Video games aren’t just visual - they’re aural, too. Most video games are laden with sounds, from NPC chatter to background music to all the bells, beeps, and whistles that come with performing a task, shooting a gun, or simply interacting with your character. Many of these iconic sounds are so beloved that we carry them with us everywhere we go, in the form of cell phone ringtones and notifications.
Portal has been a favorite go-to game for ringtones and notifications since it was first released in 2007. Favored sounds for notifications include GLaDOS’s snarky commentary, the turrets’ chipper calls, and the sound of the portal gun. The game’s iconic end-credits theme song, “Still Alive”, is a classic as a ringtone.
Probably the most iconic of video games is Nintendo’s Super Mario franchise. Started in 1985, its soundtrack contains some of the most recognizable sounds and music in video game history. The sounds of Mario picking up coins or hitting bricks are popular notification sounds, while the end-level music or the generic zone music make for popular ringtones.
One of the most successful MMOs of all time, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has no lack of great sound bites that seem intended for the phone. From NPC chatter to the mrgrgrgrgls of wild Murlocs, WoW has a notification sound for everyone. And for those looking for ringtones, many of the zone tracks are tailor-made to let you know when you have a call.
While it can be a bit difficult to strip out the audio from Bungie’s console hit Destiny, it’s become a favored pastime for many fans. The various sound effects, such as the sound of an exotic drop, an engram decryption, or Ice Breaker’s iconic schwing, make awesome notification sounds, and the gorgeous soundtrack has many a song to choose from as a ringtone. (I, in fact, use the Swordbearer’s Song from Crota’s End as my ringtone).
While researching what kind of sounds and songs gamers looked for for their phones, one particular sound kept popping up over and over: Metal Gear’s Codec sound. Now, the I admit to having never played Metal Gear - but having listened to the Codec (several times), I can certainly understand the attraction. Another popular Metal Gear tone is the Alert sound.
It should be no surprise that a game currently spanning 14 incarnations (and several spin-off games as well) has a great many sounds available for notifications and ringtones. Whether it’s XIV’s Limit Break or the Chocobo riding song which debuted in II and has appeared in some form in every following game, the Final Fantasy series is certain to have what you’re looking for whether for a notification or a ringtone.
With nearly 720 Pokémon now released, there is a plethora of different sounds to be used for ringtones, and that isn’t even including other popular Pokémon sounds, such as the short music clip from the Pokécenter or the evolution tone. In addition to the numerous notification possibilities, the various zone musics, the battle musics, and the theme songs from each of the games make excellent ringtones.
No surprise that a science-fiction game set in space has quite a few sound bites and music tracks that seem created specifically to become phone notifications and ringtones. Particularly popular seem to be Jeff “Joker” Moreau and Kelly Chambers’ notifications that Shepard has an “incoming message”. Other popular sounds include the Reapers’ cries, gun sounds, and the sound of the Relays. In addition to the wealth of notifications available from the games, Mass Effect’s powerful soundtracks also offer up a plethora of beautiful and stirring ringtones.
While Sonic the Hedgehog does offer up several nice notification sounds, such as the ring pick-up and ring drop, it seems that this game is far more popular for ringtones - and oddly, one of the most popular ringtones is the music which plays while Sonic is drowning. Although many of the battle themes are also highly popular choices, which at least gives Sonic the option of staying dry.
Like Final Fantasy and Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda spans a number of games, which gives rise to countless sound bites just perfect for notification tones. Additionally, each of the Legend of Zelda games comes with a beautiful score whose tracks seem tailor-made for ringtones.
(Oddly, one of the more popular notification sounds from Zelda seems to be Navi’s iconic “Hey, listen!” - although I admit I’m not certain how many text messages I could get before I absolutely had to change it).
Okay, so, technically Star Trek and Star Wars aren’t exactly video game properties. Yes, there are many video games based off of these familiar shows, but most of the sounds that are used as ringtones and notifications come not from the video games, but from the episodes and movies themselves. It just seemed a shame not to mention them, as they remain an incredibly popular source of both notifications (communicator chirps, lightsabers cycling on, sound bites) and ringtones (soundtracks).
No video game can tell a story only in pictures. The soundtracks, the scores, the dialogue, and the sound effects all add to the experience. Just as gamers will often use screenshots or fan art made from their favorite games to adorn the backgrounds of their computers, tablets, and phones, so too do they use sound bites and scores to announce to the world that not only have they received a text message or a phone call, but also, that they are gamer. Hear them roar. And chirp. And beep…
This is a small list of the many available sounds and songs available to game enthusiasts to customize their phones.
If you can think of any games - or sounds - not listed here, please let me, and your fellow gamers, know in the comments below!