Back when it was a totally dope diss to say “don’t have a cow, man”, kids had a vocabulary full of pop culture. There was something magical about old video games’ vocal snippets. Because games had limited memory, and because we were dealing with cartridges and CDs instead of giant hard drive installs, sound bytes were short, succinct and hilarious.

My friends and I would dole out disses and exclamations based on video game sound bites. I wonder how many of these were common among your group of friends too! The best thing is that I’ve found that some old school video game phrases are totally still usable now that I’m a father…


Game: NBA Jam (1993)
System: Arcade, Genesis, Game Gear, SEGA CD, SNES, Game Boy
Usage: After jamming home some trash next to your unaware child.

Of course. NBA Jam was a game full of sound bites and quotables. And while “he’s on fire” was commonly thrown around by my friends, the more forceful exclamation was a gentle “BOOMSHAKALAKA” yelled into the ear of a friend who merely had the bad luck of standing next to a trash can while you had something to throw out. You’d throw down the trash so authoritatively that let’s face it, you should have looked into a career as a garbage man. Well, now you’re a parent, so part of your job is being a garbage man, so the next time you need to throw something out, do it with style and scream “BOOMSHAKALAKA!” Your kid will repeat it in no time.

Quote: “Rise from your grave”

Game: Altered Beast (1988)
System: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Arcade, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS,Genesis, iPhone, MSX, NES, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, SEGA Master System, TurboGrafx-16, TurboGrafx CD, Wii, Windows,Xbox 360, Zodiac, ZX Spectrum
Usage: Waking someone up, getting folks to leave.

Summer was awesome because NO SCHOOL, and you got up every day at the buttcrack of 10am and played video games until your eyes bled. If you had friends in the neighborhood, apartment complex, or had your own phone line in your room (LUCKYYYY), then sometimes your mom would let your friends at you, in hopes that they could wake you up before lunch. My friend got out of summer school at 9:30am and instead of walking home, he’d walk to my apartment, throw a rock at my window and yell “RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!” I’d give him the thumbs up from the window, let him in the front door, and then we’d play Street Fighter II and Galaga all day long. Life was super rad back then. Now, I’ve got a kid, and guess what? I need to get him up EVERY DAY for school. You know where this is headed.


Quote: “Warrior need food badly.”

Game: Gauntlet (1985)
System: Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Apple IIgs, Arcade, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, J2ME, Macintosh, MSX, SEGA Master System, Xbox 360, ZX Spectrum
Usage: When you’re famished and folks need to know, obvi.

Depending on which friend said this quote, it might have been “Warrior needs food badly” or “Wizard needs food badly”. None of your friends ever said “Elf” because let’s face it, no one would admit to liking the Elf, and no one ever said “Valkyrie” because you were all sexist kids. This was always a crowd-pleaser when someone was hungry, and my friends gave bonus points if I made my voice gravely and garbled like the original game. And now, even if your kid has never played Gauntlet, they can appreciate 1) being a warrior, wizard, valkyrie or elf, and 2) being hungry. PRO TIP: you get massive street cred with other dads if your kid says “warrior need food badly” at a friend’s house.


Quote: “Hey! Listen!”

Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (1998)
System: Nintendo 64, Wii, GameCube, 3DS
Usage: When you absolutely, positively need to tell your buddy something mundane and want to see smoke come out of his ears.

Navi’s constant “HEY! LISTEN!” was one of the things that I couldn’t hang with in Ocarina of Time. Also, the puzzles. But I had friends that played it. So from there forward, I took it upon myself to screech “Hey! Listen!” whenever I needed to get their attention. And I needed to get their attention often. I was not popular among my friends for awhile. Being a father, half of my day is already saying “HEY! LISTEN!” So I might as well do it in a high-pitched fairy voice, right?


Quote: “TOASTY!”

Game: Mortal Kombat II (1993)
System: Amiga, Arcade, DOS, Game Boy, Game Gear, Genesis, PlayStation, PlayStation 3, SEGA 32X, SEGA Master System, SEGA Saturn, SNES
When it’s way too quiet and you can get the drop on someone. Also…when you uppercut someone.

The origin of Dan Forden’s Mortal Kombat’s “TOASTY” goes back to Forden and Ed Boon playing Midway’s NFL Blitz predecessor Super High Impact, which exclaims “you’re toast” inbetween some plays. It morphed into Forden singing “toasty”, and as a joke, was included in Mortal Kombat II. And while it’s completely badass if you belt out a falsetto “TOASTYYYYYY” after uppercutting someone in a street fight, if you’re like me, you have never and will never be in a street fight. So I used to employ it as a scare tactic. I’d pop around a corner and sing “TOASTY” while a friend isn’t expecting it or sneak up on someone while they’re quietly reading and belt it out. Have I ever walked by the bathroom while my son’s peeing and yelled “TOASTY”? I decline to answer.


Quote: “Job’s Done”

Game: Warcraft II (1995)
System: DOS, Mac
Usage: When a job was done, obvi.

This isn’t as old school as I would have liked, but I remember in high school, we had a couple friends who played a ton of Warcraft I, II and III. And any time you’d ask these guys to do something, they’d do it and reply “job’s done.” One of these guys was in Journalism with us and we’d pull long Friday nights and Saturdays pulling the school paper together in basically two days. So you can imagine how many little mundane tasks there were where we’d hear “job’s done!” We rolled dice to see who got to punch him in the mouth. Now, to amuse myself and annoy my son, I will mumble “job’s done” after every step while we build LEGO sets. I haven’t yet revealed the origin of this one to my son. I’m giving it a couple years.


Quote: “C-C-C-C-Combo Breaker!”

Game: Killer Instinct (1994)
System: Arcade, SNES, Game Boy
Usage: When you broke someone’s routine, momentum or disturbed their task.

Much like I would use “TOASTY” as a scare tactic, I would use “C-C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER” to disrupt someone plugging away at the doldrums of their daily life. Nothing was more satisfying as landing a combo breaker in Killer Instinct, and likewise, being the jerk that gets into a friend’s way while he’s trying to accomplish something was also strangely satisfying. Even if it was just to reach in and steal a fry or nudge his arm as he tried to staple his homework. Now, there are a million opportunities for a good combo breaker. Kid got 5 As and 1 B on their report card? COMBO BREAKER! Kid eats 3 M&Ms and you steal the 4th out from under them. COMBO BREAKER! Kid peacefully walking down the hall? Scoop them up and yell “C-C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER” as you tickle them. It’s good for the soul.

What other old school video game phrases and sound bites still apply now that you’re a parent? Let me know your favorites in the comments!