The sound created by Tohru Okada can still be heard today, for example, at the beginning of the “Live from PS5” TV commercial.
While it’s true that Nintendo Switch’s ‘snap’ sound is beginning to identify with the console that is likely to be retired by the Japanese publisher next year, the PlayStation brand has been around for nearly three decades, if you don’t count the Nintendo Play Station collaboration between Sony and the big N. Sony was already paying close attention to TV ads back in the day, and within a short time, they all opened with Okada’s sound effects (we’ve embedded a collection of them; followed by the English Live from PS5 campaign that you might have seen before…).
Okada only made one sound for PlayStation, but it was still essential to the brand’s life. In this respect, Okada, who died of heart failure on February 14 at 73, was a great man, as he made barely anything that still lives on. Still, it’s worth taking a closer look at his work because if you look at the PlayStation sound, there’s a bit of symmetry that you might not initially detect. Take the robotic “tion” part of the word “play-sta-tion” at the end of the ad and put a note on it. Hence, Sony’s commercials technically begin and end in the same way. Clever. A layperson won’t even notice this because they don’t have that sophisticated an ear (nothing wrong with that, not everyone is born musically sophisticated).
It’s also worth remembering Okada: his PlayStation musicianship is negligible compared to his keyboard work in Moonriders (but he did write the music for the Japanese Crash Bandicoot commercials!), having written and performed hundreds of songs and produced many of them over a career that has spanned several decades. But this story also shows that sometimes something we have completely forgotten or thought was less critical can become a lasting memory that will be remembered later after us.
Rest in peace.