Beeps, Boops, and Battle Cries: The Most Recognizable Sounds in Gaming

October 13, 2023
3 mins read

When crafting a video game short, documentary, or even a casual YouTube gaming essay, integrating classic sound effects—whether in their original form or remixed—can significantly elevate your content. With so many iconic sounds from the rich history of gaming to choose from, it can be somewhat overwhelming to find the right ones. But don’t change the difficulty just yet, we’ve got you covered. Today, we’ll delve into eight iconic sounds and discuss the indelible mark they’ve left on the media landscape.

“Hadouken” – Ryu/Ken – Street Fighter Series

In the latter part of the ’80s transitioning into the ’90s, arcades became the hub for youngsters and teens, all vying for top scores and local bragging rights. The 1991 launch of Street Fighter 2 in the US turned arcades into hotspots; it was common to see a swarm of players gathered around every Street Fighter 2 machine.

The game introduced characters like Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, who not only ruled the gaming world but also expanded into merchandise, animated shows, and even a silver screen appearance with Jean Claude Van Damme and Kylie Minogue. Still, the game’s standout element remains its captivating music and sound effects, solidifying its position atop the arcade fighting genre.

“Get Over Here” – Scorpion – Mortal Kombat Series

In the early 90s, while Street Fighter was making headlines, another contender stepped onto the scene. Mortal Kombat, launched by Midway, introduced the gaming world to digitized characters, explicit bloodshed, and dramatic finishing moves known as fatalities. It wasn’t just about the battle in the arcades against Street Fighter 2; what stood out was how Mortal Kombat prompted the establishment of an M (Mature) rating by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board).

The first installment had a select group of characters, but among them, the ninja duo, Sub-Zero and Scorpion, stole the show. Scorpion’s evolution as a character is noteworthy in the series. Yet, his signature shout, “Get Over Here”, as he unleashes his kunai/chain, remains unchanged.

An interesting tidbit: Ed Boon, the creator, is the voice behind that iconic shout. And a point of contention for fans: the 2021 movie adaptation did not utilize the original voice nor did they re-record it, much to the disappointment of many.

“Finish Him/Her” – Mortal Kombat Series

We’re not quite done diving into Mortal Kombat. The iconic “Finish Him/Her” phrase embodies the game’s spirit, signaling the triumphant moment when a player can execute a chilling fatality against their rival. Arcades often amplified this dramatic call, not just to showcase the brutal moves but also to entice players to invest in mastering each character’s finishing moves.

This memorable line? Voiced by none other than the franchise’s prime antagonist, Shao Khan, brought to life by Steve Ritchie. Interestingly, Ritchie was in the vicinity, working on voiceovers for his pinball games. The MK crew recognized the potential in his voice for their sinister villain. Sometimes, being at the right spot at the right moment can lead to a legacy, impacting an entire generation with just a few words.

“Say-gaaaaaah” – Sega Mega Drive

Firing up a Sega Mega Drive game, you’re met with the sight of that iconic blue hedgehog, Sonic, zooming past, trailing the Sega logo, all while the memorable “Say-gaaaaaah” echoes from your CRT TV. A personal flashback: as a youngster in the early ’90s, I’d stealthily play Sonic the Hedgehog late at night. That unmistakable intro would blare, signaling my covert gaming to my mother, who’d promptly march in and disconnect the console.

Today, while Sega no longer dominates the console landscape, they remain active in game development. It’s somewhat poignant they’ve moved away from that iconic intro in contemporary games. Granted, brands evolve over time, but for many of us, that sound is a nostalgic nod to the heated Sega-Nintendo rivalry days.

Sonic Rings – Sonic The Hedgehog

Then came Sonic, the swift blue hedgehog that set new benchmarks and engaged Mario and Luigi in a heated contest during the legendary console wars between Nintendo and Sega.

Powered by the Mega Drive’s Yamaha YM2612 chip (affectionately dubbed OPN2), Sonic wasn’t just about catchy tunes or thwarting the nefarious Dr. Eggman (or Dr Robotnik, if you lean that way). The core gameplay entailed gathering rings and navigating each level’s challenges. The sheer satisfaction of that ring-collecting sound is matched only by the heart-dropping moment when you collide with an enemy, spilling all your gathered rings.

Fast forward to today, over thirty years on, and the sound of Sonic snagging those rings still stands as one of gaming’s most identifiable audio cues, rivaled closely by the unmistakable tones of Mario.

“Mario’s Coin Collection Sound” – Super Mario Series

Speaking of iconic game sounds, few can rival Mario’s signature jump and headbutt beneath a coin block. This sound is deeply ingrained in the memories of anyone who has either played a Mario title or observed someone else enjoying the franchise. Whether in the main platforming series or its various spin-offs, including sports and party games, this distinct coin-collecting tone truly stands as a testament to the power of a singular sound in shaping media.

The memorable sound design and music from the original “Super Mario Bros” on the NES were the genius work of Koji Kondo. The coin’s sound, reminiscent

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A Beginner’s Guide To Gain Staging

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Lewis McGregor

Lewis McGregor is a filmmaker, photographer and online content creator from Wales.