A few days ago I was walking past my sister and I heard blonking sounds. I didn’t have to look at the screen. I didn’t have to look at what console she was holding. I knew it was a Fire Emblem game. It’s the sound that most games in the new generation of Fire Emblem have when you choose an option.
This is wonderful sound design. It’s unique and you recognize it right away. Think of the trillion Mario sounds you can recognize. Or just think of the games of your childhood, very likely they have some unique sounds that you get right away. Think of any kind of collectible in those platform games: Sonic getting a ring, Mario getting a coin, Donkey Kong getting a banana bunch, or Hat Kid collecting a bauble or whatever that is in A Hat in Time.
Or maybe you can just get really detailed, like the sound design of Hunt: Showdown. Here’s a clip from Jackfrags on Youtube showcasing how distance effects sounds from afar.
You can hear the same kinds of details in games like Rainbow Six: Siege or Vermintide II where shots fired in different places like a room next door or several meters away. The muffling and echoes really are impressive in making the game feel immersive.
And sometimes it’s the completely unnecessary thing of adding charm. The little things: picking up an item in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the little click as you close the touch screen menu in Bravely Default. The weird bouncy sound of shooting the portal gun in Portal.
I don’t know. I always think about what would gaming be like if I lost an ability. Whether it be a finger or an entire arm. Or if I lost my sense of hearing. I think about these things probably more often than normal, but it helps me to be grateful for every single aspect of gaming. I love hearing every bit of a game. It’s rare I turn on music while I’m playing any game. The only exception is non-story grinding in RPGs or MMOs. Even then I’m probably playing with only the game sound and music. Otherwise I will always listen to the game again.
I’m not saying that you need to do that to “fully appreciate” the game. You do you. I just wanted to take some time to stop and, uhm, hear the roses. I don’t want to take things for granted, so I just wanted to give a shout out to all the fun and good sound design out there. Thanks for making our games fit the mood!
Thanks for reading! Any of the collecting sounds from the Donkey Kong Country series always get me. And of course, the sound of a unique dropping in Path of Exile isn’t too bad on the ears either. Hehe. What are your favorite iconic sounds from games? Or maybe just sounds?
Hope to see you again! Be safe!