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Inventory: Oof!

Oof!: 13 great grunters in video games

Who needs words?

By Anthony John Agnello, Matt Gerardi, Steve Heisler, Matt Kodner, Derrick Sanskrit, Ryan Smith, and John Teti • March 14, 2013

1. Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (2013)

Don’t take grunts for granted. Those vocal punctuations of exertion, pain, or exasperation are hard work for video game voice actors—the aptly named “grunt sessions” are murder on a performer’s vocal cords. But at least they have the solace of knowing that their work matters. No game proved that more than the Tomb Raider reboot, which caused a stir at the E3 trade show in 2011 when developers showed off a 10-minute sequence that was awash with Lara Croft’s utterances of “Unh!” and “Oof!”—perhaps setting a record for grunts per minute in an E3 demo. The psychosexual vibes were hard to ignore. (In fairness, it’s tough for an actor to make sustained, repetitive grunting NOT sound sexual.) And combined with the images on screen of Lara being impaled, battered, and grabbed around the ankles by a growling assailant, Tomb Raider came off partly as an exercise in torture porn. The same sequence was largely unchanged in the final product—it opens the game—but from there on, Lara’s vocal suffering isn’t so gratuitous. A little grunting goes a long way.

2. Link, The Legend Of Zelda series (1986-2011)

Shigeru Miyamoto, the lead creator on the Zelda games, believes that when game heroes speak, it becomes harder for the player to project themselves into their on- screen avatar. So with the exception of cartoons (and a few weird spin-off games produced by Philips in the CD-ROM era), the taciturn hero of the Zelda games has a voice defined almost entirely by grunts. Link has been grunting since the original Legend Of Zelda, in which any injury caused him to let out a little digitized whelp that sounded like he was choking on a glass of milk. It wasn’t until Ocarina Of Time in 1998 that Link produced the exuberant shouts like “Hup!” and “Hyaa!” for which he’s now known. Because Ocarina straddled two different periods of Link’s life, Nintendo had to hire two separate voice actors to render his grunts: Nobuyuki Hiyama for adult Link and, following the common animation practice of female actors voicing children, Fujiko Takimoto for young Link.

3. Every losing fighter, Street Fighter II series (1991-1994)

Within the realm of early video game voice samples, none have seeped into popular culture quite like the utterances of Street Fighter II’s world warriors. Ryu’s battle cries might be the most famous, but each combatant has a suite of grunts and squawks that would put the Wimbledon roster to shame. Of particular interest here are the grunts let out by fighters in their moment of defeat. These over-the-top yawps are made infinitely better by the echo effect Capcom decided to add, simply because it sounded cool. Some cries, like Blanka’s feral wail or Vega’s caterwaul, cross over into scream territory, but lose a fight with Ryu or Dhalsim and you’re treated to one of the most iconic digitized grunts around. The two warriors share a distinctive “OOHUUH” that has remained a series favorite and even weaseled its way onto one of the most revered hip hop albums of the 2000s.

4. Kratos, God Of War series (2005-2013)

The God Of War series of games takes place in ancient Greece, but if it were any earlier, Kratos would be the king of all cavemen. He looks and sounds like one: He’s buff like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Mr. Universe days, and he has a propensity for beating down anyone who stands in his way without speaking a word. There is a lot of primal grunting, though, as he swings his chain blades—permanently grafted to his arms—at demonic hellspawn. “Guh” goes the wrist-flick; “gaaaaaaaah” goes the over-the-shoulder blade slam. Even “Ares!”—the call to the god he’s trying to destroy—comes off sounding something like a broken vuvuzela. Kratos’ grief over losing his family has turned his once-beating heart into a lump of coal and redirected the blood that would go toward speech into other, more punch-y motor functions.

5. Brick, Borderlands (2009)

The “berserker” is a common archetype in role-playing games, often referring to a character who wields two weapons, one in each hand—all fight and zero caution. Brick, the meat-headed Berzerker from Borderlands, embodies the old Norse sense of the word, when warriors were legendary for fighting in an unthinking, trance-like fury. This is especially true when Brick activates his “Berzerk” action skill, launching himself into a brief punch-happy rage punctuated with a nonstop stream of maniacal laughs and guttural grunts. Gearbox toned down the orgasmic sounds of his counterpart, Salvador, in Borderlands 2, who much prefers humming/grunting the melody of Hall Of The Mountain Kingwhile he shoots stuff.

6. Orc peons, Warcraft II (1995)

The sound of pure submission is not a pleasant one, but that sound is inevitable in Warcraft II (and to a lesser extent in its precursor), as you monitor the military strategy of a tiny town, directing units to move or attack as the situation demands. The brunt of the dirty work is given to the gruntiest of characters. “Peons” on both sides of the battle, humans and orcs, mine resources and do all the building. And while the human peasants speak with a broken Cockney accent, the orcish equivalents don’t speak at all. They attempt to communicate with inquisitive grunts and nonsensical affirmative noises that, over time, become almost quotable, as the inflection never changes. Familiarity breeds affinity, and because there’s that extra mental step of trying to understand what the orc peons are grunting at you, it’s tough not to feel bad for them as you assign them endless scutwork.

7. Chell, Portal (2007)

Players formed a deep personal connection with Chell, the resourceful lab rat forced to endure the sadistic puzzles (“tests”) of a psychotic artificial intelligence with little to no explanation as to who she was or why she was there. Chell was something of a blank slate, a canvas onto which players could easily paint themselves, and a big part of that was her refusal to talk back to the distorted computer voice that tormented her. Oh, Chell’s vocal cords worked just fine. She would let out satisfyingly sympathetic yelps and groans when under physical duress—dropping from particularly daunting heights, getting grazed by gunfire, or getting in the way of a falling Weighted Companion Cube. She never asked for any of this, and Chell’s mewls and grunts echoed our own as we felt her pain trying to get her to safety. Chell’s grunts are absent in Portal 2, though it should be noted our hero suffered severe brain damage between the two titles, and her short-circuited nervous system causes her to jump when she attempts to say the word “apple.”

8. Agent Francis York Morgan, Deadly Premonition (2010)

Pushing and tugging boxes is hard work. Shooting horrific shadow demons as they lurch forth to kill you is harder work. Only one of these actions produces a “HUNNGHHH” from Deadly Premonition’s Agent Francis York Morgan, however, and it’s not the shooting. There are a couple of instances in this weird cult-hit horror game that require Morgan to move a box no more than a foot or two, and yet, from the way Agent Morgan voices his guttural discomfort, you’d think he were being devoured by his spooky pursuers. Thankfully, there are scant few sidequests involving sokoban-style crate pushing. Rearranging a convenience store’s stock room does make an oddly enjoyable diversion to your high-stress FBI job, though, grunts and all.

9. Everyone, Gauntlet (1985)

Modern games like Dark Souls may be difficult, but no video games were more cruel than those of the arcade era, designed to separate adventuresome button-clickers from their quarters. Atari’s Gauntlet is the poster child for classic arcade churlishness. The little warriors you steer around those blocky dungeons are losing health as soon as you press start, and they lose even more as swarms of club-wielding goblins swarm them. They “NEED FOOD BADLY!” to restore their stamina, which brings us to the game’s startlingly orgasmic exhalations. Let a ghost touch your elf in Gauntlet and the little masochist lets out a throaty “Hng!” That pales in comparison to when they actually pick up some food, though. The tremulous “Haaaaaaaah!” these characters let out would make Meg Ryan blush during her most attention-seeking meal at Katz’s Deli. Somehow, the pleasure in all these guttural noises makes Gauntlet’s unfairness easier to swallow.

10. Centurions, Altered Beast (1988)

Sega’s Altered Beast has a fantastic ending. The story’s pretty simple. Zeus brings two guys in Richard Simmons workout clothes back from the dead and tasks them with descending into the underworld to save a lady from a bald guy. They get the job done by punching white wolves in the face and eating their hearts to turn into bipedal wolves, tigers, bears, and dragons. Once the heroes have saved the day, rather than a token victory screen and some credits, all the characters reveal themselves to just be actors in costume, stripping off their blob and demon masks to have a post-show kegger backstage. That means that the whole time all the silly exaggerated “oofs!” and “args!” these two let out weren’t from exertion but overacting! That’s what it sounds like when an underpaid actor does his impression of a wolfman getting hit with a devil head. Sega had some memorable digital voice work in those late-’80s arcade games, but Altered Beast is the king of them.

11. Dracula and Alucard, Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night (1997)

The vampire family tree in Konami’s Castlevania games is full of snappy dressers. Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night shows Dracula and his mopey son Alucard to be deeply stylish in an Adam Ant kind of way. Style, grace, and eternal elegance is a natural part of the vampire lifestyle. But where does grunting fit into that? If Drac and his boy Alucard are immortal and have superhuman strength, does that mean all their grunting and groaning in fights is purely for show? Dracula’s bad enough—he lets out a loud “HA!” every time he tosses a fireball at some unsuspecting vampire hunter—but Alucard is ridiculous. Nearly every single jump and sword swing is accompanied by a terse, “HUT!” He may play it all demure in conversation, but Alucard is a showoff at heart. We get it. You’re tough. Stop it.

12. Diddy Kong, Donkey Kong Country (1994)

Rare’s Donkey Kong Country goes far beyond the original Donkey Kong arcade games in defining Donkey’s world. The Super Nintendo classic gives him an island home, a whole bunch of friends, and some funny enemies in the pirate lizard Kremlings. It’s a testament to Rare’s sound design that all of Donkey Kong Country’s characters and enemies are so memorably vocal, considering none of them speak. They grunt and squeak and snarl at one another, and each one has a very specific personality. The best of them is Donkey Kong’s sidekick Diddy Kong, whose little yelps and ooks perfectly match the image of a little ape in a T-shirt and cap. He’s as well defined through those tiny noises as Donkey Kong was in the broad visual strokes of the old arcade machine.

13. Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid series (1998-2008)
SolidSnake

Solid Snake is a guy’s guy—a cigarette-smoking, ass-kicking super spy who tops off his uber-manliness with a voice like a gruff, gravely Clint Eastwood in his later years. Voiced by David Hayter, Snake speaks each word as if it takes a supreme amount of effort. It’s often the case that Snake doesn’t speak at all, opting instead for a series of grunts that have different meanings. There’s the “This is very physically taxing” grunt, the “I’m very frustrated right now” grunt, and one distinctive utterance that comes up often during Snake’s interminable conversations with Metal Gear Solid’s supporting cast: the “I’ve just pondered some sweeping philosophical statement on the horrors of war/technology/life and realized there is no satisfying conclusion to take from it” grunt.

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175 Responses to “Oof!: 13 great grunters in video games”

  1. PugsMalone says:

    snort snort

  2. No hentai? Also no sex scene mention for Kratos?

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Is there a term for that sexualized, clipped yip-like sigh so ubiquitous in Japanese female voice roles that expresses worry, reluctance, unpleasant surprise, concern, confusion, ambivalence, an approaching robot -but not one large enough to merit a scream, smaller than expected meal portion sizes or both crushes appearing in the main school courtyard at the same time?
         I’d call it the anti-grunt.

      • George_Liquor says:

        Are you talking about the half-exhaled, half-inhaled protagonist’s gasp, usually elicited as a response to shocking expository dialog revealed by the Big Bad about 30-35 minutes into a JRPG cutscene? What I call the dot dot dot bang?

      • The Guilty Party says:

        The monster called gamera is destroying the city! Oh!

      • caspiancomic says:

         I’ve always wondered about that sound in anime. The only time I’ve ever heard a real human being make anything close to that noise is upon being stung by a bee.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        It’s an unsettling sound for sure. If I heard that exact yelp from my sexual partner, I’d probably stop to see if there are thumb tacks in my bed or something.

        …They just sound kind of rapey to me, which isn’t exactly hot in the traditional sense.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          They also tend to sound really, um… prepubescent.

        • GaryX says:

          @Douchetoevsky:disqus Which IS hot in–no, sorry, can’t do it.

        • Chum Joely says:

          OK can someone post an appropriate video link so I can get an idea of what this concretely sounds like? I haven’t watched anime in a long time (although I used to watch Project A-ko among others, and I somehow suspect it must have been in there).

          This is totally NOT for masturbating, by the way. Swear to God.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          “Appropriate”?
          No, sorry.

  3. George_Liquor says:

    For your consideration, I humbly submit the DOOM Guy. He lets loose with a half-growled panting noise each time he takes damage that ultimately culminate in several unique, blood-curdling death shrieks. He seems to inhabit a moon base filled with futuristic grunt-activated doors too, as that’s the noise he makes every time he tries to operate one. Locating secret doors in DOOM often involve sliding along a level’s walls while rapidly pressing the ‘use’ key and eliciting a rapid-fire “Ugh!Ugh!Ugh!Ugh!Ugh!Ugh!Ugh!” from our protagonist.

  4. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    I was actually in the Altered Beast movie.  It was directed by Roger Corman working off of a script written, but ultimately abandoned by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
       To save money, we were filming in Italy using resources left over from the old sixties Hercules movies.  That temple in the intro was the same one used as Circe’s palace in Hercules vs. The Witch Woman and Zeus was played by some random kid who was hanging around the set, for maybe a lire, maybe two.
       Overall it was a positive experience, but we were walking from left to right for so long we accidentally crossed the border into Slovenia.
       It was right when they were pushing for constitutional reform and through a convoluted set of circumstances, I was elected to a parliamentary position that kept me in the country for twelve years.
       My entire tenure I kept the dragon-man head on my desk to remind me of that shoot.  I think I got it on with, like, fifty of those unicorn warriors.  That set was just a Bacchanalian freak-out. 

    • George_Liquor says:

      You were in a Corman film?

      That… is… AWESOME!!

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

        can’t tell if serious or if you are appreciating the humor on a deeper level than me.

        • George_Liquor says:

          I assure you, I’m being 100% sincere. My prized possession is a framed one-sheet of Toxic Avenger 4 autographed by Lloyd Kaufman himself, who by the way is a hell of a nice guy.

          Roger Corman is not a particularly good filmmaker, but he has a passion for the art that I think is unmatched in Hollywood today. The man is damn near 90 years old and he’s still in the trenches, supporting independent filmmakers and spotting future talent. 

        • Girard says:

          It almost seems a shame to burst his bubble…he’s just so damn happy

        • George_Liquor says:

           Burst my…?

          Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

          Shit.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          It’s Coleman Francis or bust.
          “Flag on the moon. How did it get there?”

        • Chum Joely says:

          @George_Liquor:disqus Ladies and gentlemen, the sound of a bubble bursting.

          Coincidentally this will also be the subject of next week’s Inventory.

        • Chalkdust says:

          @ChumJoely:disqus All the best bursting bubbles, from Bubble Bobble to Puzzle Bobble.

    • To save anybody else the trouble of a dissapointing Google search, Hercules vs. The Witch Woman, is sadly not a real movie.

      But this article comes up fifth when you Google it.  You have such great SEO skills Spacemonkey.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        I was looking at the Wikipedia list of Italian Hercules movies when “researching” this smart-ass post.
           There are a lot of awesome titles, much better than the one I fabricated, but none had broadly recognizable villain names.
          
           Hmn.  Seeing this post written out makes me think maybe I should start a writing journal instead of polluting this site with my dubiously elaborate concoctions. 

    • beema says:

      That’s a pretty crazy cool story. Being in a Corman film is equal parts amazing and underwhelming, since he puts out like 50 billion projects a year or whatever. But he’s still a major part of Hollywood. But also, you were part of the Slovenian parliament? Wow

    • Effigy_Power says:

      If half the movies Jodorowsky or Moebius have abandoned had been made, we’d have a lot more movies.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        I want to see Moebius’s Aladdin Sane-era Bowie hermaphroditic Feyd-Rautha with the dildo-hilt long sword on the big screen more than a great many things.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          Maybe if the estate of Salvador Dali gives back the money… but he probably spent all that on his fucking ozelot.

  5. rvb1023 says:

    Solid Snake is the king of grunts. Half of his dialogue is grunting.

    The fanboy in me wanted Samus up there too, maybe because the only VA in Metroid Prime up until the 3rd game was the occasional grunt or scream from Samus.

    • Thats_Unpossible says:

      I went through a long list of Snake Grunts while waiting for him to appear on this list.

      “Geh.” (In reference to a new enemy)
      “Geyh” (In reference to something Raiden is doing)
      “Huht” (Being shot repeatedly in the torso because I’m terrible at Metal Gear Solid)

    • zerocrates says:

      Snake himself can’t hold a candle to the repeated “uh” grunts the hapless MGS guards make when being unceremoniously choked.

  6. KidvanDanzig says:

    I’ll take Streets of Rage 2 for 1000, Alex

  7. dimsmellofmoose says:

    The Butcher from the original Diablo.

    No grunts even come close.

  8. reckoner says:

    I’ll be that guy and point out that it was Naked Snake (the future Big Boss) who slept with double agents and feasted on pythons, not Solid Snake. *throws garbage at self* Good list!

  9. “I’d like some poundcake!”

  10. tiwane says:

    No Nathan Drake?  Even Nicholson Baker called him an “inspired grunter” in his New Yorker piece.  Makes me believe all his incredible climbing moves.

  11. PaganPoet says:

    Is anyone else going to talk about how homoerotic Altered Beast is, or are you all gonna leave it to me?

    • Enkidum says:

      Yeah, there you go bringing the gay into the perfectly manly and hetero hobby that is video gaming again! What is less gay than two guys in short shorts and nothing else who spend all their time together?

      • Girard says:

        And the game borrows thematically from the rich, thoroughly heterosexual, tradition of ancient Greek culture!

        • Effigy_Power says:

          Ha, yeah… apparently if the protagonist is manly enough, people are less bothered.
          To quote American Dad:

          “Turns out god loves the gays, but only if you’re a top.”

      • PaganPoet says:

        They’re more like wrestling singlets that become short shorts the more buff you get.

    • George_Liquor says:

      Hey, they’re just a couple of weightlifting hetero life-partners who turn into furries. What’s wrong with that?

      • Enkidum says:

        To be fair, there’s nothing particularly gay about furries. (Which my computer just auto-edited to “curries” – even more true.)

        Anyways, curries/furries/whatever, not gay, just weird.

        Furries are weird, not curries.

        And there’s nothing wrong with being weird.

        And there’s most definitely nothing wrong with curry.

        • Raging Bear says:

          Curries can be pretty hot, and make you all sweaty.

        • According to the manual for the SNES port of Street Fighter II, the reason that Dhalsim breathes fire is because of all the curry he eats.

        • PaganPoet says:

          I dunno, I had a vindaloo once which was much spicier than I expected. There was definitely something wrong with that curry.

        • PaganPoet, I hope you had some lager with you. It’s the only thing that can kill a vindaloo.

        • Enkidum says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus Actually I had a vindaloo three days ago which was barely spicy at all. And about 6 other curries that were all mediocre. I WAS DISAPPOINT.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          We require Merve’s expert opinion on this.

        • The_Quirk says:

           My family, including me sainted Grandmother, were eating at a HOOOT Indian restaurant one time; everyone but Grandma was sweating and crying.  As Dad explained to me later, people’s taste-buds die off as they get older.

          Which explains why Grandma’s chili all but glowed in the dark, towards the end.

        • Survey sez male furries are about 1/3 gay, 1/3 bi, 1/3 straight, which is significantly gayer than the population at large. Nobody really knows why.

          • ChicaneryTheYounger says:

            Online fandoms tend to skew higher, especially once you factor in a fandom as accepting as furries.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      The homo- part, certainly. I think we might all have our reservations about applying the erotic part.

      • PaganPoet says:

        It’s just amusing that when your character gets a powerup, he not only gets more muscular, but his clothes rip a little more to show off his glorious man-pecs. That is, of course, until he turns into a naked bear. Even Zangief has the modesty to wear a speedo.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          Oh no, it’s a beautiful thing, and a prime example of the deeply sublimated sexual confusion of the eighties.
             I’m just saying, wherever one falls on the Kinsey scale, I hope they’re not rubbing one out to Altered Beast late at night with the curtains drawn.

        • Girard says:

          @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus : I keep the curtains WIDE OPEN, thank you very much.

        •  You’d prefer that the curtains were open?

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus 
             “Momma, what’s that man doing?”
             “Avert your eyes, child!  That’s Altered Beast. It has not aged well.”

        • Enkidum says:

          There’s nothing gay about naked bears…

        • Effigy_Power says:

          All this gay focus… I wish computer games would include more lesbians… maybe as set-pieces or in the background.
          ^_^

        • Chum Joely says:

          @Effigy_Power:disqus I think that’s an idea that a lot of male gamers can get behind as well.

          And have gay anal sex with.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          This is how we beat sexism and homophobia, @ChumJoely:disqus. We are the bringers of peace!

    • The_Misanthrope says:

      It also borrows a bit from the “furry” scene.

  12. Merve says:

    If you really want to hear grunting, pit Maria Sharapova and Monica Seles against each other in Top Spin 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=SiPIJj2a5Xg#t=15s

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

      I got to about 2 minutes in before conceding that a little digital Günter Parche probably wasn’t going to pop up to make things a little more interesting.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Stop going through the things under my bed, @Merve2:disqus.

  13. The Guilty Party says:

    Having played most of the way through the new Tomb Raider now, I can say that it’s actually pretty fun. I could really, really do without the graphic death scenes, but aside from that goddamned river bit, I’ve done pretty well.

    I don’t really notice the grunting. What I notice is the lack of a constant stream of profanity when I’m running through some collapsing, burning, crashing everything and getting shot at. Pretty sure I’d be like Joker in ME2 when everyone is kidnapped and he’s lurching along, chanting ‘shit… shit…. shitshitshit’.

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

      “Joker, what a tool he was! Now I have to spend all day computing pi because he plugged in the Overlord.”

      My favorite ME2 moment right there.

      And then it was almost topped straight away with EDI quipping “I enjoy the sight of humans on their knees.”

    • PaganPoet says:

      “What the shit?!”

    • Effigy_Power says:

      It seems to have a very LaBeufian quality to it.
      “shitshitshitshitshit gogogogogogogogogogo runrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrun!”
      Where’s his Oscar?

  14. The Guilty Party says:

    Does anyone remember this game, it was kind of like Loderunner (okay, almost exactly like Loderunner… maybe it was Loderunner, I dunno) and it was on the mac back in the 90s and you had a little stick figure dude who ran around the screen and you tried to jump to ledges and solve puzzles and whatnot? Because that little guy, every time you jumped, and you had to jump constantly, said ‘jump’ in this kind of amusingly flat tone of voice. So listening to someone play, it’d be a weirdly musical series of ‘jump … jump … jumpjump… jump… jumpjumpjumpjump fuck’

  15. I feel like #1 should go to Wind Waker Link. Though for some reason I think Wario’s grunts are pretty funny. 

  16. caspiancomic says:

    I’ve always wondered about what I now know are called grunt sessions. I know a lot of modern games attempt to give each character a fairly substantial library of guttural moans to keep repetition from setting in, but whenever I hear a particularly actorly grunt I always wonder about the chap in the recording booth making sounds like somebody’s been stepping on his foot all day. Work’s work, I guess.

    Also, I find it especially strange when a game’s protagonist has no spoken dialogue, but is an accomplished grunter all the same. The Kid from Bastion is a favourite of mine in this category. The heroes from Suikodens IV and V are a uniquely bizarre subset of this trope: at the beginning of the game you choose between two “voices” for the character, but the voices amount to no more than visceral throaty grunts played exclusively in combat. Konami actually saw fit to employ two people to groan and whine for a bit, but neither of them to actually read any dialogue for the character. Sometimes that company confuses me.

  17. Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

    Possible captions for top picture…. go!

    1) Lara Croft commits invisible seppuku.

  18. KB says:

    What about Lara grunting every time she climbs a ladder in the early TR games?  Some of those ladders were pretty long.

  19. the__gooch says:

    No Anna Kournikova from Anna Kournikova’s Smash Court Tennis?

    • Chum Joely says:

      That’s hardly fair, though– professional women’s tennis is like the Champion’s League of grunting. No one can reasonably compete with that.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      True… because sometimes you just don’t want to get off the couch and look for porn online.

  20. I get that “Street Fighter II” is a representive example of every fighting game ever, but I’m surprised that there’s no sports games on the list.

    So what sports game has the best grunting?

    • bradwestness says:

      Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside had some pretty great unintentionally hilarious grunts when you attempted to steal the ball

  21. duwease says:

    The first thing I thought of was Grunt, the grumbly Krogan.  I can’t remember the name of the game though.. Mast Defect?  Ass Reflex?  It’s been awhile since it was a topic of discussion, I can’t really remember.

  22. dmikester says:

    All of these are great!  I especially love and remember Altered Beast, and would submit Actraiser from around that same era, which I remember for having almost anything the player character did, from using their weapon to jumping to of course getting hit, result in grunting.  

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Actraiser was such a great game.  Well, it was at the time.  I have no idea how well it’s aged.
         Though the score for that game still holds up as incredible.
         I would love to see the hybrid genre of action/ sim revisited.  
         Maybe a bit more granulated than the bookend format Actraiser utilized.  Like maybe as your land develops, you can go and activate a brief quest to unlock more materials or clear out some monsters or bandits.

      • The_Quirk says:

         Actraiser was so much better than Actraiser II; they took out the original parts, like arranging the pieces of the world, and just left the hacknslash.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          Truly.  Actraiser II was a phenomenal let down aftr the first one.  It was really gorgeous, but the generic protagonist redesign and lack of world-building disappointed me to no end.
             Well, that’s not true.  It disappointed me until about six months after the game released.

      • Soul Blazer was a better sequel to ActRaiser than ActRaiser II.

        The Dark Cloud games were another great hybrid of action and sim.

        Breath of Fire 2 also had a sim component. It seems like such a minor part of the game, but you couldn’t get the best ending if you didn’t develop your town.

    • I had an LCD watch version of “Altered Beast”.

  23. ItsTheShadsy says:

    How could you forget Minecraft Dude from earlier versions? No better way to express that you’re on fire than “OOF. OOF. OOF. OOF.”

  24. Captain Internet says:

    I’ve never enjoyed making Commander Shepard sprint- her heavy breathing sounds like the wrong sort of heavy breathing. Still, it’s the only grunting ever  to be featured in the New Yorker

  25. Saint Stryfe says:

    Quick Warcraft Orcish Primer:

    “Lok’tar” – “Victory” 
    “Lok’tar Ogar” “Victory or Death”
    “Dabu” – “I understand”
    “Zug” – “Yes”
    “Zug Zug” – “Yes”, but in a more frustrated, passive tone.

  26. sirslud says:

    As a favour to our sound engineer on one project, I volunteered to supply the temporary placeholder grunts (it was a climb/navigation heavy game) for a project I was on. Never again – two months later, they were still being used during an internal demo to our 100 person strong team. You know that feeling of hearing your recorded voice and thinking it sounds funny? This was a million times worse. I wanted to crawl under the seats in the room about 15 seconds into the 10 minute demo. Since that experience, I’ve had a much stronger appreciation for how difficult it is to get those non-verbal sounds right.

    I guess it didn’t completely scare me off – a few years later, I got roped back into being the booth for a voice in the gibberish-heavy game Naughty Bears. The difference being, it actually shipped, and thank god it wasn’t grunts I had to supply.

    • Chum Joely says:

      Oh God, I would never put my voice in a game, although there are recruiting moments like that from time to time around here (“Hey everyone! Who wants to be in a crowd scene in AAA Blockbuster III.5?”).

      My biggest contentful contribution to a game was a bunch of random AI “barks” that I wrote for Naruto: Rise of a Ninja when the project was between two scriptwriters. It’s surprisingly difficult to come up with 20 different ways to say “Get out of here, Naruto, we hate you!” (at the beginning before he earns respect from the villagers). But it was pretty neat to start up the game and have my dialogue be the very first thing I heard when the actual gameplay started.

      Oh, and also, I was commissioned at one point to proofread a large chunk of the AI barks that later became the subject of a moderately well-known article about Splinter Cell: Conviction, aka “Fisherfest”.   They were originally written by a non-native English speaker, and let me assure you, the outcome could have been a lot worse.

  27. HobbesMkii says:

    How did you possibly choose just 13?

  28. Chum Joely says:

    How about Faith in Mirror’s Edge? For me, the “ono” sounds (the common industry term for all nonverbal voice audio, obviously from “onomatopoeia”)  worked incredibly well in that game to increase the first-person immersion. 

    Besides the semi-gameplay-relevant feedback along the lines of “that was almost too far of a drop to be safe, be careful next time”), they were so perfectly deployed as to really add to the realism of the game. You even hear her breathing just a bit harder after especially difficult runs, etc.

    • Fluka says:

      Though, if memory serves, she doesn’t grunt, yell, or make any other sound when she misses the jump and hurtles towards the pavement hundreds of feet below.  I always assumed that she was showing silent contempt for my piss-poor jumping abilities.  “Really?  This shit again?”  I am so sorry Faith.

  29. boardgameguy says:

    because the Legend of Zelda cartoon was mentioned, i feel obligated to share this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPxY8lpYAUM

    • AmaltheaElanor says:

      I credit this video as the sole reason I hope Link never, ever, ever, ever talks.

      (In a video game, that is. Clearly in the cartoon, he talked way too much.)

  30. What about Animal Crossing, does the gibberish that they use there count as grunting?

    Likewise the Sim games’ “Simlish” language. It’s mostly grunts and chirps and burbles. Is the idea of a language based on these grunts, and full interactions with them, what prohibits their inclusion?

    P.S. 100th comment on Gameological!

    • George_Liquor says:

      Congratulations! You’ve earned a cookie.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I never thought of Simlish as grunts really. I always found it sounds more like a 7 year old trying to speak a language he or she heard, but doesn’t know how to speak.
      At the beginning of my relationship I tried to learn some Korean and I could swear those Sims looked at me with silent understanding.

    • Didn’t we already do an inventory on made up languages?

    • Chalkdust says:

       I always found that kind of gibberish-speak very effective in Killer7, as it contributed to that game’s fever dream quality.  What makes it really disorienting is that, very occasionally, the garble of phonemes actually DOES correspond with the text.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        Yeah, you can’t mix total gibberish with slight comprehension. Some of the newer Sims3 DLCs have music in English instead of Simlish and it’s confusing beyond belief, which I am sure is some funny psychological thing.

  31. Tom Jackson says:

    I think Issac Clarke deserves an honorable mention.

    • beema says:

      This. Especially in the first game when he doesn’t speak at all.
      But every time he does anything, LOUD ASS GRUNT
      stomping, swinging his weapon melee, getting hit.

    • aklab says:

      Agreed! For the curb-stompin’ grunts. One of my favorite things about the first Dead Space is how it makes Isaac’s fighting seem so physically exhausting.

    • Samantha Allen says:

      I was going to nominate him as well! When I play Dead Space, I have to take regular stomping breaks to listen to him scream and swear.

    • aklab says:

      I haven’t played Warcraft II in over a decade, but I still end up quoting that game daily. Literally daily. 

      Wut is it.
      Job’s done!
      Ready t’serve.

      • Girard says:

        You are not the only one. “Yesh, m’lud?”

      • Enkidum says:

        I always remember the sounds from Myth II. “What?” “What is it now?” “Get up!” “Move here, move there…”

        I really miss that game, and haven’t seen anything all that much like it since.

  32. snazzlenuts says:

    No Nathan Drake on this list?  Surprising.

  33. Effigy_Power says:

    I always thought that if real physical exertion produced this kind of constant guttural grunting, then our collective sports arenas and stadiums would be full of people in trenchcoats with their hands in their pockets.

    I like the inventory. They strongly remind me of Cracked.com articles, which in my opinion is a good thing.

    • PaganPoet says:

      I agree. I like my information presented in list format. Could use more dick jokes, though.

  34. Joel of Arc says:

    I know Erik Wolpaw basically denied it, but I really, really like the idea that Chell is actually mute from brain damage. Maybe I’m just a sadistic bastard, but that was one of the funniest (possible) explanations for a silent protagonist ever. (Although her just being too pissed off at the Aperture peanut gallery to dignify any of them with a response is pretty great, too.)

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Aperture looks like the kind of place to get a good old lobotomy, so I am all on board for that theory.

  35. Link The Ecologist says:

    Okay, so listening to that Ocarina of Time video definitely just improved my mood substantially. 

  36. TheKingandIRobot says:

    Gnome deaths in WOW.  What the hell is that noise, it’s like they’re saying ENH ENH.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      God yes. A run through Gnomeregan or whatever that dungeon was called sounded like a full length midget-porn movie.

  37. Histamiini says:

    Femshep gets overlooked again. Jennifer Hale is the Sylvie Guillem of grunting. 

  38. All nine characters in Team Fortress 2 have sufficiently distinctive grunts that you can tell which class just took a hit (and whether it offed them, obviously). Now that’s sound work.

  39. Melancholic_Rodeo_Clown says:

    We had Gauntlet 2 on our Atari when I was a lad and my brother and I still quote it nearly a quarter of a century later. However there was an issue with the Elf character in our game – the digitised sound didn’t work properly and so instead of saying ‘Elf needs food’ or ‘Elf is about to die’ it would just be a demonic, mechanised garble and we couldn’t find any keys that worked to control the character at all – he had to be pushed around the level (and onto food when he needed it), thus making every mission an escourt mission. Oddly enough, I now work in the health care industry arranging attendant carers for people with brain injuries and disabilities… perhaps the many hours spent pushing that damned Elf around dungeons is what put me on this path.

  40. ly_yng says:

    An interview with Jennifer Hale about the finer points of grunting: http://www.newyorker.com/online/2011/08/15/110815on_audio_bissell

  41. Yepi9x says:

    I like all this games ! Thanks….