Words: My three favourite sound effects in games

The ferry in FJORDS by Kyle Reimergartin

This is maybe my favourite sound effect ever in the history of games because it is just so expressively cheerful and optimistic and for me it sets the tone of FJORDS more than anything else about the game. The idea that the ferry bustles along making this little trumpeting sound perfectly communicates that the world is silly and strange, which it is.

In fact, the ferry sound has reached a kind of mythic status in our household of two, because I’m constantly trying to reproduce it apropos of nothing (or on request). My version is so far away from the original that every time we play FJORDS it’s almost jarring to re-hear what the ferry actually sounds like.

For pure soundness, this is the sound for you.

The gasp in Ute by Lea Schönfelder

When you’re having sex with some guy in Ute and another guy walks past and thus “catches” you at it, both guys make this little gasp of shock and hurt. The sound is so perfect in the way that it communicates their reactions – not of violent anger, say, or humiliation, but of this kind of sadness and heartbreak that they suffer. The gasp makes them sound pathetic and small, and I think that it allows you to feel sorry for them, even though you’re really feeling sorry for the way they see the little world they’re in. It’s a really well pitched piece of sound design that nails the message for me.

“I eat quarterbacks for breakfast!” in Super High Impact by Midway Games

I’d thought of the two previous sounds almost immediately for election to my “Game SFX Hall of Game” and then was thinking I needed another one, because threes. Then I heard quietly in the back of my mind, “I eat quarterbacks for breakfast!” Then louder, “I EAT QUARTERBACKS FOR BREAKFAST!!” And I had no idea what game it was from, only that it’s part of the sonic landscape of my psyche, so I had to look it up.

It’s from Super High Impact, a pretty old (1991) American Football game I used to play down at the arcade and that was really my earliest experience with football games in general. When you get a sack (or get sacked) the lineman dramatically delivers that line. I love it, it’s so over the top and hammy and makes getting sacks (or even being sacked) this kind of joyous, ridiculous experience.

1 August 2014
← next words previous words →