TA Top Five: Sound Effects

By Michelle Balsan,
Many of us have that friend (or maybe you ARE that friend) who has some instantly-recognizable video game sound as their text messaging tone. The amazing thing about hearing that coin noise from Super Mario Bros or the dog's laughter from Duck Hunt isn't just the realization that you hang out with people who are exactly like you, but that you can instantaneously place the source. Sounds are a very important part of gaming, and this week's Top Five aims to point out some of the most iconic noises in the Microsoft landscape.

Just for clarification's sake, this list is being kept to sounds from video game series. While the charging up of a lightsaber and the "snikt!" of Wolverine's claws are certainly memorable, they belong, for the purposes of this list, primarily to other media.

Honorable Mentions

Static Crackling - Silent Hill HD Collection Achievements

If you've ever played Silent Hill then you might shudder at this inclusion, because you're already thinking of the evils that might be coming to get you. Throughout the series, the main protagonists have always been gifted some walkie-talkie or other type of radio device as well as a flashlight. While the flashlight makes obvious sense as it provides a personal lighting source, the radio is actually a very clever way to let you know danger is near.

Exclamation Point - Metal Gear Solid HD Collection Achievements

Speaking of ways to let you know danger is near, maybe no video game sound is a better indicator of that than the Exclamation Point noise from Metal Gear Solid (which, as it turns out, is another popular text messaging noise). When Snake gets himself into a bind and winds up spotted, the sound alone is enough to get your heart racing as you scurry behind a cabinet or into a cardboard box to evade being spotted. Chances are, if you're a fan of the series, you've had more than one occasion in your life where you swear you've actually heard the sound as you were caught doing something you shouldn't. Hopefully, you're answer to the problem wasn't to actually leap in a cardboard box.

Top 5

5. You Died - Dark Souls Achievements

Dark Souls is noted for quite a number of things, but primary among them is its difficulty. In other words, if you choose to play it, prepare to die... a lot. Of course, like any game where dying is a major part of it (such as N+ Achievements or Splosion Man Achievements), the act of dying is often accompanied by a sound that clearly lets you know you're going to need to take another turn. Dark Souls' "You Died" noise manages to have an ethereal quality that easily gives you the impression that... well, it's time to try again. Of course, after hundreds of times hearing it, it's likely to be followed by a deep sigh of resignation before plunging back in for the thousandth time.

4. Portal Guns - Portal: Still Alive Achievements

Throughout the entirety of gaming, the sound effects for weaponry are important. In fact, it would be easy to populate an entire Top Five of just weaponry sounds. These sound effects allow the player to instantly know what kind of weapon they need to prepare for, as there's quite a difference between the sound of a rifle and the sound of a machine gun. Among these noises, no gun's sound is more recognizable than that of the Portal Gun. Unlike other guns that may send you ducking for cover, the Portal Gun often represents a hopeful sensation as successful portal placement means escape is near. In addition to the gun noise, the noise of actually slipping through Portals is also one most gamers will immediately know.

3. Leap of Faith - Assassin's Creed Achievements

Ca-caw! Part of what made the original Assassin's Creed Achievements so memorable were those first times spent clamoring up the side of an ancient building so that you can reach the top and expose some more of the map. Once you did so, you received a beautiful panoramic of the city beneath. In addition to that, you have the ability to take a dive off of a leap of faith. Once you do that, you'll hear the sound of an eagle as you fall, only to somehow safely land on a hay cart below. In the odd event that you happen to jump at the wrong angle, the lack of eagle-noise, along with the different visuals, will let you know that the ride down won't end pleasantly.

2. Those Blasted Orbs - Crackdown Achievements
Agility Orbs

Those who have completed this game probably have one of two reactions as to this inclusion.

Reaction 1: "Man, that game was so much fun. The orbs were the last achievement I needed and that got a little tiresome, but what a great game."

Reaction 2: "I hated that game, and the WORST part... the very WORST PART were those orbs! I heard that sound in my sleep for months, and now I'm hearing it again! That was awful! This is awful! Arrrrrrrgh!"

OK, chances are most of you don't have that reaction, but the point is that the orb noise is a memorable one. They're great in that they instantly let you know if the collectibles are nearby, but infuriating in that, as you're nearing the end of collecting them all, you swear you hear them *everywhere*. Still, love it or hate it, it's definitely one of the more recognizable sounds you're likely to encounter.

1. The Achievement Noise - Microsoft Consoles

Is there any noise that means more to gamers here than the "bleep-bloop" (or whatever onomatopoeia you choose to represent the sound) of an achievement popping? The achievement sound is ingrained into gaming culture at this point, and it's with good reason. After all, there are few things more satisfying than seeing - and hearing - that long sought after achievement pop. Of course, there is the tiny issue of friend notifications making the same exact sound, but after all these years, we're used to it, right?

The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Michelle Balsan
Written by Michelle Balsan
Michelle is the Assistant Manager of the Newshounds at TrueAchievements and has been a member of staff since 2010. When not contributing to gaming websites, she makes her living as a mild-mannered librarian. She can be compelled to play just about anything if there's a co-op component, and has been playing games with friends and siblings since the Atari 2600. As it's reportedly healthy to have hobbies outside of gaming, she also roots for some of the most difficult sporting franchises to root for, the New York Mets and New York Jets, but offsets that by rooting for the New Jersey Devils. She's also seen pretty much none of the movies you have, but she's working on that.
Posts on this article have been added to a thread in the Editorials and Features Forum.
  • Posted on 07 September 14 at 13:48Permalink
    Love the list.

    Personally, I'll always love the "ka-CHUNK" sound of a new objective in the BioShock series.

    The "yahvis-dice" from Dishonored sound that happens when you activate the Dark Vision power is another personal favorite, but is more of a spoken phrase than a sound effect.
    TrueAchievements Editorial Manager | Twitter: @osubluejacket | "In Soviet Russia, game plays you!"
  • InfomoonInfomoon200,376
    Posted on 07 September 14 at 13:50Permalink
    That crunchy noise when you get a headshot in Gears of War is pretty damn satisfying.
    My artistic integrity is above your criticisms, and beyond your comprehension.
  • Corrupt XBACorrupt XBA1,714,392
    Posted on 07 September 14 at 13:50Permalink
    *awaits Hydro Thunder comment*
  • Removed Gamer

    Removed Gamer

    Posted on 07 September 14 at 13:54, Edited on 07 September 14 at 13:54 by Permalink
    The beautiful sound of the boat engines whirring away on Hydro Thunder Hurricane of course!

    I expected that to be #1!

    #2 could have even been the sound your Xbox makes when the Hydro Thunder Hurricane game starts up.
    Hydro Thunder Hurricane
  • Dr JaMiNDr JaMiN403,485
    Posted on 07 September 14 at 13:57, Edited on 07 September 14 at 13:58 by Dr JaMiNPermalink
    Good list, I would add the eating and drinking sounds from the Dead Rising games. Those games were just full of memorable noises all throughout.
  • MegsonGroveMegsonGrove432,059
    Posted on 07 September 14 at 13:58Permalink
    Can't beat the achievement pop!

    Also, that Dark Souls dying sound has haunted many of my dreams!
    @MegsonGrove///TA Newshound\\\Site Help Editor///
  • MomijiMomiji665,261
    Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:00Permalink
    The headshot ping in gow and waw is hella satisfying
  • Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:00Permalink
    I can relate to a good bunch of these! Great list :)

    I must have heard that Dark Souls noise about a thousand times...
    I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favourite website on the Citadel.
  • Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:02Permalink
    Deadspace (1/2/3) - The sound your navigational tool makes when active.
    Bioshock (1) - New objective sound.
    Borderlands (1) - Bloodwing swooping enemies.
    Halo (series) - Plasma grenade explosion / grunt noises.
    Minecraft - Blocks being mined.

    Just the ones that come to mind :3 gotta love that achievement popping sound though. It's my notification noise on my phone :3!
    I'm a man of many words; but just as many bullets.
  • toddycsttoddycst499,299
    Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:05Permalink
    The sound of nirnroot in Oblivion.
  • Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:14Permalink
    JHaletweets said:That crunchy noise when you get a headshot in Gears of War is pretty damn satisfying.Oh yes!! dance
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  • Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:25Permalink
    Oddworld X said:The beautiful sound of the boat engines whirring away on Hydro Thunder Hurricane of course!
    The Rubber Duck engine gets my vote laugh
  • Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:31Permalink
    Good list. I heard most in my head as I went through the list.

    The bleep-bloop can be dissapointing too when you realize it's just a friend coming on-line or another video clip being recorded.
  • Kiwi SoldierKiwi Soldier459,525
    Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:39Permalink
    When you headshot a grunt in Halo with that skull on and confetti pops everywhere.
    Loving that one
  • supkrissupkris589,686
    Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:40Permalink
    Love the number one.....Titanfall pilot kill click is also worth mentioning
  • Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:40Permalink
    toddycst said:The sound of nirnroot in Oblivion.Damn sound drove me nuts in both games lol
  • Camilo x3Camilo x3130,723
    Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:49Permalink
    I love the exclamation point sound lol, I have it in my Windows Phone as notification sound.
  • GuidalityGuidality445,683
    Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:52Permalink
    maybe because I'm playing the metro redux now, but the good moral point actions sound is pretty memorable. like a drippy faucet in an echo chamber or something, can't quite pin it
  • Thin SpiritsThin Spirits141,886
    Posted on 07 September 14 at 14:52Permalink
    I really enjoyed the Fable 1 "You've received a new quest card", to the point where I made it my text message notification
    Wise words come from the lips of understanding, but foolish words will be punished by the rod.
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