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The Skater XL soundtrack is a small but great ode to skating in the ’00s

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Skater XL is not a great skateboarding game. It plays like Skate with moon physics. The tiniest alteration in speed can make the difference between nicking a handrail or sailing over the entire stair set. Flip tricks look like they happen in slow-motion, totally detached from any sense of momentum or intent. The skaters bounce off surfaces like hollow plastic mannequins while their rubbery ankles twist and bend to account for every sharp turn or impossible landing. The levels are bland and static, with no room for laying out ramps or rails. I don’t like it much. 

And yet, I keep playing for the music. Skater XL’s soundtrack is tiny, but it knows what I kept on shuffle as a skateboarding teenager. If Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2’s prolific soundtrack captured the skaters’ sound of the ’90s, Skater XL’s soundtrack knows the sound of skating in the ’00s, at least a vital sliver of it. And as slim as the soundtrack is, it is still extremely potent, if only because every Tony Hawk and Skate game kept chasing the older Thrasher crowd with the same mix of punk and hip-hop that, while valid, failed to change with skating culture. 

A new tune

Rather than screaming directly at and about The Man, they scream about empty strip malls and Interstate 90.

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