With winter’s chill in full snap, we’re still retreating indoors in search of otherworldly adventure. But whether it’s fighting off alien invaders or racing from the law in an epic highway chase, having an awesome soundtrack improves nearly every video game experience. Boston-bred musicians are no strangers to the world of gaming, as long-time fans might remember Aerosmith’s classic arcade shooter, “Revolution X,” or “Make My Video” with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. As we enter a new era of gaming and music, here are 10 modern video games with great soundtracks featuring stars who call New England home.
As the mastermind behind the “Rock Band” franchise, Boston-based game developer Harmonix knows a thing or two about creating great music games. In “Fuser,” players show off their skills in a virtual DJ booth at a massive music festival, mashing up songs from the game’s impressive catalog of hits. Songs by Boston stars you may recognize include “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown, “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer, “Me Too” by Meghan Trainor, and “Here Comes Your Man” by the Pixies. “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe is also available as additional downloadable content. Available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.
GRAND THEFT AUTO: THE TRILOGY
More than two decades and several generations of consoles later, gamers still can’t get enough of the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise. Developer Rockstar recently released the “Definitive Edition” for three of its classic entries, complete with the in-game radio stations players love rocking out to as they race across town. In particular, the updated version of “San Andreas” features a trio of hits by Boston musicians, including “B.Y.S.” by Gang Starr, “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe, and “Smokin’” by Boston. Available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
JUST DANCE 2022
Get moving and grooving with the latest edition of Ubisoft’s hit dance rhythm game. Using motion controllers or the “Just Dance” app on a smartphone, players attempt to perfectly match the game’s on-screen choreography in order to rack up points. Along with chart toppers from pop megastars such as Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish, “Just Dance 2022″ also features Nantucket native Meghan Trainor and her 2020 tune “Funk.” Available on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Stadia, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
MADDEN NFL 22
Just because the Patriots are out of this year’s playoff race doesn’t mean that the season has to be over for local sports fans. Create your own dynasty of gridiron stars on the march toward the Super Bowl in the latest edition of the long-running “Madden” franchise. After appearing on soundtracks for previous installments of the fan-favorite football game, Worcester rapper Joyner Lucas returns for “Madden NFL 22″ alongside Lil Baby for the track “Ramen & OJ.” Available on PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Stadia, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
MARVEL’S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Similar to its cinematic counterpart, “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” seamlessly blends sci-fi action comedy with a killer soundtrack of Walkman era hits. Play as Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, and lead Rocket, Groot, and the rest of the galactic misfits into battle against evil alien tyrants while jamming out to everyone from KISS to Culture Club. Boston’s own New Kids of the Block also make the cut with their classic “Hangin’ Tough,” which is the perfect tune to play when facing the game’s big bosses and hordes of menacing monsters. Available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
NASCAR 21: IGNITION
While this racing simulator game isn’t necessarily beloved among NASCAR fans, it does feature a rocking soundtrack that should help you get things into gear. A few notable names featured on the soundtrack include Machine Gun Kelly, Imagine Dragons, Foo Fighters, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, who lend their classic tune “Sweet Home Alabama.” Representing the Boston music scene, rock icons Aerosmith also offer their musical talents, as their hit “Back in the Saddle” from their 1976 album “Rocks” gets the feature treatment. Available on PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Like the rest of the offerings in EA’s collection of sports games, the latest installment of the company’s NHL series has a stacked playlist of top tunes. While the hockey game understandably features plenty of Canadian talent like singer-songwriter Alice Merton and indie band The Strumbellas, beloved Boston rockers the Dropkick Murphys also appear on the soundtrack with their song “Good as Gold” from their 2021 album “Turn Up That Dial.” Available on Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
ROCK BAND 4
While it’s been more than half a decade since the last main line “Rock Band” first hit consoles, its library of songs has expanded quite a bit over the years thanks to updates and additional downloadable content releases. The full list of tracks includes plenty of Bay State icons too, including “Toys in the Attic” by Aerosmith, “The Impression That I Get” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, “Divide” by All That Remains, “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies, and “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. Available on Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
SAINTS ROW IV: RE-ELECTED
The “Saints Row” franchise is a pretty wild, open-world experience where players get to battle in turf wars while rising through the ranks of a violent gang in hopes of becoming a legend. In the fourth installment, that path somehow leads to the Oval Office as “The Boss” becomes the President of the United States who has to stop an alien invasion (and that’s only the beginning). Make sure to tune into the in-game radio station The Mix 107.77 to hear “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith, one of more than a hundred tracks featured in the game. Available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 4, Stadia, and Xbox One.
TONY HAWK PRO SKATER 1 + 2
Few games are as beloved by longtime gamers as the original “Tony Hawk Pro Skater” installments. Players can get lost for hours virtually skating around this nostalgia trip, which offers both inventive skating mechanics and truly iconic playlists of late ‘90s and early ‘00s jams. The first two games recently received the remaster treatment for the current generation of consoles and, while the graphics look better than ever, thankfully the soundtrack is nearly identical, including the return of “When Worlds Collide” by Boston rockers Powerman 5000. Available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Matt Juul is a writer based in Boston. Follow him on Twitter @RunTheJuuls.