You can now play one of the internet’s most famous memes on your Nintendo Switch. Zero Wing, which features the classic line “all your base belongs to us” during its introductory cutscene, is now available to play on the Sega Genesis app that’s accessible with a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription.
Nintendo appears to be well aware of the meme. In a video announcing the arrival of Zero Wing and three other games to the service, Nintendo leads with the space shooter.
It features many memorable quotes from its lousy translation, including the “all your base” line.
Zero Wing is a side-scrolling shooter arcade video game developed by Toaplan and initially published by Namco in Japan and North America by Williams Electronics. Managing the ZIG space fighter craft, players take the role of protagonist Trent in a last-ditch effort to overthrow the alien cyborg CATS. It was the eighth shoot-them-up game from Toaplan and their 14th video game overall.
Led by development chief Toshiaki Ōta, Zero Wing was completed by most of the team that previously worked on several tasks at Toaplan, initially starting as a project not planned for commercial release to train recruits before being ultimately released to the need. Although first pitched in arcades, the game was later ported to other platforms, each featuring various changes or additions compared with the original rendition.
Zero Wing enjoyed a degree of victory in arcades, and its home conversions were met with a largely positive reception from critics. The European Sega Mega Drive version gained popularity due to the “All your base belongs to us” internet meme, which plays off Engrish’s poorly translated introductory cutscene. The rights to the title are possessed by Tatsujin, a Japanese company created by Masahiro Yuge. The Mega Drive version was later unleashed in North America by independent publisher Retro-Bit in 2020.
Zero Wing is a side-scrolling science fiction-themed shooter comparable to Hellfire, where players take the role of Trent seizing control of the ZIG space fighter craft through eight increasingly difficult levels, each with a leader at the end that must be opposed before advancing any further, in a last-ditch struggle to overthrow the alien cyborg CATS as the primary objective. As distant as side-scrolling shooters go, the title initially looks pretty standard. Players control their craft over a continuously scrolling background, and the scenery never stops moving until the stage boss is reached.
A notable gameplay feature is the “Seizer Beam” system; During gameplay, players can grab certain enemies and hold them as a shield against enemy fire or launch them against enemies. In addition, there are three types of weapons in the game that can be switched between after thrashing incoming carriers by picking up a color-changing item varying from the “Blue Laser,” the “Red Cannon” shot, and the “Green Homing” missiles.
Each weapon can be upgraded by choosing an item of the same color. Other things can also be grabbed along the way, such as speed increasers, 1UPs, and a bomb module competent to obliterate any enemy caught within its blast radius that can be activated after the enemy hits.
Depending on the settings in the arcade rendition, the title employs either a checkpoint system in which a single downed player will start at the beginning of the checkpoint they reached before dying or a respawn approach where their ship immediately begins at the location they died at.
Getting hit by enemy fire or crashing against solid stage barriers will result in losing life and a penalty of decreasing the ship’s firepower and speed to its original state. Once all lives are lost, the competition is over unless the players insert more recognition into the arcade machine to continue playing.
The game hitches back to the first stage after completing the last scene as with previous titles from Toaplan, with each one raising the difficulty and enemies, firing denser bullet patterns, and spawning extra bullets when destroyed.
The plot summary of Zero Wing differs between each version. Set in 2101, the game tracks the signing of a peace treaty between the United Nations and CATS, an alien cyborg. However, CATS violated the covenant and took control of the Japanese space colonies.
The protagonist Trent leads a ZIG spacecraft, which had managed to escape from the mothership destroyed by CATS, to defeat enemy forces, avenge the mothership and its crew and liberate the Earth.
Zero Wing was built by most of the same team that previously worked on various projects at Toaplan, with components of the development staff narrating its history through diverse Japanese publications. Toshiaki Ōta was at the helm as development chief and served as programmer alongside Hiroaki Furukawa and Tatsuya Uemura.
Uemura also functioned as a composer along with Masahiro Yuge and Toshiaki Tomizawa. Artists Naoki Ogiwara, Miho Hayashi, and Shintarō Nakaoka created the artwork, while Sanae Nitō and Yuko Tataka served as character designers.