Posted June 12, 2015 by Mike Mineo in Features

The Most Iconic Sounds & Soundtracks in Gaming

Music and sound in video games has become as crucial and influential to the on-screen gaming experience you participate in as it has on the world of movies. Whilst the movie industry is enhanced greatly by the accompaniment of the right sounds and the right music games have also taken full advantage of the power of musical influence to help immerse a player into the action and to better boost levels of excitement, fear or to simply help those hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention.


One of the major factors that particularly helps keep us motivated whilst playing video and mobile-based games is the background music. Whether it’s an original score laid over all the right moments within a game or a purposely selected tune from a popular artist to help rouse a player there is an art in piecing together the best game soundtrack to help control the gameplay and the players experience. Even Royal Vegas slot games have great soundtracks so it can be imperative for a game to get the balance right. Kelly Bailey’s score on puzzle-platform Portal sticks firmly in the mind as does other sci-fi action hits such as Halo, Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda.


It’s amazing to think that sometimes you don’t need an entire piece of music just to be able to recognise which iconic game it came from, sometimes just a simple note or two incredibly resonates with a player so much that he or she is instantly transported back to their childhood and the many hours they spent playing it. Some fine examples include the memorable sound of Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog collecting rings, the light ding noise you receive collecting coins in Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros and the trio of pre-race beeps that you’re met with at the beginning of each Mario Kart race. Even arcade classics such as Pac-Man are filled to the brim with unforgettable short bites of sound effects bought to life by our hungry yellow friend chomping cherry’s, chasing ghosts and more.


Whilst many games rely on big grand scores to drive the action and to give everything more of an epic scale to the proceedings there are many games out there that have used sound effects and music to quite literally terrify players. The music used in horror game franchises such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill use much more understated yet unsettling choruses of sound and disconcerting sound effects to really get under your skin and filling you with dread to the point where you simply want to turn the whole thing off and hide under your duvet.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].