Action 52 is an unlicensed compilation of 52 games released for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis by Active Enterprises. The most infamous game is Cheetahmen, which Active Enterprises hoped to transform into 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, it is valued among game collectors. There have also been attempts to create polished remakes of the games.
This collection of games is featured on Angry Video Game Nerd's Shit Scale. (level: orange/severe, "Stay away, don't even think about it.")
List of all the 52 Games (NES Version)
- Fire Breathers (displayed as "Firebreather" in the menu): the only two-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 three 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): Basically a horizontal 2D space shooter which has crappy graphics even for NES standards.
- Ooze (one of only two games on this cart with an actual 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): the game that is also known as "seizure". It's Critical that you Bypass this game!
- Jupiter Scope; yet another space game.
- Alfredo and the Fettucinis (misspelled "Alfred n the Fettuc" on the title screen and "Alfredo" in the menu): One of the two games that doesn't work on the NES version, but does on the Genesis version (it only works on NES emulators and Rev B Carts of Action 52).
- Operation Full Moon (Displayed as "Operat. Moon" in the menu): Space shooter.
- Dam Busters: "Those Damn Busters!" You play as a Winnie Pooh-like character navigating a maze. However, you are unable to scroll the screen back left, meaning you can easily get stuck if you hit a dead end.
- Haunted Hills of Wentworth (Named "Haunted Halls" on the title screen and "Haunted Hill" in the menu)
- Chill Out
- Sharks: A game that makes LJN's Jaws look like a masterpiece.
- Megalonia: Space Shooter where you fly through arches that look like McDonald's Golden Arches.
- French Baker: An interesting thing to note is that this has a unused title screen.
- 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.
- Streemerz: You control a clown which climbs up platforms like Spider-Man, avoiding enemies and money bags, which turn into green frowny faces. If you get more green frowny faces, you lose a life.
- 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.
- Underground: A platforming game where you die by touching mushrooms!
- 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 side scrolling game that has many weird faces covering the bottom half screen.
- Cry Baby: You control a baby equipped with an unknown weapon, whom is the same size as the parents, and can easily lose. The floor resembles ice cubes.
- Slashers: Despite sounding like a horror game, it's actually a poor man's version of Double Dragon.
- Crazy Shuffle: You control a really small thing that roams around in a maze.
- Fuzz Power: You play as a fuzzy guy with big feet, taking damage results in him gradually turning nude.
- Shooting Gallery: The game never ends, you don't run out of ammo, you don't die, the enemies don't disappear until you shoot them, and the game crashes when you try the "Pause+Select" method to return to the game selection screen, forcing you to reset the system.
- Lollipops: You play as a guy who uses a giant lollipop as a weapon, and you jump to climb a ladder!
- Evil Empire: You play as a tiny person that has to shoot all the enemies, but you die in mid-air.
- Sombreros: Play as a man in a sombrero, which is on the streets shooting vacuum cleaners.
- 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, also, you can't die, so this game is your personal hell until you restart. If you play on an emulator, however, you'll die after 4 hits.
- Mash Man: You play as a similar character to the one in Fuzz Power. But he wears clothes and sunglasses, and you jump on enemies to kill them in a world made up of Lego-like blocks.
- They Came from Outer Space (the title screen calls it "They Came...")
- Lazer League
- Billy Bob: A lame rip-off of Indiana Jones and/or even Prince of Persia, one of the games where you die in midair by falling far enough.
- City of Doom: You play as a guy climbing a very tall building while the people in the building drop bowling balls and other objects out the windows to try to kill you.
- Bits and Pieces: You play as some weird guy in a cemetery were the only objective is to jump to avoid monsters.
- Beeps and Blips: A re-skin of "They Came...". It even uses the same music and sound effects.
- Boss: This game actually involves playing as a frog running around on a street gunning down enemies while avoiding bombs that fall out of windows.
- Dedant: A lousy and bad version of Centipede\Millipede.
- Hambo's Adventures: (the title screen calls it "Hambo") Contrary to the title, it's not a pig version of Rambo, but instead, a Donkey Kong rip-off where you only have one life and where it's possible to get a game over in less than a second.
- Timewarp Tickers: You play as a pair of fingers in a checkerboard land with a blue background, checkerboard floor with upside down doors and other random objects in the sky. When an enemy is killed, the word "Time?" is displayed. If you die, the word "Time?" is also displayed.
- Jigsaw: Another game that's unplayable (except if you use an emulator or have a Rev B cartridge).
- Ninja Assault: Another mediocre beat-em-up.
- Robbie and the Robots (the title screen calls it "Robbie n the Robots")
- Cheetahmen: The most infamous game in cart. Featuring many recycled sprites from another games in cart. It is also the only game that has cutscenes (during the initial cutscene the characters are misspelled "Cheetamen" also).
Why They Suck
- Very poor graphics.
- Misleading/inconsistent titles.
- Inconsistent difficulty. Some games are unwinnable, others are impossible to lose.
- Some games are heavily glitched with some games like Star Evil having bosses that don't bother to show up.
- Character/enemy designs often make no sense.
- Most of the music tracks are terrible save for a few exceptions. They also often use dissonant voices and are repellent to the ear.
- Lack of enemies in most games.
- Stupid weapons (such as a giant lollipop) and misleading power-ups in games like Streemerz.
- 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.
- The developers made a pathetic attempt at an epic final game called "Cheetahmen", which was one of the worst ones, coincidentally.
- There are no continues or checkpoints in any of the 52 games.
Nintendo Entertainment System
- Quantity Over Quality: 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 some emulators).
- Horrible and cringe-inducing sound effects.
- Frequently crashes in the NES version with some games.
- If you play an actual cartridge of the game for more than an hour (not that you want to), the cartridge becomes hot and starts to smell of burning plastic.
- The NES version has a large number of mediocre space shooters, with a total of 10.
- If played on real hardware, games like Alfredo and Jigsaw will simply crash at a black screen upon loading them in the NES version.
- Poor controls, including poor jumping.
- The price for the game was $199 or almost $4 per game. Yet it is not worth it.
- Poor animation.
- Horrible collision detection.
- Lack of any common sense including games like Evil Empire and Billy Bob where you die in mid-air.
- 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 misleading—Bits and Pieces, for instance, is described to be a puzzle game when it's actually a platformer (you can read a PDF of the manual here).
- Speaking of the manual, while it's nice that it's translated into multiple languages (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic), it seems pointless as the game was only released in the United States.
- Almost every game is exactly the same as the last.
- In Cheetahmen and a few other games, they reused characters from other games in the compilation, meaning the developers were either lazy or had very little time to make characters.
- The intro in the NES version will glitch for a little bit.
- Originally, there was supposed to be a prize for beating Ooze on the NES, but since it crashes on one of the levels while transitioning to the last level, it was dropped and was impossible (read 24A).
- In the Genesis version, the game contradicts itself, as 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".
- The Genesis version actually has only 51 games. As mentioned in the summary, the 52nd is an endurance game of all the games.
- The 51st game is named "1st Game" (or "1st Video Game"), which is nothing but a Genesis port of Pong. That's right, they couldn't make a 51st game from scratch and instead, they ported Atari's Pong instead. While the port is actually accurate and stood true to the original 1972 arcade game, Pong is not the first video game, that title goes to Tennis For Two, which was made fourteen years earlier than Pong.
- In the Genesis version, when the dog dies in the game “Freeway”, the dog falls apart and you can see its organs! Not to mention, the game is a terrible clone of an Activision game on the Atari 2600 called Freeway.
- After you restart a game, a intro of the game plays again, unlike the NES version.
Nintendo Entertainment System
- Some of the music tracks, including the Cheetahmen theme, are actually good.
- The intro in the NES version is fun to watch even with its problems.
- The death screams in the Genesis version are unintentionally funny.
- There was going to be a SNES version of Action 52, but due to Active Enterprises' closure, it was never released.
- Three of the developers were college students that were hired by Vince Perri.
- They were going to make Cheetahmen action figures, but they never got around to doing so, though some prototypes are said to exist.
- Cheetahmen was originally going to have a cartoon series, in the vein of franchises such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Street Sharks, and Extreme Dinosaurs, to name a few.
- Action 52 on the NES was one of the only, if not the only, game to have a clear cartridge.
- The NES Cheetamen theme song is reused in Syobon Action. The "Cornered" theme song present in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney also sounds very similar to this track.
The overall critical reception of Action 52 has been overtly negative; AllGame editor Skyler Miller described the game as an "unlicensed but legal multi-cart" containing "NES games of extremely poor quality". AllGame gave Action 52 1/5 Stars Rating. Action 52 received 11% likes on Google.