EA Trax: A Tribute

The wonderful six-week winter vacation has come to an end.

As I return to Athens, Ohio, 20 credit hours plus high school and college basketball beats will severely limit my time on here. Since it is Syllabus Day, I thought I would take a break from the doom and gloom of the current sports world to give credit to one of the greatest video game enhancements of all time.

No, it’s not the one-timer on NHL ’93, nor the infamous Playmaker controls on Madden 2004.

I’m writing this to heap praise upon EA Trax.

While deep in-game soundtracks got their start with action sports games such as Tony Hawk Pro Skater, EA Trax kicked the door down on in-game music when it debuted in Madden NFL 2003.

When navigating menus of our franchises, dynasties, career modes and everything in-between, gamers no longer had to reach for the mute button when the lone menu song drove them insane. It also was a hit with musicians who benefited from the free advertising of their songs. Some acts that were virtual unknowns have used sports video games to propel their careers.

Now a look back at some of my favorite in-game soundtracks of all time.

Madden NFL 2003

A great place to start would be the beginning. The first-ever EA Trax game got off to a good start with the invigorating “Party Hard” by Andrew W.K. upon start. The soundtrack focused on alternative rock that featured artists such as Seether, Bon Jovi and Nappy Roots. Throw in a then relatively unknown O.K. Go with “Get Over It” and the middle school dance staple “Anthem” by Good Charlotte and this 12-year-old was sold.

NBA Live 2004

In the mid-2000’s, hip hop culture was taking over and NBA Live captured it perfectly with the emerging artists. Start with OutKast’s “Ghetto Musik” off of the Grammy winning Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and “Hands Up” by The Black Eyed Peas along with offerings from Jermaine Dupri, Sean Paul, Da Brat and Dilated Peoples. The cherry on top? Has to be the “NBA Live Remix” of “Right Thurr” by Chingy.

NCAA March Madness 2005

One thing that makes college sports unique is the bands that play music at the stadiums and arenas. March Madness covered this with pep bands performing a wide range of songs from  the moderns “Hey Mama” by the Black Eyed Peas and “Hanging by Moment” by Lifehouse to older hits such as “Disco Inferno” by The Tramps and “A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis. The only original recording on the game was Luther Vandross’s famous “One Shining Moment”. If I could find mp3’s of the other songs, they would still be a part of my running rotation.

NCAA Football ’06

Another change-up by the folks of EA Sports, the usual rotation of fight songs were replaced with a variety of college radio hits from both yesteryear (The Clash, The Pixies) and of today (Lagwagon, The Pietasters). It added a very dorm room-esque sound to the game. EA Sports scrapped it however and went back to the fight songs the next year. Boo.

FIFA Soccer ’12

With the underground music movement bigger than ever, no game has been able to capture this more than the FIFA Soccer series. The global soundtrack features a bevy of international songs and enough indie rock to have the most mainstream players channeling their inner hipster. I have no idea who Portugal, The Man, The Vaccines, or The Chain Gang of 1974 were before playing, but I now have plenty of their songs on my iPod. At 39 songs, it is also the largest soundtrack found on any game.

As games continue to advance, so have the music capabilities. All games now feature custom music features that allow songs from hard drives to be uploaded. The ability to customize songs to venues and teams have added a new dimension of realism.

So next time you’re jamming in a gaming lobby, think of the Tecmo Bowl theme and see how far we’ve come.



About suhlmann12
journalism student at Ohio University. Huge fan of Pittsburgh sports teams

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