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