Back before your newfangled Spotifys and Apple Musics made endlessly streaming music extremely easy, people had to content themselves with listening to the built-in soundtrack when playing the same video game for hours on end. In the case of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, a series of mostly excellent skateboarding games that started back in 1999 on the first PlayStation, this wasn’t a problem because, in short, the in-game music absolutely whipped.
While everyone is likely to have their own favorite collection of tracks from the games, probably dependent on their age when they first discovered the joys of digital shredding, Noisey has interviewed Tony Hawk himself about which game soundtracks he thinks are best.
Coming in dead last on the list is the most recent Pro Skater, 2015's Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, which was a flop even outside of its music. “We had to just go with bands that would give us songs for very cheap,” Hawk says, mentioning that he doesn’t dislike the tracks chosen, but that budget constraints meant it “just wasn’t as well-rounded” as the other games. Near the bottom, too, are 2010's Tony Hawk: Shred, which also suffered from budget issues and 2006's Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam, a game that moved away a little from the California punk and hip-hop staples of the rest of the series to appeal to a younger demographic with “more sort of popular, less experimental bands.”
The best game soundtrack, according to Hawk, is the very first, though 2000's Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland and 2002's Pro Skater 4 rank near the top, too. In discussing these, Hawk mentions looking for music from bands connected to his “history of skating,” and the coup of getting clearance to use a Dead Kennedys track (he thought “there’s no way we could ever use a Dead Kennedys song because of the lyrics” before a censored version of “Police Truck” made the first game) and the notoriously anti-commercial Ian MacKaye signing off on Thrice covering Minor Threat’s “Seeing Red” and “Screaming At A Wall” for American Wasteland.
Though the list provides fascinating insight into the process of curating the games’ music, it’s strange that it omits any mention of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2's bonus soundtrack: listening to your CD copy of Incubus’ S.C.I.E.N.C.E. on repeat through the nearby stereo until your dad came in to tell you to “turn that garbage down.” Where, we must wonder, would Tony Hawk place that integral video game experience on his list?
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