Big Question: What video game sound effect can you still hear in your head?

Spare a thought for the audio designers on your favorite games. While everyone is praising the graphics and the writing and the guns, some poor person has spent three weeks composing the perfect “ting” noise for a menu without so much as a thank you. We’re here to change that, as the GamesRadar+ gang shares the sounds from their favorite games that are still echoing around their skulls. This is the latest in a series of big questions we’ll be interrogating our writers with, so share your answers and suggestions for topics with us on Twitter. (opens in new tab)   

The Witcher 3’s quest complete

“Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuur.” OK, so it turns out it’s impossible to capture the life-affirming majesty of the choir chant you get when you complete a quest in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (opens in new tab), so here it is as it was meant to be heard (opens in new tab). I spent hundreds of hours in the game, and somewhere along the way started singing along every time it played. Not long after that I was making a garbled “huuuuuuuuuuuuuuur” of achievement every time I made a cup of tea or closed the dishwasher. Or finished a sentence for an article HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUR, Rachel Weber

Skyrim’s Nirnroot

If any plant could launch a successful ASMR channel, it would be the Nirnroot. A rare form of flora native to the lands of Tamriel, Nirnroot is a valuable resource for alchemy in The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, but can only be found growing close to water sources and detected by the thrumming, hypnotic sound produced through the microvibration of its luminescent leaves. The noise is so mesmeric to the human ear that someone has literally set up 10 minutes of non-stop Nirnroot on YouTube (opens in new tab), but I’ll remember its distinctive sounds mostly because of the hours I spent tracking it down across the subterranean caverns that lie beneath Skyrim’s snowy peaks. I still have nightmares of trying to echolocate each Nirnroot’s faint hum as my companion Lydia decides it the perfect time for a monologue on the duties of being a Housecarl. Ugh. Alex Avard

Horizon Zero Dawn’s Aloy Focus 

zzzzzshhhOOP The sound of Aloy’s Focus going into scanning mode is seared into my mind for all eternity. Considering the Focus is used to spot enemies and tag them, as well as decipher holotapes and find nearby puzzles, it means that a good chunk of your time in Horizon Zero Dawn (opens in new tab) is spent looking out through its purple sphere. Which means you have to boot it up a ton too, so that electronic zshoop noise soon sounds as natural as birdsong to your ears and as unforgettable. Strangely enough, in a gamer edition of the Pavlovian response, over time it became associated in my brain with a weird sense of calm, as Aloy slows to a careful walk when the Focus is active and the camera slows too, letting you carefully look around and plan how you’re going to take on the nearby robots. I still find it oddly reassuring now. Zoe Delahunty-Light 

Pokemon’s Pokeball

Dum, dum, dee dee deeeeeee. It doesn’t matter how many Pokemon games come and go, the original Game Boy versions have carved a permanent mark in my eardrums for all time. Not only can I hear the thump of the Pokemon inside hitting the walls as the ball rolls from side to side in the closing moments of a successful catch, but it’s that cheerful chirp of a jingle that signals it’s your pocket monster forever that really seals the deal. Of course, it helps that basically every Pokemon game since has used this very sound, so it’s pretty hard to escape.  Sam Loveridge

PlayStation’s trophies

PlayStation’s beautiful trophy sound effect resonates for reasons both personal and professional. I was working on Official PlayStation Magazine when it first emerged just over a decade ago in Super Stardust HD, and we spent the next two years debating exactly how it should be written in the mag. Is it a simple ‘pling’? A Chandler ‘bing’? A years-before-its-time Claudio Ranieri ‘dilly ding’? What wasn’t in question was the satisfaction and sense of competitiveness it triggered across the office as we raced to rack up virtual pots – one of the team even spending their own cash on Hannah Montana: The Movie as it was known to be an easy platinum. As for home life, it’s a reminder of the pre-children era when I actually had time to play games twice over for ‘Plat’ purposes: weekends happily lost to Sleeping Dogs and Lego Harry Potter and Smackdown vs Raw. Truly, halcyon days. Also, it’s totally ‘pling’. Ben Wilson 

Team Fortress 2’s Engineer sentry

EETEET! The perky chirp of an Engineer’s sentry finding its target is something you’ll hear constantly in Team Fortress 2 (opens in new tab), and signals so much for such a brief sound effect. If you’re the Engineer who built it, or a fellow teammate taking cover in a well-defended sentry nest, you’re always happy to hear that distinct beep, as it’s likely some poor sod who invaded your territory is about to get fatally perforated. If you’re an opposing Spy or Demoman, that sound is your cue to go wreak some havoc with a string of Sappers or a salvo of Stickybombs. And any Medic knows that the beep of the sentry turret means it’s time to pop your UberCharge, making your lucky target immune to the rhythmic bombardment of bullets and rockets that’ll ring out in a matter of moments. Lucas Sullivan

Mass Effect’s angry Krogan

Oh nameless Krogan Commander, we know your pain. Despite leading a badass squad of robots on an alien world that’s infested with zombie plant monsters, he’s foiled by the most everyday of problems – computers not doing what you want them to. Try as he might to make it comply, the high-tech system he’s using plays infuriatingly dumb. Cue the infamous cry of “STUPID MACHINE (opens in new tab)”. Preach, brother. We know what that’s like only too well. As a result, this line pops into my head whenever something technological is playing silly beggars. Stupid machine indeed. Benjamin Abbott 

Mass Effect 3’s Reaper blast

Much like everyone has ‘their’ Batman actor or Bond film, Mass Effect 3 (opens in new tab) was, by chance, my Mass Effect. And with it came the Reapers. They just seemed too tough, awful, and powerful an enemy, but this was offset by them clearly having a fascination with brass instruments, and a penchant for keeping a strong horn section on hand at all times. That brassy boom became synonymous with my time in ME3 popping up consistently right from from the beginning of the game all the way to the end, constantly earmarking danger and even rudely interrupting video comms with Anderson throughout. Every time that boomy blast dropped it was always enough for me to shake in my seat, clutch at my chest and juggle my controller in my hands. I grew quite fond of it and even had it as my text message noise, but it wasn’t really conducive to keeping alerts to subtle notification noises… I also kept expecting, almost wanting, to hear it pop up occasionally in Andromeda which I played last year, and I was almost (almost) sad it didn’t. Rob Dwiar 

Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee’s purring

I love Pikachu as much as the next guy, but the partner Eevee in Pokemon: Let’s Go (opens in new tab) Eevee is quite simply the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s also the cutest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Before Pokemon Let’s Go, I never really thought about what kind of sound an Eevee might make if you were to pet it like a cat – presumably a jumbled mess of “Ee” or “Vee” syllables. I never anticipated an adorable array of purrs, coos, and growls. Those heart-melting little sound effects gave Eevee (and Pikachu, if you played the other game) a lot of personality and really sold the bond between the player and their partner Pokemon. I’d love to see similar sounds in Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, if only for the new starters. I wonder what Sobble sounds like? Austin Wood

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s cooking

Some people think it’s a chore, but I love cooking in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (opens in new tab). Foraging for ingredients, lighting a campfire, piling up the food stuffs in Link’s hands, tossing them into the pot… best of all is the sound effect that plays as Link steps back and watches it come together. The chops! The jingles! The sizzles! There are actually three variants to let you know how well your culinary experiment is going before you even see the end result. The trick is that all three start the same, and the suspense builds as you hope to hear that victorious marimba fanfare. Even if the end result is a heaping helping of Dubious Food (bottoms up Link, it’s still worth a heart or two), at least you got to enjoy the slapstick sound of smashing flatware. Connor Sheridan

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