Rock The Spacebar is a twice-monthly column investigating the good music that underpins your favorite video games. This week, Dom Peppiatt displays on the pop-punk tendencies of skate tradition and examines why Roll7‘s OlliOlli World traded in guitars for laptops, and aimed for a way more chill vibe in its distinctive tackle skating in 2022.
When I used to be 25, I dislocated each of my knees while dropping in on a half-pipe. I’d had a couple of tins of beer, the solar was in my eyes… and I didn’t have my move. In case you can think about a tipsy fool with an undercut, spatchcocked and writhing in agony on some banged-up plywood, you’ve received a good suggestion of how this silly episode of my life went down. I used to skate fairly a bit. After this incident, I skate fairly a bit much less.
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So as a substitute, I get my fingers to kickflip for me and make my digits deftly pull off indy grabs in video video games. It seems I’ve received good timing, too – there’s been one thing of a renaissance within the style in recent times; whether or not you’re wanting on the iconic rebirth of ‘Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater 1 + 2 Remastered‘, the younger upstart Session, the returning veteran Skate 4, or the not-like-all-the-other-kids-at-the-park OlliOlli World, growing old skaters of all tastes have gotten choices. It’s a far cry from the THPS monopoly days of the PS1.
And skate tradition is altering. As Bob Burnquist informed me final yr, skating has at all times been open to vary – it’s at all times been inclusive and wanting to welcome anybody that had even a passing curiosity within the sport. No sport displays that higher than OlliOlli World; whether or not it’s within the genderless sliders that allow you to customise your avatar, the age-blind setup of its core forged, or the multiplayer lobbies stuffed with gamers of all pores and skin tones, OlliOlli World (and its pastel punk interpretation of skating in 2022) extra precisely displays a scene that’s been so welcoming of enby skaters, feminine Olympians, and children of all backgrounds in recent times.
So it’s maybe shocking in addition up the sport and listen to its soundtrack. As an alternative of the pop-punk, ska, and metallic sensibilities which might be virtually synonymous with skate video games, Roll7 as a substitute opted for a extra lo-fi, chill-hop soundtrack together with artists like Fardust, Adam Swim, and Midflite.
“Music has at all times been a key part in OlliOlli video games because it constitutes an integral a part of the flow-state gameplay of the collection”, Simon Bennett, founder and director of growth studio Roll7, defined forward of the sport’s launch earlier this yr. “We’re thrilled to [include] these fascinating tunes created by excellent impartial musicians from world wide.”
In case you play the sport, you get to listen to 32 tracks, all constructed round that attractive low-tempo, melodic electronica that rhymes so superbly with the sport’s Journey Time-meets-Jet Set Radio aesthetic. OlliOlli World is a troublesome sport, too – it’s all about move, timing, and focus. Un-intrusive beats like those on the OST completely praise the zen-like move it’s worthwhile to harness with a view to even clear the later ranges; it’s a world other than the scrappy, let’s-just-thrash-out-the-level mentality of the THPS titles. On condition that OlliOlli, as a collection, is seen because the ‘Tremendous Meat Boy of skateboarding video games’, the studio wanted to discover a strategy to hold you targeted because the challenges grew to become more durable and more durable. And extra intense. And extra obtuse.
Roll7’s insistence on conserving the whole lot round you – the surroundings, the beats, the vibe – so chill at the same time as your blood strain ticks upwards within the latter levels of the sport is a great selection. And maybe one purpose the sport is so rattling addictive.
The skate scene has at all times had an indie coronary heart, and so with Roll7 looking for out and selling smaller artists like this – as a substitute of well-known punk acts signed to one of many ‘massive three’ file labels – it feels extra in-line with what skate tradition is meant to symbolize; an actual, real do-it-yourself angle. Roll7 – not like Activision or EA – took the initiative to smell out smaller creatives and provides them a platform in OlliOlli World… and lo and behold! Abruptly I’ve received extra new artists on my Spotify playlists than I’ve from video video games in years.
And that’s no accident. Discovering the precise cocktail of music was a labour of affection for Bennett, who – regardless of working the studio – hand-picks all of the music for the sport himself. In an interview with Spin, Bennett famous that “there are at all times tracks in each sport that we’ve performed that I completely must have, and typically it’s an actual wrestle to seek out the rights for it”. However that doesn’t deter him; the crew at Roll7 shall be “researching the place the rights had been and simply desperately looking for the entire applicable individuals to license that music” up till hours earlier than the sport launches. If that’s not dedication to discovering the precise music for the vibe, I don’t know what’s.
Don’t get me flawed; I like all issues alt-rock. My music style was, certainly, formed by Tony Hawk’s video games rising up. However hey, as I’ve gotten older, my tastes have broadened – whether or not it’s moping instrumentals about existential crises, prog rock fantasies, or pop/rock hybrids, I believe I’ve discovered to understand music in most of its types. And OlliOlli World has made me realise that, maybe, alt-rock isn’t the most effective match for skating (as a lot as my 17-year-old self would disown me for saying that).
Maybe if I’d been gently nodding alongside to some lo-fi alt-electronica again once I was 25 – as a substitute of rocking out to Dangerous Faith, once more – I’d have been capable of focus extra on my footing and poise. Maybe I wouldn’t have ended my skateboarding pastime fairly so violently. However then maybe I wouldn’t have found OlliOlli World, 5 years later. Swings and roundabouts, ey?