Active's first release. Generally easiest to find in video rental stores clearing out their old stock. Unfortunately, video stores usually don't provide complete copies; this cart came with an instruction manual that gave quick documentation for all fifty-two games in six different languages (including Arabic), and a small Cheetahmen comic book. There was also a Genesis version of Action 52, with some of the games borrowed from the NES release.

The games themselves are accessed with a three-screen menu that you can get back to at any time by pausing the game then hitting Select. To be honest, the menu is probably the most well-coded section of the cart. I've noticed that the sound effects used in the menu are the exact same as those used in the menu of the 64-in-1 pirate Famicom cart I have.

The NES cart has 52 games on it; you can view a list of the titles. The games are all really, horribly, incredibly bad. You won't believe it. Really. I'll post a more thorough review once I play it some more. The only good thing about this game is the digitized intro sound when you turn on the NES. If you can't take my word on how bad it is, take Dale Dobson's word; he posted this in

Well, I've suffered through some lousy games in my time, but the NES cartridge "Action 52" (from "Active Enterprises") has taken my personal award (formerly held by "Crash" for the TRS-80 ColorComputer) for Worst Game Ever (IMO).

This is not a pirated multi-cartridge, and it does in fact contain 52 totally new, copyrighted games on one cartridge. Unfortunately, all of the games really, reaaally suck. They appear to be programming exercises or graphics demos. None of these "games" appears to have a modicum of design effort put into it, and all of them play with far less panache than the most primitive Atari 2600 games.

For example, "StarEvil" - this is a Star Soldier-style scrolling shooter, except that:

A) The scrolling starts and slams you right into a wall at the beginning of your game, wasting your first few lives until you figure out you need to hold the controller hard to the right BEFORE the game starts.

B) After scrolling upwards for a minute or so, dodging or shooting AI-impaired enemies, the scrolling just stops. No boss appears. No additional enemies show up. No background graphics change. Eventually, you steer into a nearby wall to destroy your ship and escape this sorry universe.

Or, "FireBreather" - this two-player contest is like Combat with a red and blue dragon, except that you can only fire in straight lines... in four directions... and there are no obstacles to hide behind or anything else with strategic value. In fact, your dragons are so large there just isn't much room to maneuver onscreen and any hits you score are foregone conclusions. Yes, folks, it's actually MUCH WORSE THAN COMBAT.

The cartridge's apparent flagship title, "CheetaMen", opens with a slick illustrated storyline, which gives way to a horrible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles clone with lousy control, mediocre music, and no level definition to speak of (you reach an indistinct point in one level and find yourself at a nondescript point in the next.)

I could go on and on - "Haunted Hill" is like Castlevania with lousy graphics, no offensive weaponry, and no real ability to jump over the enemies... the only effort appears to have gone into the animation of your (Vampire?) character crumbling to dust after taking three hits, which happens quite soon against a generic background of hills and crosses.

Pic: Keita

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