What's that awful sound? It's actually not always an awful sound. In fact, it's one of the most welcome sounds on the Xbox: the tone that plays when you unlock an Achievement! Many folks devote many hours to making this sound happen, unaware of the fact that they could hear the exact same sound any time one of their friends logs onto Xbox Live - because that's not annoying at all.
How bad's it going to get? It's going to be the same welcome chime, every single time you unlock Achievement points. But nothing ruins a dramatic moment in a movie you’re watching or a game you’re playing like the annoying bloop that plays every single time _-+*SuAvE_HaLo*+-_ signs on to challenge you to a round of capture the flag.
Make it stop! You're going to have to make a choice: Achievements or friends. Oh, come on, like this is the first time you've ever had to pick.
What's that awful sound? It's baby Mario! He's fallen off Yoshi's back, and he's wailing because he's afraid evil turtles are going to spirit him away and he'll never grow into a Charles Martinet-sounding imp of a man! Sure, irritation is a deceptively motivating gameplay tool, but there's “mildly annoying,” and then there's “making you want to kill babies.”
Above: The sound that makes us want to kill baby Marios
How bad's it going to get? The whining is going to increase in intensity and frequency until you rescue baby Mario, or you can be a horrible parent and just run away. Out of sight, out of mind!
Make it stop! Easily done, chum! All you have to do is get all the way through Yoshi's Island without ever letting anything bad happen to baby Mario. By which time, you'll be rarin' to move on to Yoshi's Island DS, in which there are five babies instead of one, each with a uniquely soul-rattling bawl. Hoorah.
What's that awful sound? That's the alarm in the Al-Bhed city of Home. The Al-Bhed are a race that nobody trusts because they're always weaving arcane magic with their machining skills: anyone else would just put up a bell and be done with it. But the Al-Bhed are so clever that they have a vocal loudspeaker repeating what sounds for all the world like, “An annoying part! An annoying part! An annoying part!” Imagine that for the entire duration of the level.
Above: You’re right Rikku. This is definitely “an annoying part!”
How bad's it going to get? By this point in the game, the Al-Bhed are supposed to be sympathetic characters. The main effect of this hellish ordeal, though, is to convince you that they're the single most horrible bunch of people in any Final Fantasy game.
Make it stop! The alarm starts deep within Home, so all you need to do is make your way out and see what all the bother is, right? Well, you could take a five-minute jaunt topside and have that alarm turned off. But wouldn't you much rather stretch that out to half an hour with random encounters?
What's that awful sound? It’s Link’s quickening heartbeat as he ventures onward with little health.
Above: Don’t just feel the pain. Hear the pain
How bad's it going to get? This is one of the worst offenders precisely because it never seems so bad. It's not grating, high-pitched or atonal; it's a fine little effect that just happens to be playing very, very often. It's not until you finally smash open some clay pots and snatch up the hearts within, granting blissful relief, that you realize just how far under your skin the damn thing has gotten.
Above: Half a saga later, the damn chime is taking its toll
Make it Stop! Easy, just eat a heart, or a fairy, or whatever. The frustrating thing about this noise is that it's punishing you for conservative play: maybe you don't want to gulp down that potion as soon as your health gets low. But no, Link to the Past is going to keep on nagging until you patch up your trifling wounds.