Video games may grab you by the ocular organs whenever you stumble across them, but they’ll keep you hooked and captivated with their assorted sound effects. Audio is what really sells a game, and whether it’s something as simple as Batman launching a grappling hook into a thug’s face or the satisfying crunch of boots on gravel, there’s a lot to be said for the sound effects that we take for granted.
So in a quick top ten, raise a glass and salute the work of audio wizards who came up with the following bits of sound so good, we can’t help but smile every time we hear them.
Gears of War – Headshot
We’ve spoken before about our love for Gears of War and its wide variety of gruesome foley sound effects, but when you’re under attack and you bounce back with a headshot, you’ll never not smile when you hear that squishy splatch erupt from the neck-geyser of your opponent.
Splinter Cell – Sam Fisher’s goggles
It may be naff that the world’s greatest super duper secret spy gives his location away every time he activates his goggles, but there’s a certain satisfaction present whenever Sam Fisher flicks a switch and you hear the unmistakeable hum of his night vision gear warming up.
Quake 2 – Super shotgun
It may be the weapon that has a presence in every video game ever made, but for our money Quake 2’s merciless double barrel buckshot delivery system is classic carnage perfected. Point, shoot and reload with a satisfying animation every single time.
Final Fantasy 8 – Limit break activation
Essentially a Super Saiyan power-up for any given character within Final Fantasy 8, you know that shit got real whenever you see a SeeD cadet explode forth with yellow light that’s punctuated by what sounds like a whistle on steroids as they prepare to unleash their most powerful attack.
Medal of Honor – M1 Garand
Here’s a case of a series of sound effects being contained within one single glorious item. A standard rifle in the classic World War Two tour of duty that is Medal of Honour, every reload, bolt click and instance of a shell hitting the ground makes the M1 Garand sound like a masterpiece in action.
Half-Life – Healing station
You ever miss out on the rave warehouse parties of the late 1990s? Then Half-Life’s healing stations were the next best thing, conveniently placed first aid kits that would mend and move your body with a relaxing melody that played like Enya on acid. Soothing stuff.
Legend of Zelda – Opening a treasure chest
To this day, I still maintain that there’s no feeling of triumph better than the end point of a dungeon in The Legend of Zelda series, that is capped off by the golden glow of a treasure chest and a triumphant crescendo of music that builds up to reward you with a mystical gift. It’s been a mainstay of the Zelda series for decades, and may it never ever be replaced.
Super Mario – Mushroom power-up
The original power-up and still one of the best, nothing spells doom for a Goomba quicker than the glorious escalation of shroom-powered embiggening.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – iDroid activation
In an age where our music is streamed through a handheld black box of social media doom, there’s something reassuring about Metal Gear Solid V’s walkman that combines impossibly advanced technology for its time era with tried and trusted physical knobs that players need to scroll through so that they can rock out to Hideo Kojima’s break-up album with Konami.
Pokémon – Successful capture
There will never ever be a sound effect that manages to balance tension with success in the same manner that Pokemon has managed to do for over two decades now. You all know the story: You find a Pokemon, you throw a pokeball and what lies in wait are a trio of tense armpit-moistening ball jiggles that ultimately ends with a simple BOONG sound effect to inform you that you just acquired a brand new pocket monster.
Last Updated: September 10, 2019