Action 52 is an unlicensed shovelware game released for both the NES and Sega Genesis by Active. It is called Action 52 because there is 52 games, though the Sega Genesis version added an endurance game of all the games as the 52nd. The most famous game is Cheetahmen, which Active hoped to transform in a franchise with comic books, action figures, and a Saturday morning cartoon. That game received a sequel which was left unfinished and unreleased.
It's a rare game and despite its horrible quality, is valued among game collectors. There have also been attempts to create polished remakes of the games.
List of all the 52 Games (NES Version)
- Fire Breathers (Displayed as "Firebreather" in the menu) the only 2-player game.
- Star Evil (Displayed as "Starevil" in the menu) the first Space-Shooter game in cart that starts immediately with an obstacle.
- Illuminator You play as kid in a dark room, where you have to kill vampires to light up the room for 3 seconds. The Dark Room is very dark, so dark that you can even see the reflection of yourself on the screen.
- G-Force Fighter (Displayed as "G-Force Fgt." in the menu and "G-Force" in the title screen) Horizontal 2D space shooter which has crappy graphics for NES.
- Ooze (One of only two games on this cart with a proper title screen) the first game that uses the B button... for jumping!
- Silver Sword
- Critical Bypass (misspelled "Crytical Bypass" on the title screen and "Critical Bp." in the menu ; the game with the worst graphics on the cart)
- Jupiter Scope
- Alfredo and the Fettucinis (misspelled "Alfred n the Fettuc" on the title screen and "Alfredo" in the menu) One of the two games that didn't work on the NES version, but did on the Genesis version. (It works on NES emulators)
- Operation Full Moon (Displayed as "Operat. Moon" in the menu)
- Dam Busters Those Damn Busters!
- Haunted Hills of Wentworth (Named "Haunted Halls" on the title screen and "Haunted Hill" in the menu)
- Chill Out
- Sharks the worse version of LJN's Jaws.
- French Baker
- Atmos Quake
- Meong A crappy version of Minesweeper.
- Space Dreams Another space shooter in which you play as a pacifier shooting weird dolls and safety pins.
- Spread Fire
- Bubble Gum Rosie (misspelled "Bubble Gum Rossie" on the title screen and "Bublgum Rosy" on the menu)
- Micro Mike, a primitive version of Flappy Bird; very hard because the character goes too fast and enemies constantly block your way, except unlike Flappy Bird you don't die immediately if you hit a wall.
- Rocket Jockey You play as a cowboy riding a rocket while swinging his lasso, Shooting flying cows that turns into a bow of cereal when they're dead.
- Non-Human A sidescrolling game that has many weird faces covering the bottom half screen.
- Cry Baby
- Slashers Despite sounding like a horror game, it's actually a poor man's version of Double Dragon.
- Crazy Shuffle
- Fuzz Power You play as a fuzzy guy with big feet, If you got hit and out of HP, You'll be Naked.
- Shooting Gallery
- Lollipops You play as a guy who uses a giant lollipop as a weapon.
- Evil Empire
- Storm Over the Desert (One of only two games on this cart with a proper title screen; misspelled "Storm over Desert in the menu and "Storm Over The Des. on the title screen) The tank game featuring a giant Saddam Hussein as an enemy, while the other soldiers are tiny.
- Mash Man
- They Came from Outer Space (the title screen calls it "They Came...")
- Lazer League
- Billy Bob
- City of Doom
- Bits and Pieces
- Beeps and Blips
- Hambo's Adventures (the title screen calls it "Hambo")
- Timewarp Tickers You play as a pair of fingers. When an enemy is killed, the word "Time?" is displayed.
- Jigsaw Another game that's unplayable. (except if you use a emulator)
- Ninja Assault
- Robbie and the Robots
- Cheetahmen The most famous game in cart. Featuring many recycled sprites from another games in cart. It is also the only game that has cutscenes.
Why it Sucks
- Despite having 52 games (or 50 games if omitting the unplayable games), none are very appealing, most have less content than a regular Atari 2600 game, and all are nearly unplayable. The Genesis version is somewhat better. (All 52 games are playable on an emulator).
- In the Genesis version, the first screen that appears when you boot up the game says "Licensed by Sega", then the very next screen says "Not Licensed by Sega".
- Very poor graphics..
- Frequent crashes in the NES version with some games.
- If you play an actual cartridge of the game for more than an hour, the cartridge becomes hot and starts to smell of burning plastic.
- Misleading/inconsistent titles.
- Inconsistent difficulty. Some games are unwinnable, some games are impossible to lose.
- The NES version has a large number of mediocre space shooters.
- Weird designs.
- Some games are heavily glitched with some games like Star Evil having bosses that don't bother to show up.
- Some games don't even load in the NES version.
- Poor controls, including poor jumping.
- The price for the game was $199 or almost $4 per game.
- Poor gameplay.
- Poor animation.
- Horrible collision detection.
- Lack of any common sense including games like Evil Empire and Billy Bob where you die in mid-air.
- Character/enemy designs often make no sense.
- Most of the music tracks are terrible.
- In the Genesis version the only way to change games is to press the reset button on the console.
- Lack of enemies in most games.
- Stupid weapons (such as a giant lollipop) and misleading power-ups.
- Plagiarised music (the "Yeah! Woo!" drum break, used for the game's title screen, is taken from It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock; several songs were stolen from The Music Studio for the Atari ST)
- Bad grammar despite being developed in an English-speaking country.
- The manual only has very short descriptions of each game, which most of the time are inaccurate—Bits and Pieces, for instance, is described to be a puzzle game when it's actually a platformer.
- No reward for completing any of the games—You're either forced to start the whole game from the beginning again or get a game-over screen.
- Almost every game is exactly the same as the last.
- The developers made a pathetic attempt at an epic final game called "Cheetahmen", which was one of the worst ones, coincidentally.
- In Cheetahmen and a few other games, they reused characters from other games in the compilation.
- The Genesis version actually has only 51 games. As mentioned in the summary, the 52nd is an endurance game of all the games.
- In the Genesis version, when the dog dies in the game “Freeway”, the dog falls apart and you can see its organs! That’s DISTURBING!
- the intro in the nes verson will glitch for a little bit
- Some of the music tracks are actually good.
- The graphics in the Genesis version are actually good.
All the information in this section is taken from the Cutting Room Floor's article on Action 52 for the NES.
In Cheetahmen, each character has its own cutscene before playing as them. However, the cutscene for Apollo appears to have no text accompanied with the obligatory image. However, this is because Active forgot to put the alphabet characters next to the image tiles in the ROM. The hidden text, which reads as follows, can be found in a memory viewer during the cutscene and levels 5 and 6 of Cheetahmen.
APOLLO IS THE MASTER OF THE
CROSSBOW. USE THE CROSSBOW TO
DEFEAT THE ENEMIES ON THE LAST
TWO LEVELS AND GET DR. MORBIS
Unused Title Screen
French Baker has an unused title screen using the Cheetahmen 2 font and can be seen in the PPU as French Baker is loading.
There was a contest planned for this game where anyone who could beat level 5 of Ooze would be entered into a drawing for $104,000. However, on the original version of the game, Ooze locks up on level 3, making it impossible to complete. On the revision though, it can be completed. The ending reads:
YOU MAY HAVE JUST WON...
TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH OF THIS
SCREEN AND SEND TO THE
ADDRESS LISTED IN THE RULES
AND REGULATIONS. YOUR PERSONAL CODE:
In Ooze, entering 07 in the value of $1B38 in the rom while the game is loaded will bring the player to a hidden Level 8. This level takes place in a different environment to the rest of the levels, taking place in the outdoors with pink oozy things and giant water droplets from Level 1. There's also a 1-Up which can't be collected.