Ben, I will have to dig up the original BASIC program listing for Futility; if I can make sense of the ancient, uncommented spaghetti code, I can perhaps reconstruct the details of the game’s sound effects. But here’s what I remember:

  • The annoying whirling noise was just a descending chromatic sequence of four high-pitched notes, repeating rapidly and endlessly.
  • I don’t recall whether there was a sound when the player fired a shot, but I assume there probably was. Probably some kind of stereotypical laser-shot noise, but I can’t be sure without consulting the original code.
  • The alien didn’t make a noise when dodging. It was silent and effortless. (It may be that the sound of the player’s shot was still reverberating as the bullet went past the alien.
  • The shield didn’t make a noise itself, but when the bullet hit it made a percussive white-noise sound — “tssh!”
  • When the alien dropped the bomb, the sound effect was a descending whistle — the stereotypical falling-bomb noise. And the explosion was just your basic explosion.
  • And yes, the concluding “HA HA HA HA” was crucial. Monotone, artificial, the more robotic the better. Like Stephen Hawking, but far less natural-sounding.

It’s a shame that — as far as I know — I don’t have any audio recordings of the original Futility. I do, however, probably have some recordings of the Sol making noises, including speech. I’ll look around.

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