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The music for a non-interactive story, like a film or TV show, is expected to change and adapt to the action taking place. However, games have a limited ability to do this. It's not practical to have John Williams watch the player's actions and spur up the London Symphony Orchestra every time Solid Snake gets seen by a passing guard.

A hard cut to a different piece is one possible solution for a game, and it's not so jarring when disguised by a sound effect. But some titles make better use of their technology: in a variable mix, the background music changes subtly and smoothly depending on what is going on in the game. The running background music could have, for example, parallel parts that fade in and out with the rising and falling action level, seamlessly transitioning from a bare-bone ambient haunting theme to a hard-rocking drum-backed metal anthem during combat, and back again after the last enemy has fallen. A clever bit of composing that has a very subtle but real influence on player immersion. The MIDI musical interface, in which music pieces are not saved as pre-recorded audio but rather as musical notation that is interpreted on-the-fly by the sound hardware, is well suited for this sort of thing, though from The Seventh Generation of Console Video Games onward game developers have found ways of doing this with live music recordings as well.


Often overlaps with Musical Spoiler for more Genre Savvy players who know what particular variations to listen for. Can sometimes enter a variant of Mickey Mousing known as Musical Gameplay. See also Theme Music Power-Up, which this often turns into if it happens during a boss battle. Also, see Songs in the Key of Panic for the other end of the scale.


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    Action Adventure 
  • Luigi's Mansion repeats the main theme of the game when you're in the Mansion, but it has variations for hallways, dark rooms, and outside. All have Luigi humming over the theme, except in lit rooms, where he whistles the theme. The tempo also decreases if Luigi's health worsens. The poor guy's humming even sounds more and more scared and shaky as his health lowers, too. The game has different versions of each mansion theme playing depending on if you are inside or outside. A Multi-Mook Melee level also has the music get faster the more ghosts there are that remain uncaptured. A more subtle example is in E. Gadd's bunker, where Luigi will whistle along a little bit with the background music every so often.
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver features musical variations for each location that differ slightly based on the circumstances - standard, suspenseful, danger and combat mixes, and each of these mixes has two versions playing depending on Raziel being in the Material Realm or in the Spectral Realm. The other games in the series also feature situational musical tracks, but with fewer variations than in Soul Reaver.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening does this (and on the original Game Boy, too!) with its central Ballad of the Windfish—once the first two of eight instruments are collected, the Ocarina becomes obtainable, and the song can be played in front of the big egg... but it will sound rather empty. As more instruments are collected, the process can be repeated, until having all eight summons the full song. And the 3D Zelda games would make a habit of this in the overworld:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has a variation in that the main overworld theme is made up of separate segments, which play in a mostly random order, but it picks slow segments when Link is standing still, trumpet fanfares when he's moving, and dramatic music when there are enemies present. At Lon Lon Ranch, when Link is close to Malon, her singing is mixed into the area theme. The Ominous Pipe Organ music in Ganon's Tower changes in melody and builds in audibility as you go up the tower. The developers commented that the variable mix system put quite some strain on the Nintendo 64's CPU.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has the Clock Town theme change depending on what day it is (and, therefore, how close the end of the world is). The first day is upbeat and cheerful, the second day is faster as people begin to realize that the moon is getting bigger. On the third (and final) day, the music is frantic, with a very ominous backing-track. And then, the whole game goes out of character by halting all its various soundtracks (except boss battle music) in the last 6 hours of the final day. They're over-ridden with the terrifying portent of the game's single most ominous track as the end is nigh. Even more chilling is the countdown timer popping up before doomsday hits. The song is also accompanied by clock bells tolling every now and then, the bells becoming really tense and frequent just before time runs out and the moon strikes Termina.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker saves the trumpets in the overworld melody for when Link is traveling at full speed. In battles, dramatic flourishes are added as you hit enemies, and in boss fights, different variations of the boss's theme are used (e.g. the Helmaroc King's music gets a bass line once you remove his crown). The Mini-Boss theme gets a special mention, as it has versions for: sword sheathed (Soft), sword drawn (Hard), near enemy (drums are added), low health (fast), landed attacks (the added chords as per usual), landed ENEMY attacks (pitch lowers while the song speeds up), and even a specific horn roll plays while using the spin attack. All of these layers play independently, immersing the player into the action better than any other song in the game, but unfortunately, these battles typically only last a few minutes tops.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
      • The game has two Boss Battle themes, the bleak theme when the boss has an advantage, and the upbeat theme once Link finally gets close to its Achilles' Heel. Furthermore, in Hyrule Field, if you get on your horse, trumpets and other "epic" instruments are added to the music's arrangement, as well as additional melody phrases. If you stand still for a while, the music will slow down into a soft backing track; running off again will cause it to continue. As the sun sets, the music slows down, and segues into the nighttime music. In the morning, when the sun rises, "morning" music plays and leads back into the theme. Finally, once you reach Hyrule Castle, the music starts out as the Hyrule Castle theme, but slowly turns into Ganondorf's theme, one instrument at a time, the closer you get to the end, until you reach the end, where the former's theme is completely drowned out by the latter's.
      • In the Sacred Grove, Skull Kid's trumpet is added to the music if you're near him, and there's a variation of the music if those puppet things of his are near you.
      • Also used awesomely in the final boss battle against Ganondorf. When you go into a chance, which is when both you and him have swords locked and are trying to push the other down, the music will change depending on which side is winning, sounding ominous when Ganondorf is winning, and playing the game's main theme when you are winning.
      • Koji Kondo says that the reason he didn't use orchestrated music for Twilight Princess was because he apparently had trouble implementing variable mix with non-MIDI music with GameCube hardware. After Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, such troubles became a thing of the past.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks:
      • The game has different music tracks that fade in and out as you change the train speed. The chugging of the train's engine in its top gear syncs perfectly with the standard overworld music, making it into a kind of percussion line.
      • The music when climbing the Tower of Spirits becomes more epic the higher up you go.
      • When fighting a Rocktite, the music becomes more menacing the closer it is to your train.
      • When fighting Cragma, the music gains instruments when riding the cart.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, most areas, dungeons, battles and cutscenes take advantage of the technique. A notable early area where this can be seen is the Bazaar, where each shopkeeper has their own little leitmotif that's a variation on the main one set to play when you approach their stall. The most mindblowing aspect of this is that aside from the Bazaar, Fi's singing, and various other MIDI tracks, every piece of music that's orchestrated is prerecorded. The game accomplishes the transition effects by layering each recorded part of the music on top of each other, and then fading the relevant tracks in and out according to the player's actions. There are a maximum of 6 channels per track in the game.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, the music changes when two or more players stack on top of each other, with each player getting a different change: The player at the bottom gets more drums added to the BGM, the player at the top has some of the instruments drop out in favor of a choir, and the player in the middle has all the instruments drop out, leaving only the choir.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Hyrule Castle's theme changes smoothly between "indoor" and "outdoor" versions as you explore: "indoor" features a pipe organ and interpolates Zelda's Lullaby, while "outdoor" has a grander, more orchestral arrangement with quotes of the Hero's Theme. Drums join the track when enemies show up. Those who complete the Champion's Ballad DLC get an arrangement of the Shrine music in the Divine Beast Tamer where new instruments join in as you solve each of the Tamer's locks. In addition, Tarrey Town's music adds more instruments the more people you invite to live there, slowly going from an empty-sounding piece to a full band.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, the music transitions smoothly to a more upbeat theme once you have discovered how to get onto the colossus.
  • In NiGHTS into Dreams..., the variable mix used was determined by the happiness or lack thereof of the Nightopians in the current level.
  • Brave Fencer Musashi did this with the Alucaneet Palace theme only. The subdued BGM you initially hear is performed by a rather spare number of instruments, but for each musician you rescue in the field, an instrument is added to the orchestra until the palace theme sounds downright energetic.
  • Both Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon and Goemon's Great Adventure utilize this effect in the castle areas, with the music changing to reflect the player's progression.
  • Mushroom Men has various environmental pieces that make sound effects in time with the background music, such as sparking electrical contraptions and dripping faucets. The Jackalope boss also features music that gets more and more intense the more damage has been dealt to the boss.
  • In Ōkami, going into important and/or busier areas of some maps would add an extra layer of music. Also, most "overworld" musics have two versions, which one is playing depends on plot point and the time of day, most of the time. Example: Spend a full day from morning to dusk in Shinshu Field, and you'll notice that, while it's mostly orchestral and gentle at first, busy percussion and other instruments fade in as the day progresses. And when it nears sundown, that part fades out again.
  • Akuji The Heartless for the PS1 did this pretty well. Each stage featured a unique musical theme that not only got more hectic when the player entered combat, but also added new layers, changed tempo, or became more ambient when set pieces were triggered.
  • Psychonauts has this at times. For a subtle instance, during The Milkman Conspiracy, whilst outside houses, there is a theremin in the background, replaced at a certain point in the track with a bassoon. However, inside houses, both drop out, dropping in again once outside.
  • NieR uses this to great effect in its soundtrack, adding drums and percussion in several areas when in battle, and sometimes adding and subtracting instruments when you transition into new areas.
  • NieR: Automata. Virtually every piece of background music has additional tracks - often including a vocal-track - that pops in under the right circumstance. For example, completing certain benevolent side-quests in Pascal's Village will cause a voice-track featuring joyfully-singing children to overlay the local theme, talking to Anemone in the Resistance-Camp will cause the Woodwinds (and, after a certain point, the voice-track) to join into the local theme. And of course, the ultimate example is the final theme, Weight of the World, that plays as you try to fight your way to the Golden Ending. Starting out as a retro 8-bit track, it turns fully embodied as you struggle on, adding goosebump-inducing vocals... and as you continue to fail and yet refuse to give up, uplifting messages from across the world will pop up to egg you on, while the song switches smoothly between english, japanese and french. When you finally get offered - and accept - the help of other players, a chanting chorus joins in, helping your spirit soar as together, you fight through the previously-impossible challenges towards the final reward... Truly a piece of music that cannot exist, in its truest form, anywhere BUT in a piece of interactive media. Lastly, every single area theme has a whopping 7 variants: a quiet, medium and dynamic version, 3 more variants of the same kind but with vocals, and one more chiptune-styled rendition for 9S' hacking minigame.
  • Drakengard 3 adds percussion and a One-Woman Wail whenever Zero enters Intoner Mode.
  • In one of the oldest examples, the background music for the Atari 2600 game Pitfall II becomes less upbeat if you go too long before collecting a treasure. If you're touched by an enemy, a minor version of the same song plays as you return to the last checkpoint.

    Adventure Game 
  • A large number of classic LucasArts games, beginning with Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, used a system called iMuse to provide interactive music, one of the first such examples of this.
    • The most famous example is probably MI2's Woodtick, where the music has dozens of transitions meaning that each piece of music comes to a natural end, wherever it is in the track, before moving on to the next piece. The result is mindblowing, and it's the kind of thing which is only possible with MIDI. The Special Edition tried to recreate the effect with live instruments. They did a pretty good job, but the effects were much simplified in many cases.
    • X-Wing and TIE Fighter use this, as does the Rogue Squadron series. Needless to say, when used in conjunction with elements of the Star Wars score, plus new music that blended with it, the effect is extremely enjoyable and atmospheric.
    • iMuse was used well in The Curse of Monkey Island. Depending on who you were talking to, the background music would segue smoothly into a remixed version; the Barbery Coast theme would gain an accompaniment of accordion when talking to Captain Rene Rottingham, and when on the Sea Cucumber, steel guitar, steel drum, and atmospheric seagulls would be added to a more upbeat version of the Sea Cucumber theme when Mr. Fossie came to harass you.
  • Obsidian has a few examples of this in its soundtrack, but the most notable instance is in the crossover chip puzzle. It starts with an Ominous Pipe Organ track by default, but as each of the chip's segments is filled, the music gets faster and a bassoon, drums, and choir are added along with them.
  • Starship Titanic features many music themes which blend into each other, and you soon notice that the quality and style of the music depend on how posh your surroundings are, and whether or not you're in an public or maintainance area.
  • In Space Quest IV, the Galaxy Galleria theme is normally elevator/lobby music, but when you enter the Skate-O-Rama, it adds drums. It also mixes in the various shop music themes as you pass by.
  • Sort of done in Tomb Raider, where there's a particularly jarring music sting as you enter a particular area where you're attacked by a Tyrannosaurus. The sting is cued to the location, not the Tyrannosaurus itself, so gamers who've managed to kill him while barely surviving and who then go back past the same point for some reason may mess themselves when they hear the sting again.
  • In Outer Wilds, the track that plays after you steal the functional warp core to take to the Nomai vessel is reduced to just its own reverb when you're navigating Dark Bramble.

    Card Battle Game 
  • Most recent Yu-Gi-Oh! video games use three different songs during each duel: one for when the Life Points are close to even, one for when you have a big lead, and one for when your opponent has a big lead. The music simply fades out and fades in once the threshold is reached, however, without any fancy attempt to blend the songs together.
  • The Ravnican board of Magic: The Gathering: Arena has background music that varies based on cards played. Whenever a card with a specific guild's watermark is played, the music changes to that guild's variation of the base board theme.
  • Gwent's battle music has layers added and removed as the game goes on. After particularly impactful plays, the base tracks switch to their more energetic variations.

    Driving Game 
  • Diddy Kong Racing, not only on the racer selection screen (each racer has a unique instrument playing a variation of the same melody over the same accompaniment), but the track Boulder Canyon switches between three completely distinct arrangements depending on where you are in the lap. The only problem is that if you listen to these tunes on the in-game Sound Test, it plays every instrument and melody at once. This also occurs in the Hub Level.
  • Mario Kart:
    • In Mario Kart Wii, some tracks have added sound effects inside of caves. A distortion effect is added whenever the player is shrunk or flattened due to item or track effects. Finally, when starting a game, the music has more layers added to it the farther you get through the selection process of the type of game you'll play, the difficulty, the racer you want, the car you'll use, and what sort of drifting you'll be playing with.
    • Mario Kart 7 adds extra percussion (bass/snare "dance" beat or a hi-hat, for example) to the BGM if the player takes a significant lead, which continues in 8.
    • Mario Kart 8 features the menu layering from Wii, and has music layers in a few tracks as well:
      • Water Park loses most of its percussion and gains a more ambient synth feel during the underwater sections.
      • Shy Guy Falls and Wario's Gold Mine add the sounds of mining equipment and "heave-ho" sounds to the background music when a player is in the mine section of the course.
      • Dolphin Shoals uses saxophones and guitars in place of steel drums during its above-ground sections, and gets quieter during the cavern section.
      • Electrodome adds crowd chanting noises when a player is close to the finish line, and the music becomes more ambient during the anti-gravity sections.
      • Mount Wario's music track is split into four parts, each of which is assigned to a specific area and transitions smoothly into the next one as the player advances.
      • Cloudtop Cruise's music changes from orchestra strings to electric guitar when inside the storm cloud.
      • Super Bell Subway's music loses the strings alongside other instruments and adds a bassline in the tune of World 1-2 from Super Mario Bros. when in the underground section.
  • The music tracks for Crash Tag Team Racing are all divided into four sections: a "regular" section, a triumphant section, a tense section, and an ominous section. The music will switch between these sections depending on your position in the final lap of the race. The "regular" section plays normally in the first laps, the triumphant section will play if you're in 1st or 2nd place, the tense section if you're in between 3rd and 5th places, and the ominous section if you're behind 6th place, those last three play on the final lap.
  • Project Gotham Racing 4 has a dynamic menu theme, specially composed by The Prodigy, that changes as you move between screens.
  • The first Burnout game does things things differently. The standard musi plays while not on the booster, and an electronic "thump-thump-thump" rhythm is overlayed while on the booster, growing louder while the BGM goes quieter the faster the player goes. The sequel Point of Impact normally has a repetitive rock/electronica soundtrack with a secondary backing track that is muted unless the boost is triggered, creating a more dynamic, louder sound.
  • The levels in Twisted Metal 1, 2, and Black can have up to three dynamic music variations: the ambient music (eg "Cyburb Hunt" in Cyburbia), the battle music (eg "Cyburb Slide"), and the "final opponent" music (Black, and maybe Head On).
  • The racetracks in Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed have different background music depending on which section of the course you're on. For instance, Ocean View has "Sonic - You Can Do Anything" during land sections and "Super Sonic Racing" for water sections.
  • Need for Speed:
    • Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit. Each course has two music tracks: a rock and a techno track). The music changes in pace and intensity depending on several factors: Each section of a track has several loops assigned to it and is affected by your grid position, speed and laps in the race (for example: being near the back at slower speeds used a quieter portion while being, say, at the front at 100 mph on the final lap meant the music would be the most intense). There is even a special bit that plays when you crashed (and sometimes that varies depending on location) as well as one when being chased (even that varies, the music is more intense the closer a cop is to you). This also applies to some tracks in Need for Speed II: Special Edition but doen't have the chase segments. Some tracks don't share this variable mix, such as "Halling Ass" and "Headless Horse" for Norway's Proving Grounds (since it is a simple oval track so a variable mix would've been unnecessary).
    • Need for Speed: Most Wanted does this only during the cop chases.
    • Carbon also applies this with the races themselves.
    • This kind of music returns in Need for Speed Rivals when chasing or being chased, notably the music would calm down when you or your suspect is escaping or would become incredibly intense depending on the state of you and/or your target. This variable mix is overwritten when using custom playlists on console versions of the game.
  • Wipeout HD applies a lowpass filter to the background music while your craft is using a shield, and applies a highpass filter whenever you catch air.
  • Both Nitronic Rush and Distance have the music adapt depending on what the car is doing, with boosting, jumping, flying and overheating adding to the instruments used.
  • Each track in Split Second has three variations, one for each lap of a course. Every time you complete a lap, more instruments are added to make the tone more intense.

    Fighting Game 
  • Super Smash Bros.
    • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the main tracks of the stages Summit and Yoshi's Island constantly change in tone and tempo to match the current state of stage (Though the Summit music is a single audio track that's merely timed to match up with the stage's various events; if you're playing in Slow Brawl, for instance, you'll hear the audio desynch from the onscreen events).
    • In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, several stages' soundtracks change depending on what's going on in the game (including a return of the Yoshi's Island one):
      • The Paper Mario stage's music changes between a remix of the Grassland and Airship themes from Paper Mario: Sticker Star with Rogueport's theme from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door in between, depending on which form the stage is currently in.
      • The 3D Land stage's music goes from the main theme of Super Mario 3D Land to the beach theme from the same game when it changes to beach form. When the stage is about to change back to grassland form, the music begins speeding up before going back to the first song. The stage's alternate music track does this as well, but like Summit's music, it's a single audio track that only matches up by coincidence.
      • The Reset Bomb Fortress stage features a remix of Viridi's theme from Kid Icarus: Uprising. The music is timed to the transitions in the stage. It's worth noting that this is the only music track in the entire Super Smash Bros. series that halts when the game is paused, so the music doesn't desync from the events onscreen.
  • In Def Jam - Fight for New York used a variant that revolved around the Blazin' Moves. Most stages in the game have instrumentals of various hip hop songs as their BGM, which cuts out to one of a few slightly more intense, shorter loops whenever someone activates their ability to use a Blazin' move. If the successfully pull the move off, Ominous Latin Chanting or some other brief, suspenseful leitmotif plays in the background while the attack is being performed, and, if the Blazin' move is used when the opponent's health isn't in the danger zone and is able to continue fighting afterward, the normal music resumes and for about ten seconds afterward the lyrics of the song play before cutting back into a looping instrumental again. A lesser example occurs whenever you use a submission hold, with disk scratching and various generic sound effects thrown in.
  • In Street Fighter X Tekken, the music increases in intensity for each round of a match. In addition, a flange effect coats the music when the player's current character's HP is below 25%.
  • The 2013 Killer Instinct title has a variety of themes for each stage that fade in and out depending on what characters do during the fight (and that includes plain nothing). This video explains how it works. In addition, ending a match with an Ultra Combo changes the music to a character-specific theme that plays a note for each hit of the combo.
  • Taken Up to Eleven with Them's Fightin' Herds. Each stage has a default version, plus six (at launch) complete re-arrangements with different instruments for each character when they have a health lead. And each stage theme also has a variant for the final round, which also has one remix per character. And there are also idle remixes when both players do nothing for a while. Even the character select screen has this depending on which characters players 1 and 2 have selected. The beta version has a total of at least 128 tracks counting all stage themes, character variants, final round variants, and character select combinations.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Several games in the genre have a smooth transition between normal wandering-around music and when combat began: Dark Forces, TRON 2.0, Deus Ex, Unreal, and Serious Sam.
  • The Halo games, particularly the second and third, use what the composer calls "quantum music". A piece may have an intro, followed by a looping middle section that may have different variations depending on the player's actions, and an outtro, again triggered by the gameplay. The music fades out after a certain time if no dynamic triggers are activated. "Glue" musics consisting of short loops (typically drone ambient) are used to transition between larger pieces.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein: The music is initially mostly percussion, but if an alarm goes off or something, it will add in the full orchestra, ending once the alert is stopped. During timed missions, the music intensifies periodically as the clock runs down.
  • All of the Far Cry games have dynamic music. Far Cry 2's battle music has a bad habit of fading in whenever the player fires a shot, regardless of whether or not there are any enemies around. The first game also sometimes play the alert Scare Chord in empty areas or before the enemies are alerted.
  • The FPS games in the Police Quest: SWAT series both have the same issue as Far Cry 2. SWAT 3's music switches between a downbeat and a more frantic version of the same tune depending on whether you're in stealth or dynamic mode. Larger maps have separate stealth tracks for different areas, such as for the different floors of a mansion, but each map only has one dynamic track - and it just so happens that firing a shot automatically moves you into dynamic mode and switches the music, even if that shot is simply something like shooting a locked door with breaching shells (although if you're doing that you're probably intending to go in guns-blazing anyway). SWAT 4, meanwhile, would temporarily switch to the full-action part of the song whenever a flashbang detonated, regardless of if anyone (other than you) was actually around to be affected by it.
  • In GoldenEye (1997) and Perfect Dark, each stage has a "danger" variation of its music.
  • Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy near-seamlessly mixes and matches John Williams's music from Star Wars, with calm pieces playing when exploring, seguing into dramatic and fast-paced when spotted by enemies, and cooling back down after the encounter.
  • No One Lives Forever features both sneaking and flat-out shooting elements, and the music rises and falls appropriately if you blow your cover.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon: The music starts to build in suspense just before a major event or battle happens, and segues out once the battle is over. For example, the courtyard in Interval 3 where the helicopter drops off several Replicas. And Scare Chords are often set to the action, e.g. when the gun turrets activate.
  • Descent 3's level musics seamlessly change as you progress through a level, and also change with the intensity of the action.
  • Some levels in the Medal of Honor series have this, such as "Eye of the Storm", "Rough Landing", "The Golden Lion", "Operation Repunzel", "Yard by Yard" and "On Track" in Frontline, when you reach certain points in a level, an alarm is set off, or the action otherwise heats up. Rough Landing in particular is awesome; it starts with a solo boy soprano and a few instruments, and later in the level, it builds up to the full choir and orchestra. Also, in the train mission, the music starts to pick up speed when you enter the station and approach the train, then goes to its undoubtedly epic full-speed Ominous Latin Chanting climax during Riding Out The Storm.
  • System Shock had a very advanced system for its time (and even today). Each level’s music is built procedurally from different musical building blocks, controlled by parameters in the game. The core set of each level’s musical building blocks are named with a gameplay state (“W”alking, “P”eril, “C”ombat) and a section (“A”,”B”,”C”,…). “WA” can play into “WB”, unless the game state changes to Peril, at which it may play into “PB”. Additionally, each enemy type has its own theme, which is then overlaid on top of the core level music based on the proximity of enemies of that type. This gives the game a hugely interactive and dynamic soundtrack.
  • Destiny has one when fighting Crota in the Crota's End raid. There is the standard boss music when fighting him, but an interval of more heroic music plays when the Sword Bearer's Sword is picked up. Fitting, considering this is about the time when you put the beat down on Crota.
  • PAYDAY 2:
    • Each track has four separate sections: a quiet and more downbeat portion for stealth, a more tense portion once stealth is broken or between assault waves, a portion that rises in intensity as an assault wave approaches, and a louder and more intense portion for assault waves.
    • Shadow Raid is mixed to gain intensity based on the player's actions, as it must be completed in stealth (and thus has no assault waves). Murky Station and Yacht Heist do the same thing, both being stealth-only heists as well. Yacht Heist is notable in that it has 11 different tracks, almost triple that of every other song in the game.
    • The Alesso Heist has the music from the concert work the same way as the soundtrack does in other heists. Which, if you're particularly slow, means the star DJ will be playing a single song for an hour.
  • Rainbow Six: Vegas adds or subtracts instrument layers with the combat intensity.
  • Unreal Tournament III has a modular sound engine, which means the music is calm when you simply traverse the map, but quickly switches to a more aggressive sound when you engage in combat.
  • Some of Metroid Prime's map zones have dynamic arrangements of their music. For example:
  • Mirror's Edge's soundtrack is calm ambient when Faith is in the clear, becoming more tense ambient when the "Blues" are en route to the scene, then finally fast-paced techno when they attack or engage pursuit of Faith.
  • BioShock Infinite adds lots of discordant, dramatic strings to the background music whenever you initiate combat or get closer to enemies. The music gets more and more dramatic and higher tempo the closer you are to an enemy, and it remains dramatic until the last nearby enemy is dead.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Chaos Legion has a normal level music, and adds Ominous Latin Chanting when your have a legion out.
  • Koei started trying this out over time in their games. The main kingdom themes in Dynasty Warriors 8 seamlessly change between normal, uplifting and sad versions depending on the cutscenes before every battle, while Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn features a triumphant main menu theme that mellows out in the gallery and options, as well as two variations of original music tracks for each of its maps.
  • In Hyrule Warriors, the music adds various instruments (guitar, extra percussion, etc.) depending on if you're in an enemy keep, using magic, and the like. Most audio tracks have around 14 different channels!
  • Fire Emblem Warriors, just like its parent series, switches the background music between calmer version played on the map screen, and more dynamic one played when you're actually fighting.
  • Keeping with the series' tradition, in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, music regularly gains and loses instruments and tempo depending on events within the game. Boss themes in particular often shift to different parts of the song to go along with the actions of the battle, usually ending in a full vocal performance.
  • In Devil May Cry 5 the playable characters' battle music changes depending on the player's style ranking. For example, when Nero encounters an enemy, the intro of his theme, "Devil Trigger", loops until he actually enters combat. From D to B-rank, the song's main verse loops, as he fills up the A-rank meter the drumbeat increases in intensity, and when he hits S-rank or higher, the song cuts to the chorus, dropping back to the main verse if he dips below S-rank again. Upon clearing the enemy encounter, the song segues to the outro. This video demonstrates it in action.

    Mecha Game 
  • Zone of the Enders spliced in different loops to the mostly trance in-game music depending on whether Jehuty was shielding, locked onto an enemy, trying to escape, etc.
    • The 2nd Runner, for the second stage, had an ominous choir background music with industrial drums fading in and out with the action. A rather memorable scene occurs at the end of the stage when the protagonist reaches the end, gazing out the battleship windows out into space as the drums go out entirely. Have a listen - this version has the drums almost the whole way through.

    Miscellaneous Games / Multiple Genres 
  • Action 52 has this unintentionally in level 3 in Lollipops. While belonging to glitch chiptune subgenre, it changes with every action like walking, jumping and attacking. This is apparently due to the system attempting to read game data as music (like playing the data track of a CD-ROM in a CD player).
  • In Nintendo's Badge Arcade, the badge catcher music varies depending on how many plays you have left and whether or not the claw has anything in it.
  • Aztec Challenge has monotonous levels, using the changing music as a means to represent progress within a given level. It's only controlled by the user in two levels where you can delay progress by not moving, and it would otherwise be procedurally generated.
  • Ghost Master switches among a set of soundtracks based on the situation, becoming more intense as mortals are terrified. However, camera height takes priority in deciding the chosen music.
  • Rescue: The Embassy Mission for the NES had this during the sniper positioning sequence. If your sniper was hiding, the music became subdued; if your sniper was running, more instruments come in.
  • The NES version of American Gladiators had this in the Joust, Wall, and Human Cannonball events, starting with the percussion and/or bass, then adding the other instruments when you engaged a gladiator.
  • The Basement Collection features this on the main menu and title screen, where the latter's theme is a more muffled and distant version of the former.
  • League of Legends: The 'Summoner's Rift' theme changes as more time is elapsed in the game - towards the mid and late game it adds more drums and stronger backing.
  • ''The Binding of Isaac:
    • Rebirth features this, with stage themes gaining an extra instrument or two (usually an electric guitar) during more intense fights.
    • Inputting "HART BEAT" as a seed causes the music's pitch and tempo to decrease or increase depending on how far away from three full hearts your health meter is.
    • Inputting "SLOW 4ME2" as a seed causes the music's pitch and tempo to change depending on how fast your character is moving.
    • The broken pocketwatch item which randomly speeds up or slows down all enemies in a room does the same thing to the music.
    • The True Final Boss of Repentance has a theme with five variations, one playing for each stage of the fight. Altogether it is the longest song in the soundtrack.
  • In Enter the Gungeon, each chamber has two unique themes: the one that plays while in combat and the one that plays when just wandering around empty rooms. Each pair matches up to allow seamless transitions.

  • Phantasy Star Online has two themes for each area, one for exploration and one for battle. There are around five transition points in each track - once a battle begins or ends the game will wait for the next of these points and cue the transition to the other theme.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 uses this to an extreme degree thanks to its unique "SYMPATHY" systemnote . This results in the same track having multiple different variations that change flexibly based on the tide of battle, such as when a boss changes phases, performs certain attacks, or has its parts broken, or when the player is on the field and encounters different events like enemies or PSE Bursts.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The PVP only zone Wintergrasp uses a number of different songs dependent on what's happening in the zone at the time: three or four calm tunes for when battles have died down, and an equal number of high energy war songs when players are vying for the fortress.
    • The final boss of Black Temple, Illidan has different music for each of his phases, including an ambient track before engaging him. note 
  • Final Fantasy XIV: While in some dungeons, the Diadem/Eureka, and the PVP zones, the music shifts into a more active mix whenever the player or group is in combat.

    Party Game 
  • An unusual example comes from WarioWare: Smooth Moves on Dribble and Spitz's stage. The vocal song "Tomorrow Hill" plays throughout the level. When you mess up, the song distorts. You might think it's just an effect placed over the original song, but it's actually a variable mix—the distorted parts of the song are actually sung differently, sometimes even with nonsensical words in place of the normal ones ("Already said my goodbyes" becomes "Already ate my french fry", for example). This alternate version of the song, "Falling Off Tomorrow Hill", can even be heard in the Sound Test.
  • WarioWare: D.I.Y. combines this with a Background Music Override for Jimmy's stage. The stage plays a dedicated song over all the microgames. The song has variants for failing the microgame and the vocals are pitch shifted to keep up with the tempo as the stage speeds up.

    Platform Game 
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros. 2: The music continues playing when the game is paused but cuts out the main instruments, leaving a sort of "drum and bass" mix.
    • Super Mario World: When the player mounts a Yoshi, a track of bongo drums is added to the music, no matter which of the several background music tracks is playing at the time. The same thing happens in Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy 2, New Super Mario Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. U.
    • Grabbing the Tanooki powerup in New Super Mario Bros. 2 mildly changes the background music.
    • In New Super Mario Bros. U, carrying a Baby Yoshi causes them to sing along with the background music.
    • Super Mario 64:
      • The water theme. When you are on the beach in Jolly Roger Bay, the music is solely composed of electric piano. If you go in the water, it gains violins; and the hidden cave add drums to it.
      • The theme of Hazy Maze Cave and Wet Dry World. Normally, it plays a remix of the Super Mario Bros. Cave Theme. However, once you're at a certain area, the theme starts adding a few creepy instruments.
      • The level Big Boo's Haunt does this with its own theme, with a Scare Chord used as the default theme and percussion sounds added in the inner and lower areas.
    • Super Mario Galaxy:
      • Happens in the boss battles against Bowser whenever he becomes open to attacks. The song is normal until you get Bowser to land on the lava; when that happens and he runs around with his tail ablaze, the Ominous Latin Chanting comes in. When you hit him and he is spinning on his shell, a trumpet is added in with the song and singing chorus until you hit him again, then the song returns back to normal until you do it again.
      • Every time you activate a sling star a harp will be added in tempo and harmony. If you activate the bigger ones with two stars (to go to different planetoids, etc.) the harmony will be longer; if you use the single star ones for shooting you short distances, the harmony will be shorter. This occurs with every single song, even with the Rainbow Star (invincibility) and power-up songs (Fire Flower, Ice Flower, etc.)
      • Any coins that pop up from bushes, etc. will be in tempo and harmony with the song.
      • Occurs in the tilty-ball levels. The less you move, the quieter the song gets and there is only one instrument playing, but, the faster you go, the faster the tempo gets and the more instruments that come in.
      • Done in the Battlerock and Dreadnought Galaxies when the level switches from a quiet, calm section to an action filled section with cannons and Bullet Bills, with the music getting more epic or just quiet accordingly. The Beach Bowl and Sea Slide Galaxies work similarly, with the loud brass and high flute switching out for steel drums and other luau-ish instrumentation when you dive underwater. Same case with Buoy Base: above water, it's Symphony Orchestra, below water it's synthesiser and organ.
      • The question-mark color-changing platform puzzles deal out a tone every time you step on a separate platform. Each tone is in tandem with whatever chord is currently being used in the melody of the stage.
    • Water levels in Super Mario 3D Land transition between "beach" and "underwater" themes depending on whether Mario is submerged. Additionally, the music will fade (as if it's following him) if Mario flies above the top of the screen, and sounds muffled (as if being played through water) if Mario is submerged. Super Mario 3D World does the same thing with the beach music, but it also has a more interesting form of this in that the circus-themed levels actually play different parts of the level music depending on which section of the level you are in.
    • Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Maker 2 use prerecorded music harmonies whenever you're making a stage that it transitions in and out of depending on what you're doing; however, they use MIDI for the melody, and the games actually call out the item you're placing and alters the pitch to match the melody, leading to the game "singing" along to the music with the name of the item you're placing!
    • Super Mario Odyssey uses this feature quite a bit, mostly for when Mario is Capturing something.
      • Capturing a frog in Top Hat Tower will add a Güiro to the music, capturing Madame Broode's pet Chain Chomp will add rhythmic barking, capturing and moving along a power line will add a saw wave arpeggio (or koto arpeggio in Bowser Kingdom), extending or contracting as a Tropical Wiggler will play an accordion chord that matches the music, capturing a Banzai Bill will add a harsh electronic melody, and so on. Interestingly, if you use the in-game music player to change the background music, most (but not all) of these will change to match it!
      • Whenever you enter an 8-bit pipe, the background music will change to a chiptune arrangement (unless you're at the New Donk City festival or using the in-game Music Player).
  • Besides the "Hurry Up!" theme, Wario Land 4's music changes to match Wario's actions, slowing down when he crawls, speeding up while rolling, and distorting during transformations.
  • The Legend of Spyro games do this, especially Dawn of the Dragon. The music will fade from a sweeping string melody or a haunting chorus that is the level's normal music to epic horns or fast drums when enemies appear, and then back again when all the enemies are dead, using a quick sort of fade for the transition. Anyone well-versed in music will hear the break quite clearly, but to most people it's almost completely seamless.
  • In the Banjo-Kazooie games:
    • The music changes slightly depending on where the player is in the level. For example, the music always changes to a harp arrangement when diving underwater. And in the first world, Mumbo's Mountain, a military drumbeat is added to the track when the player approaches the termite hive, and the song's orchestration entirely changes to a more tribal-sounding variant when near Mumbo's skull.
    • Gruntilda's Lair alone has at least 11 different themes that blend seamlessly from one to the next: The base theme music, the underwater music, and one for each world that plays when you approach a world's portrait or entrance, with an arrangement appropriate for that world.
    • In Banjo-Tooie, there is a glitch where after beating Mr. Patch, sometimes every variation of the Witchyworld theme plays at once until you exit the tent.
    • Unsurprisingly, Spiritual Successor Yooka-Laylee has the same kind of effect in the playable "Toybox" pre-alpha, and in various areas of the game proper (though sadly not in the hub world).
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day does this with the theme heard in the areas within and around Windy.
  • Donkey Kong Country:
    • In the GBA version of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, which has a new soundtrack, the riverside levels have this, with the ambient+bongo track when out of the river, and an aquatic theme for when you're in the river. Of course, with most of the river levels eventually hurting you if you end up in the river...
    • Happens in Donkey Kong 64, albeit not on the fly. The main hub theme has variations depending on whether or not you're near DK Island, near the Kremlings' fortress or in one of the level hubs. Even if your character is not in an area where the music changes in a level, if you do something that triggers an event in such an area, the music will change as the camera enters that area. There's also a more minor version with the music in the tag barrel, where it switches out instruments depending on which Kong is currently highlighted.
    • In Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, the background music is often a simple, understated little tune. And if you play through the levels like a normal platformer, it'll stay that way. However, once you start using the combo system (doing tricks in midair and stringing moves together without touching the ground), things get interesting as you collect more and more bananas. More instruments will be added to the song. Then the percussion begins to pick up. Then a crowd yells "GO! GO! GO!" to the beat of the song. Then the crowd also yells "Wooo!" on the off-beats and claps along. Then the main tune is overlaid with some funky jazz riffs. And then the percussion starts drowning everything out... When you finally land and end your combo, the crowd breaks into a hearty cheer, and then it's back to the simple music again. Needless to say, playing well in this game gets you pumped. There is also the boss music, which effortlessly switches from tense to triumphant, depending on whether DK is on the defensive or the offensive.
    • In Donkey Kong Country Returns, the island map has the well-known "Simian Segue" as its BGM until you zoom to any part of it, where it fades to a different rearrangement (with the same rhythm, no less) of that theme in every section, using the appropriate instruments (for example, steel drums in the "beach" map).
    • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has a more relaxing, atmospheric mix of level themes playing when you go underwater, somewhat similar to both Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! and former fellow Rare franchise Banjo-Kazooie (some levels will even have the song's melody replaced with the melody of "Aquatic Ambience" from the original game). Also, like most Mario games, the music of Rambi levels gets an added drum beat when you're riding him.
  • The games in the Jak and Daxter series add new layers to the background music when the player mounts a vehicle or takes out a weapon.
  • Ristar has a music-themed level in which the objective was to deliver metronomes to birds found throughout the level. For each metronome returned, a portion of the level's background music was replaced with a choral melody. The final boss theme isn't a layered track like Planet Sonata, but it aims for this effect in spirit. It's timed so that the slow part lasts almost exactly as long as it takes to wear Kaiser's first phase down, the accelerando takes place during his first black hole attack, and the fast, frantic part goes into full swing when he Turns Red.
  • In Tomb Raider: Anniversary, the background music in Croft Manor changes slightly depending on whether the player is in the house, the gym or outside.
  • de Blob features a rather interesting soundtrack that adds instruments as you colour buildings in different colours. At the start of each level you can choose which soundtrack to use, with a variety of available instruments. Additionally, more background music will play as you paint an area- a gray zone will be quiet but a fully painted area will sound quite alive.
  • In Knytt Stories, as the player transitions between areas the music will fade between their two songs (playing both at lower volume when you're in the middle).
  • In the original Klonoa game, this trope was used two different ways in the same place: the between-level transition screens. Each time you visited it, each level you'd completed would play a section of a tune; completing every level would complete the tune, the Song of Rebirth. In addition, each level had six characters to rescue, who formed members of the band that played the tune; if you didn't collect all six characters in a level, their portion of the tune would have correspondingly fewer instruments. Also, the music playing on the level changes slightly depending on where you are (outer and inner areas) and what is going on (particularly easy to notice in Temple of the Sun, due to constantly triggering magic-induced twilight in the outer areas).
  • Glider PRO's music slips into a holding pattern if you're stuck in one room too long. The return of the main theme when you make it out is cathartic.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In the pre-Adventure games, the BGM currently playing would speed up if you got the super shoes (only Sonic CD and the Saturn version of Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island didn't do this — presumably technical limitations since they were playing direct from audio CD).
    • Sonic Heroes has Mystic Mansion with its segmented level theme; different segments play and loop depending on where in the level you are, transitioning at noticeable "checkpoints". You can hear them all in sequence in the Sound Test. The preceding level (Hang Castle) toys with this as well, albeit differently. Its two themes are interchanged virtually seamlessly as you go from normal castle to upside-down castle and back again.
    • In Sonic Generations, the music would gain a more fast-paced drum beat when boosting in Modern Sonic's Green Hill and Sky Sanctuary stages. In all other stages, boosting simply adds a filter to the music. This originated in Sonic Colors, where, upon boosting, the prominent instruments in the BGM would be drowned out a bit, allowing the drum & bass to come center stage. Diving underwater with Sonic in Aquarium Park also creates subtle changes in the music.
    • Reversed in Sonic Unleashed where the drum & bass would be drowned out, sometimes completely, when boosting.
    • During the Death Egg Robot boss in Sonic Generations, the music starts out as a march. Once the second phase begins (when you first have to lure him to hit the bombs), it seamlessly turns into more of a rock song, then adding a faster drum beat for the final phase (One hit left) that plays all the way until the results screen.
    • Also in Generations, the Time Eater's theme transitions seamlessly between an orchestrated rendition with Ominous Latin Chanting for Modern Sonic and a more electronic version for Classic Sonic, depending on which one the player currently controls.
  • Epic Mickey has three different versions for each different land's theme (for the purpose of this article, we'll use the Mean Street theme as the only model). These are Paint, Neutral, and Thinner. What version plays depends on how many Guardians you attract and what kind they are. If you have no Guardians, the Neutral version plays. If you have one or two Tints, the Paint version is layered over the Neutral version. If you have all three Tints, the Paint version is the only version that plays. If you have one or two Turps, the Thinner version is layered over the Neutral version. If you have all three Turps , the Thinner version is the only version that plays.
  • In Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and Abe's Exoddus, the score shifted from tense-hallway-sneaky to dramatic-drumbeats to kickass-and-chew-bubblegum as Abe possessed a slig. And whenever Abe is spotted by guards or wildlife(Scrabs, mostly), the usually calm background sounds shift into a fast-paced chase music.
  • In Metroid: Zero Mission, you're caught without your power suit and trying to stealth your way through the Space Pirates' mothership. The music in the area changes from a softer version when the pirates aren't chasing you to a more urgent, louder version when you are being chased.
  • Every area in Muramasa: The Demon Blade has a more intense version of the stage music that fades in whenever the player gets in a fight.
  • A Hat in Time, which lists Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64 among its inspirations, uses Variable Mix in a similar way, with the instrumentation of the level theme changing depending on what area of the level you're in.
  • Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams has two different variations of every level theme: a more withdrawn, orchestral-sounding one for when you're Cute Giana and a more rock-ish one for when you're Punk Giana.
  • The Fairly OddParents: Shadow Showdown:
    • Each level has two variations of its music: a normal theme and a more upbeat remix for when you're sprinting, or when you come in contact with an enemy. Some levels even have separate areas with different themes that also have their own variable mix.
    • In "Vicky Strikes Back", selecting the Gamma Ray wish will add percussion and a phaser effect to the stage music. This does not apply to the level's pinball area, though there is a variable mix of its theme, as well. However, it's not triggered by sprinting, but by rolling around really fast in your pinball. There's even different mixes depends on how fast you're rolling.
    • In "Get a Clue", turning the mansion upside-down will cue a remixed version of the normal theme. It does not get its own sprint remix, however.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest has subtle variations of the regional themes for certain segments of the map; for example, the Moon Grotto BGM becomes more subdued when you descend into Gumo's hideout; the Ginso Tree music gradually changes as you ascend the tree, and incorporates a Theme Music Power-Up during the Escape Sequence; the Sunken Glades/Hollow Grove theme adds more instruments when you head towards the Valley of the Wind, and Sorrow Pass's BGM gets a dynamic buildup starting after you learn the Charge Jump and climaxing when you obtain the Sunstone.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation filters the music when the Nerd is underwater. Unfortunately, the "Croc Conundrum" stage is exclusively underwater, making it impossible to hear the unfiltered version of its music in-game.
  • The two town themes in Shovel Knight change instrumentation depending on where you are in the town. There's also the final level theme which begins with only one instrument and gains more as the player gets closer and closer to the final boss.
  • LittleBigPlanet:
    • In all of the games, the Pod Music will change based on what menu you're in or where you are. On the Main Menu, the Create Moon, etc.
    • In all games, there are also Interactive Music Tracks. These songs have anywhere from 2-6 different sliders that will increase or decrease the volume of different vocals, instruments, sound effects, and the like. Here's what the menu for a typical Interactive Music item looks like.
  • Hollow Knight loves this trope:
    • Most of the regional themes add a heavier orchestral track in action-packed situations. The Queen's Gardens BGM has an especially epic battle variation heard when fighting the Traitor Lord and his flunkies, which unfortunately was left out of the official soundtrack album.
    • The City of Tears BGM starts with an oboe melody and piano arpeggio harmony indoors, then adds a One-Woman Wail and church choir outdoors.
    • Troupe Master Grimm's battle music gains a metal guitar riff when he Turns Red and unleashes his Pufferfish Bullet Hell attack.
    • The main Final Boss theme, "Sealed Vessel", starts out appropriately epic for the first half of the battle, then transitions with a Scare Chord to violin-based Sad Battle Music, which gradually adds back the other instruments as HK's HP dwindles. This second movement plays out in the same manner during the Birthplace flashback and the Path of Pain.
  • Taz: Wanted: When Taz is sneaking or the game is paused, a quieter version of the level theme plays. A hard rock version plays while Taz is spinning.
  • Most levels in Yo! Noid 2: Enter the Void have music that changes depending on which area you're in. For example, Swing Factory has rock music that changes into jazz when you're in the interior parts of the level.
  • In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the BGM's for each map region have subtle yet significant variations in instrumentation and arrangement between sub-regions.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Worms Blast used this as the blocks got closer and closer to you.
  • Cipher Prime games Auditorium and Fractal do this. In the former, each level starts in silence. Every "bucket" you fill with the correct type of flowing particle adds a layer to the music. In the latter, creating more blooms adds these layers. Each level starts with the stereotypical "howling wasteland" sound.
  • Most of the music tracks in Portal 2 gain instruments when the player gets close to certain objects or interacts with certain puzzle elements. For example, the track "Love as a Construct" gains a synthesized "vocal" track when the player gets close to a Companion Cube.
  • Adventures of Lolo (for the Game Boy) had an unusual example in which the BGM shifted between four different songs depending on which direction Lolo was facing. The music also changed to a much slower song while Lolo was on flowers. It's only on some levels, and only in the European version.
  • Rotohex of the Art Style series adds to or changes the music once a new color is available.
    • The background tracks in PiCTOBiTS become more complex the closer the stage is to being completed. In some of the Dark World stages, the music tracks go an extra "level" and turn into Boss Remixes. Additionally, an arpeggio will be added to the music when you're picking up or putting down pixels, or when matched pixels are flying to the top screen.
  • Plants vs. Zombies has two mixes of each song used for a level: a calmer version used when there are few zombies on the level, and a more urgently orchestrated one when things are starting to get out of hand.
  • Meteos Wars had the music changing as the screen got filled up with blocks. Each planet in the original Meteos had 3 different soundtracks that would play as the screen filled, but the transition was noticeable as the soundtrack restarted each time. Each planet in Meteos Wars had up to 5 or 6, and the transitions were seamless.
  • Marisa & Alice 2: Trap Tower! has two versions of each theme, for when the player is controlling either Marisa or Alice.
  • Some of the point + click flash titles by Jo99 (like "The Queen of Snakes" or "Humanoid 47") include music that grows louder and more concentrated as each puzzle is solved, reaching a crescendo right up to the ending cutscene, which is usually where the climax is.
  • In Axiom Verge, the Critical Annoyance beeps are synchronized to the music.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In Age of Mythology, the normal game music would change to battle music during a large battle, often triggered by an attack on a Town Center, then afterward it would often change to the original music or a "mellow mix" (their own words).
    • The "mellow mix" would also trigger if you lost a significant chunk of your population (about 50% or more) in battle, basically the game telling you you're losing.
    • Also, there's special music that plays whenever Meteor Storm is used.
  • The Westwood/EA RTS games introduced this feature with their SAGE engine-based RTS Games (Emperor: Battle for Dune and newer). It is especially notable in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, which has tracks that change based on varying levels of intensity of the fighting. This includes substantial and instant music changes for such things as suffering a super weapon strike, where it goes from intense fighting music to very hard, "You're SO about to die!" track.
  • Supreme Commander featured this to break up its repeating, low intensity track.
  • Taken Up to Eleven in the Pikmin series, which subtly changes the music depending on what time of day it is, whether or not you're in combat, carrying items back to the ship, or just walking around, and—in the sequel—how deep into a dungeon you are.
    • The music for the Final Boss of Pikmin 2 may be the most complex example on this list. The boss has four weapons that must be removed, and every time you take a weapon off, the music will gain some new element. That means five different versions of the main battle theme. Also, the music will briefly diverge to a different theme whenever a weapon is used, and every weapon has its own theme. In total, there's nine themes.
    • The same game also features variations on the background music depending on which captain you're currently in control of; Olimar's versions are played on the beat, while Louie's (and, by extension, the President's) versions are swung with a jazz-like syncopated rhythm. When you clear a level of its treasures, the Pikmin following you also occasionally sing along with the music.
  • Demigod plays more frantic music if there is a large-scale battle going on nearby and you are on low health.
  • Dune II, being MIDI-based, is not a pure example of this trope, as it is all distinct background music tracks; however, each of the tracks in the game is less than 3 minutes long and fade out, and all of the tracks segue into one another, allowing them to fade in and out smoothly whenever the tone of combat changes.
  • Total Annihilation used Redbook audio, and made an attempt at this. The first attempt wasn't that good, since it always took the first "battle" music track but this was fixed in a patch. Even after the patch, the transition was sometimes jarring, and was always associated with a 1/2 second delay because of the CD drive switching tracks.
  • In Z, the music gets more intense as the situation gets more intense.
  • Dawn of War is a textbook example; each in-game theme has an intense version to match the height of combat.

    Rhythm Game 
  • In PaRappa the Rapper and its spinoff Um Jammer Lammy, parts of the backing track drop in and out depending on how well you're doing. When performing well, the track is as it's meant to be heard. When performing badly, the midrange might drop out, the bass remaining only barely; in a few stages the melody changes into a minor key. Parappa the Rapper 2 takes this even further by giving the "Bad" and "Awful" tiers their own unique melodies and transitioning between them via the teacher telling you "Getting better!" or "Getting worse!".
    • If you do really badly, you start hearing odd squeaks and honks, reminiscent of a comically malfunctioning machine.
  • In Harmoknight, almost every action the player makes, regardless of whether or not the game prompts them to, produces a tone that harmonizes with the background music. Additionally, a bongo track will be added to the background music if Tyko is being controlled, and a harp track will be added if Lyra is in control.
  • Turning on all tracks of a Variable Mix song is the goal of the game in early Harmonix games Frequency and Amplitude.
    • Harmonix went on to start Guitar Hero series, which has the players "playing" famous rock songs by following on-screen notes, will have the guitar track of the song replaced with an out of tune mess if the player misses a note or plays the wrong note. On the other side of the spectrum, if you do well enough to activate "Star Power", the guitar track becomes a bit more "pronounced", and the audience will start clapping to the beat of the song.
    • After the publisher turned GH development over to Neversoft, Harmonix took it a step further in Rock Band: do well enough for long enough, and the crowd will sing along.
    • DJ Hero lets you directly control the mixing of the two tracks. Unless you are playing on easy, that is.
  • In Patapon, as the Patapons become more excited, more drum and instrument tracks drop into the pulsing background beat and they begin to sing more emphatically. When they reach Fever mode, all the instruments come in, and the Patapons begin to chant in harmony. When the spirit is onscreen, even more additional vocals are present.
  • In LocoRoco, the LocoRocos sing along with the backing track. If they're split into their components, the components start to sing in harmony, even dividing up lead and backing vocals between themselves. The more LocoRocos the player has obtained, the thicker the choir - and as soon as they're grouped back together, the amalgam sings a single-voiced melody.
    • And in LocoRoco 2, once more LocoRocos are obtained, the background music improves from just wind-instrument playing to having the friendly MuiMuis sing. Songs from the first game had similar changes, but they were more subtle and only applied to songs in which LocoRocos were backup singers.
    • In the spinoff game Midnight Carnival, the music is completely instrumental by default, but will gain more vocals from the unfriendly BuiBuis the more bounces you chain together.
  • Several songs in beatmania IIDX actually sound different on different difficulties. Usually these are slight rearrangements, but sometimes they're entirely new remixes. Here's a pretty comprehensive list — remember that "Light7" means Normal (and was eventually renamed as such) and "Another" means Nintendo Hard.
    • There's no attempt to blend the different songs; what you pick is what you get. However, three songs ("Scripted Connection", "Anthem Landing" and "Shade", all by the same artist) sound different on each difficulty because they're different parts of the same long song - Normal ends where Hyper (hard) begins, and Hyper ends where Another begins. The home version of the version that debuted "Scripted Connection" had an Easter Egg allowing the player to play the entire song as one piece.
    • And of course, since you're playing these songs, your skill affects how closely you come to actually recreating the song. Do badly, and notes drop - because you never played them. Conversely, long blank sections in a column can be filled in with freestyle riffs.
  • In Space Channel 5, rescuing every civilian in a segment and adding them to your entourage will add instruments or vocals during the transitional cutscene. If you do REALLY bad, not only will those instruments be missing, but the band will play off-key and off-tempo while Ulala stumbles about. If there's a segment that doesn't involve rescuing civilians (like the guitar duel in Part 2), there will only be a "good" and "poor" variation.
  • In all of the BIT.TRIP games, this happens if you get your combo bar up far enough (or, in RUNNER's case, collect combo-up pickups). Alternately, missing a lot of beats (except in RUNNER) causes the music to stop entirely except for a metronome (in the games after BEAT).
  • In Crypt Of The Necrodancer, Zone 3 is a Hailfire Peaks level, in which every level's music has two versions, a hotter, metal version for the Lethal Lava Land section, and a cooler, techno version for the Slippy-Slidey Ice World section. Also, the shopkeeper will sing along to the music of all levels if you are near him, with his volume hinting at the distance to the shop.

  • FTL: Faster Than Light has two versions of each of its themes, a mellow one for when you're flying through space enjoying the sights, and a more bass-heavy version for when you're fighting a hostile ship. It smoothly fades between the two when you enter or leave combat. The Cosmos and Civil tracks sound more unique from each other depending if you're in combat or not compared to the rest of the soundtrack, points for Ben on that part. The theme of The Last Stand is the only aversion of this trope, presumably to highlight just how dangerous the sector is.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Skies of Arcadia uses two different applications of this trope. The overworld travel music acquires distinctive background instrumentation when the characters' ship flies over or near one of the several continents—tribal drums in the vicinity of the South America-derived continent, chimes in the area of the ice continent, etc. Additionally, the Boss Battle music changes between normal, triumphant, or desperate sounding themes depending on how the main characters are faring in the fight(as does the Final Boss theme).
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has a soft fade-out transition to various musical themes whenever appropriate.
  • Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen did this to make an otherwise dull tutorial sequence exciting. Presented with a dry sequence of blue windows explaining what buttons to press to do what, an extra layer was added to the music each screen pressed through - drums, bass, harmony, counter-melody - giving a great sense of build-up. On the final screen the melody finally kicks in, and you feel fully prepared for adventure!
  • Pokémon Black and White have this happening a LOT with the various overworld themes. In nearly every town there is an NPC that will add an additional track to the music (i.e., playing a piano or singing) and their volume is set by the player's proximity to them. Additionally, the music playing in the various routes change very subtly according to the in-game Season; you may hear flutes and strings playing a melody in Spring, whilst in Winter the sounds of bells and windchimes will play the melody instead. Additional tracks are also sometimes added depending on what you're doing at the time — several routes have a percussion layer that only plays whilst you're moving and stops when you do.
    • The music in some cavern areas also decreases in pitch the deeper underground you go, similar to the Dragon Quest and Tales of Phantasia examples below.
    • Used for great effect at the badge check gates to Victory Road; each gate you go through adds another instrument to the music, until finally you've made it to Victory Road with the full music track playing.
  • Pokémon Sword and Shield: The Gym Leader theme contains multiple different sections that the background theme switches between depending on how the battle is going; the main melody only kicks in once you've brought down one of the leader's Pokémon, while different bridges will cut in once a Pokémon is knocked out and play until the next one is sent in (a solemn Heartbeat Soundtrack if the player loses a Pokémon and a triumphant theme if the leader's Pokémon gets knocked out). When the Gym Leader is down to their last Pokémon, a drumroll leads up to a roaring crowd chant.
  • The Genesis RPG Phantasy Star III tried to do this for its battle theme, many years before it became common. The result was...unpleasant, to put it lightly. The overworld theme also had more instruments added to it as your party grew in size.
  • The first four .hack games do this to nice effect by having a standard dungeon theme and a battle theme that more or less match up, and have one fade into the other when a battle begins or ends. It's especially pleasing in the ice-based dungeons
  • This is the point of the soundtrack for Fable II: in fights, the music becomes more intense as you do cooler things; be a big enough badass and you'll hear a symphony, more or less. Oh, and the cooler you fight, the more experience you get.
  • Played with in Tales of Phantasia. Morlia Gallery has about 10 first. If you choose to come back later for the Bonus Dungeon, however, the music gradually becomes lower and more distorted as you venture deeper. You can hardly make out the original theme by the end. Everything in that dungeon enforces a sense of paranoia and suffocation.
  • The cave/dungeon music in Dragon Quest I gets lower in pitch as you go further down. It becomes Nightmare Fuel when you reach the lowest level of the Dragonlord's Castle.
  • Jeremy Soule is a pretty prolific video game music composer. He's done Total Annihilation, Neverwinter Nights, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, etc. Usually his songs are composed in odd time signature (i.e. not 4/4 and not 3/4), presumably because it's more difficult to identify where the beat lies exactly, and thus when the game engine switches from one song to another, there's no jarring sense of a song being interrupted in mid-bar.
  • Resonance of Fate has two combat tracks for each battlefield type: a fairly laid-back version for normal combat, and a more upbeat one that kicked in when a character performed a hero run. The second version would remain in effect until a minute or so passed without consecutive hero actions.
  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story: There are two tracks for everywhere in the game, one for when you're walking around outside as Bowser (or outside of Bowser as the Mario Bros.) and one for when you're inside Bowser.
  • Dragon Age II will play a sustained quavering note from violins as party members are killed and the controlled member loses health, while also muting music, fading between the two. By the time your chosen member is the only one standing and nearly down, the music will be completely mute and the violins will be all you hear. It is worth noting that the violins will still fade in at low health even with music turned off in the options.
  • Ultima Underworld has a soundtrack that follows the action during fight sequences. Ambient music cycles along until the player takes an aggressive action or something attacks, and then the combat theme comes in quite abruptly, both to cue the player that they are in a fight and to ramp up the adrenaline level. There's even a modification to the fight theme that changes the music when the player's health gets dangerously low to tip the player off to heal, run, or push for the victory before being killed.
  • Under normal circumstances, having an enemy appear in Final Fantasy XIII-2 will cause the music to switch to an 'aggressive' version. Other times there's just one track, period, and a few areas have completely different music for battles.
  • In Final Fantasy XV, when riding a chocobo, the music changes depending on how fast you go. For example, when you walk slowly, the music starts off by playing a relaxing flute and acoustic guitar and when you start dashing/running, the music changes to an upbeat version of the same song.
  • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas have this, with non-radio ingame music changing depending on various things, such as the player arriving at certain locations (or parts thereof) or being discovered by a passing enemy. In the latter, the music also changes between day and night, and with your Karma Meter and faction allignment, especially during the final battle at Hoover Dam.
  • Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel also has this in the form of its RAH (Realtime Active Hymmnetics) system, in which the in-battle music changes depending on the situation of the player's party, the ways they have customized the song magic of their Reyvateils (casters) and the events that happen during the battle. Subverted, however, during battles where a storyline-important song is playing, as in these cases the music won't change at all.
  • Shin Megami Tensei NINE has this during its Hacking Minigame. The music consists of three layers, with each one randomly picked from one of seven different variations.
  • Some tracks in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne play right into this trope, with the normal battle theme alone having SEVEN DIFFERENT GUITAR SOLOS that play at random.
  • Persona 3 has the Tartarus theme, which starts out minimalistic at the bottom, but gradually builds as the player ventures into higher blocks until it's more dramatic and triumphant.
  • Darkest Dungeon has the music change depending on how bright the area is. As the party's torch starts to burn out, the music gets more and more tense.
  • The Caligula Effect has an instrumental soundtrack for when the party is roaming around, but most songs have vocals that fade into the instrumentals once an encounter begins, as well as a remix of the dungeon theme for boss fights.
  • GranblueFantasy loves this trope. Nearly every track in the game can be divided into multiple parts that change into each other as you advance the dialogue/progress through the stage/deplete the boss's HP.
  • In Miitopia, the background music will transition to an ambient trance-like remix when you're given control during a battle. The music will also increase in pitch and tempo every time one of your Miis receives certain status effects.
  • In Save The Light, any time Greg is playing his electric guitar in battle, the music currently playing will have a bass guitar track added onto it.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Space Invaders may well be the Ur-Example. The simple four-note looping background music increases in tempo as the gameplay gets faster.
  • Luftrausers varies certain parts of the soundtrack, depending on the combination of parts the player's rauser has equipped.
  • R-Type did this once: in Delta, when your ship goes underwater, the music changes to a more subdued, muffled version of the level's soundtrack, then goes right back to the original when you get back in open air.
    • Final does this in some levels, for example, techno-industrial percussion is added to the ambience when the mecha miniboss appears in the first level, and in the Battleship Raid level, the music gets faster and more epic during the final approach to the ship's core.
  • Ray Crisis selects the musical score depending on which stage you start with. Each music track has a different variation for each stage and boss, looping if necessary. On the soundtrack CD, the variations are combined into 10-14 minute long suites. The Final Bosses each have their own music.
  • In Go Beryllium!!, a Bullet Hell freeware game based around the subatomic world, the music adds unique beats: if you are firing, if you are firing in focused mode, if you have one of the special weapons active, if one of the bosses is onscreen, if you are hitting a boss, if an enemy is exploding, or if you die.
  • Inverted in Beat Hazard where the game changes depending on the music.
  • The thirteenth Touhou game, Ten Desires, has two different tracks for each boss and stage theme: one that plays normally, and the other when you enter a "spirit trance mode".
  • A rare NES example: In Battle Formula / Super Spy Hunter, each stage has two variations of its music, the transition occuring halfway through the stage.

    Simulation Game 
  • Animal Crossing:
    • Starting with Wild World, each of the rooms in the museum slightly changes the tune (the art wing adds harpsicord music, the fossils wing adds extra percussion, and so on).
    • In New Horizons, each sub-room of the exhibits has its own arrangement.
    • In all of the games except the first one, the hourly music will be quieter, with less instruments and some being replaced by glockenspiels, when it is raining or snowing.
    • In New Leaf, Timmy and Tommy's store, T.I.Y., will change the background music's instruments depending on if the player is standing in the Gardening Store or the T.I.Y. store.
  • In 1503 A.D., every time the player shifts views to another inhabited island, the music will change.
  • Creatures 3 blew a fair portion of its budget on dynamic music. The music changes based on the land types, the creatures, the relative mood, and the amount of various objects (even food has unique altering).
  • Don't Starve takes its cue from Harvest Moon (see below) by having different tracks for its Summer and Winter seasons. It goes a step further though, by changing almost the entire soundtrack for various activities (working, fighting and boss battles), not to mention the subterranean Caves and Ruins areas getting their own variants. The Reign Of Giants expansion moves the Summer soundtrack to Autumn and introduces new tracks for Spring and Summer.
  • The Descent: Freespace series did this pretty well. Aside from transitioning to action music when enemies arrive, fanfare music is played when allies warp in or objectives are completed.
  • Freelancer has this depending on whether there are enemies nearby.
  • In the Harvest Moon games, the music track changes according to the seasons, with one track for spring, summer, autumn and winter. there are also howls at night, and crickets in summer in some places. In several games in the series (most notably the Mineral Town games), if you are low on stamina and turning blue, the theme becomes slow and creepy-sounding. Also in some games, the BGM will get deeper and slower the lower you get in the mines.
  • Almost every piece of background music in The Sims 4 dynamically adds or removes instruments depending on what the player is doing. The calmer versions of songs usually play when more "detailed" work is being done (such as placing decorations, curtains, or rugs), and the livelier versions play with more "general" activities (such as building walls, roofs, or doors). The songs each have up to eight different variations in total.
  • This occurs during the Orthopedics operations in Trauma Team. The operations start with a base soundtrack that adds more instrumentation with each successful series of combos you perform. A single screw up causes the last set of added instruments to immediately drop out.
  • Vega Strike has background music varying sets  by situation (which faction owns the system, whether it's peace/far enemy presence/battle) and for different planets or bases when the Player Character's ship is docked. Endlessly moddable, since sets are plain m3u playlists and "dj" is a Python module.
  • Wing Commander had action-sensitive music which changed as the player fought against enemy ships.
  • X-COM: Interceptor's take on this was to use 5-second snippets of music played randomly and in succession during space battles. When something good or bad happened in the battle, like destroying an enemy or taking a friendly casualty, it would interject a "happy" or "sad" snippet of music into the stream. When the battle was over, the fast-paced battle music would change to something a little more spacey and ambient.
  • X Rebirth's music becomes more frantic and complex when your ship is moving at high speeds through a highway.
  • The X-Wing series had a similar execution to Wing Commander.

    Sports Game 
  • The SSX series featured this extensively. However since the music was almost entirely made up of licensed tracks, the mixing amounted to jumping to various parts of the music track (shortcuts would have a downtempo, the end of the track is climactic, etc). In addition to this, being at the front of the pack would amp up the bass, while getting big air would 'suck' all of the bass and most of the treble out of the music, as if the music itself were gasping. In SSX Tricky, the tempo of the It's Tricky lyrics when landing an Uber Trick would match the pace of the music
  • The BGM speeds up during the challenges in Backyard Skateboarding.
  • It's used in the final event in Hamtaro: Ham-Ham games, where you must tap the A button to a certain rhythm. The music speeds up if you're doing well and slows to a crawl if you're failing.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater have two versions of the Alert theme, one for the "Alert" phase and one for the "Evasion" and "Clearing" phases. They are alternate versions of the same theme, and fade between each other seamlessly when the phase changes. An experimental "Making Of..." compendium called The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 allowed users to (among other things) segue between the moods of each track at the push of a button. (For the curious, compare and contrast the Tanker Alert music with the Tanker Evasion music. As you can hear, the claustrophobic Evasion theme is a stripped-down version of the passionate, exciting Alert theme with the same chords—so if Snake gets seen again, the melody of the Alert theme can cut straight in.)
    • There's also the "suspicion" theme, a more tense version of the main stealth theme, played when a guard notices something, before going to full alert, ala Splinter Cell.
    • Also used a bit in some other situations. The music in the Shell 1 Conference Hall in Metal Gear Solid 2 gains a creepy string track if Raiden takes off his disguise, and an electric piano line is added to the music when Raiden is leading Emma by the hand, and a drum track when he's trying to snipe her pursuers. In Metal Gear Solid 3, several of the boss tracks change depending on what the boss is doing—instrumentation changes when The Fear is hungry, when Ocelot is breaking from the fight to reload his gun, when The Pain is shooting Bullet Bees, when The Fury's suit gets ripped, and so on. The vocal track only cuts in while fighting The Boss if you sustain nearly to the end of the ten minutes, and before that, you only hear the instrumental backing.
  • Because of the importance of listening to your surroundings, the Thief games tended to avoid background music of any sort, until they wanted to make you jump out of your skin. The very first level of the first game had one notable moment where you would be following a side hallway, and once you got to a more central passage, the game would suddenly play a single deep, loud note. DOOOOOOM.
  • Splinter Cell series: Arouse suspicion, a Scare Chord plays and the ambient music gets tense. Once on full alert, a techno track kicks in. In the third entry Chaos Theory, there was a mission where you had to defuse time bombs. The beeping of the timers was integrated into an increasingly frantic techno track as they counted down; ie Mickey Mousing.
  • In Invisible, Inc., the background music in each level becomes more intense as the mission's alarm level increases, which usually happens over time, but will accelerate if your cover is blown, leading to some pretty intense moments.

    Survival Horror 
  • Used a lot in the Silent Hill series; sometimes there's a variation of a music piece that only plays when entering or exiting a room (like the scary music when you return to the clock room for the last time in the second game, and the Scare Chord when you jump across the alleyway), or different variations are used for different types and numbers of enemies (e.g. the music quiets down when there's only one or two left), as well as different rooms (the alternate mall in the third game is a major example).
    • The music often gets scarier when you're about to enter the Dark World, such as after you unlock the school's clock tower or activate the hospital's generator.
    • Some BGMs, for example the sewers in the third game, have up to 10-15 variations.
    • A particularly scary example occurs when you make the final Leap of Faith from the prison morgue to the Labyrinth in Silent Hill 2. First there's the regular droning ambience, then it adds a groaning noise similar to a steam valve, then a horrible high-pitched siren-like sound (so bad you have to cover your ears, worse than the "radio squeal" in the first game).
    • The alleyway sequence in the first game. First quiet ambience, then the air-raid sirens start up when it gets dark, then a loud scraping mechanical noise when you pass the gurney, then it adds an Ominous Pipe Organ when you see the blood and disemboweled corpses, and finally the percussion kicks in when you hit the end of the alley and get ambushed by the Gray Children.
  • Resident Evil:

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Dead Space has a fairly revolutionary dynamic music system; the background music would rise as you walked through a room, and hold if you stopped. By far the worst, though, is that the music sting that would play when enemies were approaching would not be played unless the player was looking at the creature. As a result, it's entirely possible to wander around a room, thinking there's nothing in there, and get stabbed in the back by something that's been stalking you; complete with a nice little music sting timed just right to go with the stabbing.
  • Syphon Filter series: Most levels have an "infiltration" theme and a "danger" or "battle" theme, which are dynamically segued between. The second trilogy also has "suspense" and "boss" variations for certain missions.
  • The Naval Ops series features variations of this. In Warship Gunner, proximity to enemy ships triggered the BGM to change from a naval theme to a low volume, tense repeating beat that would expand if the fighting went longer. Warship Gunner II featured varying BGM that changed from the main, rather unremarkable track to a more appropriate combat track.
  • In Max Payne 3, each level BGM is composed of several "stems" that are variably mixed according to the action intensity and Max's position in the level. One of the more notable examples is the Stadium, as discussed by HEALTH here.
  • Splatoon
    • The tutorial level's music slowly gains instruments the closer you get to completing it.
    • During gameplay, the background music gets muffled while the player is swimming in their ink, going back to normal once they jump back out.
    • All 4 stores in Booyah Base share the same basic theme, each of them having their own background beats depending on which store the player's in.
    • During a Splatfest, the individual Squid Sister's vocals will be louder or softer depending on which one you're standing near.
    • In the Octo Valley hub, the background music gradually evolves and adds layers of instruments with each boss you defeat. A short, muffled loop of a level's music track will also play when you approach its Kettle.
    • In the Octo Valley platforming levels, a rhythmic cymbal crashing is added to the soundtrack whenever an enemy is near.
    • In the Octo Valley UFO levels, the drums and alien chattering drop out if you escape the Octostriker's sights.
    • In the Octo Valley Octoling levels, the snare and vocal samples drop out if no Octolings are nearby.
    • In all Octo Valley levels (save the final boss), the music increases in pitch and tempo at the last checkpoint.
    • During the final boss fight, a strange banjo-and-electric-guitar melody is added to the music when the boss fires a missile.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Fallen uses this to great effect to keep the player constantly on edge and enhance the suspense of levels where combat encounters with Jem Hadar and other enemies are likely. The trick is that the game always transitions into a Scare Chord and "Psycho" Strings when in combat, but ALSO transitions into both at random while on levels, making the player feel as if an enemy is always right around the corner.
  • Warframe features a changing soundtrack depending on how the level has been going. If the player has remained unknown to the enemy, the music remains in its calm / stealth phase. If detected, the music seamlessly picks up in intensity, and will drop back to calm if the player manages to elude detection, or ramp up even further if the enemy cottons onto the player's presence, usually if the alarm has been set off.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In the original GBA version of Yggdra Union, changing your in-battle tactics to Aggressive or Passive would change the tempo of the music and alter its mix slowly. The PSP rerelease has a similar mechanic, but restricts it to the player characters and only loops the first half of each leitmotif. Too bad that there's no option to actually trigger the glitch that occasionally makes Yggdra's theme play sans bass in the GBA version.
  • Fire Emblem games, starting with Awakeningnote , fluently switch between calm, more peaceful versions of background songs played on the map screen, and dynamic, livelier ones played when zooming on combat or other actions. The exact specifics depend on game, but unless Background Music Override is in effect, every mission will have at least one dynamically switching track.
  • Dynasty Tactics had music that played during battles, switching between a calm music when armies were marching around or engaging in minor battles and getting much fiercer when tactics were used. There were only two exceptions. One particular music didn't have a calm version. Along with that, when one side was about to be eliminated, the music would stay on the frantic fierce battle music.
  • Combat themes in XCOM 2 transition seamlessly from dramatic and orchestral during XCOM's turn, to menacing and electronic during the alien's turn. This is accomplished by subtracting certain instruments from the music during the enemy turn.
  • The Sherbet Desert music in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has two arrangements, for the sandy areas and the icy areas, and changes dynamically depending on where the player goes.
    • Each area features a background element shaped like a musical instrument that moves in time with the music. When you get close to one, whatever instrument it represents will become louder.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Red Dead Redemption is, with the exception of a couple of songs, scored like this. The game is always in A minor at a fixed tempo, but drops backing instruments in and out depending on what is happening in the environment, which of the three areas the player is travelling in, and what the player is trying to do in those areas. Usually, bass riffs indicate combat, and whistling melodies means you are preparing to do something awesome (like raid a hideout).
    • Grand Theft Auto V works the same way with mission-specific music, which builds up track by track the further along in the mission you get. Background music also plays when the player gets a 3 star wanted level in free roam, which progressively intensifies as the chase drags on and the player gets more stars.
  • In Yakuza 0, the music for regular street battles changes depending on which battle style you're currently using. While Majima's tracks are all original (save the Legend style's track, which is a remix of his signature Leitmotif), Kiryu's tracks are all remixes of battle themes from past games.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • At the 2012 Video Games Unplugged concert in Melbourne, a real-time version of this was done for the segment featuring the final round of a SoulCalibur V tournament. Impractical But Awesome.
  • A 90's Game Show from Spain, El gran juego de la oca (The Great Game of the Goose), featured this during the show's various challenges. Depending on the setting of the challenge (funny, happy, dangerous, underwater, gross, industrial, etc.), a musical track of that style was played accordingly. As the challenge progressed, the composers played additional accompaniment on their keyboards - sometimes depending on what the contestant did, but also ensuring that the same musical track rarely, if ever, sounded the same twice.
  • This technique is used in a lot of rides at Disney Theme Parks. For example, the "It's a Small World" ride has speakers throughout the course, with each set playing a different arrangement of the theme.
    • The Haunted Mansion and Ariel's Undersea Adventure use this too. Hidden speakers nearby various show elements (i.e., the singing busts, Sebastian, the Graveyard Band, or the saxophone-playing fish) will play a synchronized loop of just that element.
    • The Main Street Electrical Parade is a mobile example; radio controllers in the floats communicate with the park's audio system to cue themes from their respective films when they reach key locations along the route.
  • Some pinball machines also use this. Note that since the machine can only track the ball's location through which switches it's passed through, this trope in pinball is typically limited to the ball hitting certain things rather than its absolute location.
    • A common example is limiting the background music to the bass and percussion, then starting the rest of the music after the ball has reached a certain area of the playfield. For instance, take Austin Powers: a short loop containing a saxophone and a bit of percussion starts playing the moment the player presses the start button and loads a ball onto the plunger, then the rest of the song starts playing when the ball reaches any switch accessible during gameplay.
    • A variant of the above is to use different variants of the main theme as the player advances through the game in some way. White Water adds more instruments to the main theme as the player progresses their raft, for example, while The Munsters simply changes instruments for each ball.
    • Another approach is to have the bumpers, which are usually arranged close together so the ball hits them repeatedly, create sounds that add to the music in some way. The Rolling Stones takes this approach, with one of the three bumpers representing a bass drum, one a snare drum, and one a cymbal, so that the ball getting tossed between the bumpers sounds like a drum jam played over the background music.
    • The background music in Haunted House cuts out when the ball enters the basement or the attic and uses a different sound effect set. When the ball re-enters the main area, the music returns.
    • The music in The Wizard of Oz changes from its version of "We're Off to See the Wizard" into the Winkle Guards' chant when the ball reaches the castle mini-playfield and changes back to normal once it leaves.
  • The group Bluebrain has done this closer to the video game version by having their music linked to a GPS system that detects the listener's location and plays the music differently depending on where they are.

Alternative Title(s): Adaptive Music, Interactive Music


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