Top 9 Gaming Soundtracks

A dive into the nostalgia of some classic gaming soundtracks

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Earlier this month, my soon to be wife bought me the Tony Hawk Pro Skater( THPS) game for the PS4. I was unbelievably excited to replay a game I invested so much time and effort into as a child. I adored this game, and not just for the gameplay I can tell you that. The soundtrack to these games, THPS 1 & 2, was an introduction to music I never knew existed at the time. The Dead Kennedys, Motorhead, Rage Against The Machine to name but a few. Then I got to thinking of all the other games and soundtracks that accompanied them, it got me very excited to jump back into them once again. So join me, as we take a trip down memory lane and take a look at my Top 9 Gaming Soundtracks.

 

GTA: San Andreas (2004)

Kicking off this list we have Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Released in 2004, this action-adventure game by Rockstar Games boasted a stellar soundtrack to match the backdrop of the fictional San Andreas, a version of early 90s Los Angeles. Heavily influenced by Hip Hop, Rock and Soul tracks by artists such as 2Pac, Cypress Hill, N.W.A, our first pick is Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg ‘Deep Cover’. This song encompasses everything about this game for me.

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

  • Ice Cube – Check Yo Self
  • Dr Dre feat Snoop Dogg – Nuthin but a G thang
  • Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus
  • Guns N’ Roses – Welcome to the Jungle
  • Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name

 

FIFA 2005 (2004)

There isn’t many albums out there that would set a tracklisting quite like the FIFA games would. The beauty of this though is the sheer volume of different nations involved in the game. Where else can you listen to a bosa-nova track followed up with a Morrisey ballad? Well almost anywhere now with the availability of music streaming, but back in 2004 when this title was released it was a lot harder to make that pairing. That to me is the beauty of the soundtrack attach to this classic footballing game. The intake of culture that for many young people would be instantly glanced over. Here we had Indie, Rock, Garage and every other genre imaginable. But the song that embodies that era for me is from  Franz Ferdinand with  ‘Tell Her Tonight’

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

  • The Streets – Fit But You Know It
  • Morrisey – Irish Blood English Heart
  • Ferry Corsten – Rock Your Body Rock
  • Scissor Sisters – Take Your Mama
  • Zion y Lennox – Ahora

 

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (2007)

Now, this may be considered cheating as the game entails having to play out these songs anyway as means of progression through the levels as opposed to featuring alongside the game only. But hey, it’s my list.

As the sub name, Legends of Rock, states, this game is LOADED with rock classics. But the one that stood out for me and one that I never had an issue with playing over and over and over again was  ‘Holiday in Cambodia’  by  Dead Kennedys. Sheer bliss!

 

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

  • Smashing Pumpkins – Cherub Rock
  • Rolling Stones – Paint It Black
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan – Pride and Joy
  • Beastie Boys – Sabotage
  • Pearl Jam – Even Flow
  • Muse – Knights of Cydonia

 

 

Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX 2 (2002)

A move into the realm of Xtreme sports now with the Pro BMX series. Trying to capitalize on the earlier success of the Tony Hawk games, Pro BMX follows the same formula but never reached the soaring heights of the Birdman’s franchise. They did go close on the soundtrack choices though. Boasting a strong showing from the Rap/Rock crossovers of the early 00s, it’s a 90s classic that takes the spotlight for me in this game.  Bomfunks MC’s ‘Freestyler’  matched the energy of the game and when you got the combos right, you looked like you were breakdancing and what better song to breakdance to now come on?

 

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

  • N.E.R.D – Rockstar
  • Iggy Pop – The Passenger
  • LL Cool J – Rock The Bells
  • Eric B. & Rakim – Juice (Know the Ledge)

Bonus from Matt Hoffman Pro BMX 1 (2001)

  • OutKast – Bombs Over Baghdad (B.O.B)

 

 

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)

Considered by many as one of the greatest games ever, GTA: Vice City also had possibly the best soundtrack to boot too. Hands up, how many of you reading stayed in the car before starting a mission just to finish listening to a banger off one of the many great radio stations available? Yeah, I thought so, every single one of you!

Everybody has their own personal favourite to choose from, but for me, the one song that always had a soft spot in my heart and still does was  The Outfield ‘Your Love’.

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

  • Ozzy Osbourne – Bark at the Moon
  • Psychedelic Furs – Love My Way
  • Toto – Africa
  • Hall & Oates – Out of Touch
  • Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – The Message
  • The Whispers – And The Beat Goes On

 

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 (2001)

I remember when this game came out and EVERYONE wanted to be a skater. Growing up in inner-city Dublin in the early 00s was the ideal place to realize, we were never going to be great skaters but we sure did enjoy falling all over the place on our Pound shop skateboards and wondering why we could get no grip from the plastic wheels that came with them. Ah well, at least the soundtrack was tops! For me, the standout on this outing has to be The Ramones ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’. I was 10 when this game came out and hearing The Ramones for the first time is an experience I will never forget.

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Fight Like A Brave
  • Alien Ant Farm – Wish
  • Del the Funky Homosapien – If You Must
  • Motorhead – Ace of Spades
  • Adolescents – Amoeba

 

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1&2 – Reissue (2020)

Now, I could have just compiled all the THPS games together but seeing as though this was a piece inspired by the reissue, I’ll give the reissued version a list of its own here. The nostalgia that took me over this month in replaying this game was something else. Sitting as a “near” 30-year-old man with my 5-year-old son, reliving my childhood with my son and listening to music that gave me so much joy and my boy enjoying them too, it just couldn’t get any better to be honest.

One song stood out for me in the mash-up of the soundtracks combined, Primus ‘Jerry Was A Race Car Driver’. As a kid, I never understood the song and would put it to the back of my mind, but as an adult, I appreciate the track for all its beautiful weirdness and not to mention Claypool on the bass guitar is nothing short of a GENIUS! Absolute gold! And the video for the song, do you feel comfortable while watching it? No? Didn’t think so.

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

  • Dead Kennedys – Police Truck
  • Goldfinger – Superman
  • Rage Against The Machine – Guerilla Radio
  • Papa Roach – Blood Brothers
  • Powerman 5000 – When Worlds Collide

 

Saints Row 2 (2008)

An open-world game in the vein of the GTA franchise, Saints Row never really caught my attention in the same manner as its GTA counterpart. The saving grace for me with this game though was the soundtrack to the 2008 instalment. Filled with multiple radio stations, again like GTA, my favourite of the time was Paramore ‘Misery Business’. It screamed to my inner EMO at a time when Pop Punk and Emo was reigning supreme.

 

Honourable Mentions:

  • My Chemical Romance – Teenagers
  • Subways – Rock And Roll Queen
  • Opeth – Ghost of Perdition
  • Duran Duran – The Reflex
  • Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World

 

FIFA Football 2004 (2003)

Yes I know, there are multiple issues of the same game, but you try finding fully licensed music in video games that’s not OST or 8-bit music. Now this, in terms of FIFA soundtracks, is most probably the holy grail of FIFA soundtracks.  This game introduced me to Kasabian and Kings of Leon and also started my love affair with trance music after hearing the Tiesto remix of Rain Down On Me by Kane. 

But the highlight of this soundtrack had to be Ceasers ‘Jerk It Out’. The early 00s belonged to Indie and this song is one of those indie anthems synonymous with the era.

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

  • Stone Roses – Fools Gold
  • Kasabian – LSF
  • Kings of Leon – Red Morning Light
  • Junior Senior – Rhythm Bandits
  • Dandy Warhols – We Used To Be Friends
  • Goldfrapp – Train
  • The Jam – Town Called Malice
  • Paul Van Dyk – Nothing But You

 

So there we are now, we made it to the end. Do you agree with the list? Let us know in the comments what game soundtracks you loved growing up, or even now!

Be sure to follow Paul’s Spotify Gaming Playlist.

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