Sounds in video games

Our summertime Video Game Music Festival has largely, if not entirely covered the wonderful world of soundtracks, which you could probably have guessed from the name. But what about all the stuff that isn't-quite-music? Don't noises deserve love too?

YES. So, here you go: Our favourite sounds in video games. Tell us yours in the comments!

Tom Whitehead, Deputy Editor

I love the Metroid Prime Trilogy, with all three games being a remarkable achievement (if they announce a HD re-release I may spontaneously combust). With any iconic all-time-great series you need everything to come together: gameplay, visuals and art design, soundtrack and of course sound effects.

The sound is brilliant in these games, capturing the sci-fi vibes of the franchise perfectly. Finding items and upgrades is always a thrill in Metroid games, and the Prime entries absolutely nailed the sound trigger for those cool moments.

Kate Gray, Staff Writer

For me, the best noise in games might be the Yoshi noise from Super Mario World and Super Mario 64, which is impossible to both describe and replicate. In fact, my partner and I regularly make each other descend into fits of giggles by trying: "BWEEM-bwoom!" "b'weep-pew!" "hweemb-hwoo?"

It's just never quite right, and you sound like an idiot trying. My theory is that, if you slow it down and pitch it way down, you'll discover that it's Yoshi's voice actor saying "Hello, it's me, Yoshi. Thank you for choosing me as your faithful steed, Mario. Shall we?"

One more time: BWEP-BOO.

Ryan Craddock, News Editor

I can guarantee that as soon as this article goes live I’ll have remembered something else and wish I’d picked that instead, but one of the first sounds that comes to mind for me is the fantastic mumbling that comes out of any Pianta’s mouth.

I find it impossible to play Super Mario Sunshine without audibly responding to any Pianta’s “Huhhh hmmmuhh uh mmmm” with my own “Hmmuhh mmm huuuhhuuummm,” and kicking fruit around Isle Delfino and jumping on their heads as they shout all sorts of mumbly profanities is one of my favourite childhood memories.

As for the best noise a Pianta makes? Skip to the 28-second mark of the video. “MAKAMA MUUH HUH-MUH-MUH.”

Austin Voigt, Contributor

Just imagine this is purple - Ed.

For me, gaming is one of the most nostalgia-inducing activities I engage in — so when asked my favourite video game sound effect, my mind immediately went to the first game I can remember playing — Zelda.

Originally, I had picked the "secret" sound (*ahem*... "BEE-dum-dee-doh-Doo-dee-dee-DOO"), but was unfortunately informed by our dear Kate that said sound's multi-noted nature classifies it as a "jingle" rather than a sound effect, and it was therefore disqualified. Rude.

So, I proceeded to pick my next favourite sound effect — the PING-y sound of Rupee (Rupy) acquisition — and, from there, selected the subcategory corresponding with the most awesome colour, purple. Yes, the colours sound different in my brain. Purple is best. This is how I arrived at my favourite video game sound effect. Thank you.

Does a jingle count as a sound or music?

Gavin Lane, Editor

One of my favourite sound effects has always been the ‘woKUPP!’ that Sonic makes when he inhales an air bubble underwater. The froggy tone always amused me, although it’s likely burned on my brain through its connection to the blessed relief of ending the OH CRAP I’M DROWNING, I’M DROWNING music. The bubbly countdown is in progress, you’re frantically searching for a bubble ‘mound’ and running back and forth across it (like that does anything!), the music gets impossibly stressful, and… ‘woKUPP!’


Jon Cartwright, Video Chap

Resident Evil 4 has masterful sound design. Every gun has an iconic ring and the distant churn of a chainsaw is enough to get your blood pumping. Yet even in its most bombastic moments there's a certain sound that makes you feel safe and mellow - that's the pause sound.

It's a little like "Shoooooooooommm...."

Even if you're in a lab with the chilling breath of Regenerators echoing from around the corner, this pause sound lets you know it's ok to open up your case and start shifting things around like a deadly version of Tetris. I like to think all the enemies sit around politely while you do this.

Alex Olney, Video Chap

When I first played Metroid Fusion I wasn't really all that aware of Ridley. I'd seen his corpse earlier in the game and was slightly worried in my childish way that I might have to fight a bone dragon thing. When I walked past it and it collapsed, I think I may have breathed a shocked but genuine sigh of relief; imagine my reaction when a few rooms later I not only came toe-to-toe with not a bone dragon things but this gigantic fully-alive and extremely angry boss thing, but also for it to appear with frankly the most terrifying sound I think a GBA is capable of producing. And he kept doing it.

Needless to say it was burned in my memory, and the frenetic combat demanded from the encounter only help to galvanise that fact. The GBA may not have had a dedicated sound chip, but I'd wager hidden somewhere there's a dedicated Ridley scream chip.

What was the best era of video game sounds?

But enough about our best noises — what are yours? Let us know in the comments below.