Action 52 (NES)

We review all 52 games -- including the infamous Cheetahmen.

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  • System: Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Also On: Sega Genesis
  • Genre: Compilation
  • Max Players: 1-2
  • US Release: 1991
  • Developer: Active Enterprises
  • Publisher: Active Enterprises
  • Similar Games: Russian Roulette

Alas! There are still more games! Yes, the fun doesn’t stop at 26. After checking out the first 26 games, let me get fitted for a straightjacket while we continue our trek through digital madness.

Whoever developed this one is non-human. It really makes me wonder just what kinds of unusual drugs were floating around Active Enterprises’ offices that year. Non Human is a poor excuse for a platformer, if you can even call it that, since you end up falling through most of the platforms anyway. I’m not exactly sure what your character is. I thought he was a scientist, but the makeshift cape and racist hood really make me wonder. And what’s the deal with those gasping heads at the bottom? Are they going to eat you if you fall into the purple goo? It doesn’t really matter anyhow; I can’t get to that third platform on the first screen. What broken software.
Hey, remember Chill Out (also known as Game #14)? Well, imagine you replace the lead character with a baby that squirts liquid out of what is presumably his baby bottle (oh, please, let it be that), the other Inuit people with generic negligent parents and Fabergé eggs, and the ladders with furniture. There you go; now you have Cry Baby. Seriously, please let that be milk you’re squirting. This is a silly premise; even worse is that although the baby can climb several floors without a problem, if he falls even the slightest distance, he will become injured and will have to work at a Burger King after high school. At least the music is catchy. Oh wait, that’s just “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Public domain, you’ve saved Active Enterprises! …dear Mother of Mercy, let that be milk!
Contrary to the name of the game, there is no actual “slashing” taking place. Instead, you’re some tough guy in space-age clothing scouring the rooftop of some random building, walking forward and beating up anybody who crosses your path, regardless of their gender. This could have been a contender against Double Dragon, but…no, they seem to have screwed this up. Surprised? Yes, you can move up and down the roof, but when an enemy approaches, you can’t move while he/she approaches you. Then it’s basically a matter of punching and kicking until they die. There’s no strategy needed, except for hope. Hope that you will not lose all of your energy. It’s impossible NOT to attack anyone. Also, the female brawlers have rather large pointed breasts. Was that on purpose?
Wh-whaaaa?! While playing Crazy Shuffle, I’m afraid I have no idea what is happening to me. I expected possibly a card game, or maybe even a primitive version of Dance Dance Revolution. But, no. All I can do is stare and say, “Wh-whaaaa?!” Let me try to interpret: I’m a small orange amoeba inside a bunch of rotted disgusting green intestines trying to survive against fellow tapeworms and other bacteria. Or…wait, is this a forest maze? I really can’t tell anymore. I just shoot the other guys and collect the crosses and letter F’s that show up, then I walk away in shame. Don’t forget to watch out for random shurikens (those shouldn’t be in either intestines or forests). I also hate it when the level changes automatically, but you never know when it will happen. Crazy Shuffle, shuffle on out of here…and into the pits of Hell!
I swear I’ve seen this character before. You are a really, really hairy goof with feet larger than your head, battling it out in the forest against evil hairstyling products and other questionable evil-doers. Seriously, that’s what you’re doing. As you sustain injury, more hair is yanked from your body until you are completely bald, at which point you will likely die. The only way to defend yourself is with a rolling attack, but with such awful enemy placement, you’ll have a hard time making it past the first level. And let’s not forget those awful jumping controls. Remember: jump first, THEN use the D-Pad to move left or right. How innovative. I’d rather pull out my own hair than play this again.
For once, we come across a game that delivers exactly what its name implies. Your only goal is to shoot the animals as they appear. You get infinite time and you never run out of ammunition. It’s the perfect way to waste your life! There are seven different levels in all, but considering they’re all the same, it doesn’t make much of a difference. What else can I say about this dry excuse for excitement? At least it’s functional…usually.
Hold on to your butts, people! It’s time for another one of those platformers I so eloquently refer to as a victim of “frozen jump” syndrome. Jump, THEN press Left or Right to move. Why do they keep doing this to me? I just wanted to play videogames! I didn’t want any trouble! I don’t deserve this! Well, I guess I should be pleased that they know all about those beloved three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reduce development time. Reuse your lousy game engine. Recycle the same garbage over and over again to get closer to that arbitrary number: 52. Let’s look at the game itself, shall we? You’re a green beret traveling through what looks to be a doppelganger edition of Dream Land with only a green lollipop as an armament. Sounds like a winner to me.
Evil Empire is another one of those games where you walk around on one screen, climbing ladders and trying to kill anything else that moves. One of the major problems here is that you’re TOO DAMN SMALL!! Are these Arabian men or are they Arabian coffee grounds? I’ve had tapeworms bigger than these characters! Well, OK, I haven’t, but if I had a tapeworm, I’d make damn sure it was bigger. You can also pick up these little purple round things, but I haven’t a clue what they do. Next! …what? I have to keep playing? No…NO!!! Next, I say!
Racist! OK, actually, it’s just a guy in a sombrero marching onward through towns and the desert, shooting other people who are also running around in sombreros and trucks while picking up hats and blue pylons for no reason. This may be one of the easiest games in the pack, considering that people die when they touch you. The one thing you need to watch for are vehicles: they actually ARE a threat. I just like wandering through these outlaw towns, checking out all the marvelous lettuce heads that citizens have so graciously left on the side of the road. This must be a vegetarian-conscious society! I’d better get the hell out of here quickly.
Now we’re on to something spectacular! Storm Over The Desert has two things that no other game yet has ever boasted: a proper title screen and GIANT SADDAM HUSSEINS THAT YOU CAN DESTROY WITH A TANK. That’s right: its own title screen. Never thought you’d ever see that in Action 52, eh? You play as a semi-invincible tank who always wins in a collision, no matter what you’re up against. Tiny soldiers, other pink tanks (yes, pink tanks—it’s a progressive military), and those giant Saddam Husseins. They all go down without a fight. It’s the tank’s gunfire that you have to really worry about. It’s just a shame that this game lacks a significant fun factor, but at least you can take your daily frustrations out on army men. Now you’ll notice I didn’t put much emphasis on those giant Saddam Husseins. The reason for that is that they are so commonplace, it really wasn’t even worth italicizing. Heck, there was one in my backyard just last week. Had to fish it out of the pool skimmer.
It’s too bad that Mash Man isn’t M*A*S*H Man, because I’d love to play a game starring Alan Alda. My kingdom for a game starring Alan Alda! Anyway, Mash Man is just another impressively bland platformer starring another man with enormous feet. I don’t know where he is or why he is there; I just know he has mega clodhoppers suitable for squashing enemies. And that shouldn’t be too much of a problem: the enemies remain static. They just stand there, awaiting their impending doom. And yet, somehow I managed to die. Obviously an unfinished game and an unwelcome one. Mash Man would have been much better if they had actually put some effort into its programming, or at least if they had included Alan Alda.
They came. Who came? I don’t know who came. Maybe you came. Somebody came, and I will someday find out who came. Well, whoever came made a bad game involving flying around in your spaceship, killing as many enemies as you can within the confines of a single screen. It’s not bad, but not exciting either. Stranger still: in Level 4, the 1-Ups seem to pop up like dandelions in our lawn. That is to say, they’re everywhere!
Lazer League, also known as Laser League to those who can spell, is a two-level extravaganza featuring the amazing Flying Man (coming soon to Mega Man 11) who sports a laser gun (whose laser changes between levels) and basically flies forward in search of leftover enemies from a crack session to defeat. The final boss appears to be a wicked fortune cookie, and we all know how dastardly those can be. I was once told that I would be murdered thiry-three times by a fortune cookie that I had accidentally dropped on the floor. Be kind to those things. Hmmm, where was I? Oh yes, Lazer League. Stay away from Lazer League. It’s in a league of its own: amongst other terrible games.
Here’s the shock of the season: Billy Bob isn’t a game about marrying your cousin and preparing subpar moonshine. Instead, it’s a Prince of Persia knockoff with decent character animation, I must say. I am, however, concerned about actually playing it. I simply can’t get past the first screen very easily. Those arrows at the top of the screen fall quickly and in random locations, making your escape one of chance rather than of skill. And the second screen? You’ll have two options: either you die when falling off the edge on second screen, or you can die in midair for no reason at the top. Either way, the game is only playable for a few seconds before it turns into Billy Bob nuggets. And why do you start out inside a cage? Was this whole game actually set in the Human Exhibit at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
Truly, this IS the City of Doom. Can you imagine standing out on a busy street, only to look upward and see a small man climbing one of the buildings while bowlings balls rain upon him and birds try to perform a mid-air homicide as he tries vigilantly to fend them off using only Cocoa Pebbles as a weapon that makes a KSSH!! sound upon firing? I can imagine that, but only because I saw it happen…in City of Doom by Active Enterprises. Thank you, Action 52, for showing me the impossible. Well, at least they were accurate on one detail: if you die, you turn into an angel. And lo, Action 52 begat Wisdom Tree.
If there’s one thing that never goes out of style, it’s zombies. That, and ninjas. And vampires. And Bill Cosby. The aptly-titled Bits And Pieces tries its best to recapture that essence of pure escapism related to horror films. It features so many elements that make us love the genre: creepy janitors in a graveyard, wolfmen, skeletons that are difficult to see against a white background, gravestones, crosses, green Jell-O monsters… That’s right: Bits And Pieces has it all. All of this is placed within three levels of pure jumping bliss across tepid graveyards and haunted grassy knolls as your main character effectively leaps forwards and backwards in search of his own personal freedom. It’s also ridiculously stupid. Why are the wolfmen wearing diapers?
Beeps And Blips is a take on They Came (You remember, right? It was only five games ago!) featuring you as a diamond-shaped ship just shooting things in hopes of 1-Ups and the like. But 1-Ups do something different this time around, and it’s not really explained in advance for you. Every time you grab a 1-Up marker, your diamond gets an extra appendage to a maximum of four, equating to being able to sustain four extra hits before perishing. That’s the only unique aspect of this game. Otherwise, it’s just a bland entry that actually fits well into the world of Action 52.”Da beeps wiz good, buh dey fizzled on da blips.” ~Random Person
This looks vaguely familiar. Oh wait, it’s another platformer. Well, hoo-la-dee-dah. Let’s do our jig of happiness! Manchester Beat stars a real man chester, fighting within a musically-themed wonder world, punching out gray buff dudes and flying stars in an effort to save something from someone somewhere. I…I ‘unno. I left my sanity back at Ooze, to be honest. It’s pretty strange, though, why a game would have a separate jingle just for jumping. They literally stop the regular music, play that, and then move along as if nothing ever happened. Well, I heard what happened. I was there. I saw you last night. Manchester Beat is quite awful. You’re better off looking up “NYC Beat” by Armand Van Helden on YouTube. Go on, I dare you. …No, wait, finish reading first! I…double-dog-dare you!
45. BOSS
You know, I was hoping that this would be the equivalent of a Boss Battle mode in other games where it’s just a string of boss fights and nothing more. Boy, was my backside red when I found out that this isn’t the case! Instead, you’re an alligator in pants running through a darkened city, escaping bombs dropping from windows and green miscellanei. There’s no music, but what sound there actually is reminds me very much of that one time I pooed a Godzilla. I think they invented that slick alligator just to be cool; at the time, anthropomorphized characters were all the rage with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bucky O’Hare…uh, Samurai Pizza Cats, maybe…but it looks like the Boss just never caught on. Thank you, America. You’ve saved me.
At least this game is named effectively, because a dead ant is exactly what you’ll be. Consider Dedant to be an extremely cheap version of Centipede, like the kind you’d find in an Arby’s kid’s meal, except you’re an ant. You can’t move up or down, but only side to side, firing upward. The other ants have quite the advantage: They can move in any direction and will assuredly slide up right alongside you, killing you when you have no means of defending yourself. How crappy! If this is how ant life really is, I’m glad I’ll never be an ant. An uncle, perhaps…
You’ve got…one life to live, yeah yeah yeah…one life to liiiiive, oh yeah yeah, shooby-doo-wah… If Hambos Adventures had a theme song, that probably wouldn’t be it. But it should be, because you only get one life to survive this lousy Donkey Kong clone where all you do is jump over balls and other questionable items. Once again, horrific jumping controls means you won’t get far, and there is no projectile weaponry to save your hiney. Actually, I never acquired any weaponry, although there was once a spray bottle somewhere I could have grabbed. And as for Hambo himself (or Hambos, a Greek name meaning “He Who Romances With Pork”), his face melted.
Tim Curry doesn’t make an appearance here. Time Warp stars a lovable pair of walking fingers, creeping their way through this presumably intentional part of Wackyland from Tiny Toon Adventures. Oh my my my. When you defeat an enemy (typically by giving it a randy flick), the word “Time?” comes up. Yes, it’s a question. And so we must think philosophically for a moment here. What is time, exactly? Indeed, is it but a mere man-made conceptualization designed to assist a method for effectively determining one’s own limitations? Or is it just a scam by clock store owners? We may never know. But I do know one thing: The jumping in this trip through Gehenna (I just made you want to visit Wikipedia, didn’t I?) only works half the time. The game also boasts an odd finger animation. Then again, what are fingers supposed to do? In closing, avoid Time Warp. I should also suggest avoiding the previous 47 games as well.
So…white… This game also freezes on an actual cart, but again, to be informative, I have to give you the lowdown. Jigsaw isn’t really about the puzzle that bears its name, but it’s more about a little boy in an immense house where the walls are all white and the floor is supplied courtesy of a discount carpet sale from the 1970s. It seems as though all the tools in your house are on a rampage, so you’ll need to equip a trusty nail gun and take them out! Jumping is as bass-ackwards as always, but there are a few more quirks that cause Jigsaw to be rendered unplayable. Did you know that you can fall through some of the tiles in the floor for no apparent reason? It causes you no harm, and you can simply hop back out, but why is this possible in the first place? There ARE, in fact, deadly pits, but they’re so non-descript, you’ll be caught by surprise before you can avoid them. Boy, with all these possessed tools trying to kill, it’s like Tim Allen’s worst nightmare has come true! Well, aside from that Home Improvement videogame, of course… At least whoever bought Action 52 can’t play it.
Something’s terribly wrong here. Yes, I know: Something’s always off-kilter here, but why am I spending so much time in a ninja-based game wasting my precious energy on dogs and birds? You’ll be thankful when actual ninjas come by, but really, it’s the local fauna that will cause the greatest headaches. The only strategy to follow is to move to the right, slashing at anything that crosses your path. Your ninja buddy can also curl into a ball while jumping à la Contra or Ninja Gaiden for added flair. Ninja Assault is far from excellent, but it is actually one of the most playable games in the compilation. It’s too bad it was shoved so far near the end. Ninjas…they creep up on you…at the end of Action 52.
Robbie N The Robots, you stink. I’m not sure what this is all about, but the game should really be called “Robbie vs. the Robots”; there are no robots who want Robbie to live. I also wonder if Robbie himself is a robot; he looks like Robocop if he crashed a Haagen Dazs factory. So, here’s the plan. Level 1: Just keep walking to the right and hitting your fire button. Don’t worry about the turrets above you; if you keep moving, they won’t hit you. Level 2: OK, maybe you’ll have to make use of the lousy jump mechanics to avoid some of the obstacles here. But frankly, it’s so boring, I doubt anyone would want to get this far. Hey, wasn’t there a band from the 80s called Robbie ‘N The Robots? No? Well, there certainly is one now, believe it or not. I hope they weren’t inspired bythis junk.

And there you have it. Action 52. It’s a terrible compilation of epic proportions, one so dire that…wait, what? WHAAAAT?! There’s ONE MORE GAME? You’ve gotta be kidding me. Haven’t I suffered enough? Oh, very well…

So here we are, the final and most popular game of the bunch. It’s the Cheetahmen. On the “menu” screen, it’s called Action Gamemaster. Hmmm. That’s odd. The game is a bit more fleshed out than the rest. Cheetahmen actually has an introductory sequence! Check it out:

That was weird. It’s also funny how they misspelled “Cheetahmen” in the third panel. Anyway, as it tries to explain, the Action Gamemaster was pulled into a videogame that has been riddled with enemies. Luckily, the Cheetahmen will take care of business with their brute strength! I must ask one question: if the Cheetahmen are taking care of the situation, why did they pull this human into the television?! This doesn’t make ANY sense! …Look at me, my hands are quivering. I’m trying to analyze Action 52. I must be going insane.

All right, let’s start actually playing.

OK, so Aries is the first Cheetahman we get to use. He has a wooden club as a weapon, and he can also kick his way to success. But holy crap, I can’t seem to hit things very easily. And there are so many pits around; if you come even remotely close to one, you will die. And I don’t mean you fall into the pit. There’s no animation for that; you just explode into magic fairy dust in mid-air. What…the…furry?! I guess falling in a pit would be considered too violent. We need a family-friendly adventure to annoy people. If you make it past the first level (and you’ll know you do because the screen just turns black immediately without warning), you are a hero.

But wait, there’s more!

Why are the Cheetahmen now attacking recycled Saddam Husseins?! Didn’t anybody think this through before publishing this trash? All right, I think I’ll just swat and kick my way to the end, including a lovely little boss fight. And now, more Cheetahmen!

Now I get to be Hercules. He’s proclaimed as the largest of the three, and it’s pretty obvious, judging from this screenshot. Why does he have to be so damn big? How am I going to avoid any attacks and obstacles when I have to drag this gargantuan elephant of a feline through a proverbial minefield? Wh…no, I don’t think I can play any more of this monstrosity. It has awful design, awful sound, awful graphics, awful programming, awful everything. It’s awful.

Well, there you go. Every game has bugs. Every game has boring or downright awful gameplay. Every game is an abomination to the videogame industry as a whole. Don’t you dare trust that “Action Seal of Quality Assurance” on the box cover!

Phew. I managed to get through all 52 games. Yep, no more Action 52 for me! *dusts hands triumphantly*

Wait, there’s a version on the Sega Genesis? FUUUU–


  • GameCola Rates This Game: 0 - Worthless
7 votes, average: 7.57 out of 107 votes, average: 7.57 out of 107 votes, average: 7.57 out of 107 votes, average: 7.57 out of 107 votes, average: 7.57 out of 107 votes, average: 7.57 out of 107 votes, average: 7.57 out of 107 votes, average: 7.57 out of 107 votes, average: 7.57 out of 107 votes, average: 7.57 out of 10 (You need to be a registered member to rate this post.)

About the Contributor

From 2009 to 2014


  1. I commend you for surviving the expirence that this piece of crap gave you. But I have just one question. What were you thinking!?

      1. Yes, I saw AVGN’s video of Action 52 a couple of years ago, and I suppose it was an inspiration, but at the same time, I just wanted to get that game out of the way, so I can now review good games.

  2. this game reminded me of a food eating contest. You know those impossibly large hamburgers that will win youa free tee shirt for eating.

    1. Greg Pabich currently owns Active Enterprises, the company that originally put forth those IPs. He owns the rights to Action 52 and Cheetahmen.

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