Action 52

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Action 52
Action 52
NES cover art.
Developer(s) Active Enterprises (NES)
FarSight Studios (Genesis)
Publisher(s) Active Enterprises
Distributor(s) Active Enterprises
Director(s) Raul Gomila
Vince Perri
Producer(s) Vince Perri (executive producer)
Designer(s) Mario Gonzalez
Programmer(s) Albert Hernandez & Cronos Engineering, Inc.
Artist(s) Javier Perez
Writer(s) Mario Gonzalez
Composer(s) Mario Gonzalez & Javier Perez (NES only) (NES)
Ed Bogas (NES; uncredited due to lack of permission)
James Brown (NES theme; uncredited due to lack of permission for "Think (About It)")
Nu Romantic Productions (Mark Steven Miller and Jason Scher) (Genesis)
Platform(s) NES
Sega Genesis
Release date(s) NES
NA 1991
Sega Genesis
NA 1993
SNES
Cancelled
Genre(s) Various
Mode(s) Single-player
multi-player
Distribution 16-megabit cartridge (NES)

Action 52 is the name of two unlicensed multicart video game compilations released by Active Enterprises. Each of the two cartridges consist of 52 individual and original video games. The first was released in September 1991 for the Nintendo Entertainment System video game console, with a second released in May 1993 for the Sega Genesis (a Super Nintendo Entertainment System version was advertised in some magazines, but never released). It initially retailed for the comparatively high price of US$199 (or "less than $4 for each game"),[1] and became notorious among gamers for the abysmal quality of its games. Many video game collectors value Action 52 for its notoriety and rarity.

The boxes state that the cartridges contain "52 'new and original' exciting games". The games cover a variety of genres, although the most common are scrolling shooters and platform games.[2] Among the games is The Cheetahmen, Active's attempt at creating a franchise similar to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Gameplay[edit]

Nintendo Entertainment System[edit]

List of games:

  1. Firebreather (also known as "Fire Breathers", according to its title screen)[a]
  2. Starevil (also known as "Star Evil", according to its title screen)[b]
  3. Illuminator
  4. G-Force FGT (Fighters) (also known as "G-Force", according to its title screen)
  5. Ooze[b]
  6. Silver Sword
  7. Critical BP. (also known as "Crytical Bypass" [sic], according to its title screen)
  8. Jupiter Scope
  9. Alfredo (also known as "Alfred N The Fettuc", according to its title screen)[c]
  10. Operation Full-Moon
  11. Dam Busters
  12. Thrusters[b]
  13. Haunted Hill (also known as "Haunted Halls of Wentworth", according to the manual)
  14. Chill Out
  15. Sharks
  16. Megalonia
  17. French Baker
  18. Atmos Quake
  19. Meong
  20. Space Dreams
  21. Streemerz[b]
  22. Spread Fire
  23. Bubblegum Rosy (also known as "Bubble Gum Rossie", according to its title screen)
  24. Micro Mike
  25. Underground
  26. Rocket Jock (also known as "Rocket Jockey", according to its title screen)
  27. Non-Human
  28. Cry baby
  29. Slashers
  30. Crazy Shuffle
  31. Fuzz Power
  32. Shooting Gallery[b]
  33. Lollipops (also known as "Lolipop", according to its title screen)
  34. Evil Empire
  35. Sombreros
  36. Storm over the Desert
  37. Mash Man
  38. They Came...[b]
  39. Lazer League
  40. Billy Bob[b] (also known as " ", according to its title screen)
  41. City of Doom
  42. Bits n Pieces
  43. Beeps n Blips
  44. Manchester
  45. Boss
  46. Dedant
  47. Hambo (also known as "Hambos Adventures", according to its title screen)
  48. Timewarp (also known as "Time Warp Tickers", according to its title screen)
  49. Jigsaw[c]
  50. Ninja Assault
  51. Robbie Robot
  52. The Cheetahmen (also known as "Action Gamemaster", according to its title screen)
a.1 Two-Player only game.
b.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Crashes upon some parts of the game.
c.1 2 Crashes upon startup. Note: If one were to use a working ROM image with an NES emulator, these games would become playable.
Gameplay of Haunted Halls of Wentworth from the NES version (1991) of Action 52. Developed by Active Enterprises, this version contains several fatal glitches that frequently cause the games on the cartridge to crash, freeze or sometimes shift in focus.

The NES version of Action 52 was internally developed by Active Enterprises, also the publisher of the game.[3] The games cover a variety of genres, although the most common are vertical space shooters and platformers.[2] Examples of space shooters include Star Evil, G-Force, Thrusters and Megalonia. Some of the platform games available are Ooze, Non-Human, and Billy Bob.

The majority of the titles included on the cartridge have major glitches, however, and have been known to freeze or crash due to programming flaws; there are also incomplete or endless levels, unresponsive controls and confusing design. In the game manual, each title has a one-sentence description, with some titles described as completely different games and some incorrectly described or categorized.[citation needed]

The Yeah! Woo! drum break from Lyn Collins' song "Think (About It)" is used in the beginning sequence of the NES version.[citation needed] The sound generated for moving the select cursor on the NES version is used for the Power Player Super Joy III's menu.[citation needed]

Active Enterprises advertised a competition in which anyone who could complete level 5 of the NES version of Ooze would be entered into a prize drawing to win $104,000 ($52,000 cash, and a scholarship of same value). The game was reported to crash on level 2, making this prize impossible to win[4] without the use of emulator or an in-game exploit, further making the contest a failure.

The Cheetahmen was the "featured" game on the Action 52 multicart, and there were initial plans for a line of merchandise including action figures, T-shirts, a comic book series and even a television cartoon based on the characters (an advertisement for Cheetahmen action figures, displaying prototype sketches, was included in the aforementioned comic book).[5][6] These plans quickly fell through as negative word of mouth and reviews mounted.[citation needed]

Sega Genesis[edit]

List of games:

  1. Bonkers
  2. Darksyne
  3. Dyno Tennis
  4. Ooze
  5. Star Ball
  6. Sidewinder
  7. Daytona
  8. 15 Puzzle
  9. Sketch
  10. Star Duel
  11. Haunted Hill
  12. Alfredo
  13. The Cheetahmen
  14. Skirmish
  15. Depth Charge
  16. Minds Eye
  17. Alien Attack
  18. Billy Bob
  19. Sharks
  20. Knockout
  21. Intruder
  22. Echo
  23. Freeway
  24. Mousetrap
  25. Ninja
  26. Slalom
  27. Dauntless
  28. Force One
  29. Spidey
  30. Appleseed
  31. Skater
  32. Sunday Drive
  33. Star Evil
  34. Air Command
  35. Shootout
  36. Bombs Away
  37. Speed Boat
  38. Dedant
  39. G Fighter
  40. Man at Arms
  41. Norman
  42. Armor Battle
  43. Magic Bean
  44. Apache
  45. Paratrooper
  46. Sky Avenger
  47. Sharpshooter
  48. Meteor
  49. Black Hole
  50. The Boss
  51. First Game (a port of Pong)
  52. Challenge
Gameplay of Spidey from the Genesis version (1993) of Action 52. Developed by FarSight Technologies, this version features an alternative line-up of games, many of which feature more work put into design and fewer technical issues than the NES version.

The Sega Genesis version of Action 52 was developed by FarSight Technologies.[7] This version features a different lineup of games, some with more work put into design and fewer technical issues than the NES version.[7] Each game is color-coded on the main menu screen; "Beginner" games are displayed in a green font, "intermediate" games are displayed in a purple font, "expert" games are displayed in a yellow font, and multiplayer games are displayed in a blue font.[7] In addition to the 52 games listed above, the Mega Drive/Genesis version features a music test mode, and a "randomizer" option. If selected from the main menu, the randomizer will randomly choose and start one game from the 52 available on the cartridge. The fifty-second game, Challenge, is an endurance test to see how long the player lasts in a random series of the highest levels of the other games.

Several new games were introduced in the Sega version. A number of these have the same name as games on the NES cartridge, although they are not the same game; the Sega Haunted Hills, for instance, is entirely different from the NES Haunted Hills. Other games feature other changes, including a version of The Cheetahmen in which the titular Cheetahmen rescue captured cheetah cubs from monsters, which is completely different from the original NES game. The bosses from the NES version appear as enemies.

Development[edit]

Vince Perri[8][9] of Miami, Florida, created Action 52. He showcased the game at the International Winter Consumer Electronics Show.[10] The breakthrough came by accident. "I happened to see my son playing an illegal product made in Taiwan that had 40 games on it. The whole neighborhood went crazy over it," Perri said. "I figured I'd do it legally. It's obvious when you see something like that, you know there's something there."[11]

Several of the songs from the NES version of Action 52 were plagiarized from example tunes included in Activision's The Music Studio for Atari ST. The games with plagiarized music include Fuzz Power, Silver Sword, French Baker, Streemerz, Time Warp Tickers and Ninja Assault. Those songs were composed by Ed Bogas.[12] Additionally, programmer Kevin Horton analyzed the music code of Action 52 and found that it matched a music engine programmed by Sculptured Software,[13] featured in their games titled Day Dreamin' Davey, Eliminator Boat Duel, the NES version of Monopoly and Metal Mech.

For the original NES collection, Perri raised $20 million from private backers in Europe, South America and Saudi Arabia. He and Raul Gomila employed several college students (Mario Gonzalez, Javier Perez and Albert Hernandez) to do the game design, music, graphics and programming, which was programmed on an Atari ST, and contracted out technical work to Cronos Engineering, Inc., a Boca Raton company that had done work for IBM.[11] Action 52 has 8 extra game templates, since the distributor had the carts come with 60 games by default, as well as many unused tiles.[14] This has been confirmed by an interview with Mario Gonzalez. The Sega Genesis version, released two years later, was developed by FarSight Studios, who had also developed Color a Dinosaur for the NES. Plans for a Super NES version of the cartridge were announced, but Active Enterprises withdrew from the video game industry shortly thereafter, and no copies are known to exist.

Prototype[edit]

In 2010, a prototype cartridge of Action 52 surfaced, owned by movie and video games distributor Greg Pabich.[15] Originally, Vince Perri had proposed a deal with Pabich asking him if he would be interested in working for Active Enterprises as a business partner. At this time, Perri only had a few prototype cartridges and not the final product. For various reasons, Pabich turned down the offer, but not before leaving with one of the prototypes in his possession, which was stored in his warehouse for over twenty years before it was "rediscovered".

The prototype itself contains numerous differences from the final Action 52 cartridges. It contains minor text differences for the game titles as well as different color backgrounds for the game selection menus. The final version contains the words "Action 52" in its header and copyright information in its footer. The prototype simply contains section numbers in each menu screen's header. The code for Action 52 appears to be heavily based upon the pirate multicart 52 in 1. This is evident due the menu template in the Action 52 prototype being identical to that of 52 in 1. However, the biggest difference between the prototype and the final game is that while the final copy contains the game Cheetahmen, the prototype does not. In its place is a completely different Cheetahmen game titled "Action Gamer" (presumingly taken from the main character the Action Gamemaster in Cheetahmen). Action Gamer features only two levels, one of which is incomplete.[16]

On November 11, 2011, Greg Pabich publicly released reproductions of Action Gamer, calling it "Cheetahmen: The Creation".[17] This special package contains a sealed version of the game for collectors, an unsealed copy, a reproduction of the original Cheetahmen comic book, a Cheetahmen music CD, special edition T-Shirts and a poster.

In August 2012, one of the four original Action 52 developers surfaced and surprised the gaming community with their find, their very own original boxed Action 52 NES prototype cartridge, the only other Action 52 prototype known to exist. Along with never-before-seen original Action 52 and Cheetahmen posters and artwork, they posted an eBay auction selling the items for a $97,000 Buy It Now option or Best Offer. The auction generated over 10,000 views and 50 offers. They have since created a blog documenting the auction, the prototype, and their part in the development of the Action 52 NES cartridge. Their version of the story of Action 52, Active Enterprises, Vince Perri, and the other developers can be read there.[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Top Ten Shameful Games". Archive.gamespy.com. 2002-12-31. Archived from the original on 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  2. ^ a b "Action 52 for NES - MobyGames". MobyGames. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  3. ^ Harris, Andrew; Allwein, Dave (2003). "Jay Obernolte Interview". Cheetahmen Corner. Archived from the original on 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  4. ^ Chiucchi, Vincent (2008-01-17). "411mania.com: Games - The Hall of Shame 01.17.08: Action 52". 411mania.com. Retrieved 2009-11-14. [unreliable source?]
  5. ^ "Active Enterprises exposed". atarihq.com. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  6. ^ "Action 52 - th' Stuff". Arkfullofsorrow.com. Retrieved 2009-07-22. [unreliable source?]
  7. ^ a b c Jave. "Action 52 - NES (1991) / Action 52 - Genesis (1993) / Cheetahmen 2 - NES (unreleased)". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on 10 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  8. ^ In Memory of Vincent D. Perri Funeraria Memorial Plan Westchester, Miami FL, March 6, 2012
  9. ^ A Legend Passes, Action52prototype.com, January 14, 2013
  10. ^ "Cartridge has 52 video games". Austin American-Statesman. 1993-01-30. 
  11. ^ a b "Video Creator Plays 52 Games to Win.." The Miami Herald.
  12. ^ "YouTube Video demonstrating matching songs from "The Music Studio" and "Action 52"". 2009-02-12. [unreliable source?]
  13. ^ "Post on NESDev forums by Kevin Horton". 2011-04-05. [unreliable source?]
  14. ^ "Things you never knew about Action 52!". YouTube. 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2009-07-22. [unreliable source?]
  15. ^ "What's Rarer: A Prototype Action 52 Cart or a Person Who Met Vince Perri?". The Video Game Museum. 
  16. ^ "The Evolution of Action 52". The Video Game Museum. 
  17. ^ "Cheetahmen Fever!". The Video Game Museum. 
  18. ^ "Action 52 Prototype". Retrieved April 14, 2013. 

External links[edit]