10 most horrifying noises

From deafening digitised speech to ear-splitting bleeps, we provide a run-down of retro gaming’s 10 most horrifying noises…

Ah, the past. What a wonderful time for videogames of every kind. No patch updates, no online opponents to make you feel depressed about your lack of button-pressing prowess. Just a range of simple challenges, usually served up in convenient, bite-sized doses that you could either play for a couple of minutes or immerse yourself in for hours as you saw fit.

It wasn’t all about fancy graphics back then, either. And you could play an arcade machine all afternoon and still have enough money for the bus fare home. But if we can remove our rose-tinted glasses for a moment, it’s important to remember the drawbacks of those old games, too – which brings us onto the subject of this article: horrifying noises.

We’re talking about the sorts of sounds that either made us jump in fear, had us clutching our ears in agony, hammering buttons in a panic, or squinting at the screen with confusion. A gamut of emotions for a range of sounds, then, from nasty warbles to truly unpleasant digitised speech. In many instances, the games themselves are true classics, but the sounds we’ve picked out, for a variety of reasons, continue to haunt us to this day.

10. Screaming baby Mario – Yoshi’s Island (Super Nintendo)

9. The very first note in Wizball (Commodore 64)

8. Gargling – Fantasy World Dizzy (ZX Spectrum)

7. Drowning music – Sonic The Hedgehog (Mega Drive)

6. Sinistar’s roar – Sinistar (Arcade)

5. Eerily soulless scream – Impossible Mission (Commodore 64)

4. Almost every noise – JailBreak (Arcade)

3. Assorted screeches – Pac-Man (Atari 2600)

2. Evil space birds – Phoenix (arcade)

1. Shouting and laughter – Ghostbusters (ZX Spectrum)

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