Grand Theft Autumn (Top 10 video games with licensed music)

April 7, 2016

There's a lot of rad games out there with a ton of rad soundtracks, from Chrono Trigger and & Contra with their fast up tempo fast picking, in your fast 8-16 bit paradiddles to hurry your ass through the level, to the much more melodic The Legend of Zelda, & Final Fantasy series games which crescendo you through the entire game. And then there are those games which are straight EPIC like your Elder Scrolls, Bio Shocks, and even 2D games like Crystalis (the original) and Mega Man.

 

But then there are games that don't have their own soundtrack, they used  licensed music by musicians and artists. Some may think it's lazy but for these games, it simply immerses  the gamer deeper into the atmosphere of the game. For some games, they must depend solely on the licensed music. Without it the game wouldn't survive. Let's go deep into the circle pit in this countdown. 

10.) Dance Dance Revolution

Dance Dance Revolution has been quintessential centerpiece for most modern arcades of the last 20 years. Having first blown up in Japan back in 1998, it took off like a bat out of hell in the states all over arcades nation wide. In recent years with the help of consoles like the Nintendo Wii, fans of the game can take the fun right into their own home. Now with the game as part of a home platform, users who were too shy to use it publicly can so behind closed doors, or save money on all those damn tokens, use it for beer and have a drunk DDR party! What? Don't act like no one has busted out the mats before.

 

9.) Amplitude 

 

 

Before there were hand held guitars coming out of your gaming console there was a game back in 2003 called Amplitude, not to be confused with the slightly more expensive DAW plug-in by IK Multimedia.

 

No this game was a primitive version of Guitar Hero using only the joystick, L, R, and Trigger buttons. Like DDR for your hands. The game allowed players to test their skills in areas of difficulty in mixing and remixing hit songs by shooting music notes in various other worldly musical environments while navigating a space craft grabbing awesome power ups like score doublers and freestylers as you go. You could customize characters and unlock a shit ton of awesome songs from bands/artists like blink-182, Quarashi, Weezer and Slipknot.

Although the soundtrack was limited; the genres, like Guitar Hero were vast and the number of difficulty levels made trying the songs over again like beating a different level. 

In recent years, the Internet masses have come together for another game, and well, "the people have spoken" and Playstation agreed to release another game after a KickStarter for the game was made.

8.) Madden

Some might argue that this game should be higher on the list. Well, make your own fucking list. I'm not a real big sports guy, but I definitely had to put this one on here. Some might say "well what about the MLB, NHL & NBA games?" Well those games do have licensed music, Madden seems to be the "corporate sports" game that started it all. 

Back in 03', shit was insane with licensed music in games, the pop-punk re-revolution was in full swing, thus thrashed the levee's holding back any and all bands ready and willing to capitalize on what they could get when they could.

 

On earlier games there would be only crowd noise, switching gears in 03 with that first soundtrack with songs like:

"Party Hard" by Andrew W.K.

"The Anthem" by Good Charlotte

 "Everyday" by Bon Jovi

You get so pumped every time you play any sports game with an awesome soundtrack, EA Sports knew it, and they knew the gamer knew it too, because the trend continued. 

 

In later years the franchise kept up with their audience adding more hiphop, metal and EDM. Always experimenting for each audience, be it MLB, NHL etc, the demographic that they try to reach by adding top 40 hits and whatever genre is popular is at the time. The music speaks in volumes (pun intended) and shows that an awesome soundtrack can make or break the mood of any game.

7.) Crazy Taxi 

Created in 1998 by Hitmaker as an Arcade cabinet based driving game and was practically everywhere in the early 2000's. An early predecessor to GTA 3, the objective was to pick up random pedestrians on a map and drop them off at a certain destination pointed to by green arrows on the screen. You were given an allotted time for this, once time was up, game over. Players could pick up extra time and cash (for power ups & better Taxis) if they performed stunts on missions.

 

Given this and being one of the first real driving games to be in 3D at the time, NOW add 6 killer punk songs by Bad Religion and The Offspring and there was one hell of fast paced game on your hands.

Switching from arcade to home platform Crazy Taxi 2 once again had the full support of punk band The Offspring, now supplying the ENTIRE soundtrack for this game on the arcade, SEGA Dreamcast & Playstation versions. Punk band Total Chaos leant their rights to the PC versions.

Rounding off number 3 is Total Chaos, The Offspring (bringing back song All I Want from the first one) and Bad Religion with "Punk Rock Song".

 

Crazy Taxi Gameplay

 

....with any popularity of a great game, comes the possible consequence of a terrible video game movie adaptation. As was the case for this one.

Knowing how the game's overall feel was, I can see the satire they were going for, but for fuck sake, let's do the "buddy comedy". Luckily for us, SEGA pulled the fuck out of there quicker than a guy realizing he's with a clingy girlfriend, and all we were left with was TAXI, which thank fuck I've never seen, only this shitty trailer.

 

Get your shit bucket ready. EWW!

TAXI Trailer

6.) Fallout 

 Although none of the music on here is really "punk", traveling through a barren wasteland in a post apocalyptic future while listening to The Ink Spot's 1941 hit "I don't want to set the world on fire" has got to be one of the most awesome things ever. This is used as a leitmotif for the entire series starting with Fallout 3, which for me is where playing the game all began. 

 

I still get chills watching this trailer, thinking back to how awesome it looked to it's PC predecessor.

Fallout 3 Trailer

In Fallout New Vegas it took a slightly different approach, grabbing up a lot of influences from the 1940's and 50's swing and doo-wop, given that the whole setting is in Las Vegas NV. which is supposed to be set in year 2281, 4 years after the events of Fallout 3. You're left for dead on the outskirts of the Vegas strip after a gangster shoots you in the back of the head and dumps you in a hole.

Nabbing up songs from Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, really tie in the idea that the mob left your for dead, and you're off to seek revenge.

 

Even actors like Matthew Perry & Kris Kristofferson have leant their voices to the game. In New Vegas, Wayne Newton himself plays a radio host, and in almost every game, Ron Pertman voices the narrator.

 

The Inkspots are back with "It's All Over But the Crying" in Fallout 4, with the 1930's - 1940's songs from artists like Bing Crosby, and Doris Fisher.

Fallout 4 Trailer.

5.) Saints Row 

 

Saint's Row gets a lot of flack from the RPG community, compared to it's almost identical counterpart of GTA. It's like the fun, rich, drunk uncle that used to buy you beer and condoms and sneak out to go see your girlfriend. But now that you're 25 and have your own apartment you can do that all on your own, so drunk uncle doesn't seem so fun anymore. A game developer's responsibility is to make the player have a good time, and that's exactly what this game does. Running around naked in a fictional street murdering rival gangs with rocket launchers and a giant dildo for a weapon, what in the actual fuck isn't fun about that?!

 

Saint's Row was one of those "wtf games". The game started out as a typical "modern street mafia" RPG. Guy finds himself in a shit situation and builds himself up from the bottom of the food chain by doing missions earning money and street cred and killing leaders, politicians and anyone standing in your way. Well the game takes a real fucked up left turn in Saints 4 where you're the President of the US trapped in a Matrix like world, getting out and killing aliens. You saw a precursor to this in Saints 3 with the aliens DLC.

 

With all of these games came awesome cars, cycles and flying spacecrafts?...yeah that. And awesome radio stations. 

When it came to the soundtrack of all of these games, there was no fucking around. 

 

Saints 2

With artists like Avenged Sevenfold, A-Ha, Panic! At The Disco, Europe, The Used and Taking Back Sunday, The Plain White T's & Lamb of God who's to be upset?

 

Saints 3 

It was no different but with a bigger library adding much more of a variety with EMD and more hip-hop now in the mix there's artists like: Kanye West, Dillinger Escape Plan, Social Distortion, Opeth, Deadmau5 and even fucking Mozart.

 

 

Saints 4

Had a massive 109 song library with artists like Neon Trees, In Flames, Outkast, Macklemore, Aerosmith, & Awolnation. 

 

 4.) Brutal Legend 

 I know what you're thinking, what the fuck are you thinking?! Well hear me out. This game as I've previously said, does it's #1 job, and that's be fun for the player. The protagonist is voiced by Jack Black, that's right Tenacious D's own. 

 

This game pokes fun at every aspect of metal, from Ozzy biting off a bat's head to the inception of nu-metal. It starts off with Eddy the roadie (Iron Maiden?) the protag, unleashing a demon from hell on stage at shitty concert he's roadying for. He's then sucked into the past to an alternate world where he meets a slew of characters that are voiced by famous musicians such as: Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy of Motorhead, Lita Ford, Kyle Gas (Tenacious D), Rob Halford (Judas Priest). Even getting a handful of actors like Tim Curry as the villain.

With this voice acting line up, there had to come a killer soundtrack right? Well abso-fucking-lutely there did. With over 80 tracks from all scopes of metal, from old school metal of Anvil, Anthrax, Black Sabbath, to the hair metal of Motley Crue & Whitesnake, to even the darkest of Cradle of Filth & Bishop of Hexen.

3.) Grand Theft Auto

 I first remember licensed music on GTA: Vice City. All of the retro 80's music, your cheeky synth pop music mixed in with your metal/thrash and early hip-hop. It was limited, but it suited well for its means. 

 

 San Andreas made in demographically clear what they were going for to set the mood in with a gangster rap, hip-hop, and radio alternative music with Public Enemy, Rage Against The Machine, Living Colour, & L7.

  When GTA 4 came out for the next gen consoles of the PS3 & X360, it added a huge library of music, with over 360 tracks in total 19 stations and 3 talk radio stations. 

As part of a partnership between Rockstar Games and Amazon.com, most of the music heard on the in-game radio stations is available for download through the Amazon MP3digital music store.   

 In GTA 5 they took things a huge step forward, set in the world of a fictional L.A. the development team sought to reinforce the game's recreation of California by licensing tracks they felt appropriately echoed a "Cali feel". Whereas in other games, it kind of "happened", in this one, they purposefully set out for this goal. Initially setting on 900 songs for this game, the team only licensed 241, but incorporating environmental into the game whether you're getting closer to a store and you hear the sound of a song playing in it to joggers listening to music with their headphones on as they run past you.

 

One station on here had a huge punk influence coming from the LA scene with bands like The Adolescents, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Descendants & T.S.O.L. Also hitting up a classic hits channel with huge licenses from artists like Elton John, Def Leppard, Chicago, Queen, Phil Collins, & Queen.

2.) Guitar Hero

What do you say about a game that basically started it's on genre in gaming. It revolutionized the way people look at games, tying in music, the common interest that the world can relate with along with learning, eye hand coordination, and just plain fun.  

 

The first GH game I got was #2. It was awesome, but something seemed off. Yes the songs were licensed, but then I realized that the songs were re-recorded versions of the original song. That aside, the game still lit the fuze under the world's ass, and thus snowballed a bandwagon of fans and future releases. 

 

Guitar Hero II Making Of

 With the game's success, Guitar Hero III gathered enough backing to green light full fledged licensing for music. Guitar Hero III was the pinnacle of the games success with crazy unlock-able songs, and of course, Through The Fire & Flames.

Through The Fire & Flames GH3

 Artists themselves starting jumping onto this new craze even lending their own body's for mocap featuring in the game with guys like Slash, & Tom Morollo

Slash On GH3

Guitar Hero World Tour came out once the PS3 & X360 next gens were in full swing. This brought on more songs, better graphics and the possibility for a full band, that's right, a drum set and a singer.  GH's rival game "Rock Band" was already dishing out this full band set up, with a slightly different guitar and sold as a full band set up featuring 2 guitars, a drum set and microphone.

 

Artists from all walks of the music industry used their bodies for mocap in this game, from Travis Barker (blink-182) & Chad Smith (RHCP)  to Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde, Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Haley Williams & Ted Nugent

1.) Tony Hawk's Pro Skater

 

If you haven't figured out by now, the countdown was leading up to this moment. For most of us in our young adolescents, when you recall the thoughts of THPS all most of us can think of is level 1 The Warehouse with Goldfinger's Superman playing in the background.

 

Yes looking back the graphics were kinda poop, the characters were blocky, the moves were limited but it was fun as fuck, and it got me into skating, like the rest of the world. The game blew the fuck up, sparking numbers 2, 3, and 4 with more dynamics, crazier moves, skate companies, endorsements, more characters and a better feel for the skater as well as a bitchin' amount of songs. Do kids still say bitchin? Eh fuck it.

Goals in the game were anything from getting a high score, to finding secret items throughout levels, that was until later games in the franchise came along with storylines. You were also given a time limit of anywhere from 2-4 minutes to complete, don't worry you could always start over.

 

THPS1 right off the bat was full of nothing but straight up punk bands all at your face. With bands like Primus, Dead Kennedys, Goldfinger, and The Vandals.

 

 

 

 THPS2 this one stepped shit up a notch with better graphics, and broader landscapes, also spreading out their consoles to the N64 and PC. Still playing to the punk theme their library of music didn't sway much with songs from bands like Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Millencolin, Anthrax, & Swingin' Utters.

 

THPS3 this one had a fuck ton of new skaters, custom skateboards, 

Let me remind you young cunts that this was all on Playstation 1, PS2, XBOX & Nintendo 64. Yeah, so when THPS Underground, or THUG as us THPS vets grew to know it.

This version of the game branched out in some different genres

Featuring artists like Redman, Motorhead, Xhibit, & CKY as well as bands like The Ramones, AFI, Adolescents, & Guttermouth.

 

 

  THPS4

Set a new president in the franchise with voice acting, the ability to dismount from your board, and free roaming throughout levels. The satire of each character was still there, crazy tricks from Rodney, stupid shit from Bam, & the way above awesome from Muska.

The soundtrack for this game didn't disappoint either with the franchise, with now punk and pop-punk explosion of the early 2000's in near explosion, it was only a matter of time before something big occurred, and had Travis Barker of blink-182 as a DLC.

 

Tony Hawk's Underground or THUG to us THPS vets, blew the fuck up to the masses. Bringing on a new format of the game with create your own mode, a storyline, a fuck ton of new skaters which were ALL voiced by the actual skaters. The re-playability of this game is insane, I must've played it at least 100 times in high school, wishing I was in the game.

The soundtrack was awesome, I can recall Dropkick Murphys, Alkaline Trio, Bad Religion, The Addicts, NOFX, Social Distortion, The Transplants, & In Flames. Not to mention KISS leant not only their songs, but their likenesses as a secret full band performance on the game.

 THUG2 was ridiculous, like THUG1, it was basically the same, except the storyline shifted to much of that of Bam Margera & the Jackass crew with everyone from Steve-O to Phil Margera being a playable character. It was fun and was the only game that used the original protagonist of THUG1 as the predecessor to 2, which was the same custom skater created by YOU the player. The reception of the game was awesome, as was any THPS game, and so was its soundtrack.

It took a different direction like the GTA games and had different stations.

With bands like Rancid, The Casualties, Less Than Jake, Jimmy Eat World, who could complain as a punk. OR Johnny Cash, Metallica, The Doors, Lamb or God, Frank Sinatra, & The Living End as anyone else who wants to be a cunt.

 Tony Hawk Ride

THR came out after the next gens of PS2, and recieving the worst reception of the THPS games. Ride was reviewed with negative critics, but fuck the gameplay we're here for music.

FEATURING:The Stooges, Queens of the Stone Age, NOFX, Norma Jean, MGMT, The Replacements TSLO & more!

 Tony Hawk American Wasteland

Now we're talking! Back to basics. With The U.S. economy in the shitter, THPS capitalized on the ideals of this society of punks that had no future. The storyline was of a skater from the middle of nowhere who leaves his shitty home and goes to LA to be a pro. Sounds like any artist! (The Feels) This was the FIRST THPS which seamlessly connected a number of levels without loading times in between. Along with that, it was also the first game in the series that allows to freely commandeer stray bicycles and perform freestyle BMX techniques with it similar to how you can with the skateboard. It also featured unlockable content characters like Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, & Lil' Jon.

The music was fucking rad for this game. The soundtrack reached number 148 on The Billboard Top 200, number 4 on Billboard Top Soundtracks, and number 10 Billboard Top Independent Albums. It was so influential that it actually hit the mainstream in music then it did in games. It featured bands new and old to the game, from Green Day, Thrice, Saves The Day, My Chemical Romance, &  My Chemical Romance, Public Enemy, Anthrax & 7 Seconds just to name a few.

THUG1 Soundtrack

 

After those games in the franchise I quit following them, but the franchise still continues, which reminds me I REALLY need a new fucking next gen console. SHIT! 

Favorite game not make the list? If so what was it?

 

So what was your favorite game in the list?

 

 

Wish any developers would make a game about a particular band's songs? Example: Coheed & Cambria video game based off of their storyline.

 

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