- This article is about the NES version. For the Genesis version, see Action 52 (Sega Genesis).
Action 52's title screen.
|Sound engine||Sculptured Software (Ken Moore)|
Action 52 is an unlicensed multicart developed and published by Active Enterprises for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991. As its name suggests, it contains 52 games on a single cartridge, all of which are original as opposed to reusing pre-existing NES games.
Development of the game was rushed in order to meet the deadline, leading to many of the included games broken and unfinished. Action 52 has since been lambasted by critics for nearly every aspect, such as its graphics, gameplay, music and glitches, and is often cited as one of the worst video games ever made, as well as one of the worst NES games developed.
As the name might suggest, this is a multicart containing 52 "action-packed" games. However, it has received much criticism for the poor quality of its games, with some common errors and glitches between the games being sprite flickering, poor controls, reusing game engines and the ending just being the player being sent back to level 1. Notably, almost a third of the games are space shooters. The intro uses a PCM sample of Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's "It Takes Two". One game, Fire Breathers, can only be played with two players. Two others, Alfredo and Jigsaw, will not work on the majority of the cartridges that were released. Numerous games crash or become unplayable when reaching a certain part of the game; an example of this being Atmos Quake, which, due to a bug glitches up the start of Level 5 which makes that level impossible to complete. Many have also criticised the MSRP of the cartridge, having originally sold for $199. All of the games are two-player compatible, with all but Fire Breathers using an alternating player system like in Super Mario Bros. The menu code was stolen directly from Supervision 52-in-1, another (pirated) 52-in-1 multicart likely made in 1989. (Two of the games listed are called Galaxian 1989 and Exerion 1989) This appears to be especially likely due to a prototype version of Action 52, where the menu (apart from the game names) is identical to that of the 52-in-1 and the menu itself uses graphics from The Goonies, one of the games included on it. well as this, Fuzz Power seems to have taken some inspiration (the graphics in particular) from Adventure Island, which was included on the 52-in-1. Another hint may be that, when the player quits a game and returns to the menu screen, on both multicarts the selection always defaults to game 5.
There was also a competition to win $104,000 by completing Level 5 of Ooze. However, this was later found to be impossible as the carts that had been released at the time crashed after level 2 of that game. The game also actually has 8 levels as opposed to 5, with the ending giving the player a code to send to Active. Incidentally, it's also the only game on the cartridge to have an ending, and one of only two to have a proper title screen, the other being Storm Over the Desert.
Notably, one of the members of Active Enterprises, Vince Perri, was inspired to make Action 52 after seeing his son play a pirated 40-in-1 multicart, with the intention of Action 52 being a legal version of it. The game was made in only three months by a team of four people (Not including Perri, who came up with the game concept and let the team do the rest of the work for him); due to the short development time, Action 52 was not bug tested, which partially explains its buggy nature.
List of games
Games marked with * do not work on Revision A copies of the cartridge.
- Fire Breathers (Displayed as "Firebreather" in the menu)
- Star Evil (Displayed as "Starevil" in the menu)
- G-Force Fighter (Displayed as "G-Force Fgt." in the menu and "G-Force" in the title screen)
- Ooze (One of only two games on this cart with a proper title screen)
- Silver Sword
- Critical Bypass (Misspelled "Crytical Bypass" on the title screen and "Critical Bp. in the menu)
- Jupiter Scope
- Alfredo and the Fettucinis * (Misspelled "Alfredo n the Fettuc" on the title screen and "Alfredo" in the menu)
- Operation Full Moon (Displayed as "Operat. Moon" in the menu)
- Dam Busters
- Haunted Hills of Wentworth (Named "Haunted Halls" on the title screen and "Haunted Hill" in the menu)
- Chill Out
- French Baker
- Atmos Quake
- Space Dreams
- Streemerz (Title screen doesn’t display the game name)
- Spread Fire
- Bubble Gum Rosie (misspelled "Bubble Gum Rossie" on the title screen and "Bublgum Rosy" on the menu)
- Micro Mike
- Rocket Jockey (Displayed as “Rocket Jock” in the menu)
- Cry Baby
- Crazy Shuffle
- Fuzz Power
- Shooting Gallery
- Evil Empire
- Storm Over the Desert (One of only two games on this cart with a proper title screen)
- Mash Man
- They Came from Outer Space (the title screen calls it "They Came...")
- Lazer League
- Billy Bob
- City of Doom
- Bits and Pieces (Displayed as “Bits n Pieces” in the menu)
- Beeps and Blips (Displayed as “Beeps n Blips” in the menu)
- Hambo's Adventures (Displayed as “Hambo” in the menu)
- Timewarp Tickers
- Jigsaw *
- Ninja Assault
- Robbie and the Robots (Displayed as “Robbie Robot” in the menu)
During the production of Action 52, Greg Pabich (owner of a movie and video game distributor at the time) was queried about buying copies of Action 52. He went to meet Vince Perri who gave him a prototype of the game, although he didn't end up buying the cartridges of it.
There are numerous differences between this version and the final release. Firstly, the intro isn't present in this version and the game boots up on the main menu. The menu itself, apart from the game names, is identical to the Supervision 52-in-1 multicart. The names are mostly the same as the final release apart from Cheetahmen, which is called Action Gamer in this version.
The Action Game Master
The Action Game Master was the original 52nd game on the cartridge and is vastly different from Cheetahmen, with the intro not having been included, the music being different and the gameplay being different, although the game still has the Cheetahmen in it. There are at least two levels in this game.
All the information in this section is taken from the Cutting Room Floor's article on Action 52 for the Famicom.
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 II 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:
The text is stored in plain ASCII in the ROM, so the "personal code" isn't really all that personal.
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.
Despite the low quality of Action 52 in other aspects, its music has gained some fans. However some of the tracks in the games have been found to be example tracks taken from Activision's The Music Studio.