"All your base are belong to us" is an Internet meme based on a badly translated phrase from the opening cutscene of the Japanese video game Zero Wing. The phrase first appeared on the European release of the 1991 Sega Mega Drive port of the 1989 Japanese arcade game.
By the early 2000s, a GIF animation depicting the opening text was widespread on internet forums. A music video accompanied by an EDM remix of the clip was posted on comedy forum Something Awful, gaining popularity and being referenced outside of the forums, becoming an Internet meme. The meme has been referenced many times in media outside of the forums.
Zero Wing transcript
Below are some other examples of text as it appeared in the poorly translated English release, alongside a more accurate translation from the original Japanese.
|Original script||Basic translation from Japanese||English version of the game[a]|
|機関士：何者かによって、爆発物が仕掛けられたようです。||Engineer: It appears someone has planted explosives.||Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.|
|通信士：メインスクリーンにビジョンが来ます。||Communications Operator: Incoming visual on the main screen.||Operator: Main screen turn on.|
|CATS：連邦政府軍のご協力により、君達の基地は、全てCATSがいただいた。||CATS: With the help of Federation government forces, CATS has taken all of your bases.||CATS: All your base are belong to us.|
|CATS：せいぜい残り少ない命を、大切にしたまえ・・・・。||CATS: Treasure what little time you have left to live...||CATS: You have no chance to survive make your time.|
|艦長：たのむぞ。ZIG！！||Captain: We're counting on you, ZIG!!||Captain: Move 'ZIG'.|
|艦長：我々の未来に希望を・・・||Captain: May there be hope for our future...||Captain: For great justice.|
|YouTube video of the opening sequence, featuring the line|
|Newgrounds post where the music video was posted|
Zero Wing was released in Japanese arcades by developer Toaplan on 1 July 1989, and in North America in April 1990. The European release of the game on the Sega Mega Drive was in July 1991.
The first references could be seen in 1999 and the early 2000s when an animated GIF of the scene appeared on forums and sites like Zany Video Game Quotes, OverClocked, and TribalWar forums. In November 2000, Kansas City computer programmer, Something Awful forum member, and part-time disc jockey Jeffrey Ray Roberts (1977–2011) of the gabber band The Laziest Men on Mars, made a techno dance track, "Invasion of the Gabber Robots", which remixed some of the Zero Wing video game music by Tatsuya Uemura and Noriyuki Iwadare with a voice-over phrase "All your base are belong to us". On 16 February 2001, user Bad_CRC posted an animated music video accompanying the song onto the Flash game and animation sharing site Newgrounds. The video was shared rapidly, soon becoming an Internet meme and receiving widespread media attention. The meme's popularity was seen throughout the early 2000s when it was broadcast onto the ticker of a Raleigh, North Carolina TV channel, used as a placeholder message while YouTube was undergoing maintenance, and reproduced onto T-shirts.
The meme was addressed by Toaplan's Tatsuya Uemura (the game's programmer and composer) and Masahiro Yuge (composer) in interviews during the 2010s. He stated the poor English translation in the Mega Drive version was handled by a member of Toaplan in charge of export and overseas business.
The 15th and 20th anniversaries of the posting of the remix on Newgrounds were recognized by numerous culture sites. The meme has been highlighted for its uniqueness in that, unlike other memes of the time, it lacked sexual innuendos or vulgarity.
Mentions in media
The phrase or some variation of lines from the game has appeared numerous times in films, commercials, news broadcasts, and social media posts.
On 12 March 2001, American comic strip 'Foxtrot' featured the phrase spoken by one of the strip's main characters, Jason Fox. Jason approaches his parents, speaking the phrase, much to their confusion, speaking it twice more before leaving while laughing.
On 1 April 2003, in Sturgis, Michigan, seven people placed signs through the town that read: "All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive make your time." They claimed to be playing an April Fools' joke, but most people who saw the signs were unfamiliar with the phrase. Many residents were upset that the signs appeared while the US was at war with Iraq, and police chief Eugene Alli said the signs could be "a borderline terrorist threat, depending on what someone interprets it to mean".
In February 2004, North Carolina State University students and members of TheWolfWeb in Raleigh, North Carolina exploited a web-based service used by local schools and businesses to report weather-related closures to display the phrase within a news ticker on a live news broadcast on News 14 Carolina.
On 1 June 2006, the phrase "ALL YOUR VIDEO ARE BELONG TO US" appeared below the YouTube logo as a placeholder while YouTube was under maintenance. Some users believed the site had been hacked, leading YouTube to add the message "No, we haven't be [sic] hacked. Get a sense of humor."
In the 2012 movie Wreck-It Ralph, the phrase can be seen near the beginning of the movie on the subway wall as the bad guys are walking into Game Central Station.
In the 2015 video game Lego Dimensions, the tenth level in the story mode is a Midway Arcade themed Level called “All Your Bricks Are Belong To Us”, referencing the game.
On 19 January 2019, American Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted "All your base (are) belong to us" in response to a poll by Hill-HarrisX indicating that 45% of the Republicans who were polled approved of Ocasio-Cortez's suggested implementation of a 70% marginal tax rate for individuals making more than $10 million per year.
- Original broken English translation as it appeared in the released video game.
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