Top 10 Opening Level Themes In Video Games

Script written by Alex Crilly-Mckean

Badass beginnings demand awesome accompaniment. Join as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Opening Level Themes In Video Games.

For this list, we’ve selected the best instrumental tracks that play during the opening levels of video game based on how catchy it is, its overall impact and just how well it enhances the atmosphere of the level in question.

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Script written by Alex Crilly-Mckean

Top 10 Opening Level Themes in Video Games

Badass beginnings demand awesome accompaniment. Welcome to and today we are counting down our picks for the top ten opening level themes in video games.

For this list, we’ve selected the best instrumental tracks that play during the opening levels of video game based on how catchy it is, its overall impact and just how well it enhances the atmosphere of the level in question.

#10: Battle in the Jungle
“Contra” (1987)

Facing the threat of a criminal syndicate and a hostile alien entity? Not a problem for these commandos. The rapid retro chords of this track only highlight Contra’s utter manliness as you conduct guerrilla warfare on the Red Falcon Organisation and have zero doubt that you can take them all on no sweat. Since the game only ends up going even more balls to the wall down the line, this track can be seem as quite tame, However over the years with never releases, remixes of this theme make the you really feel like a guns blazing badass.

#9: Ruins of Bacarous
“Metamorphic Force” (1993)

Is there such a thing as too little electric guitar? Of course not! In a game where you and up to four players can take control of musclebound men able to shapeshift into everything from a Werewolf and Minotaur to a Werepanther and Wearbear, you’re going to need an outrageously awesome soundtrack to match. Packed to the brim with some pretty impressive guitar work, symphonic keyboards and plenty of shredding, this could easily be the intro to an album straight out of the glory days of heavy metal. What else can you say except that this theme is a beast!

#8: Corneria
“Star Fox” (1993)

As any good opening track should, this theme encapsulates every emotion of the surrounding level down to the letter. The wonder and excitement of taking control of the Arwing for the first time, the nervousness about the rail-shooting aspect and taking on Andross’ oncoming army, as well as the determination of Fox McCloud and company as you blast enemies out of the sky. It sets up quite the balance, and much like the anthropomorphic mammal himself, inspires cunning and strategy rather than hot blooded gunplay.

#7: First Stage
“Mega Man X” (1993)

The blue bomber’s legacy lives on in the form of this Reploid, who much like his predecessor isn’t afraid to blow up everything that gets in his way. Following a Maverick attack on the freeway, X is deployed to deal with the situation. Since there’s nothing but destruction and debris scattered everywhere, the theme captures the sense of chaos with chords that at sometimes seem disjointed but still successfully mesh with a few well-placed high pitched notes, as if to say that help is already on the way. Distress and rescue seem to go hand in hand here.

#6: Burning Building
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1989)

Surrounded by flames with members of the Foot Clan leaping out from all sides? Just another day for the Heroes in a Half Shell. The approaching sense of danger can clearly be heard in the track with its quick-fire melody, but doesn’t detract from the fact that the turtles are far from powerless and can still fight their way out of any corner. It definitely sets the mood and urgency to cut, kick and ninjitsu your way out of the blazing predicament before it’s too late, while still remaining maintaining the Turtle’s signature style of fun.

#5: Bloody Tears
“Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest” (1987)

When it comes to suspense, you can always count on the retro awesomeness of the Castlevania series soundtracks to conjure up gothic imagery, unholy monsters and more importantly the desperation to defeat Dracula. We had a few stellar options on our hands, most notably the original Castlevania’s Vampire Killer and the Theme of Simon from Super Castlevania IV, but in the end we went with the Simon Belmont’s second outing as he returns to Dracula’s castle in an effort to undo the curse placed upon him by the vampire king. You can feel the protagonist’s drive to succeed in every note, no bloodsucker is going to stand inhis way this time!

#4: Strike the Earth! Plains of Passage
“Shovel Knight” (2014)

This side-scroller was a massive hit upon release, bringing back fond memories and paying homage to classic titles in terms of style, gameplay, and of course; the music. In order to save his beloved Shield Knight, our favourite shovel wielding hero ventures out to defeat the Order of No Quarter. As this track kicks in, not only does it cement this game as one of the best modern hits to ever take up the retro aesthetic, clearly inspired by previous gen-games, but also fills you with a lust for wholehearted adventure. The theme has an earnest nature that’s both pleasing to listen to while compelling you to reciprocate the valour of Shovel Knight himself.

#3: City Escape
“Sonic Adventure 2” (2001)

Being a fugitive has never been so fun. As GUN forces relentlessly pursue him through the city, our favourite supersonic hedgehog must battle his way through various robots and dangerously large convoys in order to escape. The song is usually upbeat, like running from the law is more of a game than a crime, which with Sonic’s personality oddly fits. Considering things only get far more “shadowy” from here on out, this was a great way to set the initial carefree atmosphere. The fact it is also has catchy as hell lyrics meant that players usually ended up redoing the level just hear it on repeat.

#2: Overworld
“Super Mario Bros.” (1985)

Even if you’re not a fan of the Mushroom Kingdom’s most capable plumber, there’s a very small chance that you haven’t heard this theme before. Working its way into the video game hall of fame, its rather simplistic rhythmic pattern and mass appeal ensured that nearly all future entries in the franchise would in some way incorporate it into their game, whether as a straight copy or a remix. Much like Mario the track has endured incredibly well, and while it might not be the catchiest or most complex of tunes, it can’t be overlooked for just how effective it was in bringing Nintendo’s poster boy into the spotlight.

Before we reveal out number one pick here are a few honourable mentions.

Fighting in the Street
“Streets of Rage” (1991)

Bombing Mission
“Final Fantasy VII” (1997)

Another Winter
“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World The Game” (2010)

Descent into Cerberon
“Quake 2” (1997)

Legend of Aesir
“Bayonetta 2” (2014)

#1: At Doom’s Gate
“Doom” (1993)

It says something when a theme makes you feel confident to take on the denizens of hell all by yourself. Gradually building before exploding into a symphonic meltdown of guitar riffs, this intro to Doom Guy’s one man war against the forces of evil is everything you could want in an opening track. The slow build and powerful payoff suck you right into the surreal and hilariously macho world where demons are just made to be left as a fleshy stain on your boot-heel. Normally such overwhelming evil would be given a dark and sinister theme to inspire fear and hesitance, but not here. Here it’s a simple case of grab your weapon, charge into hell itself and go ballistic.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favourite opening level theme in video games? With new top tens published every day be sure to subscribe to

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