In video games, there exists a shocking tendency to play waltz music whenever things get really wet. Maybe it's because the most famous waltz happens to be called "On the Beautiful Blue Danube", or maybe there's a slight phonetic similarity between the words "waltz" and "water". It could even be that waltzes and similar compositions are often described as "flowing", much like water. Or it may be because the distinctive tempo of a waltz is evocative of how people tend to bob up and down when submerged in water. Whatever the reason, 3/4 time is a favorite signature for video game music programmers to use for water levels.
Another common piece of music to use for water levels, especially with beaches, is a tropical-sounding tune, but that's another trope for another time.
Compare Snowy Sleigh Bells, Steel Drums and Sunshine, and Jungle Jazz for other types of music associated with a certain video game setting. See also Regional Riff. Not to be confused with Walk on Water (although those people could probably waltz on top of water if they felt like it...)
- Super Mario Bros.:
- The first game in the series is the Trope Maker, featuring a now-recognizable waltz in its water levels.
- Subverted in Super Mario Bros. 3, which certainly has a waltzy feel to its own water level music, but the music itself is in 4/4.
- Super Mario World has a waltz arrangement of its main theme for water levels.
- Averted in Super Mario 64. The water level music sounds nothing like a waltz and is in fact somewhat of a cross between electronic music and soft rock.
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii uses another waltz tune for its water levels. This one seems to take a lot of influence from the water music from the first Super Mario Bros, despite being a new melody.
- Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story: the aquatic theme not only is a waltz but it is actually called Waltz in the Lake.
- Pokémon loves this trope. The music first heard when the S.S. Anne departs in Pokémon Red and Green would later be heard as the surfing music of that generation. The franchise's most infamous use of this trope would be in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, which features surfing music with a French horn solo that helped make the generation infamous for water and trumpets.
- Neverland in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days has a waltzy theme that isn't present in its appearance in earlier or later games, and it has much more water than any other level in the game. However, the earlier games had it entirely on a pirate ship, and a later game was a prequel.
- Played with in Cuphead. There was going to be a water-themed world, so composer Kris Maddigan wrote a sweeping waltz tune for its music. But after the water world was cut, this song was reworked and used for Elder Kettle's house instead.
- In Fatal Fury 3, Mai Shiranui's stage is in an aquarium and her theme sounds eerily similar to a waltz song in both OST and Arranged versions.
- Earthworm Jim 2 features a variation on this. Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, while too slow for a proper waltz, is used to similar effect in the underwater level "Villi People", where Jim briefly disguises himself as/is transformed into Sally, the Blind Cave Salamander in order to traverse a planet-sized intestinal tract.
- In LittleBigPlanet 3, the level that introduces Toggle uses a remix of "Waltz of the Flowers" as BGM. Since one of Toggle's abilities is walk on and under water, this trope comes into play.
- In Naval Ops Warship Gunner 2, waltzes are frequently used as background music when you're not in combat.
- There have been several instances of aquatic levels in Castlevania being given waltz music:
- Castlevania: Bloodlines has Sinking Old Sanctuary, which plays in Stage 2, the eponymous flooded Greek ruins.
- Castlevania: Curse of Darkness has Mortvia Aqueduct for the locale of the same name.
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has Wandering the Crystal Blue for the underwater caverns of Somnus Reefs.
- Etrian Odyssey occasionally has waltz themes for its wetter levels.
- Touhou Project:
- Touhou Kaeidzuka ~ Phantasmagoria of Flower View introduces Komachi Onozuka, The Ferryman of the Sanzu River who guides souls to the afterlife. And while her boss theme, "Higan Retour~ Riverside View" does switch into 4/4 in certain portions of it, much of it, including the iconic beginning part, is in 3/4 time. The remix in Touhou Hisouten ~ Scarlet Weather Rhapsody plays this straight by having the tune play in 3/4 time at all times.
- The third boss of Touhou Fuujinroku ~ Mountain of Faith is Nitori Kawashiro, a Kappa with the ability to manipulate water. Her boss theme, "Akutagawa Ryuunosuke's 'Kappa' ~ Candid Friend", is in 3/4 time. The Hopeless Masquerade and Urban Legend in Limbo versions are played purely in 4/4, subverting the trope despite her stage being in a ravine.
- Parsee Mizuhashi from Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism is a downplayed example. Her boss theme, "Green-Eyed Jealousy", is in 3/4, and she's a hashihime, a youkai that only appears on bridges that cross over water.
- Mickey Mousecapade: The theme for the second level, "The Ocean," is a sweeping 8-bit waltz tune. Slightly unusually for this trope, the level involves jumping across islands above the water rather than swimming in it.