Home Features 20 years later, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 still has the best licensed video game soundtrack of all time

20 years later, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 still has the best licensed video game soundtrack of all time

3 min read
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You’re taking a corner, slapping gravity in the face with enough malicious intent to warrant Sir Isaac Newton resurrecting himself for flagrantly breaking his laws of gravity and there’s a VHS tape that’s just within reach as you skate over a river of molten metal. You’re doing all this, while your ears are buzzing with some of the finest anti-authority rock to ever grace a video game, tracks of a youth long gone but no less important to you so many years later.

You mention Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, and everyone can agree: That game was brilliant. Shredding in hot off the heels of Neversoft’s debut with the surprise hit of the year in 1999, THPS2 wasted no time in learning everything that it could from the original game and building on that to create the definitive skateboarding experience on console.

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It’s the Helen of Troy of video games, launching a thousand extreme sports ships in its direction and paving the way for a franchise that would reach new highs with the likes of two direct sequels and the legendary Tony Hawk Underground reboot. But beyond all that, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 still sounds like a blast to play.

Between video games having their own dedicated orchestral compositions and a pool of licensed music that you could sink the Titanic inside of, there’s no shortage of music to pick from in video games today. Twenty years ago, however, THPS2’s sound wasn’t just on the money in an industry that didn’t exactly want to shell out extra for digital rights to the hottest tracks of the day, it was on the money.

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CD sales were still high, Napster hadn’t succeeded in pissing off Metallica yet and a streaming future was still a twinkle in the eye of many an album label, but here was THPS2 with a mixtape of the greatest hits to ever kickflip its way onto a console or PC. It was a soundtrack that had been curated by geniuses, people who knew that every song could tell a story and not only sound good but provide an energy to the antics happening on the screen.

Heck, just look at this list of songs and tell me that you wouldn’t sell an organ to see these artists share a stage and kick off a night of punk rock nirvana while you started a mosh pit on the floor. You’ve got Rage Against the Machine sticking it to the man with Guerrilla Radio, Millencolin’s melancholic No Cigar and Anthrax tag-teaming with Chuck D. of Public Enemy on Bring Tha Noize.

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This was rock and punk, hip hop and metal all colliding together to form a sound that spoke to a culture. A rebellious energy that could transform even the tightest of slim fit jeans into the baggiest of pants to protect your knees from a bad bail. They don’t make soundtracks like they used to, and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 can still shred with the best thanks to its list of killer tracks that was the final puzzle piece needed to create one of the greatest video games of all time.

Last Updated: February 25, 2020

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