WHY 2002 WAS AN ICONIC YEAR FOR DANCE MUSIC IN VIDEO GAMES
July 19th 2021
I’ve got a funny t-shirt in my wardrobe, which says: 'Video games don’t affect kids, I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music'.
Although the t-shirt is meant to be a joke, I believe some of the video games I played when I was younger, definitely influenced my music taste to become what it is today, specifically games from the year 2002.
The first game I’d like to talk about is SSX Tricky, which was the second in a series of snowboarding games brought by EA. The premise of the game was quite simple, you could pick from a selection of characters and compete in a race down a mountain or a ‘show off’ event where you’d have to do as many tricks as possible. As you progressed you unlocked new tracks, outfits, boards and points to make your characters faster, stronger or more capable of performing tricks.
The game was arguably ahead of its time when it came to music and was one of the earliest to have an immersive dynamic soundtrack, the music changed depending on your actions. For example, when you made a big jump off the side of a cliff, the music would filter out and the back in again as you came tumbling back down to the ground. When you did enough tricks to fill up your ‘boost’, you would hear the accapella from Run DMC’s , ‘It’s Tricky’, beat matched perfectly over whatever track was playing in the background.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. I didn’t realise it at the time, mainly because I would have been about 10 years old, but the game featured some heavyweight dance music.
There are three tracks by breakbeat legends, the Plump DJs, including Smartbomb, The Push and Move it With Your Mind. Having heard these tracks over and over again as a child, is it any wonder I grew up to seek out raves that played this kind of music? There’s also an epic track called Finished Symphony from Hybrid, which has a similar old school rave-breaks feel to it.
You can’t ignore the drum and bass presence on the soundtrack too, which includes King of Beats by Aphrodite and Drop Top Caddy by Micky Finn. Both of these DJs I’ve now seen perform live (several times), could this be due to the games influence?
I'M GOING TO TRY MY BEST TO EXTRACT SOME OF THE MUSIC,
SO WATCH THIS SPACE
The second game I’d like to talk about, Wipeout Fusion, which was also released in 2002. Wipeout is a futuristic racing game based in the year 2160 and involves the player competing in an ‘anti-gravity’ racing league in their very own high speed vehicle.
The soundtrack yet again features many tracks you’d expect to hear at a rave, granted they have a bit more of a techno influence compared to SSX. Highlights include tracks such as Krushyn by Elite Force, Neuro by Brainiac and Blue Funk by Amethyst. It even featured a remix of Bleu My Mind by one of my all-time favourite producers, Nightmares on Wax, the remix isn’t available anywhere online, but I have ordered a physical copy of the game and I’m going to try my best to extract some of the music, so watch this space!
The high intensity of these tracks combined with the very fast racing brings back some great memories.
Least but not last and whether you are a football fan or not, Fifa 2002 had some incredible dance music on it. Unlike SSX and Wipeout, it features a lot more trance, house and hard-house.
2002 was undoubtedly a great year for dance music being featured on video games, I firmly believe that the media we absorb when we are younger does affect our tastes as we get older, especially if we associate the music with good memories of being young and carefree.