History of All Your Base Are Belong To Us
As you probably know, the phrase came from a badly translated video game intro. The game was
released on the
The English version seems to have been
a Europe-only release.
As to why it's so popular, that's a bit of a mystery. My personal opinion is that it's a perfect summary for the badly translated games of our youth. Not only that, but "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US" and "FOR GREAT JUSTICE" are just plain random fun. Most of the early spread can be attributed to gamers. In many team games, the object is to capture, steal a flag from, or otherwise infiltrate the enemy's base. It's a natural fit with the phrase.
Here's the sequence of events:
- 1989: Zero Wing's English version is released in Europe.
- Mid 1998: A
different version of the Zero Wing .gif is posted on the
now-defunct Rage Games quote page. When the site morphs
into Whazzat!, the .gif is replaced by text.
- Late 1998/Early 1999:
The current Zero Wing animated .GIF is posted on Zany Video Game Quotes, submitted by
Seymont. It begins slowly
circulating the internet.
- Fall 1998: Zero
Wing (the arcade version) is first emulated. The arcade version is missing the intro,
but the ending has a similar translation.
- March 13, 2000: Toaplan.com
opens. The site contains info about Zero Wing and other Toaplan games.
- June 5, 2000: The Zero Wing Dub
Project is posted at OverClocked.
- July 31, 2000: The
Mistranslated Ship Captain becomes a guru at the True Meaning of Life.
- Summer 2000: The
forums at Something Awful start to get infected. The .gif is in at
least one person's signature. It gets posted with some
regularity in various threads. A few people link back to
- Fall 2000:
According to one visitor, AYBABTU was appearing on Stile Project as the title
and in images. This was
reportedly a result of Jeff K.'s hack of the site - Stile liked it and kept it a while.
- September 6, 2000:
On the Something Awful forums, a gimmick poster called Alf posts a
picture of Alf on the phone. Starscream adds a speech
bubble saying "All your base are belong to us."
It's a hit, and gets posted a few more times.
- October 12, 2000:
AYBABTU begins appearing on the relic.com
- November 6 - 21, 2000:
The Something Awful era, and the origin of the Photoshopping
- A thread is posted - The
title is "ALL YUOR BASE ARE BELONG TO US!!"
(yes, it was spelled "YUOR"), and the
only message is "ON THE TABLE!!" By the
end of the first page, the photoshopping had
- The first image, a skeleton from Army of
Darkness, was done by Starscream (again!).
- Around page 10, word begins
to spread. HardOCP is one of the first to link back
- Some of the pictures are
incredible works of Photoshopping (like the Times
Square pic done by The Yellow Yell).
- Some sites, like Planet Namek, temporarily add AYBABTU to their
pages. PN had it in their title tag for a couple
- The forums collapse in on
themselves. Suddenly, the last couple of pages of
the thread disappear.
- A short time after, somebody
using a hacked moderator account deletes the
first page of the thread. This basicially kills
the thread, since it no longer appears in the
- Finagler's archive of the early parts of the thread
- People who had been exposed
to the phenomeon (mostly 3D game fans) take it
back to their own boards, and similar threads (often
using the same pictures) are started.
- November 14, 2000: JRR,
one of the SA forum regulars, releases Invasion of the Gabber Robots, the Zero Wing remix.
- November 28, 2000:
A report/poll on the US elections appears on Ars Techinca: All Your Votes Are Belong to Us!!
- December 16, 2000: Tribal War's thread begins. As this is one of the oldest
remaining threads, they are often mistakenly given credit
for starting the phenomeon.
- January 12, 2001: Part
4 of "A Winner Is You," Hubert's game quote-based storyline is posted.
It passes completely beneath the pop culture radar.
- January 14, 2001: Solidsharkey.com puts up a history. It's not as complete as this one, and
may have some inaccuracies (WAS the Genesis version of ZW
ever a US release? I can only find the info/ROM for a
European version), but it is the first attempt at
documenting ZW history. Note that I didn't find out about
this until 10 minutes ago.
- February 11, 2001: Eskimo Bob
posts Episode 12: AD 2101
- February 13, 2001: memepool.com posts about AYBABTU. They link to the
Tribal War thread.
- Approx. February 15, 2001:
Bad_CRC of Tribal War releases the now-infamous music video. There are some copyright issues (permission
wasn't asked to use JRR's song), but it continues to
spread like wildfire.
- February 16, 2001: Plastic
reports the Flash video.
- February 18, 2001:
- Salamando's Stove posts an article called The Death of
the phrase's overuse. Seems it still has some
life left in it, though...
- On a lighter note, web comic
Avalon's guest strip features the Zero Wing dialog.
- February 19, 2001:
- GameFaqs posts a
FAQ for Zero Wing (authored by Frank Provo), which includes a better
translation taken from the Japanese version.
- id Software releases an
pack for Quake 3:
- February 20, 2001:
- The San Francisco Chronicle (both print
and web versions)
runs a story about AYBABTU.
- OverClocked returns with a
Zero Wing based comic.
- Around this time, "All
Your Base Are Belong to Us" was accepted
into Eijiro's database (I'm told it's the
world's biggest online English-Japanese
dictionary - the FAQ is here, but I can't read a word of it).
It'll be added next update, which should be April
or May sometime.
- February 21, 2001:
- Salon.com runs
a story about
the US Army's use of the phrase, as well as a
- Online comic Real Life has a (subtle) AYBABTU in this strip.
- Somebody chalks All Your
Base Are Belong to Us on the roof of Wean Hall at
Carnegie Mellon University.
- February 22, 2001:
- February 23, 2001:
- AYBABTU is heard on Loveline, thanks to ShAyTaNa of the HardOCP
- TechTV runs a story. They do provide a link back to
SA, which is a nice change.
- Wired also runs a
- Kringlenet runs a
- And one more blurb at Netsurfer
- CATS and the now familiar
phrase are seen in the background of a User
- Gamespy.com posts
a Dork Tower strip.
- Another strip, College Roomies from Hell!!! has a modified AYBABTU on a
newspaper in a strip.
- Yet another one - Toonbots begins
- Segfault.org posts
a amusing correction.
- Another one at Steve Jackson Games - Due to a miscommunication, the
poll for Pyramid
replaced with an AYBABTU one.
- February 24, 2001:
Online comic Doctor Fun
changes their logo to a CATS/AYBABTU one.
- February 26, 2001:
- Time Magazine had a small article about it (Issue
dated March 5).
- As several people have
informed me, the cancelled Fox TV show Freaky Links has had its page replaced with
- Sluggy Freelance features Somebody Set Up Us the
Bomb and AYBABTU in the background of a strip.
- MyDivX.com posts an interesting image in one
of their updates.
- MP3.com pulls Invasion
of the Gabber Robots from TLMOM's site. They claim copyright violations,
as the song uses Zero Wing samples. They don't
seem to realize that Toaplan has been bankrupt
and gone for 6 years.
- AYBABTU-related posters were
put up at Harvard.
- February 27, 2001:
- "All Your Base Are
Belong to Us" makes its debut at #46 on the Lycos 50.
- Angelfire posts a page which is where the Lycos 50 entry links.
- Invasion of the Gabber
Robots is put back on MP3.com after they
recieve numerous complaints about its removal,
and realize that Toaplan no longer exists.
- Finagler's archive is updated. The pics are now at
full size, and the animated .gifs are included.
There do still seem to be some missing, though.
- Neopets introduces a new shopkeeper - a cat-like
on the New Features page is a picture, captioned
"All your Neopet are belong to us!"
- AYBABTU in
real life - some
guys put up a banner on a bridge in Australia.
- Another one - "All Your
Base Are Belong to Us" was written in chalk
all around the Georgia Tech campus.
- Another AYBABTU comic - a guest strip at PDI.
- February 28, 2001:
- The Lycos 50's article is up.
- Another User
Friendly cartoon includes AYBABTU.
- The Guardian runs a
- March 1, 2001:
- The Detroit Free Press ran a
story. It seems they forgot to give
credit to JRR/TLMOM for the song (seemingly
giving it to PlanetStarsiege) - anybody want to
set them straight?
- NetSlaves posts a
- AYBABTU in a Soap on a Rope comic.
- Another AYBABTU in real life.
At the University of Pennsylvania, pictures of
their president Judy Rodin begin appearing. They
have a speech bubble that says "All your
base are belong to us."
- March 2, 2001:
- Somebody hacked Dutch Railways - All Your Trains are Belong to
- Online comic Wendy gets in the now-obligatory Zero
Wing joke in this installment of CUTEWendy.
- On the Ethermoon Entertainment forums, an employee
posts a shot of the editing software for their
upcoming game, Strifeshadow.
- March 3, 2001:
- The Daily Mirror runs a full-page
story about AYBABTU.
- The Disco
played Invasion of the Gabber Robots during the
show - coming back from every break, as a matter
- The website for upcoming game Doom 3 launches.
- March 4, 2001:
- CATS-Mania infects HP:
- TechTV airs part of the flash.
- The Osdorp Posse's home page is hacked to include
"What You Say?" in the main image map.
- The Dutch postcode lookup website was altered - ALL YOUR POSTCODE
ARE BELONG TO US!! It's back to normal now.
- All Your Base with lasers at
the Harshman dorm at Bowling Green State Univ in
- AYBABTU is painted on
Coolidge Bridge in Northampton, Mass.
- On national television,
someone in the crowd of the MU vs KU men's
basketball game held up a sign that read "All
your base are belong to us."
- March 5, 2001:
- A story appeared in the Ottawa Citizen's techweekly section.
- Rare's web page is now showing some Zero Wing
- WebWereld posts a
story about the Dutch hacks.
- Some stories on World Online about the hacks and the
- The Four
begin running a new banner
- TheForce.net posts a story - Guess what's in it...
- March 6, 2001:
- MP3.com's e-mail newsletter prominently
features The Laziest Men on Mars and the AYBABTU video.
- mpXreview.com posts an article about the phenomeon.
- HugeDisk gives AYBABTU a
- Computer gaming website Blue's News changes their tagline to "All
your news are belong to us!"
- March 7, 2001:
- USA Today runs an
- "All Your Base Are
Belong to Us" moves up 10 places to #36 on
the Lycos 50.
- The Internet TOURBUS runs a
story about the AYB "conspiracy."
Not to mention changing their front page a bit...
- TheTripleHelix.com posts a short blurb - it also
makes it into their poll (check the previous poll
- The author of Schlock
declared he won't have AYBABTU in his
strip. Ah, well - somebody had to.
- The Parking Lot is Full's author posts a... novelization? of the Zero Wing
- Fourth and Inches, a comic
in the Notre Dame newspaper the Observer, features an AYBABTU.
- March 8, 2001:
- From a reader: "In a
limited run of 200 from Steve
the now famous line appears prominantly in bold
at the bottom of the instruction sheet of a new
game called Frag."
Critic, a movie
review site, reviews the Flash.
- Audiogalaxy runs a
story on Japanese Pop called "All
Your Base Are Belong to Us"
- AYB sighted on the official Tomb Raider Movie web site - click on the "Image of the
- As a result of the Ethermoon
forum posting on March 2, a fan creates a Java game
- watch the
intro. The first AYB in a game (besides Zero
Wing, of course)? Possibly.
- March 9, 2001:
- AYB on TV again - Fox News runs a story.
- Doomworld has a new pic of the
day - CATS as the
Doom 2 end boss.
- March 10, 2001:
- ESPN.com mentiones AYB in a
- Reports indicate that
somebody is posting AYBABTU stickers in Toronto.
- March 11, 2001:
- On TV again - Fox 4 in
Dallas, TX did a story.
has decided to jump on the bandwagon.
- The Dutch National Radio
played Invasion of the Gabber Robots on
the program "Cyber Top 50."
- All Your
Base are Belong to Scooby Doo on When I Grow Up.
- An interesting
story goes up on Celebrity
- March 12, 2001: AYB
appears in a installment of nationally syndicated comic strip Fox Trot.
- March 15, 2001: An article appears in the LA Times.
- April, 2001: Microsoft uses the phrase to promote Office XP (see it at http://www.microsoft.com/Office/clippy/images/rollover_4.gif)
UPDATE: A benevolent reader has informed me of www.AmIAllYourBaseOrNot.com that has emerged around a week ago. Noted, thanks.
UPDATE #2: The April 2001 note concerning Microsoft Office XP was brought to my attention by a second benevolent reader, Bane. Thanks.
From RelicGames, some alteration where applicable.