Bad GLaDOS, waiting to be reassembled. Then the game ends, and chipper, upbeat music starts playing. GLaDOS is singing about how she is "still alive" and will continue the very same experiments she just performed on the player. ...of course, as GLaDOS was an interesting and somewhat sympathetic character, some players are actually happy to see her survive, thus flipping the soundtrack back into appropriate-ness.
    • An upbeat version of Still Alive plays on every single radio in the facility, most noticeably in the relaxation vault at the very beginning and in the latter stage of the test chamber where the deadly turrets are introduced. Fighting for your very life while murderous turrets try to gun you down while chirping sweet platitudes is made even more disturbing with the radio playing its cheerful little tune in the next room over. Plus, this test chamber also features the first "Rat Man" den, where the hints that the Enrichment Center is not entirely what it seems start dropping.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl has 314 songs to choose from, many of them perfectly fitting for jumping into the heat of battle and getting pumped up — with a few exceptions. It's always amusing to see the most villainous fighters duking it out to the strains of "Ai no Uta" in the background or to hear the chirpy, slow "Forest/Nature Area" song on the menacing, fast-paced Halberd stage.
    • The original game's commercial is set to 'So Happy Together'. It also incorporates Mood Whiplash.
    • Honestly, half of the Kirby themes do not fit with Halberd.
    • And of course, the game also has Stickerbrush Symphony, and it's as maddeningly calming as ever, on what some consider the most frusturatingly difficult level to fight on because it scrolls upwards faster than some characters can jump! (It fits in perfectly with the Subspace stages that it plays with though).
    • Let's not even get started on the "My Heart Will Go On"-esque "Calling To The Night" from Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.
    • Sakurai enjoys playing with the trope, though. The above-mentioned "Ai No Uta" is actually about how Pikmin resolutely risk their lives for an alien, with no concern whether or not he loves them. And that's not even getting into "Love Theme of Mother 3", which might be the first song in video gaming to be used for this trope twice. And then there's "Snowman".....
    • Don't forget the fact that the Pokémon Center theme plays on one of the Pokémon stages. Think about it for a minute. A piece of music that normally plays in a place of healing, in a fighting game.
    • For fans of the Sonic the Hedgehog games, it's also rather jarring to hear the Scrap Brain Zone theme playing in a stage based on the Green Hill Zone.
      • Not as jarring as listening to the Sonic Adventure-and-beyond songs on Green Hill Zone, which would have been much more appropriate in a stage based on Sonic Adventure-and-beyond.
    • "Route 209", which is remixed to be even more upbeat and cheerful, can be played on the grueling stage of Spear Pillar, which has the legendaries of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl attacking you with huge beams and exploding platforms.
      • Similarly, "Road to Viridian City (From Pallet Town/Pewter City)", an adventurous and relaxing/leisurely travel song, may at times seem unfitting as background music during intense battles on the Pokémon Stadium 2 stage.
    • "Midna's Lament" is a bit strange to hear when you're in the middle of an over-the-top battle on the Bridge of Eldin.
    • The intro. It's a calm, if rather awesome, Latin song singing over Nintendo characters beating each other up. The lyrics fit a little better. Maybe.
    • Whose idea was it to put "Eight Melodies" into the second BGM mix for the Onett stage anyway?
  • Sonic Generations allows for one to select from music from all over the series' history. One can face some of the most intense bosses of Sonic's history with Green Hill zone's music in the background.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure's music is composed entirely of remixes of songs from Sonic 3 And Knuckles, making for 4 boss themes without the original Sonic 3 boss theme (after the Michael Jackson controversy led to it being cut from Knuckles). Act 1 boss is used for the Eggman fight in Gigantic Angel, Act 2 boss is the standard boss theme, final boss is used for the boss of Last Utopia, Doomsday Zone is used for the fight against Silver Sonic, so for Chaotic Space there's...the extremely upbeat Sky Sanctuary theme.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog CD's American soundtrack got hit with a musical form of American Kirby Is Hardcore, as much of the music, particularly the boss, final boss and game over themes, sound more appropriate for a shoot-'em-up than a Sonic game.
  • Mother 3: During the final boss fight, the battle music starts off with a heavy bass line with some creepy distortion, but as the battle goes on, it fades into a soft leitmotif of the Love Theme, while Claus's attacks get weaker and he starts to regain control of his emotions.
    • Another example from Mother 3: In Chapter 1 of the game, Flint goes berserk after hearing of his wife's death, injuring two of the town folk with a two by four, while a lovely piano song plays in the background.
    • The original Mother does this as well, also during the final boss: You defeat the primary antagonist, Gigue/Giygas, by singing him a lullaby.
    • Also from Mother, Ninten and Ana have a dance on Mt. Itoi, but the song itself is very melancholy.
  • Hitman: Blood Money has "Ave Maria" as the main menu song. And on some maps, upbeat music is playing while you can happily slaughter your way through the innocent crowd. Ave Maria even returns at the very end of the game; revealed to have been the background video of the start menu, 47 awakens from his induced coma at his funeral, promptly murdering through the villain's mooks.
    • Ave Maria returns in Hitman Absolution, when 47 murders Skurky in a church; since 47 guns down a villain at a funeral, it even doubles as a Call Back.
    • "The Meat King's Party" in Hitman: Contracts has 47 finding a mutilated body while Paul Anka's "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" plays.
  • The World Ends with You hardly has any dramatic music as boss music; only one song plays exclusively during boss battles. The boss battles that don't use that song use regular battle music instead. The final battle does, however, use its own remix of "Twister", the game's main theme.
  • The 2006 trailer for Final Fantasy XV (originally Versus XIII) features an excruciatingly bloody battle juxtaposed with a soulful, operatic song. Watch it here: [2]
  • Overlaps with Ironic Nursery Tune when Dead Space uses "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" — most noticeable in this trailer, but it also pops up in the game proper, where it is — if possible — even more chilling.
    • Dead Space 2 uses "Ring Around the Rosie" in a similar manner. "Ring around the rosie/this evil thing, it knows me/lost ghosts surround me, I can't fall down..."
    • Dead Space also has an unusual, non-musical version of this, thanks to the automated systems of the ship you're on. After planting an emergency-beacon on an asteroid — possibly your last chance for survival — you are making your way through the dangerous environment of a half-derelict spaceship, while constantly alert for Necromorphs — and suddenly, the ship's comm-system pipes in merrily "Dinner will be served in the Mess Hall in one hour."
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 has interactive soundtrack dissonance. Snake has an iPod loaded with orchestral pieces, some old-style light jazz/blues, and "Oishii Two-han Seikatsu", an utterly vapid, super-perky J-pop piece absolutely ideal for brutal gunfights. You're even encouraged to, since Snake's Psyche slowly restores when he listens to it.
    • If you listen to "Oishii Two-Han Seikatsu" while fighting one of the beautiful female bosses, they'll do a little dance routine for you, and then immediately return to walking towards you sexy-creepily. Bear in mind that the soundtrack during these sequences is usually a sound-effect mangle of women and babies laughing/snarling/crying/screaming.
    • Used in cutscenes, the very opening scene involves a brutal, Saving Private Ryan-esque scene of war carnage, set to the hauntingly beautiful 'Love Theme'.
    • Oh, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker!:
      • The AI Weapons (with the exception of Peace Walker itself) sing a haunting "Daisy Bell"-like tune in their VOCALOID-generated voices. During their boss fights, you have to learn to predict their attacks by listening to the little musical phrases that they sing (for instance, just before Chrysalis fires her missiles, she sings two long notes of equal length that rise a semitone).
      • "Love Deterrence", a peppy J-pop song about a Teacher/Student Romance sung by Nana Mizuki which becomes final boss battle music, gaining a strong nuclear war subtext in the process.
      • Dr Strangelove loves the song "Sing" by The Carpenters, and plays it to Big Boss while she tortures him for the first time (possibly in homage to the use of "Stuck In The Middle With You" Reservoir Dogs).
  • In Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune, after clearing Story Mode for the first time, you can, after selecting a chapter, pick whatever background music you want. As a result, you can, for example, play a "boss" song on the first stage.
    • Or try the reverse - pick an "ordinary", or even a "happy" track (eg "Driver's Delight" or "Upbeat Gas Junkie") on a Boss Stage (preferably one that doesn't have a Theme Music Powerup to override what you selected), or better yet on the level where you battle the R200 Club (which normally plays an ominious theme).
    • The cheerful result music plays when you finish a story or VS race, even if you lose. Though, it doesn't play if you fail a 10-Outrun stage or force-quit; Maximum Tune 3 has the result music play during those occasions as well.
  • Before fighting Travis in an epic Duel to the Death in No More Heroes, Dr. Peace sings a rousing karaoke song called "The Virgin Child Makes Her Wish." It sounds uplifting, but too uplifting to be sung before the start of a "two men go in, one comes out" kind of fight.
  • People can generally be arranged into two categories: those who think "Green Greens" is just that happy, cute, uplifting, delightful little song from Kirby, and those who have played I Wanna Be the Guy.
  • In the Moon Base level of Destroy All Humans!! 2, all your hard work there pays off when you manage to cause the Soviets to revolt against their alien overlords, causing a giant battle between them inside to base, while "She Changes Like The Seasons" plays in the background.
    • In the first game, during the massacre at the Santa Modesta pool party, the radio plays "So Nice" by Summer Samba.
    • Path of the Furon had the Paris massacre mission. What's more fitting to listen to while incinerating hundreds of the French than "Y.M.C.A." by the Village People.
  • Call Of Duty 4 includes a cheat mode called "Ragtime Warfare" which speeds up the game, makes the video sepiatoned, and adds Ragtime Piano music. It's especially jarring in the disturbing levels "Aftermath" and "All Ghillied Up".
  • Depending on the background music playing at the time, this can also apply to Sid Meier's Civilization series. It's unsettling watching your army slaughter an entire race while pleasant classical music plays in the background.
  • Karnov has what might be the most cheerful Game Over music of all time, which will just make its difficulty all the more frustrating.
  • What might be the scariest song in Resident Evil 2 actually plays in the SAFE ROOMS. Listen for yourself.
  • In Elite Beat Agents, one of the bonus levels was supposed to be a light-hearted Affectionate Parody of zombie movies. With the song Survivor playing instead of the more upbeat happy tunes in the rest of the game, you forget it's supposed to be a parody.
  • There are actually a lot of moments in the Halo trilogy that feature intense firefights with rather serene music.
    • Example: Elevator-jazz-style music during the indoor battles in "Assault on the Control Room". One of these musics is the "lost song" that wasn't featured on the OST.
    • The cutscene at the end of "Regret" where the temple is being destroyed by the Covenant fleet is accompanied by sad string music.
    • The ending of Halo 3, where Master Chief is presumed dead ("Were it so easy"), is set to Triumphant Reprises of the MC's and Arbiter's leitmotifs.
    • The Final Boss battle in 2 is set to "Destroyer's Invocation", the underwhelming ambient piece played during the intro of The Arbiter.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, you are given the arduous task of rescuing Sophia from the Atlantean prison and the single nearly-invincible Nazi soldier guarding her. The solution is to power up an ancient guard robot, which stomps the Nazi to death before malfunctioning and shattering into useless rubble. And it does this to the lively tones of a marching band!
    • Actually, the song is Koniggratzer Marsch, which was in the Last Crusade during the scene where Indy gets Hitler's autograph. The placement of the song here is more of an Ironic Echo, since the Nazi General is being killed to the song that he once marched to.
  • That One Boss Miguel from Chrono Cross is the guy that will make sure you get to see how pretty the Game Over screen is. It also features one of the most relaxing battle themes ever.
  • Xenosaga III has this music playing in the background during a very dramatic boss fight instead of the more traditional boss fight music.
    • In the same game, the background music during the Miltian Conflict, one of the bloodiest incidents in the series' backstory, is a heartbreakingly beautiful piano piece.
    • Also, the Song of Nephilim is an in-game phenomenon that actually causes this: while eerily beautiful, it causes susceptiple listeners to go (like Realians) Ax-Crazy, and also has the effect of summoning the Gnosis to wreak havoc. Whenever it plays, destruction and mayhem ensues, all to the tune of a haunting, melancholy female voice...
  • The music in boss battles in Bubble Memories, a Non-Linear Sequel to Bubble Bobble (and possibly also in other games in that series) just doesn't fit the severity of the situation. It's not "doom-y" enough.
  • The "ballet of death" trailer for Killzone 2 is scenes of death and destruction scored to "The Flower Duet".
  • The "Arnhem Knights" level in Medal of Honor: Frontline is a heated battle in the streets and ruins of Arnhem set to slow, melancholy Dutch Cherubic Choir music. Actually somewhat justified, as the Allies are losing the battle.
    • The "Rough Landing" level has similar choral music, which evokes images of serene countryside, but said countryside is in the middle of a war zone.
  • "Sweet Georgia Brown" is used during the Duel Boss in Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden. Also the background is inexplicably switched to a basketball court (It Makes Sense in Context given that "Sweet Georgia Brown" is the Harlem Globetrotters' theme.)
    • While it could slightly fit, the first phase of the final boss fight is set to the game's theme song, which is a remix of the Space Jam theme. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • The battle music in the Mario & Luigi games is usually fast-paced and energetic, but in Partners in Time the final battle theme is a slow, somewhat melancholy theme.
    • Speaking of that series, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story only had, barring the Giant Bowser fights and the Final Boss, only one boss theme, for EVERY BOSS. You don't get a different theme for Alpha/Beta Kretin, which kidnapped Peach earlier and is coming back for revenge, the fight between the Bros. and Bowser, the Shroobs under Bowser's Castle, which is even more egregious because it's optional, and major late game bosses, most notable the Dark Star and Dark Fawful.
  • System Shock 2 has mall background muzak and announcements contrasting heavily with the infected humans trying to bludgeon you to death and moaning "kill me". And that's without mentioning the speech of the chipper and polite droids that want nothing more than to help you in any way they can — as long as it involves accidentally detonating in your vicinity.
    • The original Shock uses actual elevator music (perjorative sense) on the elevators. After a prolonged firefight (to a vaguely techno soundtrack) the hacker bursts into the elevator, collapses against the back wall, and pushes the button for the next level. Dooo de doo de dooo...
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 2 features epic battles between uber-powerful warriors and friggin' superheroes, yet it's scored with a bizarre mix of elevator muzak and lounge tunes that would be out of place in pretty much any setting that isn't an elevator or a lounge. The absurd dissonance here is about on par with using zydeco music in Silent Hill, and even better: you can't turn it off or adjust the volume. Oh, it's gonna take you for a ride, all right...
  • The original Persona usually used the electronica tune "Dead Line" for its boss fights. But when you fight Robo-Rat/Tesso... this is the theme. Even better, it's called "Child Abuse". Even better, it appears to be the one song they didn't change for the PSP remake!
  • Persona 3 does it deliberately for "Operation: Babe Hunt". Junpei and his quest for chicks is set to "Deep Breath Deep Breath", a boss fight theme commonly heard during Full Moon operations — in other words, music played while you're fighting for your life.
  • Persona 4. Nothing was more jarring than going through a dramatic, dark part of the game just to hear the horribly upbeat high school tune. (The second one, that is; the others weren't bad.)
    • Even worse, the tune for you house, a calmly cheery and sweet piano tune, that plays when Dojima is in the hospital and Nanako is either kidnapped or may or may not be dying of a mysterious illness herself. Ouch.
  • The final boss battle of Ar Tonelico II is accompanied by a generally soft, peaceful choral/orchestral number whose composer says represents rebirth. This is appropriate, considering that's the goal of said final boss(es). It helps that the lyrics are in Hymnos, and thus verses like "I will never forgive even the slightest mistake / Let's praise so the sinners can be judged" go generally uncomprehended.
    • Also from that game is EXEC_VIENA/., one of the most cheery and upbeat songs in existence. Its purpose is to create a path up to the satellite Sol Marta while destroying a third of the floating continent because otherwise there would not be enough power to create the pathway up. The general game atmosphere doesn't help, what with everyone's mood in the game essentially being "YES, THEY'RE FINALLY DOING IT!!", even some of the people who were forced to move out because they have lived their entire lives on the part of the continent that's about to fall in.
      • The atmosphere is appropriate because everyone sees it as the first step for the realization of their long sought dream of Metafalica, no matter how much of a sacrifice it is for them.
  • Touhou boss themes are often very sedate and elaborate for a frantic Bullet Hell series. This is often done deliberately, not to make an artistic point, but because ZUN knows players will be hearing them a lot and didn't want them getting tired of it because the music was annoying.
    • In addition, how many of us got owned by a Touhou boss because we were too busy listening to her pretty, pretty boss theme?
  • Around half the soundtrack of Fate/stay night is played at odd times. You'll have the ultra dramatic battle music going on while Taiga is complaining about girls staying in your house, and when Ilya is brutally murdering you her theme song is playing. And her theme song is pretty much exactly what you'd expect the Token Mini-Moe's theme song to be in a visual novel like this.
  • in the Fate/stay night visual novel during Shirou's battle with Archer, rather than having the amazing Emiya play in the background, they have This play instead. Rather than present the battle as epic and amazing, it is presented as tragic.
  • Parodied in Chrono Trigger. When Dalton fires up the newly stolen and upgraded Epoch to attack the party, the BGM that starts playing is, of all things, the theme of the main character, Crono. Even Dalton notices the music is off and tells his mooks to play something more dramatic in a moment of Breaking the Fourth Wall.
    • A more subtle example occurs when you fight Spekkio. The later forms of Spekkio are some of the toughest opponents in the game, but the music used during the battle continues to be the jolly, cheery, light-hearted "Delightful Spekkio".
  • Throughout Panel de Pon, the music remains pretty calm and happy to fit the mood, but if you manage to beat hard mode, you are confronted by the real Final boss. The music it plays during her battle and when she first appears sounds more like it should be in Final Fantasy, especially when in danger mode.
    • Tetris Attack also has the opening, but Bowser was given Thanatos's theme, so Cordelia's Theme remains unused.
    • Both games have, as a whole, an upbeat and happy soundtrack; the ending theme, while still happy-sounding, is very melancholy and nostalgic.
  • Quake II shipped with a hard-driving industrial metal soundtrack CD put together specifically for the game to put you in an ass-kicking mood. Without it, the game's dark areas, ultra-violence and horror themes really take over.
  • Would you believe the theme song to the RoboCop video game for Game Boy and C64 sounded like this? So incongruous, it was used in a surreal British TV commercial for home appliances.
  • Every single Silent Hill game has this at least once. The most frequent user is definitely the second game, in which the opening cutscene alone has the beautiful "Theme of Laura" playing over scenes of madness, delusion, suicide, and incredibly suggestive images.
    • "Angels Thanatos" is an upbeat heavy metal tune, but is played during the credits of the "In Water"(suicide) ending in SH 2.
    • Shattered Memories has a scene where Harry is trapped in a car underwater, is apparently about to drown, and there are monsters swimming around outside. The solution is to turn on the radio, to the right station, which will start playing Michelle's voice, singing Willie Nelson's "Maybe I Didn't Love You."
    • Silent Hill: Downpour features a jarring, albeit thematically appropriate, use of Andy Williams' "Born Free". It's remarkable how disturbing that song becomes when you overlay it with static and echoes.
  • Pokémon Battle Revolution has the Courtyard Colosseum, the second-last colosseum of the game. The music for the stage itself is rather fitting, but the boss of the stage, Kruger, the game's That One Boss, has this as his theme.
  • A subtle subversion from Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. The melancholy music plays during the flashback scene where the Numbasa Musical theatre owner dances around with Hilda or Hilbert's musical props - which was left behind. You wonder why the serious music in a seemingly silly scene. It actually make sense when you later find out Hilda/Hilbert left Unova at the end of the previous games to search for their long lost friend, and has not returned home ever since! And his/her mom have been waiting for their return, all this time!! The above points strongly imply that Hilda/Hilbert abandoned their musical career (and possibly lots of other things) in the process.
  • The music in the Cell Stage in Gradius V is rather new age-ish, while this is one of the more tense and dangerous levels of the game.
  • Most of the soundtrack to Ray Crisis is smooth techno-elevator jazz, even during boss battles.
    • Even more egregious; the track "Formless Living Bodies" played during the first Final Boss battle, which of course is That One Boss, is a chilled trip-hop track.
  • There is only one track of music to Dwarf Fortress, a relaxing guitar played by the game's creator Toady One. It plays as the goblins siege your fortress. It plays as the walls cave in on your Dwarves. It plays as they get dismembered by elephants. It plays as they go insane from not having shiny metal bars. It even plays as they dig too deep.
  • In Monster Party, a jolly game over music plays while the background consists of skeletons in a pool of blood.
  • Buck Bumble, a somewhat obscure bee-themed Cute 'em Up for N64. The music? Drum-and-bass, of course!
  • Taiko no Tatsujin / Taiko Drum Master has many, many songs that you'd expect to be the last songs to play a taiko drum to, with medleys/remixes of music from Xevious and Darius, just to name a couple examples.
  • The song "Defend and Escape" in Ys: The Ark of Napishtim is a rather depressing piece, played during an intense Escort Mission.
    • "Quatera Woods", is a relaxing downtempo synth-rock tune, played in a forest with Everything Trying to Kill You.
    • "Valley of Quicksand" is a relaxed Latin-ish beach tune, played, of course, in a harsh quicksand pit-riddled desert.
    • The elevator music-style PC Engine version of "Crimson Wings". The Super Famicom version of the song, which is much more upbeat, averts this trope.
  • Spider-Man: Web of Shadows starts In Medias Res in the middle of a battle against Venom symbiotes in a ravaged New York, set to Beetoven's Moonlight Sonata.
  • Tales of the Abyss has the final boss where Tear sings the Grand Fonic Hymn in the background. And the final boss is her own brother and Luke's swordmaster.
  • Saints Row has the EZZZ radio channel which, as implied, plays nothing but easy listening. Easy listening in the deliriously upbeat mode, not so much in the whale songs and drone mould. It certainly adds another level of lunacy to the already hyperbolic scenarios. Altogether now, 'Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, na-nananana (KABOOM!)/ na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, na-nananana (AIIEE!)
    • This continues into the sequel. There's also channels like The Mix 107.77 (80s music — stuff like Take On Me, The Final Countdown, and so on) and Klassic 102.4 (classical music, of course). Nothing quite like mowing down the gangs in Stilwater to the tune of Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon" (red gold and green... just like the three enemy gangs!) or Down Under by Men at Work... and then there's always buying a copy of Ride of the Valkyries at the Scratch That stores for the helicopter missions. Sadly, nobody seems to comment on the Boss' listening habits, except one incident with Price.
  • The Japanese and European opening of Digital Devil Saga have Sera singing "Life shine in the heaven" while the opening itself get a bit gory at time.
  • The Incredibles video game has a level with music that sounds directly like it came out of a James Bond movie, but when you enter an elevator, the Bond music stops for about ten seconds and is replaced by elevator music.
  • The free flash game Paper Plane Madness 2 is a relatively cutesy copter clone where you control a small paper plane as it dodges ducks and such like, but has an extremely loud and somewhat epic heavy metal music track as its background music.
  • The TMNT: Smash Up TV Spot uses a peaceful song about the Turtles... While The Turtles, Shredder, April, Foot Soldiers, Casey, Utrominator, among other characters are kicking each others asses.
  • The Oregon Trail II both subverts and plays this straight. The game music starts off cheery, but gets less hopeful and eventually Scare Chord filled the worse off your party's health gets. But if the sick member of your party passes away, THE MUSIC RESETS TO THE HAPPY MELODY IT WAS PLAYING WHEN EVERYONE WAS ALIVE!
  • The "Snowy Roads" level in Twisted Metal: Black is a heated close-quarters battle, but the music is beatless, spooky, dark ambience with a One-Woman Wail. No Battle Theme Music here, strangely, except for the "final opponent" theme, which averts this trope.
    • The Holland level in TM 2 is a nowhere-to-hide fight to the death in a barnyard while happy 60's-style rock-n-roll music plays.
  • The True Final Bosses of Mushihime-sama and the Expansion Pack to its sequel, Mushihime-sama Futari Black Label, have soothing, almost-ending-theme-like music.
  • Most of Tony Hawk Underground 2's soundtrack is comprised of rock or hip-hop songs of varying styles, but generally sounding as though they fit into Skater culture. Except for Frank Sinatra's That's Life, which seems like a very random choice.
    • Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire can also be found in the same title.
  • Burn Out Paradise features the ability to select various classical pieces as part of the in-game soundtrack. Nothing quite like smashed vehicles pirouetting through the air to Vivaldi's Four Seasons or Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
  • The PC version of Descent has this bouncy tunefor its Level 7 (the level with the first boss) music. Averted with the Macintosh version.
  • Stubbs the Zombie twists this trope all around. The soundtrack consists of 50s tunes like "Earth Angel", "My Boyfriend's Back", "Mr. Sandman", "If I Only Had a Brain" and others, covered by modern alt bands. (Which are appropriate in the Raygun Gothic setting.) Played straight with such upbeat tunes playing while you eat peoples' brains and turn them into mindless zombie minions. Subverted in that, if you notice, all of the song titles could have alternate, ominous meanings in the context of the game. Further subverted in the the whole point of the game is to parody more serious zombie games & movies and the soundtrack helps make it all the more silly.
  • Deadly Premonition has a rather... limited number of tracks to play, and is rather bad at sticking to one mood. This results in scenes where, less than a minute after someone is murdered in the brutalest possible way right in front of the protagonist, a chipper guitar-and-whistling ditty starts to play as he makes a little joke.
    • In another sequence a doctor explains how a murder victim was killed as a track of pretty spooky, slow jazz plays in the background. At one point the doctor gets visibly excited and goes on a rambling monologue, and at the same time the music changes to a bombastic and upbeat piece of Cop Show-esque chase music.
    • There's a few instances of intentional Soundtrack Dissonance though. Most notably, the Original Raincoat Killer sequence near the end of the game, which features Amazing Freaking Grace.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV's extensive library of songs can get kind of depressing depending on what's on the radio at the moment. For instance, they have 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins, which is gentle and sad, and a touching rap track by Russian hip-hop group Basta which is about a gangster apologizing to his mother about the way he turned out and asking her what his life is worth now. If you understand Russian, it takes some of the fun out of gleefully mowing down prostitutes and cops.
    • GTA IV also has The Journey, which is a station that plays ambient music and the like. Feels weird driving on the sidewalk and using pedestrians as brakes to Jean-Michel Jarre.
    • And backtracking to Grand Theft Auto II, you'll find this Christian pop song in what should be a dark cyberpunk future, coupled with lyrics that preach the exact opposite of what a player would normally be doing in a GTA game.
      • In GTA on PC ever since GTAIII there is a user track player in cars with radios, this troper has heard this song while mowing down innocent pedestrians, fun times.
  • In Tetris The Grand Master 3, if one player is playing Sakura mode, and the other player is playing any other mode, the Sakura music will override the non-Sakura player's music. This can lead to some interesting situations for Sakura's cheerful music, such as hearing it while in the last 300 levels of Shirase mode.
  • Resistance 2 had a lot of old love songs playing over the radios in the homes of people now encased in alien incubation sacs. Even worse was the final jazzy song in the ending credits, right after Nathan Hale is shot in the head because he turned into a chimera
  • Panic Restaurant has very relaxing music in the last level which is the hardest and takes place in sewers.
  • The final mission to Rainbow Six: Raven Shield is this, mopping up what's left of the Big Bad's forces. To whit, it begins with disarming a bomb planted on a grim reaper float as the sounds of the parade echo in the background. The battle then shifts to a bar filled with lounge music and upstairs laid back latin rythems.
    • Earlier in the game you are tasked with killing everything that moves in a mansion, with the classical piece "Ave Maria" playing in the background.
  • The disaster music in ''SimCity 2000'.
  • Frogger, indicative that this tripe is Older Than the NES. Those deep enough into Japanogaphy will eventually figure out that the Frogger opening theme is the first verse of a Japanese children song called Inu No Omawarisan - 犬のおまわりさん, a song about a police dog trying to help a lost kitten. There's no dogs or kittens in the game. Of course, Alternative Character Interpretation may apply.
    • There may not not be any dogs or kittens, but like the kitten in the song, the frogs are lost and need to get home, and if you count the player as being part of the game, they need help finding it; the player is that help, doing more or less what the police dog tried to do. So "Inu no Omawari-san" is a perfect fit for the soundtrack.
  • In Tenchu: Stealth Assassins you take the role of a ninja sneaking about, slicing and sometimes decapitating random mooks to beautifully choereographed orchestral pieces. Just listen to Onikage's theme music, not something you'd expect from an undead demon from Hell, is it?
  • In TNK III, the Game Over jingle is, ironically, the last phrase of "Johnny Comes Marching Home".
  • An example of this done to great effect is the final battle of Baten Kaitos Origins. This is the music that plays.
  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War has a song for fighting recruitible enemies- something that none of the other Fire Emblems have. It may be due to the fact that FE4's "Comrade Turned Enemy" is extremely cheery for the undertones that the song carries. And yes, it does play during the tragic boss fight with Julia on the final chapter.
  • The ending credits theme for most video games is a triumphant or happy piece, or a medley of the various songs throughout the game. However, in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, the ending credits theme is instead played by a very sinister-sounding oom-pah band for some odd reason
    • A majority of Super Mario Bros. series games will actually have extremely cheerful, optimistic music playing over some of the most difficult levels in those games.
  • On certain circumstances, you can override a game soundtrack and have your own tracks play:
    • With some Windows PC games where the soundtrack resided on the game CD as CD Audio, it can be possible to swap the game CD with an Audio CD of your choice and use that CD's audio (e.g. if the game doesn't require its game CD to execute itself or continue running after launching).
    • Also in the Windows PC platform, if the game's audio tracks are a standard audio format that can be understood by the user (.mp3, .wav. etc) and reside in the game's installation directory as they are (eg not inside a proprietary archive/compression file), they can be replaced by a user's choice of audio tracks if the same format is used.
    • The Microsoft Xbox console introduced the ability to upload your own music tracks into the console's hard drive, and if the game supports it, they can use those instead of what was programmed into the game.
  • If you fail a license test in Gran Turismo 4, "Oh Yeah" by Yello plays.
  • Several titles in the Gradius series have the first part of their final stages set to oddly-happy, almost holiday-like music.
  • Super Meat Boy has the Cotton Alley theme, the most cheery and upbeat song in a generally excellent soundtrack. The catch? The Cotton Alley is absurdly difficult in an already hard game - so you have a cheery song to go with controller-breaking frustration.
    • Listen to it yourself. Just to rub in how cheerful this song is, it's titled "McLarty Party People".
      • It's so dissonant, some fans of the game say the song is about Meat Boy (and the players themselves!) becoming Bored With Insanity. Some fans say the song is mocking you (One commenter on Youtube quips "Hey, this is a girly level! But it's not a fucking joke!")
  • In Endless Ocean Blue World, the music that plays when you're swimming in the Triton Village Ruins area of Ciceros Strait gives off a tense feeling. It's appropriate... the first time, when you first encounter a shark that isn't calmed by Pulsar shots. All the other times you go there, however, there is no danger, and still the music plays. (However, you can later buy a jukebox that overrides the music until you leave Nineball Island and return.)
  • Aversion: Guile's theme goes with everything!
  • In Stalin vs. Martians, a communist army is fighting with colorful cartoony aliens. Techno music plays in the background.
  • In the final chapter of Rule of Rose the music is an annoying, downright maddeningly cheerful tune that's in complete contrast with the fact how it rubs in that despite of all her efforts to be liked, everybody hates Jennifer's guts, and seemingly all the struggles in the game have been in vain. It doesn't help that it's implied that Mr. Hoffman is playing this music over the loudspeakers to cover the fact that he's molesting Clara in the sickroom.
    • In fact, most of the soundtrack is gorgeous orchestral pieces, which (together with the lovingly-rendered detail of the graphics) starkly contrast with the brutality, cruelty, pettiness and Trauma Conga Line that is the story.
  • In contrast to the somber Tragic Marionette and Sinful Rose's Fragrance that play of the Game Overs of the first two Disgaea games, Disgaea 3 has the Maritsu Evil Academy Entrance Applicant Recruiting CM Song: a tune so peppy and cheerful that most fans suspect that the game is making fun of them for dying.
  • Covert Front features an opening scene where a Spinning Paper and eerie monochrome photos introduce the player to the Alternate History World War One — all while soothing waltz music plays.
  • Data East's Act-Fancer: Cybernetick Hyper Weapon pulls this for its final battle. As you deal the last hit to what appears to be the final boss, fairly conventional boss music plays. However, as the Big Bad reveals its true nature as a mechanical being and an Expy of an R-Type ship at that, calliope music begins to play. The strange music only serves to make the sudden twist even more jarring.
  • The Sims 3 has this happen now and again. A Sim can quite easily be animated as rocking out on the guitar, but actually playing a gentle and contemplative ballad.
  • From Sega Rally Championship: GAME OVER YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!
  • The Commodore 64 version of Comic Bakery features what is quite possibly the most epic chiptune of all time, which has a fairly dark technological vibe. Yet this is a game about a cook defending his baked goods from a bunch of tanuki.
  • The Game Over music in San Francisco Rush: "Play it, play it, play it, play it again!"
  • Normally, DoDonPachi sets the True Final Boss battle to ominous, high-speed music. But in DoDonPachi Resurrection's iPhone Mode? You get the rather upbeat number "Battle for the Last" by Hyadain.
    • On the subject of Cave shmups, Mushihime-sama has peaceful, enchanting music being played during the True Final Boss battles in both games, intended to numb out players' psyche amidst the hellish bullet rain and topping even the high-speed, ominous Zatsuza battle in DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu.
  • The Japanese soccer game for the Super Famicom/SNES Super Formation Soccer '94 has one of the most weirdest soundtracks choices for many of the national teams that appear in that game. The biggest offenders are the Mexican team, since, instead of using stereotypical Latin American music, the theme for Mexico sounds more like Japanese ethno-rock than Mexican music, the Bolivian team, who uses a wierd mix of Latin American music and Russian beats and England, whose theme is friggin' Punk music mixed with Dance!
  • The first time you hear this Boss Remix of the Song of the Ancients in NieR, it's a moment involving The Power of Friendship. The second time you hear it, you're being forced to brutally kill two of your friends right after they've dropped the bombshell that your actions have DOOMED THE HUMAN RACE TO EXTINCTION. It suddenly sounds a lot less upbeat.
  • Pac-Man World features several: this one plays when you're trying to outrun a giant moaning mummy's hand. Then there's this one, a Samba-esque tune in a level where the factory is falling apart and you're trying to outswim giant metal sharks.
    • The sequel features this theme. It's a rather cheery, Christmas-y theme used for one of the bosses. But that's just the start- the theme turns more sinister. Fitting, as you're dealing with the resident Stalker with a Crush. To quote the description (and comment that became the video description):
    "Pac-Man gets deadly snowballs thrown at him while Namco plays unfitting music! :D"
  • Bayonetta: Not a huge surprise, since the game does NOT take itself seriously. Still, in a setting where Angels are kind of jerks their musical accompaniment sounds quite benign. Most angel tracks are Cherubic Choirs and gentle solos, no Ominous Pipe Organ in sight, and only bosses get outright Ominous Enochian Chanting. Hell, even the most violent-sounding boss loops feature 10-30 second interludes sound like something you'd actually hear in a church. Seems even COMPOSERS can Show Their Work!
    • Or you're stuck with a very upbeat version of Fly Me to the Moon. Destroying heavenly beings to Frank Sinatra covers!
  • Left 4 Dead 2 has the survivors activate a parade float to use it as a makeshift platform to get to other side of a gap. By doing this, a cheery jazz tune plays while the survivors fight off waves of zombies because the music alerted the horde. This trope can also be invoked by the players if they find a jukebox and play a song while fighting zombies.
    • While the song from the parade float crescendo is pretty out of the place, the song's name is very fitting of the series. It's called "The Saints Will Never Come," a pretty depressing name for such an upbeat tune.
    • Considering that The Parish takes place in New Orleans, where "Saints Come Marching In" is played a funerals, it's a rather fitting song. It does beg the question why is such an upbeat song used at funerals in New Orleans.
    • People have also made mods for the PC version that replace the Tank's theme with something significantly more upbeat.
  • In Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, the music for the final intense, pulse pounding, mind blowing battle against Pain is...an incredibly slow, melancholic combination of bell chimes and violins.
  • Castlevania
    • Castlevania: Rondo of Blood has a Brutal Bonus Level with some of the worst jumps, frustrating bats, medusa heads, all the most devious combinations of enemies and jumps, as well as loads of bottomless pits. The music? A really peppy pop style track that perfectly embodies the early 90s (when this game was released).
    • Most of Castlevania, especially early ones, are filled with upbeat and cheerful music, despite that one of the main themes of the game is horror.
    • Eventually averted in Lords of Shadow, replacing the pops with dark, poignant choral and orchestral works that fit the mood of the game precisely.
  • In Animal Crossing for GameCube, the music that plays from 2:00 AM to 2:59 AM is dissonant and upbeat compared to the quieter, more subdued songs that play during the rest of the early morning.
  • The peaceful, subdued soundtrack of Thwaite, a homebrew Missile Command clone for NES, sounds like tunes that might be played in a laid-back social sim. It doesn't fit with the frantic Stuff Blowing Up action, emphasizing how abnormal the action is to the characters themselves.
  • The trailer for the up-and-coming zombie game Dead Island takes this Up to Eleven; the only thing more emotionally destructive than watching a family get torn apart by zombies (including a little girl) is the unbelievably melancholy soundtrack.
  • In Homeworld, there's a charming scene early on when Kharak burns, and the incredibly beautiful, sad, sad Agnus Dei (set to Barber's Adagio for Strings) fits that very well - the real dissonance comes immediately upon starting, when six totally helpless, crucial units of yours are attacked by the first Frigates you ever see and you have to scramble to save them.
  • Mission twelve of Asura's Wrath features a wonderful sequence of Asura transforming into his berserk state after watching The Girl die and destroying an entire fleet of enemy ships, all the while In Your Belief is playing in the background while Asura screams in absolute rage and sadness.
  • From BlazBlue, there's this. Bang Shishigami attempts to use Fu-Rin-Kazan and the accompanying Hironobu Kageyama track Beat a Nail With Your Hammer plays... only for Nu-13 to use her Astral Finish and kill him. The music keeps playing. Humiliation beyond belief.
  • Team Fortress 2's "Meet The Pyro" video. As the Spy says, "One shudders to imagine what inhuman thoughts lie behind that mask... what dreams of chronic and sustained cruelty." ''Do you believe in magic, in a young girl's heart..."
  • Earth 2140 (which is, naturally, the prequel to Earth 2150) is set in a post-apocalyptic world covered in war, which is somewhat pictured in the first three tracks of the local Redbook soundtrack... Right after that, you get to hear a couple of calm jazzy songs, a flamenco-ish piece and, to top that, a really nature-friendly string-instrument melody with birds singing in background. Although, between that, you get to hear Earth 2140's theme tune and its' remix which somehow match the pace of what's going on the screen.
  • The first Zombi U trailer does this, with a hardy cover England's national anthem playing as you watch still scenes of zombies destroying London.
  • One trailer for Borderlands2 has "Wimoweh" playing as the main cast are laying carnage to bandits, Hyperion, and all of Pandora's ecosystem.
  • Unlicensed Columns clone Magic Jewelry on the NES has this for the entire soundtrack, with 8-bit renditions of (among others) All Kinds of Everything, Greensleeves and The Godfather theme.
  • An advertisement for Call of Duty: Black Ops is set to "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones. Said song is a famous protest song written during The Vietnam War, and the Call of Duty series has often been accused of being pro-war. This creates a confusing message, to say the least...
  • Mushroom Kingdom Fusion in general has quite a bit of this, with about half the levels usually some kind of metal soundtrack even if what's going on screen doesn't match at all. It's most noticeable with the standard Mario bosses being fought to a tune from Gradius (or the Koopalings and their 'epic' boss music remix) or the fight with Caliope the Clown in Toyland complete with the same standard boss tune .
    • Similarly, Super Mario Fusion Revival uses music (most of it comes from the Korean MMORPG Ragnarok Online) that is very, very dramatic when played in levels of the first world, the Mushroom Kingdom, a world consisting of purely Mario-themed levels. The Raiden III boss theme does not fit most of the World 1 bosses, being some of the most dramatic boss music in history (especially when played during a fight against the Koopalings in a standard Mario style battle). Similarly the Fortress music (from Ragnarok Online) is ridiculously dramatic for a Mario styled fortress level. Like Mushroom Kingdom Fusion, worlds past the first take place in more serious locales, such as the real world Earth, a hellish dimension, a fantasy-themed world, and a sci-fi world. Unlike MKF, however, Super Mario Fusion Revival uses a universal soundtrack, so while this trope is played straight in World 1, it is averted in worlds past that and the music fits many of the levels in those worlds.
  • RockBand Blitz can do this at times, since it ditches the concert setting for more of an arcade aesthetic. The sounds of pinballs and rockets can drown out softer, more somber songs like "Something in the Way" or "Moonlight Sonata."
  • The Super Mario World Game Mod Drama Mistery (the mispelling is part of the name) has this in a secret level, where a brutal massacre themed area has the incredibly illfitting Nyan cat theme playing in the background. It's rather jarring to be going through an area filled with murdered Toads with constant meow sounds in the background.
  • In Dark Cloud 2, the final stage of the fight with Emporer Griffin has a version of Alexandria's Garden theme playing in the background.
  • Alright, everybody who played Live A Live: rise your hand if you tought an almost joyous and solemn orchestral piece was appropriate for the Armageddon ending.
  • Anyone whose played Spec Ops: The Line probably will find it hard to forget the sequence where this song plays over you gunning down American soldiers.
  • In Remember11, Inubushi Keiko is an infamous spree killer, who murdered 12 patients inside a hospital and narrowly escaped a death sentence. Her Leitmotif? This little charming piece. Creepy as hell.
  • From Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, this plays over the final puzzle ...which happens to be a Sudoku puzzle.
  • Kenji Kawai's music may be the only genuinely good thing about Deep Fear, but the songs rarely seem to match the tone of the scene they're in.
  • Because the Sega Genesis version of Action 52 reuses its music quite a bit, this happens every now and then. For example, this was used in a racing game, this ended up being used in a shooting gallery-type game and this ended up being used for a game based on Jack and the Beanstalk.
    • The NES version isn't immune to this either, though. Lollipops is probably the worst offender; the soundtrack is quite depressing when compared to the rest of the game, especially level 3.
  • Dark Souls does this with many of its bosses, but none moreso than the final boss fight. Rather than the epic blaring choir or chanting that most bosses have had, the last boss has a simple, sorrowful sounding piano melody that very much fits the character, but may feel a bit anticlimactic for one of the hardest games in recent memory.
  • The original theme song for Dragon's Dogma was "Into Free -Dangan-" by B'z, a very up-tempo, modern rock song. It lyrically it fit very well with the storyline of the game, but the style of music was all wrong for a medieval fantasy. The Dark Arisen stand alone expansion did away with the song, replacing it with a far more appropriate melody.
  • The original Rayman tends to play relaxing and downright pleasant music, even when you're fighting for your life or facing a boss. Since the game is so frigging hard, they might have been trying to keep you from smashing your Sony Playstation.
  • Castle Crashers sorta did this, while fighting an extremely hard boss (the Conehead Groom) it plays a modified version of "Here Comes the Bride".
  • Dangan Ronpa has Monokuma's theme, Monokuma's Lesson, which is such a strange and goofy theme for such a twisted monster.
  • Yoshi's Island DS has a mini-boss theme that sounds like it would be more at home in a grassy meadow type level. It has a very cutesy, upbeat theme that suggests the furthest thing from a boss fight.
    • Yoshi's Island DS in general is pretty bad about this. Nearly every track is cheery, upbeat, and full of xylophones, sounding like something from a preschooler's educational TV show. The levels that play them? Well, this plays in an auto-scrolling level full of Chomps and this plays in some of the Brutal Bonus Levels of the game, among other things.
  • Risk Of Rain has more than a few, with a gentle, relaxing song that wouldn't be out of place for a wanderer looking at the night sky in a particularly difficult level swarming with Goddamned Bats, and the final level having a haunting, slightly sad, soft piece when you're facing hundreds and hundreds of the game's nastiest foes.
  • Tales of Vesperia has the boss fight with Estelle. In the first phase, the standard battle theme plays. Then the game gives the biggest Player Punch in the second phase. The climactic battle theme is dropped in favor of the heart-wrenching The Full Moon and the Morning Star as the boss in question begs Yuri to kill her.
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within falls into the same trap. Your first meeting with the Dahaka plays I Stand Alone by Godsmack, to get you pumped up for an epic fight. Instead, you're forced to avoid it by running for your life.
  • Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams invokes this constantly. While in the nightmarish landscapes, 8-bit chiptunes play, whereas in the cutesy and cheerful areas, heavy metal plays. This is a deliberate stylistic choice to illustrate Giana's unstable mental state.
  • In The Last Remnant, the Game Over music is a fanfare that sounds like you won the battle rather than lose.
  • Heroine's Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok has a heavy, bombastic, and ominous tune heralding the entrance of... Ratatosk, a cute little squirrel threatening to steal from your nut cache.

PinballSoundtrack DissonanceWestern Animation

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