In roughly chronological order:
“Our princess is in another castle!”
A reference to Super Mario Bros. The kind of person who quotes this typically wants to be recognized for being a quirky unconventional nonconformist for knowing about a game that sold 40 million copies and launched countless sequels.
“All your base are belong to us.”
This one, unlike everything else on the list, was actually funny before people started running it into the ground. It is a reference to the previously-obscure shmup Zero Wing, primarily the Sega Genesis version, which had a laughably bad translation filled with melodrama, grammatical errors, and awkward sentence structure. I’m old enough to remember when almost every game from Japan had ridiculous “Engrish” like this. Due to hardware limitations, few non-PC games in the 80s were very text-heavy, though, so playing Adventure Island or something similar with a bad translation didn’t negatively affect play. You can view the whole thing here.
“You spoony bard!”
A reference to Final Fantasy IV, released in the United States as Final Fantasy II at the time. According to dictionary.com, “spoony” is actually an acceptable (if archaic) synonym for “foolish”, which means this is not the result of a poor translation but simply an odd word choice. The popular nerd review site The Spoony Experiment is named after it. In context, Tellah the cool old dude is angry because his daughter died to save the worthless Edward, therefore he unleashes his wrath with a cane beating. This was done with in-battle graphics for some reason, which just made it accidentally hilarious. Still, this was probably the most sad and poignant scene in a game that was fantastic for its time.
Anything from those horrid CD-I Zelda and Mario games
These universally reviled (except by Hardcore Gaming 101) games were not actually produced by Nintendo, which accounts for much of their lack of quality. Not only were the games themselves trash, but they contained animated scenes that were apparently drawn by an octopus with a box of colored pencils and cerebral palsy. Badly-acted phrases from these hideous cartoons became popular in a video that is called (sigh) a “Youtube Poop”, which incorporates badly-animated cartoons patched together with fart jokes. As pathetic as it is, that is still better than the games themselves.
Anything from Pokemon
I didn’t grow up with Pokemon, and as it’s not a very interesting series, I have no fond memories of it. The game was popular because it presented a big variety of monsters to catch (Never mind that Megami Tensei offered collectible monsters nine years earlier) and was simple enough for young children to handle easily; the cartoon was popular because it contained bright primary colors and lots of flashing crap on the screen. Catchphrases from both are commonplace in nerd culture. But no matter how many times I’m asked to catch them all or never give up, the games are too basic and unrewarding for me. Even JRPGs in the 1980s were significantly more advanced. I certainly don’t enjoy paying for the same game multiple times to get all of the content, either.
“Do a barrel roll”
The first Star Fox was pretty good and made excellent use of new 3D hardware, so I will give it a pass. But I will never forgive Star Fox 64 for inflicting this on us. The phrase has appeared on countless demotivators and was never funny for even an instant. The whole Star Fox series reeks of furry, too, and that’s never a good thing.
Stupid catchphrase from a World of Warcraft video that was popular in 2007. I remember my brother Mike showing me some unfunny World of Warcraft videos back when it was in its heyday. This was one of them: Some guys planning to go into a dungeon and one idiot charging in while shouting his own name/catchphrase. His friends follow him and get slaughtered by the computer-controlled enemies. Leeroy Jenkins was never witty enough to laugh at even once.
“The cake is a lie!”
All the ludicrous hype and catchphrase-quoting surrounding Portal initially turned me off, but I learned not to let public opinion dictate my thoughts for me. Portal is a genuinely good game from by my beloved Valve. In context, the player in Portal runs through a series of deadly rooms, led by a computer voice that promises rewards, including cake. It turns out the computer is evil and there is no cake. At the game’s release in 2007, though, the internet went baby-kickingly bonkers over this while ignoring the actual funny parts of the game.
“Arrow to the knee”
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was a decent (if conventional) game, but this one particular phrase from it immediately spread around the internet to irritate everyone with taste. In context, it’s one of many random phrases uttered by town guards, one who laments that he can’t be an adventurer like the player because of an old injury of his. Why the internet thought it worth repeating five hundred million billion trillion quadrillion times is beyond me. Another prevalent but less ubiquitous catchphrase from Skyrim is “Fus Ro Dah”, three magical words used to yell magic attacks at dragons. You should quote neither.
“It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.”
Revived recently, this catchphrase is a reference to the first Legend of Zelda—where, on the first playable screen of the massive game world, an old man would utter the phrase and give the player a basic wooden sword so they wouldn’t die right away. Like all forced memes, it is unfunny and irritating. Unlike most memes, this one is a deliberate attempt to appeal to phony “retro” gamers, and that is intolerable.
The lesson to be learned? Come up with something funny on your own rather than repeating stale catchphrases. Everyone around you (as well as the internet) will be grateful for your sacrifice on behalf of tact.