Quotes; we all drop them, with varying degrees of accuracy and relevance. I, for one, favor a quick “Hold onto your butts” while trying to fix a computer, and I’m extremely saddened that no one around me has ever picked up on it. In the gaming world, however, a well-placed quote rarely goes unnoticed. If you want to talk the talk with your gamer brethren, the following ten lines are absolute essentials. Learn them. Love them. Try not to use them too much lest you become annoying.
“He’s on fire!” – NBA Jam
Remember that time when sports games lacked commentary? NBA Jam dragged that era out behind the shed and brained it with a shovel. No one’s come anywhere close to touching it ever since. Canned Madden quotes can’t touch the pure majesty of the announcement that you’ve sunk three consecutive shots and are about to start shooting straight-up fireballs. Boomshakalaka indeed.
Useful for: Describing the work of a quality wingman; announcing your ability to consistently toss crumpled up paper into a nearby trash can.
“Finish him!” – Mortal Kombat series
Ending a round of a fighting game with a simple empty health meter lacks a certain gravitas. Ending a round of a fighting game with implicit instructions to kill your opponent in the most horrible way possible, however, is flat out awesome.
Useful for: Explaining to someone that it’s ok for him or her to eat the last cookie in the box; insisting that your lover hurry up because you just heard your parents’ Volkswagen pull into the driveway.
“Do a barrel roll!” – Star Fox series
I will do a barrel roll when I damn well please, thank you very much. I know when I need to do it, Peppy; if you focused more on protecting Slippy’s stupid ass and less on telling me how to fly, we’d all be a lot happier.
Useful for: Annoying the shit out of a gamer; suggesting a move to the television while watching Dancing with the Stars.
“A winner is you.” – Pro Wrestling
Ah, the good old days, when narrative mattered not. Games were simpler back then; if you won, the game told you. If you lost, a dog would point at you and laugh. There was nothing else, and quality control had yet to be invented. Everyone under the age of eighteen probably thinks this is stupid. They’re probably right, but there are some parts of your childhood you simply can’t write off no matter how much logic dictates you should.
Useful for: Confirming that someone has won on a scratch ticket; sarcastically affirming your value to your significant other or spouse.
“All your base are belong to us.” – Zero Wing
This horrid example of what happens when you pay your localization team with pocket lint and hugs has become a persistent wart on the asses of message boards across the Internet. Sometimes it’s funny; usually it’s just kind of there, hanging out with “first post!” and that mean face I can’t figure out how to type. Regardless of how badly it’s been overused and how few people actually know which game it’s from, this one’s not going away anytime soon.
Useful for: Proclaiming victory in a game of Risk; establishing your supposed nerd cred on a message board.
“Would you kindly?” – Bioshock
Is there any quote out there harder to cite the virtues of without spoiling an entire story? Granted, 2K’s dystopic masterpiece is a few years old at this point, but I’d feel terrible about ruining the game’s magnificent twist for anyone. Suffice to say that “Would you kindly?” turns the gamer’s expectations completely on their heads, kicks him in the balls, then takes his mother out for a nice steak dinner and never calls her again.
Useful for: Subtly teasing an extremely loyal intern; asking someone to pass the potatoes.
“War. War never changes.” – Fallout series
Bethesda changed a lot of things about the Fallout franchise–the overhead, isometric view; the turn-based combat–but they were smart enough to maintain one of its most important elements: Ron Perlman’s famous introduction. The actor’s gravelly description of war serves as both a quick description of the series’ nuclear genesis and the themes the player will soon encounter in the wasteland. Those who deny gaming’s ability to be poignant and philosophical need to listen up when Hellboy speaks.
Useful for: Describing the limited permutations of a particular card game; commenting upon the daily office grind.
“The cake is a lie.” – Portal
Scratched, spray painted, and scribbled throughout the back areas and lonely hideaways inside Aperture Science’s testing center, these five words are a message in a bottle left behind to aid future generations in their fight against the sociopathic GLaDOS. It’s a call-to-arms, an affirmation that the promises handed out by authority are naught but smoke and mirrors.
Useful for: Admonishing someone who promised to bring Hostess but showed up with store brand instead; rebuking a loved one who didn’t think he or she was being lead to an intervention.
“Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle.” – Super Mario Bros.
Back in my day, we had no idea how many levels were in a game until we beat the fucking thing. You whippersnappers don’t know how good you’ve got it nowadays, what with your strategy guides and your hour counts and your general lack of false endings. Every time my generation dropped Bowser into that lava pit and set the screen a-scrolling to the right, our hearts ached with the possibility that maybe–just maybe–there was no other castle, that our princess was finally within reach. Seven out of eight times, all we got was fucking Toad and his dumb hat. And yet we kept going, our nerves steeled for the slew of bottomless pits and cheap hammer brothers between us and the next fortress, our dreams haunted with visions of a beautiful princess awaiting the arrival of her courageous savior.
Useful for: Explaining the outcome of a blind date to a friend; declaring your disinterest to the person on the other side of the glory hole.
“It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.” – Zork
Talk about a line that’s stood the test of time and remained relevant despite new technology that makes its source look like something out of the stone age. That’s not a knock on Zork at all; this is the text-based game to end all text-based game, the example everyone with a passing interest in the genre takes a crack at.
As for the quote itself, its longevity and popularity is likely due to its deadpan nature. This is the simplest pronunciation of danger ever delivered in a video game, done efficiently and without fanfare. In today’s world of dry wit, it fits right in.
Useful for: Sudden power outages; shortcuts through sketchy, poorly lit alleys.
And so, dear readers, what potent quotables did we miss?
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