Spillway Entrance. Super Mega Ultra Park. The mother-loving Quarry Jump! Say less. Skate 3 was and continues to be one of, if not the most iconic skateboarding game of all time — Pro Skater series fans, you are still valid. Yet praise for EA Black Box’s 2010 masterpiece always fails to mention the game’s soundtrack. This truly is a tragedy, a crime and a third really bad thing: a travesty.
The 46 songs comprising the soundtrack are an incredible array of perfectly curated artists. What do you get when you compile a soundtrack spanning genres of gangster rap, post punk, glam metal and classic rock? A collective sound flawlessly suited for turning off the old brain and flicking the right stick around with reckless abandon in an attempt to land the most ridiculous trick ever named. Seriously, what the hell is a tailwalk frontside cab 360 backflip? Doesn’t matter, all I know is that it looks awesome on the screen as Sorcerer’s “Drunk Skate Session” blasts in the background.
Therein lies the beauty of the soundtrack: It really doesn’t matter if the player is doing a relaxed street session filled with grinds and basic flip tricks, or if they’re going for a massive trickline in the Miracle Bowl. The music always fits, regardless if it’s a classic like Joy Division’s “Disorder” or a more obscure hit such as Japanther’s “The Gravy.” It takes what is already an excellent game in its own right and turns it into a perpetual jam session.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what I believe to be the crown jewel of the Skate 3 soundtrack: Pixies’ “Debaser.” Skating isn’t really its own genre of music, but if it were, this would be a defining single. The energetic alt rock track embodies everything about the gameplay, its punky rhythm matching the pace at which your avatar flips and tricks off props and rails, and the tempo paralleling the velocity of the board as you rocket down sheer drops. One of my favorite things to do in the game is to fast travel to the University District on the map and go for the highest trickline possible before the song ends.
Still, for as much as Skate 3 is based in realistic-ish physics, it’s a very cartoony game. For those multiplayer free roam sessions and Hall of Meat challenges, one simply must pull out Nihilist’s “Metal and Mayhem” or “Eyes Of A Panther” by Steel Panther. The respective thrash and glam metal tracks are essential for beefing a trick over and over again and laughing every time your skater collides with a cement barrier at mach seven. Especially “Eyes Of A Panther.” It’s the sort of song that is just so excessively ‘80s cheesy that you can’t help but grin as the panther roar sound effect rips at the beginning of every playthrough. 3 Inches Of Blood also makes an appearance with their song “Battles and Brotherhood,” rounding out a nice collection of power metal tracks to shred to.
If metal doesn’t match the mood, turn to the oldies. “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond is a fan favorite for the more relaxed free play binge, often hilariously juxtaposed against the player’s skater routinely eating cement on urban streetscapes. Canned Heat’s “Going Up The Country” is also a jam; not necessarily what one would expect on a Skate soundtrack, but definitely a welcome infiltration. Seriously, something about this song seems to alleviate all frustration during some of the game’s more frustrating challenges. Sometimes it comes on and I’ll absolutely coast past the challenge area into some of the best lines on the map. Dr. John’s “Right Place, Wrong Time” even pops up, something for those looking to inject a little R&B to their gameplay.
Of course, a quintessential element of Skate 3 gameplay is the total zone-out mentality one enters while pushing for that one trickline. Just absolutely mashing the sticks into oblivion time and time again in sheer effort to land something truly badass — looking at you, double bridge gap. The best sound for this is the soundtracks’ most saturated genre, the power punk and alternative rock featured through artists like No Age, Misfits and The Thermals. A particular favorite of mine is The Demonic’s “750-4,” an uptempo punk track about a guy driving away from cops. Nice.
Also worth a mention is Love City’s fast paced jam “The Other Side,” an awesome organ-backed garage track that plays if you linger at the start menu too long. The Greenhornes’ “Good Times” is another garage song which I highly recommend for kicking off the death race challenges.
If all of this is still somehow not enough, the game features an interactive sound mode which turns off the base 46 songs in exchange for three original tracks by Del The Funky Homosapien, John King of the Dust Brothers, and Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo. These songs don’t have names, most likely because they aren’t very traditional recordings. While interactive mode is on, the songs gain tempo and complexity as the player lands bigger and bigger tricks and the score multiplier increases.
That’s right, as if the music wasn’t perfect enough, there’s an audio mode which reacts to the player themself. Trust me when I say it’s truly awesome to hear the music kick up in a huge way every time you break that three-time multiplier. It’s a little limited, but definitely a cool way to mix up the core gameplay.
I could talk about Skate 3’s music forever, not to mention the gameplay itself. The fact that the game has been ported through two generations of consoles over nearly a dozen years is testament to the greatness of the title. Nowadays Xbox and Playstation have client apps for listening to music in the background of any game, so it’s a little harder to recognize truly great soundtracks, especially for titles without an official soundtrack. But I can’t help but believe that Skate 3’s music lends itself to the game’s staying power. The ability to switch between genres and tempos to match the mood with the in-game playlist scroller is all I need.
At the end of the day, if someone’s trying to relive that early 2010s gaming experience, Skate 3 and its soundtrack is an excellent choice to sit back and let the good times grind. Just remember, never push mongo. Seriously.