Game: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Song: No Cigar
Above: No Cigar from Tony Hawk 2
It's damn near impossible to fathom today, but a decade ago the Tony Hawk series was one of the fastest-growing, most-acclaimed new IPs out there. It pulled skating games out of the gutter with a balance of real tricks and skaters against impossible stunts and outrageous locations. It was the perfect introduction to skateboarding as well as wish fulfillment for mid-level skaters who wanted to pull off a flawless 900 without breaking every bone in their body. But it wasn't just the gameplay that made Pro Skater such a hit - its punk rock soundtrack introduced millions of gamers to bands that they'd never heard of before, and THPS2 one-upped its predecessor with an eclectic mix of alternative rock and hip hop.
Anyone who played THPS2 has a favorite song, the one that really got you pumped and ready to 100% that god damn Philadelphia level. Mine was No Cigar by Swedish rock band Millencolin. That opening, with the marching drums and repeating guitar licks, perfectly conveys the sense of rolling on a skateboard. Then, just as you jump into your first trick, the song kicks up and you've got an amazing song narrating your every move. Even if you don't care for the style of music, you can't argue that No Cigar is a dead-on audio match. Road Rash for 3DO may have tried the "real songs in games" approach first, but the Pro Skater series popularized it before even GTA made it a point to have fully licensed soundtracks.
Above: And despite being the exact opposite style of music, Naughty by Nature's "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" fits just as well
Above: Back to metal, I was always fond of Consumed's "Heavy Metal Winner"
Above: I'd never heard of Lagwagon prior to THPS2, but "May 16" is just about the most "2000" song you'll ever hear. All it needs is a turntable and a Durst-style "CHEEEYA!"
So great was the Pro Skater influence that it created a sub-genre of extreme sports games - Mat Hoffman, Kelly Slater, Jonny Moseley, Shaun White, Dave Mirra, Shaun Murray and more all had varying degrees of success, and the Pro Skater series itself went on to become an annual cash cow for Activision. It's not in the greatest shape these days, but we're still holding out hope for a back-to-basics sequel that recaptures what made the series fun in the first place. Hell, we'd even settle for an HD remake of 1, 2 and 3...
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