The infamous phrase is a piece of subtitled dialogue from the introduction to Zero Wing
"All your base are belong to us" (sometimes abbreviated AYBABTU or simply AYB) is a phrase that sparked an Internet phenomenon that occurred in 2001 and 2002. The phenomenon initially took the form of the sentence appearing on website message boards. Many images were digitally altered so that the phrase was added in, either obviously or discreetly. Eventually these were collected together onto one site and a Flash animation produced from them, which was widely downloaded.
The phrase arose from a poor translation used in the English version of the Japanese video game Zero Wing, originally produced by Toaplan in 1989. The infamous quotes were taken from the European localization of the Sega Megadrive port released in 1992. The arcade version of Zero Wing does not include the quote, nor any other dialogue; the intro for the PC Engine version has CD quality spoken dialogue, but has a completely different introduction. Zero Wing was never released in North America, and therefore never came to the Sega Genesis, the North American Megadrive.
All Your Base was interesting in that it demonstrated the power of the Internet to quickly spread idiosyncratic messages that would never have been covered by the traditional mass media. Although the fad has since died down, the phrase continues to be one of the most commonly quoted examples of "Engrish." The phrase is also often used as a battle cry on many competitive video games, particularly ones played over the Internet.
The phrase is a line from the game's introductory cut scene, which is subtitled and poorly translated. It made its first appearance on the Internet in 1998. During mid-to-late 2000, the phrase began appearing in the forums of Something Awful. In 2000, Canadian Gabber group The Laziest Men on Mars created the song "Invasion of the Gabber Robots" using samples from the game theme by Tatsuya Uemura (including a robotic voice synthesis rendition of the complete cut-scene dialogue, which by some accounts caused mp3.com to temporarily remove the track from their servers for perceived copyright violation).
By the second half of February 2001 a huge number of altered pictures, GIF animations, and Macromedia Flash animations swept over the Internet, the first being the twelfth episode of Eskimo Bob, in what creators Tomas and Alan Guinan later declared their worst episode to date, going so far as to post warnings advising people not to watch it. The phenomenon was then fueled primarily by an online music video by a Starsiege: Tribes player named "Bad_CRC" for "Invasion of the Gabber Robots" — and just as suddenly seemed to slow to a crawl. It has been used as a caption for almost any photograph since the heavily overloaded word "base" (along with homonyms such as bass and compounds like base pair) seemed to make the phrase mean almost anything. Numerous persons and groups also replaced the word "base" with other topics (e.g. "all your data are belong to us," "all your vote are belong to us"), generally suggesting someone's aggressive dominance – or self-perception or desire for such – in a particular field.
The cut scene transcript goes as follows:
- In A.D. 2101
- War was beginning.
- Captain: What happen ?
- Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.
- spoken in the Flash animation as Someone 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.
- Cats: Ha Ha Ha Ha ....
- spoken in the Flash animation as Ha Ha Ha
- Operator: Captain !!*
- Captain: Take off every 'Zig'!!
- Captain: You know what you doing.
- Captain: Move 'Zig'.
- Captain: For great justice.
- * This line and those following it are not in some animated GIF/Flash versions seen on the Internet.
Related phrases and usage
The final phrase "for great justice" appears also to have been adopted by various groups as their slogan, and there is also some adoption of "move 'zig'" (which resembles that of "Let's Roll" — a universal command to action; the "Zig" was the name of the small fighter craft piloted by the player in Zero Wing) and "Somebody set up us the bomb" (basically "uh-oh!").
The AYBABTU phenomenon is continually declared dead, yet it is still seen on the Internet. Some people who play multiplayer games like Counter-Strike have been banned from servers for continually repeating this phrase.
On April 1, 2003, in Sturgis, Michigan, seven men aged 17 to 20 placed signs all over town that read "All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive make your time." They said they were playing an April Fools joke by mimicking the famous Flash animation which depicted the slogan ubiquitously. Not many people who saw the signs got the joke. Many residents were upset that the signs appeared while the U.S. 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."  (http://wwmt.com/engine.pl?station=wwmt&id=468&template=breakout_local.html)
The phrase has been spotted as graffiti on various structures, such as on a former train bridge over the Connecticut River between Hadley and Northampton, Massachusetts, an area with several colleges in close proximity. An automated news ticker on News 14 Carolina, a North Carolina cable channel, was even "hacked" to display the message on television.  (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/03/05/wags_hijack_tv_channels_onscreen/)
On October 24, 2003, in Union City, California, two students aged 16 and 17 used Scotch tape to attach the phrase "All your base are belong to us" on various walls of the local high school. Not understanding the phrase, school officials panicked and closed the school.
In 2002, AYBABTU was featured in an art exhibition called Trigger: Game Art which looked at the way computer games had influenced contemporary art.  (http://www.selectparks.net/exhibitions/trigger/)
Media references to AYBABTU
- An August 17, 2004 article by Eric Umansky on the e-zine Slate on U.S. withdrawal from overseas bases is entitled "All Your Base Belong to U.S."  (http://slate.msn.com/id/2105261/).
- In one episode of the comic strip FoxTrot, the young son Jason continually repeats "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" to his confused parents.
- In one strip of the webcomic | Avalon (http://www.avalonhigh.com/d/20010318.html), the caracters brought a banner which read "All your base are belong to us" at an hockey show.
- In the Futurama episode Anthology of Interest 2, a space invader from the planet Nintendu 64 exclaims this phrase at the end of the second act, when Fry asks the "What-If Machine" to simulate what life would be like if it was more like a video game.
- In one of the deleted scenes on the DVD edition of the movie Waking Life, the words "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG..." scroll across the main character's digital watch.
- In an early 2004 printing of the popular newspaper comic strip Sally Forth, the main character's daughter Hillary is having a discussion with Sally about grammar when the AYB reference is made.
- In The Books' 2002 album by Tomlab, Thought for Food, the fifth track is titled "All Our Base Are Belong to Them".
- A new AOL Superbuddy Icon called ASCII says "All Your Base" When giving the big smile response.
- The TiVo personal video recorder says "All your tuners are belong: to US!" in the System Information display if backdoors are enabled and ChanDown is pressed many times (try 19).
- In the Megas XLR episode Rearview Mirror, Mirror (Part 1) which first aired on January 8, 2005, when Coop flashes back to remembering video games he played as a kid, one of them puts the words "ALL THEIR BASE ARE BELONG TO YOU" on the screen when he wins.
Video games that have referenced AYBABTU
Note that the majority of the following games were designed by Western studios. The phrase is not well-known in Japan.
- In Age of Mythology, part of the Lazer Bear's description is "All your base are belong to us!!!" The phrase is also used as cheat code that spawns a Lazer Bear.
- In Aliens vs. Predator 2, "All your base are belong to us" is sometimes used as the "death message" after dying by falling into lava.
- In Asheron's Call, the developers, aware of the common practice of hacking and posting all new pictures from a new month's download content, intentionally placed pictures of letters so as to spell out the AYBABTU phrase.
- In the Galactic Conquest Star Wars mod for Battlefield 1942, the Imperials can taunt "All Your Base Are Belong to Us" in victory.
- In Civilization III, where defeat leads to a screen with the world leaders taunting the player; one of the taunts is "All your base are belong to us!". It is also one of the random greetings from the computer enemies.
- In Crusader Kings, several ingame graphics have text from the flash hidden in them.
- In the middle of Command and Conquer: Generals' official Global Liberation Army video clip, a man shouts out "All your base are belong to us".
- In Counter-Strike 1.6 servers using AMX mod, when a player on the terrorist team plants the bomb on a de_ map, it will say "(Player who planted the bomb) has set up us the bomb"
- In Empire Earth, one of the cheat codes is "All your base are belong to us", while "Somebody set up us the bomb" makes the player win a random map game.
- In Escape Velocity Nova, a player can occasionally see CATS' ship flying around in space.
- The sleeve for the Bleem!cast Gran Turismo 2 disc has the phrase "All your base are belong to us" as closing statement in the legal terms.
- In Guild Wars, one of the skills for the Warrior class is "For Great Justice".
- In Halo, the phrase "All your base are belong to us" is visible in very small writing in the background of the menu screen, pointing to a schematic of an armor suit.
- In Mega Man Battle Network, a corrupt program (depicted as a green robot) shouts "All your base are belong to us!!", before challenging Mega Man to a battle in the cyberspace.
- In Max Payne, a sign in the training level advertising a "Tar Cafe" gives its address as "615 ALL YOUR BASE ARE...".
- In Myth III, the samurai-themed Heron Guards shout "For great justice!" in acknowledgement.
- In Neopets, one of the obtainable items is the "U-Bend of Great Justice". It bears the caption "The U-Bend of Great Justice will reflect between 80% and 100% of water-based attacks at an opponent, for great justice!". Neopets also has customised 404 error pages, one of which says "All your 404 are belong to us!".
- In Quake III Team Arena, an add-on level reads "All Your Base Are Belong To Us".
- In Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge, at one point Yuri (in voiceover) warns the player that "soon, all your bases will belong to me".
- The Egyptian Diplomat uses the phrase in Rome: Total War.
- In Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm, one of the phrases displayed when the mission is a success is "All your base are belong to us".
- In SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs, the message "All your base are belong to us" is given after one of the bases in the map "The Ruins" has been destroyed. This message is also given in SOCOM after the "Nightstalker" map is beaten, and in SOCOM 2 on other maps. The message is spoken at random after the end of a round by the female voice of "HQ".
- In Spider-Man 2, Mysterio taunts Spider-Man with "You have no chance to survive make your time".
- In Threads of Destiny IV, "Are you base are being to us" is found on Harold's Tombstone in the fictional town of Aris.
- In Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, the player sees "All your base are belong to www.edgeofreality.com" as part of the game credits, and the phrase also appears spray-painted on a wall in one of the game environments.
- In Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, one of the messages displayed after getting knocked down online says "All your base are belong to (player)". Another message like this says "(player) set you up the bomb"
- In Warcraft III, the single player instant victory cheat code is "AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs", while the cheat code for instant defeat is "SomeBodySetUpUsTheBomb". Also, a banner that says "All your orc are belong to us" appears somewhere within the game.
- In XIII, the phrase "All your base are belong to us" can be seen repeating on a news ticker around parts of the main screen in the Missile Installation's War Room (before the fight with Mongoose).
Original Japanese text
The bluntness of the famous mistranslation is in stark contrast to CATS' cool, caustic irony in the original text. The difference is especially vivid in the line corresponding to "All your base are belong to us." In the original line, CATS uses polite Japanese and insinuates that the Federation army (presumably an ally of the Captain) was treacherously co-opted into betraying the bases.
It also appears from the original text that CATS may be the name of an organization, not just of the particular cyborg villain appearing on the screen (as is the popular interpretation among English speakers).
- 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。
The following is a "free text" translation of the original Japanese. It is not intended to translate the exact wording of the original, but rather to capture the spirit and tone which the author seems to have been intending.
- A.D. 2101
- The war has begun.
- Captain: What was that?!
- Chief Engineer: It appears someone has planted bombs.
- Operator: Captain! We have an incoming transmission!
- Captain: What? Who?
- Operator: I'll put it on the main screen.
- Captain: You! You're...
- CATS [with sarcasm]: You seem to be preoccupied, gentlemen.
- CATS: With the kind cooperation of the Federation forces, all of your bases now belong to us.
- CATS: Your ship, too, will soon meet its end.
- Captain: That's... impossible!
- CATS: Thanks for coming out this far. You have made it too easy.
- CATS: Make the most of these last moments of your lives.
- CATS: Ha ha ha ha ha...
- Operator: Captain...
- Captain: Operator, give a launch order to all ZIG fighters, now!
- Captain: We have no time to lose. It's up to them.
- Captain: All our hope for the future is in their hands.
- Captain: Godspeed, ZIG fighters!
- Meme — The concept of self-propagating ideas, of which AYBABTU is often cited as an example.
- Something Awful — An Internet humor site, a strong driving force behind AYBABTU.
- Bubb Rubb — Another internet phenomenon which rose to internet fame like AYBABTU.
- Engrish — A term applied to incorrect translations into English, typically by Japanese translators.
- The Official AYBABTU Video Site (http://www.planettribes.com/allyourbase/) (also contains histories, links, and pictures)
- The All Your Base Dvorak game deck (http://www.dvorakgame.co.uk/cardlist.cgi?allyourbase)
- The AYBABTU Timeline (http://web.archive.org/web/20030207053117/www.tvsian.com/hubert/article.php?sid=1)
- Zero Wing Genesis FAQ (http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/genesis/game/31239.html) (includes a better translation of the Japanese cut scene)
- Popular Songs with the lyrics replaced with the "All Your Base" dialog (http://evolution-control.com/mp3/allyourbase/)
- All Your Base Cafe (http://www.allyourbaseonline.com) — The cyber cafe named after the game. They host large video game and RPG tournaments in Winnipeg, Canada
- Verbose English Translation (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=109216&cid=9279438) — Slashdot humorous verbose English translation of the AYB text
- Wing of the Zero (http://www.geocities.com/rschmertz/aybNovelization.txt) - a "novelization" of the intro
- Download All your Base (http://www.parkstudios.net/core.php?part=releases_details&color=5C0712&cID=7) by Netpoet (with the infamous lyrics sung) from the Parkstudios (http://www.parkstudios.net) netlabel, which made 5th place at Assembly 2001's MP3 music competition
- An adaptation to Star Trek (http://www.cwu.edu/~shersonb/AYB/)
- A parody of "All your base" (look in lower right hand corner) (http://www.trinicom.com/trinicom/servererror/404.htm)