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Level 1 Music Represents

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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. If the Level 1 music gets remixed in a darker style, it's Dark Reprise.

Straight Examples of this trope include:

Subversions, aversions, and inversions include:

  • 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.
  • The Bionic Commando (1988) 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.
  • CAVE games, particularly the DonPachi series, are known more for their True Final Boss themes than their Stage 1 themes, simply because of the viral popularity and infamous difficulty of the TFB battles.
  • Doom:
  • 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.
  • EarthBound Beginnings: "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 "Mother Earth" (the title screen theme) or "Eight Melodies"), but it is considered the theme for the Mother series as a whole.
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • "Bombing Mission" continues from the opening cutscene to the first few screens, with a musical transition between the two. The whole thing is iconic to the game.
    • By far the most well-known track from the game is "One-Winged Angel", the Final Boss theme.
  • Lemmings. The most-remembered tune is "Lemming 1", which is the first level music in the DOS version. note  But in the original Amiga version, and most others, "Lemming 1" is the second level music, after the Can-can.
  • The Mega Man series is all over the place with this trope:
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance zigzags this for its boss themes. Though "Rules of Nature", the theme for Metal Gear RAY from the first stage, is incredibly iconic to the game, a similar status exists for LQ-84i's theme, "I'm My Own Master Now", since he was the boss fought in the demo, as well as for those of Monsoon and Senator Armstrong, respectively "Stains of Time" and "It Has To Be This Way", due to their respective bosses' meme value.
  • Typically played straight in Namco arcade games but there are exceptions.
  • NiGHTS into Dreams… 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.
  • Ninja Gaiden has "Unbreakable Determination" (aka "Ryu's Determination"), which despite being an iconic song from the series actually appears in Stage 4-2 of the NES original.
  • Serious Sam: The First Encounter: The song most commonly remixed and treated as representative of the series is the action track from the sixth level, Dunes, rather than any of the music from the first level, Temple of Hatshepsut.
  • Shinobi had a bit of a twist when represented in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Not only did the composers look to Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master for inspiration as opposed to earlier entries (including the Yuzo Koshiro-scored The Revenge of Shinobi), but the theme for its sole track, Seasonal Shrines, is a medley of two songs from III: "Idaten" (the Round 2-1* theme)... and "Japonesque" (the Round 1-1* theme).
  • The Stage 1 music in Shockman is the title theme.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The title theme of Super Mario Bros. 2 was an arrangement of the underwater theme from the original.
    • Likewise, when Super Mario All-Stars gave each game their own title themes, they were all based on the underwater theme as well. In order, here are the All-Stars themes for the original Super Mario, Lost Levels and 3.
    • The most iconic music of Super Mario Sunshine is that of the Hub Level, Delfino Plaza, which is commonly used to represent the game in Super Smash Bros. and others.
    • Super Mario Odyssey is most associated with the vocal track "Jump Up, Super Star," which features prominently in the New Donk City stage. You'd think, from the previews so heavily advertising it (and the stage inviting frequent comparisons to Sonic Adventure's main hub world Station Square), that New Donk City would be the first level in the game. However, it's actually one of the middle stages. Going further, the main instrumental theme associated with the game is "Fossil Falls," which is the theme for the second level, not the first.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • In the original game 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 "Gourmet Race" from Kirby Super Star instead.
    • Melee stepped it up with the Rainbow Cruise level, which uses "Slider" from Super Mario 64; said theme was used for the Grand Finale of the live orchestral rendition of the soundtrack (a recording of which was used as a subscriber bonus by Nintendo Power). Though the theme plays in multiple levels, and actually gains its name because it's used in all of the slide sub-levels (one of which is accessible very early in the game, though not right at the start), the level also cemented the tune as being associated with the absolute last non-Bowser level, Rainbow Ride.
  • Inverted with Touhou 6: The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. Its most popular song is "U.N. Owen Was Her?" which only plays during the Superboss fight.
  • Though Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is most associated with the Port of Adia theme, the actual main theme is played in the second level, the River of Souls.
  • Similar to Touhou, the most famous song from Undertale is "Megalovania," the theme of (ironically enough) Sans, by far the most difficult Final Boss in the game. It even represented the game in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • The two themes most associated with the original Xenoblade Chronicles 1 are Gaur Plain, the overworld music from the titular second major area of the game, and "You Will Know Our Names", the boss battle music.

Alternative Title(s): Level One Music Represents