Modern cars do a lot of beeping. Some do so much you’ll want to drive them into a lava pool. To be fair, though, there’s a lot of little things modern cars want your attention about, and they have to talk to you somehow. Nissans have been no exception, and have had a vocabulary of beeps that mostly sounded like they were stolen from thrift store clock radios. They were, at best, annoying. Nissan is doing something about that, and has enlisted the help of the company that gave us Pac-Man and Pole Position to do it.
Nissan is, of course, very proud of this, and made a whole video to show the world how they’re done with terrible, annoying beeps:
One of the sound designers in the video, Minamo Takahashi, was a composer on the Tekken 3 soundtrack and worked on the sound effects for the wonderfully strange original Katamari Damacy games, so there’s some real pedigree there.
The part where they demonstrate the before/after sounds is especially interesting and I think drives home the point really well, that these little sounds you hear every time you drive are important and worth doing well.
One very subtle but really nicely done sound shown is the humble turn-indicator click:
What I especially like about this one is that originally, the turn indicator click was just a by-product of the bi-metal strip used in flasher relays to make your signals blink — David Tracy and I once made a video all about that:
…but I do like the way the sound was re-imagined by the Namco team to sound more like a wooden dowel knocking against maybe a tree trunk or something. It’s a very satisfying little sound.
Since we’re talking about sound and Namco, this may be my only chance to relay to you this ridiculous thing that’s always in my head: my friend Charles once made up lyrics to the Pac-Man theme song, telling the story of playing the card game pinochle with someone so unpleasant to play with that they resembled 1970s Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. These were the lyrics:
(you’re a) Pinochle Pinochet,
Go, go, go, go!
Now, listen and see how well it works:
Ahhh, sometimes I can’t believe the shit they let me write here.