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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:

  • 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.
  • 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 "Crash! 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 "Mother Earth" (the title screen theme) or Eight Melodies), but it is considered the theme for the Mother series as a whole.
  • 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.
  • 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 Stage 1 music in Shockman is the title theme.
  • Typically played straight in Namco Arcade games but there are exceptions.
  • 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.
  • Inverted with Touhou 6: The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. Its most popular song is "U.N. Owen Was Her?" which only plays during the Bonus Boss fight.
  • Similarly, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 two themes most associated with the original Xenoblade Chronicles 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.
  • Doom:
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Level One Music Represents


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