games / Columns

The Hall of Shame 01.17.08: Action 52

January 17, 2008 | Posted by Vincent Chiucchi

Have you ever been to a toy store or mall and saw a video game or game device that bragged about how it had hundreds or even thousands of games in it? I’ve seen these kinds of things many times, and they all had two common themes: They are illegal bootlegs and/or it sucks. The only people that would wind up buying are either people that don’t truly understand the game industry or gamers who’ve heard about how bad it was and decided to hunt it down for a laugh. Or produce some angry video game review show on YouTube.

This week in the Hall of Shame, I bring to you a video game that bragged about having 52 games in 1 cartridge, and was supposed to start a fad that would try to replace the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Lights, Camera, Action 52!


Action 52 was an unlicensed game released in 1991 by Active Enterprises, who aren’t known for basically anything else since they’ve disappeared after this disaster of a game. As the title states, the game contains 52 “all new and all original” video games at a bargain price of $200! Now that sounds like a rip-off, but Active tries to pass it off as “less than $4 per game”. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the manual only contains brief and useless information about each game. If you wanted a complete manual, you had to fill out a form listing any game you wanted a manual of and send $1 for each game. You might as well have set your money on fire if you were going to be that retarded about wasting it. Now, the whole $200 price sounds like a rip-off, but if the cartridge truly had 52 good games to play, then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

But it didn’t have 52 good games.

It didn’t even have 10 good games.

It had ZERO good games. That’s right, all the games found in Action 52 were horrible. And how exactly do I know this besides reading Wikipedia? Because I decided to actually play the game myself in order to truly describe how big of a rip-off it was. Because I don’t have the actual cartridge (I’m not paying $200 for this crap!), I used a rom along with the RockNES emulator, so some results may vary.

Before I even start playing I want to stop because of that horrible intro. In case you were wondering, I wasn’t trying to be corny with that “Lights, Camera, Action 52!” comment. This is actually how the game starts up, and you can’t skip it. The music that plays is some horrible 8-bit static version of the popular hip-hop song “It Takes Two”. After the horrible sampling is over, a grainy voice tells you to make your selection, and so we go into the Action 52 menu. As the title states, you can select from 52 different games, all of Atari 2600 quality. Seeing how the Action 52 was released when the NES was about 5 years old, those kinds of graphics are pretty disappointing.

These games are, without a doubt, the worst games I have ever played in my life.

The horror begins…

Fire Breathers
For some reason they decided to only make the game available to two players. You each take control of a dragon, and you fly around a small area shooting. The only things to get in your way are anything gray and you have to avoid other stuff that I thought were power ups at first but actually decrease your health. The game ends after 8 rounds. Why 8 rounds instead of 7 or until a player got a certain number of wins, I don’t know. Because it needs two players you can’t have any fun playing on your own, and that makes this game just about pointless.

Star Evil
First of all, I thought it was called “Starevil”. Secondly, the moment you start this game, an obstacle immediately gets in your way that will kill you in one second! I literally lost all my lives in about 10 seconds because I had no idea what the hell was happening. That was freaking annoying. So anyway, the graphics are really terrible in that sometimes you’ll die when it looks like you’ve touched nothing. Also, sometimes the boss won’t even decide to show up at the end of a level, basically freezing the game. No wonder you get killed 2 seconds in: It was a warning to stop playing immediately.

You might as well play the game with your eyes closed.

It looks like a Donkey Kong rip-off, only it rip-offs nothing fun about Donkey Kong. Most of the time, you’ll be playing this game in the complete dark, and you can only see what’s going on when you shoot at these Michael Jackson look-alikes. That’s it. That’s the whole game. I thought it was a rom glitch, but yes, THAT’S THE WHOLE GAME! You also have a jump button but you can’t jump high enough to do crap, and you can’t move while jumping. As I will unfortunately find out, just about all the games have this jump problem. Of all the Action 52 games, Illuminator had to be one of the very worst.

G-Force Fighters
Unfortunately, this isn’t based on the anime. This was a generic side scrolling shooter, where you can actually pass the levels easily by mostly hiding near the bottom of the screen. Not the very bottom, because whatever that thing is it kills you. The enemies fire back in this one, and the ammo is literally one pixel in length, and since some of them are dark blue on a black background, you can’t freaking see them! So anyway, once you get past the third level, the game starts at the first level again. This continues until you give up or the invisible bullets kill you. At least the music was kind of catchy.

Money contests in video games never seem to work.

See that title pic? At this point all the games just had generic text pop-up for the menu. This one had a title pic at first, which definitely meant that this was supposed to be one of their key games. In fact, anytime you start up Action 52, this is the first game highlighted on the screen. Active held a $104,000 contest to those who can pass Level 5. From I’ve heard however, glitches in the game prevented people from even getting past Level 3. When I tried playing this game, I couldn’t even get past Level 1! Why? Because the jumping controls in this game was crap. You can’t move while jumping, which means that trying to jump over pits becomes a pain in the ass! It was later I can move while in mid-air but I have to tap the control pad a LOT. It’s also doesn’t help that the guy I’m playing as looks like that loser from Deadly Towers and I’m shooting at enemies who resemble Gumbi. Dragon’s Lair for the NES is easier than this crap.

Silver Sword
This game wasn’t as bad as all the other Action 52 games, and that really says something about a game. I have no idea what the hell the enemies are, so since just about all the enemies looked like insects, that’s what I called them. It’s amazing that for enemies who resemble insects, my human character moves as slooooooow as a slug. The enemies go in all sorts of random directions, get stuck in trees, and disappear once they reach the near bottom of the screen. There was no score and no health bar display in this one for some reason. It’s like the makers have coin tosses on each decision on what each game gets and doesn’t get. That’s the only reasonable explanation I can think of for some games. As for this game, the first level was soooo long I didn’t bother trying to complete the third stage, which just like G-Force, sends you back to the first level.

Critical Bypass

Take a look at that screenshot. That isn’t a ROM glitch. That’s what the actual background looks like. Add in Tetris blocks as enemies, plus ships that immediately home in on your ass, plus lousy firing controls, and you have yet another candidate for the worst of Action 52.

Jupiter Scope
This plays like a Space Invaders clone where you shoot at rockets coming down at you before they hit the city. If they do hit the city…nothing happens. No score penalty, no destruction sound effects…nothing! So basically there’s no reason to risk losing one of your lives to reach a comet at one of the far sides of the stages. The goal of the game is to shoot a lot for no reason. There’s a Level 2 where the moon on the stage changes into a spiral…thing. And that’s it.

Due to what appears to be a ROM or emulator glitch (but at this point I’m blaming the game), I couldn’t play this game. I thought I could when the screen went all black and it would play like Illuminator, but no. So instead of describing a game that would’ve just sucked anyway, here’s a tiger:


Operation Full-Moon
For a game that’s supposed to take place on the moon, it’s so damn green. It’s another horizontal shooter like about 20 other Action 52 games, and just like Star Evil, an obstacle will you in the first second of the game. It also doesn’t help that the bullets you fire is basically the same color as the background, so good luck trying to figure out if you fired or not. Also, even after you kill an enemy, it’s block that it was on will still kill you if you touch it. But sometimes it won’t. Not much more to say about this crap.

Dam Busters
The title of the game makes no sense. You can say that for a lot of Action 52 games, but in this one it really doesn’t make sense because you play as a beaver. Why would beavers be busting dams? Don’t they build them? Anyways, despite the fact that you don’t actually bust any dams and the stuff you’re shooting look like cookies, for a little bit I thought this game was actually fun. That was until an enemy appeared out of nowhere behind me and killed me. Enemies will appear just out of nowhere in places where they’re not supposed to appear. The cookies they throw at you also move at an incredibly slow speed, making it annoying to avoid. The cookies you shoot go at regular speed, but you can’t move while you shoot or otherwise the bullet moves with you like it’s attached to you. There are these icons you can collect in the game, but I have no idea what they do. There’s no sound effect to indicate whether whatever you picked up was an extra life, power up, or like in Fire Breathers, actually harmed you. Overall I had hopes this game wound shine through the blackened darkness that is Action 52, but alas, it was not meant to be.

How many freaking space shooters does thing have?! At least this one doesn’t have an immediate death obstacle. Just like other shooters, it’s a one button affair with obstacles you didn’t think would you but they do, but the difference here is that you keep firing your weapon over and over, enemies won’t ever appear. So basically, hold on to that turbo rapid fire button and you’ll get through this game in no time. Only when I tried to do that, the ROM suffered a seizure and glitched itself to hell. I assume it committed suicide.

Haunted Halls of Wentworth
The title select screen couldn’t even get the name of it right, calling it “Haunted Hill”. The game looked like a Castlevania rip-off with the character sort of resembling Simon Belmont and her shooting crosses. But unlike other crap in Action 52, you can jump while moving. I found it amazing that you can jump and move in this game, but not in Ooze, their landmark title that they tried to hold a $104,000 contest with! The ghosts are a bit hard to hit because they appear too high to hit, you have to move back and then jump before you can hit them. It’s annoying but at least the basic functions of the game work. Sometimes a ghost will appear behind you, and they look like the ghosts from Pac-Man. I was actually have some fun with this since when the character shoots a cross, she strikes a pose similar to Jotaro Kujo with the finger pointing out. Then I got to the boss which felt like it took FOREVER to kill because you can’t tell how much damage it’s taking. So after killing the boss, I got to the second level where I couldn’t kill the spiders that jumped up and down, and then got killed by what I thought was just pointless background animation. So much for having fun.

Chill Out
This is a game where you play as an Eskimo/Ice Climber wannabe in a Donkey Kong setting and try to shoot other Eskimos. The only problem here is that it suffers from “Action 52 Jump Syndrome” (can’t move while jumping, and you can’t jump high enough to avoid enemy fire), so going over gaps is a bitch. Falling through them is also a bit, because if you fall off a ladder or go through the gap and drop any more then 5 lines of pixels, you die. You don’t even hit the ground; your guy just stands in mid-air and dies. For a game called Chill Out, it made me furious after playing it.

You’re a diver that swims around and shoots white lines at sharks swimming across the waters. You can’t get too close other the bad collision detection will cause you death. Sometimes you have to wait a while before a shark appears. That’s pretty much all there is to this game, which sadly makes it better then a lot of the other crap in the Action 52 library.

At first I thought I had already played this game when it called G-Force fighter. The game played just like G-Force, the bullets were hard to see just like G-Force, but the difference is that there are these columns that block the view of the ground that will kill you. Oh wait…they don’t kill you? See, with the graphical problems of Action 52, I was so sure that the different colored skies and ground would kill me, but they don’t. The boss you reach at the end moves so slow and sometimes will go all the way to the left and you can’t hit it for an amount of time. It also doesn’t help that the bullets seemed to go right through the boss, and you can only how much your damaging it by your score. But hey, if you’re lucky enough the boss won’t show up at all, which means you can quit this crap faster!

French Baker
Another Donkey Kong rip-off just like Chill out, except no “Action 52 Jump Syndrome”. Just like Chill Out the controls you die in mid-air if you drop about an inch. The other typical Action 52 problems are here, including enemies blinking on and off screen, enemies appearing out of nowhere to kill you, and overall just being not fun to play.

Atmos Quake
It’s yet another Action 52 space shooter, so you know what that means. Collision detection with what can and can’t kill you, horrible music, enemies you have no idea what they’re supposed to be…yep, it’s got everything but the instant death obstacle. Did I mention Active was charging $200 for Action 52?

Oh my god, it’s a freaking puzzle game! Finally, a game I might actually enjoy! In this puzzling puzzle, you look like what appears to be a purple shlong and you have to go up on the board and avoid the black squares that cause instant death, but the real challenge is avoiding the squares that keep resizing themselves, because touching those will also cause you to die. But sometimes you stand on what appears to be a safe tile, and you still die. I haven’t found out if there’s a second level or what, but I don’t care to find out.

Space Dreams
It’s an Action 52 shooter…but with a BABY THEME to it! Your ship is a pacifier, the enemies are now baby related stuff (toy bears, diaper pins, letters, numbers, and those things you hang over their cribs), and you have to avoid obstacles that may or may not actually kill you. This wasn’t actually so bad, which for Action 52 standards, makes this game phenomenal.

Bags of money = Death. Talk about subliminal anti-capitalism.

While most games get the generic title treatment, Streemerz doesn’t even have a title displayed. You play as a mouse and you shoot a streamer that goes diagonal, and use it to climb up the platforms. That’s the only thing you can use it for, and seeing how there are enemies out there to kill you, it’s annoying. When you also find out that immovable objects like bunnies popping out of a hat, it’s really annoying. When you see a bag of money and think that’d be something you can grab, only for it to wind up killing you, it’s REALLY FREAKING ANNOYING! A bag of money kills me?! That’s like if Mario was killed by collecting coins! I also found out that when I clearly pick the one player mode, it goes to the two player mode. So in order to play one player, you actually have to pick the one player option due to the glitch, except if you do that, the game freezes after you die once. This game makes me want to kill someone.

At this point I want to light this game on fire. This is yet ANOTHER shooter, only you remain at the bottom of the screen as the enemies come down and take up space in the same row you’re on. Some of the enemies will glitch into a mess of pixels, but unlike other shooters, this has more then three level! Only the difference between the levels is zero, just like my enjoyment level for this game.

Bubblegum Rosie
Rosie is an action game where she shoots gum balls that don’t actually hurt the enemies at all. The “A52JS” is back, and if you jump into the spikes, you won’t die until you move around in the pit a couple times. Rosie is a worthless bitch.

The game plays like Falldown except it’s sideways, but your character is too damn slow to avoid the walls. Unless you have the world’s best timing, you will die in the first second several times. Even if you get past the “Action 52 First Obstacle of Instant Death”, there’s also a part of the level which is impossible to get through 90% of the time. You know that part in Battletoads where you ride that jet-bike or whatever and you have to time your jumps on the ramps and hurdles? That part is easier than this game.

This is a game called Underground and you play as a black person. Uh huh. In this one you go around the stage shooting something out of your mouth at enemies that will regenerate at speeds to piss you off. They will also appear in places where it’s too hard to hit them, and sometimes they’ll be right behind you to kill you instantly. Need to climb a ladder? Odds are there’s going to be an enemy waiting at the top. Worse, it’s likely that there will be about 3 or 4 enemies waiting, and you have a very short amount of room to maneuver. Oh, and there are these mushrooms lying around that you can’t touch or else you’ll die.

Rocket Jockey
It’s a space shooter…but with a COWBOY on a ROCKET! At this point you should know how the typical Action 52 Shooter plays like; only this one at two levels that were the same thing and the background for some reason was orange.

Is there anything you really need to know about this game that can’t be answered with this screenshot?

Aside from the “A52JS”, there’s nothing much else to talk about this game that can’t be shown in that image. Actually, there was one thing: I went right through the platform sometimes, so that probably makes this one the worst of the A52 platform games.

Cry Baby
You play a baby going around a Donkey Kong like stage, shooting at enemies with what I thought was his pee. It’s probably milk out of his bottle, but I thought it’d be more funny to think that was spraying his piss at them instead. You can climb up some of the furniture; if you fall of them you cry and lose a life. Can’t take a fall from the furniture? What a cry baby!

And here I thought these two would only fight in Mugen

You’d think a game that plays like Double Dragon where you look like Sub-Zero and you fight someone who looks like Spider-Man would be fun. But it isn’t, because there’s no difference in whether you punch and kick, and because of the lousy game design, you’ll die before reaching the end of the first level. Worst of all, there was no slashing of any kind, unless you count your wrists for playing this.

Crazy Shuffle
Imagine a maze game where you couldn’t touch the walls or you’d die. You have a gun to shoot at enemies, but your bullets are the size of one freaking pixel. Objects that look like power-ups don’t do anything, and playing this game for one whole minute will cause you to go crazy.

Fuzz Power

You see that old naked guy in the picture? That’s the character you play as in this crappy platformer that looked like it tried to rip-off Sonic. Moving on…

Shooting Gallery
Just like a regular shooting gallery, you take a gun and shoot at objects floating around the place. Thankfully there was no music and actually was quite relaxing to play. Until about a minute in when it crashed, thus making me restart the game and having to hear that annoying intro again. Thanks for nothing Shooting Gallery!

You’re a kung-fu looking guy who hits enemies with his lollipop (of JUSTICE~!). To climb a ladder you need to constantly push the jump button, and if you try to jump from high in the air to a platform below, you’re going to die. Makes me think how Mario has been able to jump from such high places and not even so much as break an ankle, meanwhile there are characters like this guy lugging around a lollipop (of JUSTICE~!) who dies from falls such as this. I guess video game characters from the Atari days just didn’t have the jumping capabilities the video game characters today take so much for granted, and that’s a damn shame. And yes the game still sucked.

Evil Empire
Your guy is literally made up of about 12 pixels total, and you shoot enemies that are made up of the same number or less. You climb up and down ladders, you can’t fall off platforms or you’ll die in midair, you collect purple rocks that do nothing, and sometimes your fire goes through the enemies. Speaking of the enemies, I could not tell at all what the hell they were supposed to be, but I assumed they were Russians because of the buildings in the background that look like the ones in Tetris. Damn you, evil Russian empire!

You play as a Mexican guy who walks up a street, collecting sombreros and shooting cars as the graphics constantly flash on you. What the collecting of sombreros is meant for I don’t know, because neither my score nor invisible health bar went up. You can’t get on the sidewalks for some reason, and you shoot at other Mexicans who you know are evil because they were purple hats. I was taking multiple hits from the cars so I assumed there was a health bar, but because the presence of a health bar is random depending on the game you play, it’s frustrating. At level 2 I was in a desert area where I had a hard time moving through spaces that my character was small enough to get pass through. The enemies go through solid objects like a bunch of cheaters, which might explain how they get to this country so easily, also because they can get hit by about 3 or 4 cars before going down. In level 3 I was back on the street, but now I can move on the sidewalks. So in essence, level 3 got easier then level 1; at least until I died from touching the water even though I was clearly several pixels away from it. What is it with Mexico and having such deadly water?

Storm Over the Desert
I just noticed that guy has the same colors as the Cheetahmen.

Oh my, a fancy title graphic! That means they were trying to put some effort into this one! Five minutes later, I realized that my tank was slower then the enemy tanks and they can strafe, there was 40-foot Saddam look-alikes running around that were way too freaking hard to hit, and half the time you fight in a green area that no way resembles a desert. Either that or it’s a grassy field, but I don’t think grassy fields would be so close to deserts, would they? If our tanks really suck this bad and there are 40-foot Iraqis running around, this might explain why we’re losing the war.

Mash Man

I swear that was the same guy from Fuzz Power! And just like Fuzz Power, this game sucks. All you basically do in this game is jump over enemies, and it’s frustrating when you die by being a few pixels off of actually hitting them. Screw this game.

They Came…
It’s a one screen space shooter where this algae looking thing I thought would kill me actually didn’t, and it crashed after the first stage. I restarted the game and then the algae thing did kill me and once again the game crashed. So now I’ll never figure who “they” were and why “they” came.

Laser League
Of all the generic side-scrolling space shooters, this had to be the best and yet most boring one of them all. The only music in this game was a monotone noise that sounded like a razor from a barber shop. The boss looked like Pac-Man in a box, and after level 2 the game goes back to level 1. Damn. If this game had several more levels…and power-ups…and varieties of enemies and bosses…it definitely would’ve been worth the approximate $4 I would’ve paid for this game.

This game is Prince of Persia crossed with Indiana Jones crossed with dog crap. Mostly dog crap. Like Streemerz, there was no title screen, and picking one option lead to picking the other. For some reason, I can only jump while moving and having to jump straight up requires pressing the up button. After I got past the first screen, the second screen had me dropping to my death right away because I apparently ran off a freaking cliff! After dying once, my character suddenly decided to stand still until he died or I reset the game. As much as I hate the intro, I’d rather reset the game.

City of Doom
In this game you have to climb up a building and avoid the enemies and windows. The windows was a pain in the ass to figure out because I couldn’t tell if all the windows couldn’t be touched or certain shades of windows or the dark side of the windows or what have you. The enemies come at you from the side you have to tap the controller sideways in order to make sure you’re firing at that direction, but if you happen to tap the controller and touch a bad window, you die. I also find it weird that bowling balls drop from below and hit you right in the face, yet you can keep going up. Just when I thought I was going to reach the top of the building I was climbing, I died and lost all interest.

Bits and Pieces
You can move while jumping in this game! The problem? You can’t fire any weapon. It’s like some kind of weird trade-off in the world of Action 52. You want to be able to fire a weapon to kill enemies and not move while jumping, or do you want to move while jumping and be absolutely defenseless? Keep in mind that either decision will screw you because sometimes the enemies can never be hit or sometimes the collision detection won’t work. Anyway, here’s your some zombie looking thing jumping over werewolves, skeletons with the same color as the background, and purple things that remind me of Grimace.

Beeps and Blips
It’s a space shooter that was actually decent to play. That’s right: DECENT TO PLAY! Yeah the shooting is a bit wonky because you can’t tell which direction you’re firing and the homing enemies are a bitch, but here there are power-ups to give extra health. No annoying obstacles to kill you (though I died from being too cautious because I was sure they would kill me). Moving DIAGNOLLY! Beeps and Blips is truly the crown jewel of Action 52, but saying that is kind of like finding a pearl in a heap of dog crap. Yeah it’s a valuable jewel, but it’s still surrounded and covered in dog crap.

Manchester Beat
Your some generic pixelated guy running in this stage that’s all black with pink things at the top and bottom, with music note blocks lying around likely ripped off from Super Mario Bros 3, and because you have the ability to punch, your jumping ability sucks. If you try to punch at the very top of your jump, you’ll actually stay in mid-air and throw a punch like you. The rest of this game I’m pretty sure I already complained out with the rest of the terrible platformer games in this collection.

As a ninja turtle with a shotgun, you run around in the city shooting down what I thought were green Asian people while anonymous hands are dropping bombs on you. Except the bombs drop in a way you have to have absolute perfect timing to get through because they give you too little room to move through. Actually, that was the first time. The next set of bombs was easier to get through. I don’t know who the boss is, but I hope they suffer a horrible flaming death for this garbage.

This is a space shooter, only instead of being a ship that shoots in space, you’re an ant that’s shooting in the ground. It’s plays like Spread Fire, but when the enemy ants reach the row your move left and right on, sometimes they’ll never go back up and you’ll die of a cheap death because you can’t shoot sideways. Also, your ant is pink, which might explain why all the other ants and spiders want you do desperately dead.

Hambo’s Adventures
The enemies are so freaking cheap in this Donkey Kong clone that I can’t get past the first level. They appear at completely random places Sometimes they’ll take up the entire top row where you have to exit, and sometimes they will block a ladder and NEVER MOVE, meaning you’re trapped. Also, unlike most Action 52 games where you get four lives, here you only get ONE. Die once and the game is over. With bad jumping controls (sometimes you’ll never be able to jump), unfair deaths, and music to drive me insane, this is truly the hallmark of an Action 52 game.

Time Warp Tickers

At one point I think I was on drugs when playing this game, so I took a screenshot of the actual game because I thought I was playing some crappy platformer where I played as fingers, doors were in the middle of the air, and hitting enemies caused the word “Time?” to appear. When I found out that this was the actual game and not some kind of hallucination, it made me want to do drugs.

Once again I get another game that doesn’t work from the start. So instead I present one of the weirdest crossovers in comic book history:


I love that team-up line at the bottom.

Ninja Assault
This game was a Ninja Gaiden rip-off. There’s really nothing more to say. The ninja looks like Ryu Hayabusa, birds come down and annoy you like in Ninja Gaiden, but the difference here is that this game is easier. That’s not to say it’s better: This is still a pretty crappy game. Where Ryu uses weapons like swords, shurikens , and magic spells, this guy just bangs two sticks together. And somehow this is enough to kill the enemies. After killing the same enemies over and over, I really wanted to go play Ninja Gaiden, but alas, there are still two games left in this crap.

Robbie and the Robots
Robbie is a fat ass (either that or his dick is poking through his shirt) who shoots a gun I confused with his finger because it’s the same color as his hand. The robots that come out at you sometimes walk backwards into you, and you’re in some kind of weird arctic cave. Everything bad about Action 52 platformers applies here, so now it’s time for the final game of the cartridge.

Action Gamemaster Starring The Cheetahmen

What the hell?! A storyline?! An intro cutscene is playing to this game?! YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! At first I didn’t even read what was going on, because after 51 really terrible games with generic titles, this one started off with an intro! Finally…FINALLY I’m going to be playing a REAL game! Not some lame garbage with terrible controls and cheap deaths! This, THIS is the game I’ve finally been waiting for!

Okay, so going back, how does that intro go?

The Action Gamemaster was at home playing his video game. When suddenly…
An arm reached out of the tv and pulled him inside….
When he looked up he saw three gigantic yellow bodies. It was The Cheetamen [sic]
He began to explain….The Cheetahmen told of the enemies here in Game World. Dont worry we will fight for you…
The Cheetahmen ran off….
….And now….
The Cheetahmen

So basically, the “Action Gamemaster” seems to go inside his television and enter the “Game World”, where he meets the TMNT wannabes known as the Cheetahmen (or Cheetamen deciding how you want to spell it), ripping off the plot of Captain N which was semi-popular at the time. I shouldn’t be surprised since at this point everything about Action 52 has been a rip-off. The Cheetahmen basically tell him to stay put as they go fight off the game enemies or their arch nemesis explained in the mini-comic that came with the game or something. According to the manual the Action Gamemaster (they really couldn’t have given this kid a name?) turns into one of them, but it doesn’t actually show that in the storyline anywhere. Yeah…I’m starting to think Active made cheap Russian programmers create the Action 52. Hell, it was people like them that created Big Rigs, and Action 52 feels like the Big Rigs of 1991.

Every two levels in the game you switch to a different Cheetahmen, so this game, if it doesn’t crash on you that is, has a total of six levels. You begin with the club wielding Aries, who fights just like Hayabusa wannabe from Ninja Assault. Immediately you’ll notice just how better the game looks, sounds, and actually plays. So basically, this was the only game they really gave a crap about. As for the enemies you fight? Why, it’s the enemies you’ve seen over the past 51 (or technically 49) games before it! The giant Iraqis from Storm Over the Desert! The bees from City of Doom! The spider from Dedant! The spaceships from one of the dozen or so space shooters! It’s a warm and fuzzy nostalgia feeling that lasts about a minute or so. One thing that really annoyed me was that when you hit the enemies or the enemies hit you, they almost make the same sound effect, and considering you can take multiple and there’s no health bar (51 games later and they still couldn’t get this right?!), it’s a pain in the ass.

After completing the first two levels I now played as Hercules, a big guy who doesn’t like fighting and yet is forced to because I need to do SOMETHING against these enemies. I continued to fight against enemies that caused me to go temporarily insane from the previous games, until I reached an enemy that fired multiple bullets at me, and since Hercules is too damn big, he gets hit with just about every one of those bullets and dies. It’s at this point where anything remotely positive about the Cheetahmen is thrown out the window, I lose all my lives because there’s no way I can kill that enemy.


And so ends my journey through the 52 (technically 50) levels of hell created by Active Enterprises. I definitely think that Beeps and Blips is the closet to be considered a good game in Action 52. But unfortunately, that one game isn’t worth paying less than $4 for, and Action 52 was definitely not worth $200. After Action 52 bombed, the only thing Active did was have a booth in CES ’94 talking about future projects, none of which would come to fruition because the company disappeared off the face of the Earth, and mankind was better off for it.

Now, in celebration of going through 52 (or 50) games worth of crap, I’m in the mood for the musical soundings of Rob Base and DJ Easy Rock. Hit it!

It takes two to make a thing go right,
But it takes 52 to make it go all so horribly wrong!


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Vincent Chiucchi
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