All Your Bases Belong to Us

Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.1 is a collection of arcade shooters that either defined the genre or influenced a generation of gamers. At the same time, it takes gamers back to the era when the arcade dominated the video game world. Among the titles in the collection is Zero Wing.

Zero Wing is a skills-based side scroller that tasks players with overthrowing the alien cyborg CATS. Even if you’ve never played it, you are all too familiar with the “All your base are belong to us” meme it started. However, there is more to this game than just a meme and this return demonstrates how it was a genre defining title.  

A Broken Peace

Details of the story varies based on the region the game was released but the main plot remains the same. This plot summary is gonna be based on the element every version of the game shares. A peace treaty is signed by a galactic governing body and CATS (an alien cyborg force). However; this was a ruse and CATS launches a surprise attack across the galaxy. The only hope for peace is a pilot named Trent, who must liberate each sector of the galaxy and defeat CATS. 

As with most late 80’s / early 90’s arcade games, the story is simple and easy to follow. Everything you need to know is told in the first few seconds. That is ok for such a game as the focus is more on the action. However, to its credit, the story isn’t insulting to the player’s intelligence.

Liberating the Galaxy 

Zero Wing is an intense game that strikes a balance between being a classic side scrolling shooter and having undergone some modern polishing. Gameplay has players pilot their fighter across the world as they take down the enemy forces while dodging their attacks. Along the way, you will pick up power-ups that will give your weapons a major boost.

At the end of each section of a level, players will go one-on-one with the boss. Each boss will present their own challenges that will test the players’ skills and make them think fast. Do expect to die multiple times before having a good idea of your enemy and developing the right strategy. These moments are both challenging but also very rewarding. 

This is one of those arcade classics that will be easy to learn and easy to master. Which is great because you are quickly tossed into the action. Best of all; one could enjoy this solo or team up with a friend via local Co-Op. Since this is a retro arcade game, it’s best enjoyed with a friend. Complementing that classic feeling is the return of the original soundtrack. 

Finally; one can’t overlook how it allows you to customize the overall experience. A player could experience the Zero Wing from their youth or the version that gamers in Europe or Japan got to enjoy. One could also customize the difficulty to either offer a challenge or make it easy to enjoy. This is made possible by altering the number of lives, using assist features, and setting the difficulty level. The point is to make it the experience you want. 

System Issues

Zero Wing biggest issue is the controller layout regarding the keyboard. The default layout is odd at best but you will fumble with it until you realize #1 = Start (for some reason). You can change it and I highly recommend doing so. Once that has been taken care of, you should have a good time. This is not an issue when playing with a console controller. I should also note that this seems to be an issue with other titles in the Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.1.

Take Out CATS

Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.1 is a collection of arcade classics that were either staples of the arcade or cult favorites. Among the titles in the collection is Zero Wing.

The original Zero Wing was a groundbreaking game back in the day and this remaster perfectly encapsulates that experience. Old school gamers and fans of retro games will enjoy playing this classic (regardless if they are familiar with the iconic meme). It’s also one of those games best played with a good friend.

Disclaimer: Freedom by Embracer provided the game used for this review.

This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.

8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Zero Wing (PC)





  • Easy to learn gameplay mechanics and non-stop action.
  • Could be played solo but more fun with a friend.
  • Players can adjust the experience based on their preference or region.


  • Wonky keyboard controller layout.

1 Comment »

  1. All your base are belong to us!
    All your base are belong to us!
    All your base are belong to us!
    All your base are belong to us!
    All your base are belong to us!
    All your base are belong to us!
    All your base are belong to us!
    All your base are belong to us!
    All your base are belong to us!
    All your base are belong to us!

Leave a Reply