The most annoying sound effects in gaming history

It’s easy to forget the importance of sound in a gaming experience. Anyone can point to a title’s photorealistic graphics or its immersive story, but finely-honed audio is an under-appreciated art - and it's not about to get much more appreciation today! If you want some well-tuned audio that skillfully mixes realistic effects, subtle music and well-written dialogue, we don't know what to tell you. But if you've just been told that you have 24 hours before forever losing the use of your ears, turn up the speakers, read on, and prepare to feel great about life.

Wizards and Warriors

Above: The official Nintendo seal of quality didn’t cover sound effects 

What's that awful sound? That awful sound is the “Theme of the Hero who is About to Die,” and you will hear it every time your health drops below three bars. Remember how most NES games were what game scholars describe as “bastard hard”? Yeah, expect to get real familiar with these irritating notes.

How bad's it going to get? Pretty bad. This five-second, farty-sounding loop that someone decided to call “music” will haunt your half dead hero throughout the game.

Make it stop! Easy solution: collect one of those huge-ass legs of roast beef for a health boost. Large hunks of meat are like med kits in Ye Olden Days. Easier solution: embrace three more enemies and enjoy the blessed silence that comes with death. Easiest solution: play Castlevania II, instead.

Above: Suicide is one way to stop the horrible noise 



What's that awful sound? That's the sound of the Grim Reaper, the dread Angel of Death in all his dark majesty, devouring your very soul with his icy touch. Sounds kind of like a busted alarm clock, don't it?

Above: GamesRadar to Death: SHUT UP! 

How bad's it going to get? While none of the effects in Gauntlet are revered as masterworks of immersive sound design, you'll soon forget that you're hearing anything except that horrendous ringing noise. The constant cacophony of Death’s grinding theme is a relentless reminder that your time in the game (and real life) is running out.

Above: A sound effects disaster about to happen 

Make it stop! You need to get as far as you can from that horrible black-clad little bastard and never look back. You can't shoot him, you can't defeat him in hand-to-hand combat, and as soon as you use one of your precious potions on him, another one will most likely show up. You may not have realized this before playing Gauntlet, but Death is kind of a dick.

Altered Beast

What's that awful sound? It's the Demon God Neff, chiding you with your inevitable destruction at his cold, dead hand. Little-known fact: for the Genesis version of Altered Beast, the voice for the Demon God Neff was provided by the lady from the “Where's the beef?” commercials. Can't prove a negative!

Above: Demon God Neff (right). A wolf man (left) 

Above: What we think of every time we hear Demon God Neff says “Welcome to your doom!”

How bad's it going to get? You can transform into a wolf, a bear, a tiger, a dragon, or any manner of fancy-pants animal with slightly varied hitting abilities, but the Demon God Neff is going to just keep on welcoming you to your doom, and he's never going to sound any less like one of the Golden Girls.

Make it stop! Unfortunately, as everyone who bought a first-model Genesis got a free copy, Altered Beast commands a nostalgic appeal far in excess of objective quality. “Just Say No” may not be an option, so play Altered Beast every day until you are the best Altered Beast player the world has ever seen. Then defeat the Demon God Neff until he has no chance of welcoming you anywhere.

Above: More old ladies from the 1980s that remind us of Demon God Neff 

Above: A thuggish remix of the sound we love to hate




  • jordanwhite - September 4, 2010 5:27 p.m.

    At the end of any online shooter you just lost, the voice that tell's you that you lost just in case the big red DEFEATED and failure music didn't alert you to the fact.
  • PocketRocket - August 20, 2010 2:50 a.m.

    Hey there! Staraptor is actually my favorite pokemon! But... my Hobo does have one high pitched wail, I'll give you that :\
  • Thequestion 121 - August 19, 2010 5:01 p.m.

    Those were annoying lol
  • firewolf - June 12, 2010 10:04 p.m.

    the little freaking blue bug from Ocarina of Time drove me CRAZY! why isn't it on here?
  • shopping88 - June 8, 2010 1:37 p.m.

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  • lymanzaar - June 6, 2010 6:19 p.m.

    All good choices. I would have added the Bottle Sound from the first Sly Cooper.
  • EffinChrys - June 6, 2010 12:50 a.m.

  • secretsearcher - June 5, 2010 10:01 p.m.

    I agree with the about fifteen other people who have questioned why the following sound wasn't in the list: HEY! LISTEN! HEY! LISTEN! HEY! LISTEN! HEY! LISTEN! HEY! LISTEN! STFU!!!!!
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - June 5, 2010 11:19 a.m.

    i find the metroid power up sound likable
  • shyfonzie - June 5, 2010 12:58 a.m.

    The fucking gauntlet made me rip my ear buds out. Jesus!
  • eprahsnada - June 4, 2010 8:21 a.m.

    I know another bloody sound effect that used to drive me mad!!! The original sound of a pokemon with low health on red blue and yellow. that used to stick in my head for months after playing and i can STILL HEAR IT NOW!!!!
  • hist - June 3, 2010 9:39 p.m.

    Has to be the "Welcome to the Circus of Valuuuuuues!" from Bioshock. It's become a running joke in my house.
  • AggressiveMold - June 3, 2010 8:47 p.m.

    I think the Hidden Orbs from Crackdown should be there instead of the Metroid powerups.
  • Catalyst - June 3, 2010 8:35 p.m.

    @SgtSlushy and Willstron: Stupid Fairies.
  • Conman93 - June 3, 2010 6:15 p.m.

    LTTP one also put a lot of pressure when I heard it
  • AlmightyFuzz - June 3, 2010 5:25 p.m.

    I can't control the sounds either, they all play at once! Plus they are all replaced with slide bars!?! I'm using Chrome to view the page.
  • humpiedumpie - June 3, 2010 4:57 p.m.

    Great article but i miss Navi over here! HEY LISTEN WHATS UP?
  • MetalDooley - June 3, 2010 4:05 p.m.

    @Samael Fully agree mate.I've never understood all the hate for Navi.The way people complain you'd swear she was saying it non stop for the entirety of the game when it reality she doesn't actually say it that often The low on energy noise from the Zelda games has always been more annoying

Showing 1-20 of 76 comments

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