Ask anyone what makes a video game memorable and they might say graphics, gameplay, or story. However, there’s one thing that will stick with you through a lifetime, and that’s video game sounds. Whether it’s the sound a character makes when you select them or a familiar audio cue from the world, even if it’s been years since you’ve heard them, you’ll instantly know the game. Here are eleven video game sounds everyone knows!
Mortal Kombat – Finish Him!
The Mortal Kombat series has been around for decades now, and over time they have fine-tuned every aspect of the game. The graphics have improved, the precision of the moves, even the roster has been expanded and tweaked.
Avid fans of the series have gotten progressively better at the game, able to string together some astonishingly impressive combos, ending in an outrageously gory finisher. The finishing moves are, without a doubt, what Mortal Kombat is known for. They’re excessively bloody, full of viscera, and now come with their own x-ray view.
But quite possibly the most iconic and memorable aspect of these finishers is the announcer commanding us to, “Finish him!” These two words are enough to get our blood pumping as we quickly fire off the right button presses. No matter how long it’s been, “Finish him!” will remain with us for a long, long time.
Street Fighter – HADOUKEN
Staying with the fighter genre but shifting over to Street Fighter, and we have one of the most iconic sounds from all of fighting games – the Hadouken! Even people who don’t know what game this is from can emulate the classic callout.
We’ve talked about how fighting game players use sound to their advantage, but sometimes it’s just fun to listen to the noises and even make them yourself. How many times have you picked up sand at a beach or snow during winter and Hadoukened it at a friend? We certainly have!
Thank you, Ryu and Ken, for giving us one of the most easily recognizable gaming sounds of all time. Hadouken!
Super Mario – Coin Collect
Maybe your first Mario game was the original back in1985, the graphically astounding Super Mario 64, or even the most recent Mario Run for your mobile device. No matter where you started, collecting a coin in Mario has its own charm and addictive quality.
You can hear it now, can’t you? The familiar chime as you collect a coin in Super Mario. Even better than a single coin is running through a bunch of them, hearing the ching-ching-ching as your counter goes up and Mario rakes in his riches.
It’s a simple sound, but one that has spanned all the Mario titles to date. We think it’s one of the most easily recognizable sounds in gaming.
Super Mario – Jump
Sticking to the same game, I bet you heard the little boing noise as soon you read the title. Mario’s original jump, his double jump, the sound he makes when he lands, even the “Ya-wah-yahoo!” as he pulls off his incredible triple-jump are all etched into our brains.
Mario’s jump is probably more recognizable than the sound the coins make, as jumping is likely the first thing you’ll try and do in a Mario game. Jumping is such an integral part of the series that Mario was originally going to be called “Jumpman”!
Super Mario Odyssey will be gracing out Switch consoles this year, and we cannot wait to hear the little sounds of Mario as he runs around, collects coins, and jumps from ledge to ledge.
Legend of Zelda – Chest Opening
The Hero of Hyrule and his adventures across time speak to many gamers. Whether it’s Link’s story of loss, trying to struggle through a world gone dark, fighting demons, or trying to help your friends, the stories in the Legend of Zelda are beautiful and meaningful.
Everyone remembers their first Legend of Zelda game, whether it was A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time, or perhaps even the latest and greatest entry, Breath of the Wild! But it doesn’t matter where you started, because there is one sound that anyone, of any age, can recognize: opening a chest.
The first time you come across a chest in a Zelda game you’re rewarded with not only a new item, but an unforgettable sound. A rising melody begins to play as the magic flows out of the chest, then the entire piece is capped off with 4-beat victory tune as Link raises the item above his head! Yes! Item secure – Da-da-da-Daaaaa!
This sound made opening chests even more awesome than before. To this day, we can’t open up a chest in a Zelda game without mimicking this sound.
Dark Souls – Start Screen
For all the Dark Souls fans, this is about as memorable as it gets. Dark Souls is known for its unapologetic difficulty, frustrating brutality, and its purposefully obtuse storytelling. But the first thing you’ll hear when starting your journey as an Undead is the sound of a sword slash.
As the title screen greets you, a single command is given “Press Start”. Once you press the button, the kiss of metal sings out as a sword is drawn from its scabbard. This sound sets the tone for Dark Souls. The sound of a sword means many things, justice, fighting, death, and victory. For those that have passed through the trials of tribulation of Dark Souls, the start screen sound sets the pulse racing.
Metal Gear Solid – Alert!
Metal Gear Solid is the pinnacle of stealthy games. Nothing comes close to the tension and action of playing as Snake, as you try to make your way through an enemy base. Locked doors, lasers, patrolling guards, and security cameras make navigating to your objective no easy task.
Remaining hidden is the name of the game, but if you do happen to get spotted, you’ll be greeted with one of the most iconic sounds in all of video game history. The alert sound that chimes whenever a guard thinks he’s seen you is unforgettable. It’s high pitched and breaks through the silence like a clap of thunder. It’s enough to startle even the most hardened of espionage agents.
If you can get over the little heart attack that happens whenever you hear this sound, we think it would make for a nifty phone alert.
PlayStation – Start Up
While this isn’t a game sound, we think it’s one of the most iconic sounds associated with gaming. For a lot of players, the PlayStation was their first home console, bringing some of the biggest games into their living rooms.
Turning on the console or booting up a disc would greet you with this mesmerising sequence of sounds, from synth-like noises to soft chimes. We bet that this sound reminds you immediately of a specific game. For us, the start-up sound of the PlayStation reminds us of the original Driver, cruising around the streets of Miami.
Age of Empires – Wololo
Age of Empires set the stage for all RTS games to come. This top-down army builder had everything a gamer wanted: creating buildings, training troops, and advancing through the ages to reach an enlightened civilization.
When it came to combat, there were a dozens of strategies and hundreds of units, but none are as memorable as the monk. Sure, catapults sound cool and throw object far, but only a monk can literally turn your enemy into your friend. A monk could walk up to an enemy and convert them onto your team, and all this was possible through the sound: wololo.
To this day, whenever we try to win an argument with a friend, we whip out the “Wololo” sound and see if the disagreement can be won Age of Empires style.
Half-Life 2 – Combine Soldiers
Half-Life 2 remains one of the greatest games of all time, with fans still waiting for the day Gabe comes down from the heavens on his cloud, and grants us the gift of Half-Life 3. Until that day, we will have to talk about everything that makes Half-Life awesome.
Set in the dystopian City 17, Half-Life 2 introduces us to a world dominated by an alien species. With a breeding barrier in place, people living in squaller, and Combine Soldier on every corner, the world has lost all hope.
A sound that is immediately recognizable to almost every gamer in existence is the radio chatter and squawking of the Combine Soldiers. As you sneak around the rooftops and railways, the squeals and clicks of the radios will alert you to the location of the Combine. It’s an eeriness not matched in recent years, as it will have your hair standing on end as you try to avoid the disturbingly human Combine soldiers.
Pac-Man – Waka-Waka
This list just wouldn’t be complete without one of the greatest sounds in all of video game history: Pac-Man’s sound as he moves around the maze. From the first time Pac-Mac was playable on an arcade machine in 1980, through all iterations of the classic yellow puck, the waka-waka of Pac-Man has been with us.
While Pac-Man’s death sound might be famous, nothing drills into our brains nearly as much as Pac-Man’s movement. This sound is so undeniably iconic, that it has to be the final entry on our list. Play this sound to anyone, regardless of age, and they’ll be able to tell you what game it’s from and the first time they ate pills in a dark room and chased ghosts as Pac-Man! Here’s to you, Pac-Man. Waka-waka in style.
What do you think is one of gaming’s easiest to recognize sounds?