Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 arrives in shops this week. When I heard that there was going to be a new Pro Skater game, I had a literal jaw drop. If there is anything – anything – that can sum up a good period of my adolescent life, it would be the Tony Hawk games. While I was obsessed with skateboarding (believe it or not, before I wanted to write about music, I wanted to write for a magazine like Transworld Skateboarding or whatever the hell my older sister happened to buy that week), it was always the music in these games I was always looking forward to the most.
In 1999, there was a time where looking up bands on the internet really wasn’t a “thing” yet. Sure illegal downloading was in its infancy, but the internet was still very much a new toy. Tony Hawk games offered a generation of kids a look into a world of music they could have totally missed otherwise. Bands like Goldfinger and Bad Religion essentially became household names because of their availability on these video games.
The original Pro Skater was one of the first video games to offer a soundtrack that was full of rock, ska and punk music. And even though I’d like to believe that having great music to enhance a game’s world – there are still games like FIFA who insist on having worse shit on each game (though my husband insists of playing that bloody game all the time). Later games would include a selection of hip hop as well, giving suburban kids a taste of alternative routes they could like if manufactures radio hip hop and rap wasn’t really their thing.
Growing up in Farmsville, USA, I wasn’t even lucky enough to be a suburban kid. It’s pretty safe to say there certainly weren’t any children around in my middle school who were going to introduce me to Dead Kennedys themselves. If it wasn’t for Tony Hawk’s Underground (THUG), I would have had a whole lot of music pass me by. Actually, it was when I played my first-ever video game when I was around 11-years-old that I first heard Sex Pistols and was chilled to the bone.
These games helped me learn to explore further into music at a young age. The soundtracks had music that both scared me and intrigued me – the first real thrill of listening to music all your own that you know your parents are going to hate. If I ever strike up a conversation about this game series with anyone, the topic of the music inevitably comes up. This is usually followed or paired with fond memories of playing games with friends in a physical space is also pretty rare these days when you can just play remotely.
I played THUG for countless hours. My best friend at the time and her cousin would go through all the games and play every single one until 4 in the morning drinking DNL – that would be “upside down 7Up – and eating 3-D Doritos. This was also a time of inconsistent bathing. But we were 12 and it’s not like anyone wanted to kiss our stinky-Dorito breath anyway. But those were days of also exploring who you were as a person. Being not real teenagers yet, we learned to push the boundaries of who were were in our own little existences. Not too bad for a video game.
The new Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 has a soundtrack that features familiar names and strange ones (The Schitzophonics, anyone?). I have no clue what it sounds like together in game play, but I hope it’s a slew of bands that continues the tradition of delivering music to players. There’s a pretty decent article on .mic that is worth a read. It digs more deeply into the original Pro Skater game and how it affect music in a much more expansive way. All I know is that I’ll be spending the rest of the day listening to the THUG soundtrack and not washing my hair.