Lost account access

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All your base are belong to us

Page type: Meme
Era: Early Internet
Categories: Mainstream memes ; Classic memes ; Gallery
First appearance: May 1991
Peak popularity: February 2001

A legendary mistranslation

The 1989 video game Zero Wing found success in Japanese arcades before being ported to home consoles in 1991. This new release included a cinematic introduction, which added some lore to the game[1].

For some reason, the English version of this extra cutscene was extremely poorly translated, containing many incoherent phrases with terrible grammar. Below is a video of it, along with a transcript:

In A.D. 2101
War was beginning.
Captain: What happen?
Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.
Operator: We get signal.
Captain: What!
Operator: Main screen turn on.
Captain: It's You!!
CATS: How are you gentlemen!!
CATS: All your base are belong to us.
CATS: You are on the way to destruction.
Captain: What you say!!
CATS: You have no chance to survive make your time.
Operator: Captain!!
Captain: Take off every 'ZIG'!!
Captain: You know what you doing.
Captain: Move 'ZIG'.
Captain: For great justice.

The first mainstream Internet meme

The meme initially spread thanks to this animated gif of Zero Wing's introduction.

Back in the year 2000, people were not yet familiar with the concept of memes. The Internet was still seen by many as a serious tool rather than a source of entertainment.

An animated gif of Zero Wing's introduction sequence became viral, and started spreading across the Internet. Its popularity increased even faster thanks to a video containing picture edits along with a Gabber song related to the meme. First uploaded in 2001, this video is a cult classic which embodies the Internet culture of the era. You can watch it below:

During the following years, the phrase "All your base are belong to us" became a symbol of Internet culture, which was still mostly unknown to the general public at the time. It found coverage in major newspapers[2][3][4], and even on major television channels, as evidenced by this FOX News clip:

Even though Zero Wing's introduction has been forgotten by many, we should remember it as the first time a meme born on the Internet breached into the real world. As it has left a major impact on people who lived through this era, you can still find references to this meme in many places to this day, be it in video games[5] or even in politics[6]. In fact, NoBleme's own 404 error page is a reference to Zero Wing's intro!

The real story of Zero Wing

In case you are wondering what the text in Zero Wing's introduction actually means, Legends of Localization provides this more accurate Japanese to English translation of the intro[7]:

In 2101 A.D.
War breaks out.
A spaceship starts to explode
Captain: What in the world is going on?!
Engineer: It appears someone has planted explosives.
Communications operator: Captain! We’ve received a transmission!
Captain: What?!
Communications operator: Incoming visual on the main screen.
Captain: Y-you!!
CATS: You look busy, gentlemen.
CATS: With the help of Federation government forces, CATS has taken all of your bases.
CATS: The end is nigh for your ship as well.
Captain: Th-this can’t be…!
CATS: We are grateful for your cooperation.
CATS: Treasure what little time you have left to live…
CATS: Ha ha ha ha ha…
Communications operator: Captain…
Captain: All ZIGs are ordered to launch!!
Captain: Our only option now is to entrust this to them.
Captain: May there be hope for our future…
Captain: We’re counting on you, ZIGs!!



Sources & Links

[1] Zero Wing on Wikipedia.

[2] When Gamer Humor Attacks , discussing the meme back in 2001, by Wired.

[3] Coverage of the meme in 2001 by The Guardian.

[4] Coverage of the meme in 2002 by USA Today.

[5] For Great Justice , a spell in the video game World of Warcraft .

[6] Politician Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez uses the meme in 2019 , by Newsweek.

[7] A more accurate translation of Zero Wing's script by Legends of Localization.

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