December 28, 2010

Music Is...Skateboarding

I couldn't wait to get around to this one. While I cannot skate a lick, well I can't do any tricks, (ya know ollie, no flip tricks, I can ride though, switch my stance, go down hills long as they're not too steep), I have personally loved skateboarding for as long as I could comprehend what it was.
Let me put this is perspective. When I was about 8 or so my mom subscribed me to PlayStation Magazine. I know I played it on demo initially, and so Tony Hawk's Pro Skater became among one of the very first full version games my mom purchased for me. It only took me a matter of around a week and some change to get the controls down. I do believe my favorite skaters on the game were Chad Muska and Bob Burnquist, I guess something gelled right when I used those two guys, but essentially I wound up using all the skaters. Probably one of my favorite features was the extra videos you could unlock when you fully completed each challenge on each level. They were tapes. My favorite skate spot was the Skate Park in Chicago that was half street and half mainly vert. What drew me the most was this huge screen it had on a far wall, and on it was some skate clips, BLEW MY MIND. I know that seems kind of insignificant, but at the time I was stunned. What made this game increasingly special is that it showcased both a pro African American skater(Kareem Campbell), and a pro female skater(Elissa Steamer). I can't speak for everyone but I was generally exposed to only male, Caucasian skaters prior to this game, so it really changed my outlook towards skateboarding as a whole.

Then there was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, which pushed me closer to the edge. The game was mine on N64. My granddad mailed it to me, man o' man. Aside from some different locations, the surroundings where pretty much the same. The game-play changed in some aspects though, as you can manual, really link tricks and there's a few more modes of play. For me it all centered around the music. When I played the demo, the only area you could skate was Marseille, France. It was a competition location featuring mini-bowls, ramps,a quarter-pipe, some rails, and other small features depending on how you look at them. When this second installment was released is when I really began paying attention to the soundtrack provided. It had and additional 3 songs from the previous. If I'm right, there were two songs played on the demo level, Dub Pistols-"Cyclone" and I want to say Alley Life ft. Black Planet - "Out With the Old", I could be wrong. I found myself repeating that level just so I could listen to the music and get better at the controls.

While I went on to play Tony Hawk's Project 8 for a very short while on XBOX, the last inductee I really dove into was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 on Game Cube. Regarding the game-play, the first thing that comes to mind is the much extended freedom and tricks given to you as a skater. Linking tricks became much more accessible and incorporated, tricks were increased, creating a skater was more detailed, more extras, just overall much better. I spent probably 45% of my time just watching the videos. Rodney Mullen's was my absolute favorite. Upon the first time watching it, I had to give him much respect. His technical prowess on a skateboard is unbelievable and what amped up the footage was RUN DMC's "My Adidas" playing. If I'm right, the soundtrack was the longest of them all at 34 songs, I haven't played any others yet so I'm not 100% on that.

Now, from Pro Skater 1 forward, there were other skate games I played along the way, such as Thrasher: Skate and Destroy. The graphics were sort of cube-ish, and the characters were a little bulky but the tricks were on point and ranged. I don't know if it was Dave Mira's BMX that introduced the rag-doll effect but Thrasher incorporated it as well which I felt aided in setting it apart from other games of the genre. The way the skater landed after performing a trick was much more realistic. There was no immediate time constraint. As Lupe said you really had to "Kick Push" in order to gain speed. I just think certain aspects were nailed with Thrasher that other skate games missed a bit. This was the very first game I can remember that really showcased the rustic street environment and what street skaters go through just trying to do there thing. The soundtrack to this one was memorable as well. It had Grandmaster Flash - "White Lines (Don't Do it)", The Sugarhill Gang - "Rapper's Delight", Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force - "Planet Rock [Elektric Mix]" and more hip-hop artists. Thrasher was for me the introductory statement to EA SKATE series.

...Then it came. EA SKATE to this very point in time is the epitome of what I look for in a skateboarding game. The developers at EA took every positive, crucial, dynamic, realistic element and made a game that I couldn't get bored with. What I love is that everything is true to size. You nor the objects are multiple times smaller or larger than they should be. Just about everything can be used to your advantage. Because the graphics were so clear and nothing was too choppy, the parallel between gamer and skater was clearly set. The controls took after "Fight Night", were you had to "flick" the analog stick in order to perform the wide variety of tricks. As usual, there were tasks to be completed but they didn't make you feel constrained or limited as far as how you could complete them. The create a character wasn't too detailed but there were far more clothing choices as far as design and sponsors. Your skater felt like your own. When I played SKATE at my cousins house, not only was he playing music, but there was music in the game, so I had a double dose which made my gaming experience even better. 

Though I could go into further detail with each of the games I have here, the main idea I'm getting at is the relationship between the game and the music. For the longest time I've always felt there to be a direct correlation between skateboarding and music. I can remember watching whatever skate program I could find. When I was younger I had no recollection of sponsors, different organizations or events. All I saw was the skating and all I heard was the music. So many tricks going across the screen and the sound seemed to mesh perfectly. I didn't recognize the names of these guys though I could always remember a face. I simply saw the tricks and I still do, I just have more understanding of the industry. One is constantly fueling the other. It's like a never ending cycle.

I realize I skipped THPS3, I wanted to cover specific ones


The Ernies - Here and Now
Dead Kennedys - Police Truck
Goldfinger - Superman
Primus - Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
The Suicide Machines - New Girl
Unsane - Committed
The Vandals - Euro-Barge
Even Rude - Villified
Speedealer - Screamer/Nothing to Me
Suicidal Tendencies - Cyco Vision
Dub Pistols - Cyclone
Alley Life ft. Black Planet - Out With the Old
Bad Religion - You
Papa Roach - Blood Brothers
Anthrax Ft. Chuck D.of Public Enemy - Bring The Noise
Rage Against the Machine - Guerrilla Radio
Naughty by Nature - Pin the Tail on the Donkey
Powerman 5000 - When Worlds Collide
Millencolin - No Cigar
The High and Mighty feat. Mos Def & Mad Skillz - B-Boy Document 99
Lagwagon - May 16
Styles of Beyond - Subculture
Consumed - Heavy Metal Winner
Swingin' Utters - Five Lessons Learned
Fu Manchu - Evil Eye
System of a Down - Shimmy
The Offspring - Blackball
Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the UK      
Run-DMC - My Adidas
The Cult - Bad Fun
N.W.A. - Express Yourself
De La Soul - Oodles of O's
Public Enemy - By the Time I Get to Arizona
Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast
The Distillers - Seneca Falls
Gangstarr - Mass Appeal
Goldfinger - Spokesman
Agent Orange - Bloodstains  
Less Than Jake - All My Best Friends Are Metalhead
Flogging Molly - Drunken Lullabies
Rocket from the Crypt - Savoir Faire    
Aesop Rock - Labor
Avail - Simple Song
Bouncing Souls - Manthem
Delinquent Habits - House of the Rising Drum
Eyedea & Abilities - Big Shots
The Faction - Skate and Destroy
Haiku D'Etat - Non Compos Mentis  
Hot Water Music - Freightliner
JFA - Beach Blanket Bongout
Lootpack - Whenimondamic
Nebula - Giant
Toy Dolls - Dig That Groove Baby
US Bombs - Yer Country
Zeke - Death Alley
Muskabeatz - I'm a Star (featuring Grandmaster Melle Mel)
Muskabeatz - Bodyrock (featuring Biz Markie)
Jai Plus - Bad Dreams

Thrasher: Skate And Destroy
     A Tribe Called Quest - Award Tour
    Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force - Planet Rock [Elektric Mix]
    Deejay Punk-Roc - My Beatbox
    EPMD - I'm Housin'
    Eric B & Rakim - I Know You Got Soul
    Gang Starr - Just to Get a Rep
    Grandmaster Flash - White Lines (Don't Do it)
    Public Enemy - Rebel Without a Pause
    Run DMC - King of Rock
    Sniper - Crossfader Dominator
    Stetsasonic - Talkin' All That Jazz
    The Freestylers - Freestyle Noize
    The Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight
    Ultramagnetic MCs - Kool Keith Housing Things

    (I couldn't specific names of the songs
    but here are some of the exclusive artists for the game) 
    The Falcon
    Tommy Guerrero

    No comments:

    Blogger templates