They say you never forget your first. First kiss. First car. First level of a video game. We're here to focus on that last one. The first level of a video game can say a lot about the rest of the game. It can be a great way to grab the player for invested play time. For a lot of us, not only do we remember the first level because it is the start of a game, but because the music with that beginning level really stayed with us.
Ground Theme - Super Mario Bros. (NES)
The Ground Theme from Super Mario Bros. isn't just the first level theme for the game. This is the very first piece of music in the game that you hear. And that a grand theme it is to kick the game off with. Having an outstanding or catchy title theme is one thing but when your game opens up with a theme that goes on to become the most recognizable video game themes ever, you've well and truly done something right. Ground Theme from Super Mario Bros. is so well-known that even those that don't play video games are familiar with it and. The tune can easily be identified by merely playing the first six notes. It's that freaking huge.
Vampire Killer - Castlevania (NES)
Dracula is up to no good and whether than send a slew of villagers with stakes, garlic and pitchforks after him, one man, Simon Belmont storms his castle with an array of sub weapons and his trusty whip, the Vampire Killer. Yes, our hero's whip shares the same name as the game's first level jam. Like the Ground Theme from Super Mario Bros., Vampire Killer is massively popular in the Castlevania franchise having more remixes and arrangements than you can count. The NES version of Vampire Killer has a sweet charm to it. Nothing against the rock and more modern versions of the theme, but this one is still one of my favorites.
Green Hill Zone - Sonic the Hedgehog (GEN)
Welcome to Green Hill Zone, where you get to run around at breakneck speeds so fast sometimes the little blue hedgehog zips right out of the screen. Green Hill Zone is memorable for its tropical setting, towering loop-the-loops and of course, the level theme associated with it. As iconic as the theme is, it hasn't been remixed or arranged anywhere near as often as other popular video game music pieces. This is probably do to the fact that Masato Nakamura rather than SEGA, owns all of the music in the first two Genesis Sonic titles.
Mute City - F-ZERO (SNES)
In 1991, SEGA (the American branch, anyway) was getting pretty sassy, rubbing Sonic the Hedgehog and the Genesis in Nintendo's face. The Genesis had a faster processor than the SNES and Sonic's speed was great at showing this aspect of the 16-bit console off. Nintendo's F-ZERO could be seen as their way of saying "You got a speedy hedgehog? That's cute. Now check out some real speed." Mute City is to F-ZERO is to what the Ground Theme is to Super Mario Bros. The theme has seen numerous arrangements throughout the F-ZERO series and always gets love in Super Smash Bros. The Knight, Queen and King cups of F-ZERO each start off with a Mute City track so no matter which one you choose to start with, you'll always be sampling Mute City's triumphant horns from the get go.
Opening Stage - Mega Man X (SNES)
Usually, when you press start at the title screen of a Mega Man game, you're taken to a stage select screen. Then Mega Man X entered the picture. Starting Mega Man X doesn't take you to a stage select screen, it immediately drops you into a ruined highway stage with a blackened skyline, letting you know that stuff has gotten pretty real and that this is not your father's Mega Man. As you run down the destroyed highway, blasting robots, a rock theme plays int he background, perfectly mirroring the on screen chaos. Every single Mega Man X game has an opening stage separate from the level select screen and for a lot of fans, this theme hasn't been topped.