This is an exceptionally hard list to write, as over the years there have been thousands of hours of written and recorded video game dialogue, but I had to finish this post before the sun dies, so I cut it down to fifteen.
Some lines are classics that are older than me. Some are internet memes based on hilarious mistranslation. Some are throwaway, but they stick in your head because of how frequently you heard them.
I’m sure I forgot your favorite as I’m so good at doing, but that’s why we have a comments section!
1) “War. War never changes” – Fallout
The opening and closing line to a large number of soliloquies describing the events that lead to the nuclear destruction of mankind. Even after hearing it a dozen odd times, I’m still not exactly sure what it is about war that never changes. The killing people? The irradiated mutants? Fill me in Ron Perlman.
2) “Stay awhile and listen!” – Diablo II
You always had to go to Deckard Cain to identify your items, and this was the greeting you always heard. This is one of those lines that in itself is more or less meaningless, but the amount of times you heard it has hammered its way into your skull forever.
3) “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this.” – The Legend of Zelda
I’m not exactly sure why this line became so famous and memorable, but it’s stuck in the lexicon of video game history forever. I think it may have been this lolcat that immortalized it for good.
4) “Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!” – Super Mario Bros.
How much did this piss you off each time you reached the end of all those Mario levels? It doesn’t help when you discover that Toad is actually flicking you off as well (zoom in).
5) “The President has been kidnapped by ninjas! Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?” – Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja
I never knew which game this was from specifically, but Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja seems like an exceedingly logical title. Someone needs to make a movie adaptation of this, pronto.
6) “HEY!! LISTEN!!” – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Do I really have to say anything here? Bonus: Drunk Navi
7) “You have died of dysentery” – Oregon Trail
All of the “You have died from ______” lines from the Oregon Trail are pretty classic, but dysentery is the best, because it involves poo. Hah, poo. Actually, I was more of a fan of “accidental gunshot wound,” which was bullshit because it’s incredibly unlikely that a bullet would bounce of the pelvis of a buffalo and ricochet back and hit Susan in the face.
8 ) “Do a barrel roll!” – Star Fox
There’s a bunch of good lines from Star Fox that have been turned into internet memes (“Can’t let you do that, Fox!”), but Peppy’s constant cry of of “Do a barrel roll!” takes the cake without a doubt. To be fair, it did always work.
9) “You require more vespene gas” – Starcraft
Again, another throwaway line that’s been burned into my mind forever. Goddamn Lurkers and their massive gas consumption. There’s only one damn geyser in my base! No video, but here’s an audio refresher of the line.
10) “The cake is a lie” – Portal
Not a spoken line, or even a texted bit of dialogue, “the cake is a lie” was found scrawled on the walls of Apeture Labs’ test facility be a former unwitting patient in GLaDDOS’s experiments. But in the end, it was all dream! The cake is real and companion cube is safe and sound! Or is that the dream?
11) “All your base are belong to us” – Zero Wing
The oldest meme on this list, a mistranslation from Zero Wing made the game exceptionally famous for its idiocy rather than its gameplay. The joke doesn’t really hold up that well over time though and only a small handful of people even get it in the first place.
12) “FINISH HIM!!!” – Mortal Kombat
Despite filling me with bloodlust for most of my adolescence, I did not grow up and murder a whole bunch of people by playing Mortal Kombat too much. Instead the only thing that’s stuck with me has been this line, telling me to do a Fatality that was way too damn hard to execute on the shitty Genesis controller.
13) “It’s not very effective…” – Pokemon
No screenshot, but be content knowing Jigglypuff was never very effective against anything.
I’m not exactly sure why I chose this line from Pokemon out of everything in the game. It was alway so damn depressing when it popped up onscreen as you realized your Charmander was useless against Gary’s Squirtle. The “…” just makes it all the more sad.
14) “Halt! Halt!” – Daggerfall
Those damn guards never let you get away with anything, and every time you heard those words, you knew you were either going to jail, paying some gold or killing some bitches.
15) “X-Men, welcome to die!” – X-Men
Another prime example of mistranslation, but a particularly hilarious one. Only found in the arcade version of X-Men, Magneto cordially welcomes players to die. Many did, and lost thousands of quarters in the process.
Bonus: My new favorite quote, from Gundam creator (and game mogul) Yoshiyuki Tomino spoken during his keynote at the CEDEC, “Video games are evil.” Douche.