There are so many iconic music tracks from underwater levels and water areas in games. The music in these sections is sometimes relaxing, sometimes upbeat, sometimes a little creepy, and other times a mix of all of these. There’s just something about underwater levels that pulls something special from the right composer. What’s your favorite underwater music in a video game?
Underwater levels in games often serve as a small, infrequent gameplay mix-up. In those situations the music has to change to match. The pacing of the game has just shifted. The mechanics are usually different, such as in a platformer where you’re now swimming instead of jumping. It may be because of this quirk that underwater level music often stands out.
Who can forget the classic original underwater theme from Super Mario Bros.? While all the music in the Mario series can be appreciated, the underwater music is really a different breed. Most of the music in Super Mario Bros. is fast and upbeat, but when Mario goes for a swim, the theme is a slower waltz, unlike any other tracks in the game.
While the Super Mario Bros. underwater level and theme set the tone for future water levels and their accompanying music, Donkey Kong Country’s “Aquatic Ambience” added to the, well, ambience of these sections of games. A poll of Boss Rush Network’s writers favorite underwater music included that track, the music from Sonic the Hedgehog 3’s Hydrocity Zone, the music in the Water Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and many others.
Of course there are entirely underwater games, too, with wonderful music and soundtracks, like Ecco the Dolphin (another writer’s favorite). There are often comparisons to be made between the ambient underwater music in a full underwater game, such as ABZÛ, and a level-based or area-based game with one underwater world.
What exactly counts as an underwater level, anyway? In some games you may move between water and land in one area. Some games are set underwater, but only sort of. Does Bioshock count? Maybe not, but if you insist. We’re not trying to get too caught up in labels, music theory, or such murky areas with this question, so feel free to think outside the box.
I know for me, it has to be Super Mario 64’s “Dire Dire Docks.” It really rides that line between chill and chilling, and is such a memorable song for such a memorable stage of the game. But what about you? What’s your favorite underwater video game song? Share your favorites below or join the conversation on the Boss Rush Discord.