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Action 52 – NES

Action 52 – NES

action 52 box

You can read or download the Necrinomicon Action 52‘s manual here!

Platform: NES

Developer: Active Enterprises

Publisher: Active Enterprises

Release Date: September 1991

Genre: Compilation (Arcade, Platforming, Puzzle, Shmup)

Rating: 1/10

Written by ChronoSloth

Here at Nerd Bacon we’re not content just telling you about all the gold you can find on the systems of yore. I, ChronoSloth, dove to the very bottom of the NES’s landfill of shovelware to bring you not 1, not 2, not 37, but 52 games that are horrible, uninspired, or damn-near (in some cases completely) unplayable. Released in 1991 at $200 with a marketing campaign basically consisting of “you’ll never have to buy your kid another game again,” this rushed collection of ugly clones shouldn’t be played by anyone. We do it because we care.

1. Fire Breathers

action 52 fire breathers

An ugly two player game where two dragons serve as avatars. You fly around, top down in 2D and shoot fire balls at each other. The lack of music makes the terrible sound effects even more apparent. Playable, but not special in the least. 2.5/10

2. Star Evil

action 52 star evil

One of many unimpressive shooters in this compilation. If you don’t immediately move at the beginning of this vertical shooter you’ll explode before you get a chance at playing, as there’s usually something directly in front of you. There are enemy ships (I think?) to shoot and bosses once you get a certain point, but you won’t care to make it that far. Playable, but quite boring. 3.5/10

3. Illuminator

action 52 illuminator

A platformer where you advance by killing enemies with a magic missile. In many games, past and present, lighting has been used to compliment gameplay in great effect. In Illuminator, the light will disappear and the only way to relight the room is to shoot an enemy. This can prove quite difficult, and there are only a few points of reference to move when the game goes dark. It’s a cool idea, but implemented poorly in a game with bad production values. 3/10

4. G- Force Fighters

action 52 g force fighters

A shooter where you are apparently in an area of space sealed off with bathroom tile and pine straw where you control a pink version of Sin from Final Fantasy X and have to shoot little blue alien heads. It’s a horizontal shooter that just doesn’t play well at all. 2.5/10

5. Ooze

action 52 ooze

Well, this game actually has a title screen when you select it. It’s a nice part of the presentation that you expect from video games that’s absent from most of this collection. It’s still missing worthwhile gameplay or anything else of value. You walk on…boogers(?) and avoid slimey enemies that aren’t nearly as endearing as the ones found in Dragon Quest. Apparently there was a contest where you sent in proof that you completed Ooze and won a prize, but since the game crashes before completion, no one ever earned it. 1.5/10

6. Silver Sword

action 52 silver sword

At first glance, you might think this game should be called VegeBattle and that the player must avoid cauliflower and heads of lettuce while shooting arrows at invisible enemies. However, this is Action 52, so it’s not that inspired. Players control the guy seen in the screenshot and move forward along this scrolling landscape and throw swords at “mutants.” It doesn’t get any more varied or fun as you progress. 2/10

7. Critical Bypass

action 52 critical bypass

One of the better looking games included in Action 52, though the background is very obviously a single tiled image, Critical Bypass tasks you with staying alive while moving to the right with ships and other UFOs flying at you. You can shoot in four directions this time, but you have to be moving in that direction to shoot, effectively throwing yourself at your target. It’s weird stuff, for sure. 3.5/10

8. Jupiter Scope

action 52 jupiter

 

This game works, but is complete trash. Objects fall from the sky and you shoot them for points. You don’t die or lose points for letting them get past you and hit the city. It’s just a damned test of patience. How long are you going to sit here and attempt to shoot these things? They obviously didn’t make it to entertain anyone. Perhaps it was a bet with a friend of the developers to see how long they could get someone to play this in the hopes that ANYTHING would happen. 1.5/10

9. Alfredo and the Fetucini’s

action 52 alfredo

On an NES, this pasta themed inclusion in Action 52 won’t even start. It’s definitely a testament to how hard these developers worked to create a collection worth the $200 they charged for it. The presentation in this game isn’t horrible, as the graphics and music aren’t abhorrent and our hero Alfredo as well as the Fetucinis look pretty cute. All you do is walk and jump to the right and smush the noodles with your pan before they murder you. Why these noodles are dangerous, I don’t know. I’d like to think they wrap around him like a boa constrictor and squeeze the poor guy to death. On the NES: 0/10 On an Emulator 3/10

10. Operation Full Moon

action 52 full moon

This is a vertical shooter that I believe is supposed to take place on the moon. I’m not sure why it’s green, or why it looks so ugly. A very boring game with uninteresting enemies and gameplay. 2/10

11. Dam Busters

action 52 dam busters

Dam Busters, more appropriately titled Winnie the Poo Throwing Cookies, is a game where you move along the map (at your own pace, it’s not a horizontal shooter) and throw cookies at other critters to protect yourself from their snack weapons. The walk speed of your character does allow you to outrun most of the game’s challenge if you want to skip all of the obstacles, but it’s more fun to play as intended. It’s okay looking and sounding and not a chore to play. I want to high-five whoever on the dev team made this one. 4.5/10

12. Thrusters

action 52 thrusters

It’s just a super easy, super boring vertical shooter. Great name, though. I can see it being a cheeky sci-fi game starring a hero akin to Duke Nukem. It’s garbage, though. 2/10

13. Haunted Halls

action 52 haunted hall

One of the better looking and more fleshed out games in the package, Haunted Halls is held back by its poor choice of enemy placement and movement mechanics. Jumping is much more of a pain than it should be, and shooting is made difficult because your projectiles strangely start at your character’s waist. All atmosphere is ruined by frustration. 3.5/10

14. Chill-Out

action 52 chill out

Very similar to Illuminator in many ways. Have they resorted to cloning their own clones within this collection? This one is separated from Illuminator because it’s winter themed and has a few key differences in rules. One of the more aesthetically pleasing games, but it’s still very boring. 3/10

15. Sharks

action 52 sharks

You shoot the sea life on screen, in an apparently, very shallow part of the ocean. That’s…that’s all. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s not challenging. There’s only one screen, no big changes, or enemy waves. That’s all. Perhaps a metaphor for the emptiness of the ocean despite it being full of animals? A warning for overfishing? Probably just a shit game. 2/10

16. Megalonia

action 52 megalonia

Ugly. Neon zig-zags for screen barriers. Boring. Side-scrolling shooter. 2/10

17. The French Baker

action 52 french baker

Probably the best of the ladder games, with a cute theme, and music that doesn’t sound like it was composed by hellspawn. Pro-tip for developers: if your character must wear all white because of the game’s theme, perhaps change the background color so that not only his outline and face show where he is on screen. Thanks. 3/10

18. Atmos Quake

action 52 atmos quake

Another identical, aside from sprites, vertical shooter. They wasted the most heavy metal name in this collection on another clone. For shame. 2/10

19. Meong

action 52 meong

A puzzle game with rules that require you to wait for traps to reveal themselves before strategically maneuvering through the maze without locking yourself into an area with a blockade, pit, or trap. Painfully slow game with no feeling of reward that comes from quick thinking or planning in puzzle games. 2/10

20. Space Dreams

action 52 space dreams

A vertical shooter with graphics that trip me out. You play as what appears to be a caricature of a spider that shoots things out of its ass at teddy bears, in an area of space where stars look like the ones you drew as kids and everything is covered in purple microorganisms. Weird, but still worthless. 2/10

21. Streemerz

action 52 streemerz

Wait a second, this is goddammned Bionic Commando! I was excited when I discovered that this game revolved around the same game mechanic of pulling yourself up to platforms via your bionic appendage. I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up. It’s ugly and glitchy. As we were taught by our lord and savior Super Mario Bros. for NES, money is a good thing. Coins increase score and add extra lives. Collecting money in Streemerz hurts you. I don’t care if money/greed is the root of all evil. This is a video game, and collecting money should reward you. I’m pissed. 1.5/10

22. Spread Fire

action 52 spread fire

Enemies are random. There isn’t any music. The background is just some blue and white that someone used the spray tool in MS Paint to make. Your ship is a lobster. At this point I don’t know if I’m okay to keep going because I seem to be hallucinating and loosing my senses. 1.5/10

23. Bubblegum Rosie

action 52 bubblegum rosie

A horrible looking platformer with enemies that don’t respond to your attacks and a gamebreaking glitch that stops your progress after awhile. Nope. 0/10

24. Micro Mike

action 52 micro mike

Insanely difficult, and then breaks. Not to mention that this is probably the most dog-vomit looking game in the bunch. 0/10

25. Underground

action 52 underground

It really seems that someone tried on this game. The concept is there, and the game looks good for what it is. Underground is an action adventure where you must explore the tunnels and defeat enemies. Enemy speed makes the game unbalanced and hard to beat. A shame. 3.5/10

26. Rocket Jockey

action 52 rocket jockey

You’re in space wrangling robot cows. That’s already a +1 for me, right there. I think Red Dead Redemption could have implemented this at some point in the plot. Still doesn’t play very well and the presentation leaves much to be desired. 3/10

27. Non Human

action 52 non human

No conveyance, you die from small drop-offs, and would you just look at this game?  The bottom half of the screen is Fata Grape purple with a bald dude with glasses and fangs screaming copied and pasted four times. At this point I’m convinced that it’s just me and I’m afraid that my review score won’t accurately reflect the game’s worth. I think I have a fever. Forgive me if I’ve given this game a score it doesn’t deserve. 2/10

28. Cry Baby

action 52 cry baby

Another one of these “ladder” games. Because of the theme, furniture takes the place of ladders which I think if pretty clever and cute. However, this is only flourish attempted to make this game visually appealing. Despite the furniture, the level doesn’t resemble a house in the slightest, and climbing chairs to get to the next level of the house just doesn’t make any logical sense. So the furniture was pointless. I know this entire paragraph has been about the inclusion of furniture as ladders, but there really isn’t anything else worth talking about in it. My apologies. 2/10

29. Slashers

action 52 slashers

They should have called this one “Hit Buttons: The Game.” There’s nothing of worth here. The game may seem like a beat ’em up in the screenshot, but it’s nothing of the sort. You are left-guy and must beat up left-guy. If you do, there might be another guy who will show up to fight. The only effort put into this game was the semi-accurate depiction of a rooftop. 2/10

30. Crazy Shuffle

action 52 crazy shuffle

Top down shooter where things are represented with shapes in a forest maze. 1.5/10. Yeah, that’s it.

31. Fuzz Power

action 52 fuzz power

action 52 fuzz power nes nude

A sidescroller where you play as a troll with giant feet, deformed arms, a beak, and tits who must avoid hair dryers, combs, and anything else that would affect your hair because when hit, you loose it bit by bit and will die if made bald.

I put that Facebook button right there on purpose. If you’ve made in this far, and just read the description of Fuzz Power, I think you know that Nerd Bacon deserves it. I’m withering away here, playing these poorly coded horrors. On my last legs, scratch that, on my last giant feet. I pray to Reggie Fils Aime that my body remains strong enough to continue. 3/10

32. Shooting Gallery

action 52 shooting gallery

There’s no chance of death. After you shoot everything in the room, the game ends. Barest of bones offering here. 1/10

33. Lollipops

action 52 lollipops

A sidescroller that isn’t completely horrible. There’s weird collision detection issues, but aside from that, the game works, and isn’t a chore to play. The jumping and attacking work quite well. Go Lollipops! 3.5/10

34. Evil Empire

action 52 evil empire

Those scorpion stingers in the background are supposed to be Arabian palaces. Complete boredom. Just beat the braindead enemies. 2/10

35. Sombreros

action 52 sombreros

Shoot everything you see and pickup hats. No, I don’t know why the sidewalk looks like it has the same texture as the moon. No, the game isn’t really that fun or give you any reason to continue progressing. 2.5/10

36. Storm over the Desert

action 52 storm over the desert

A badly controlled piece of propaganda that is only worth playing to see giant Saddam Hussein walk across the field for no apparent reason. He doesn’t attack, he’s pretty much just coolly walking across the battlefield. What a passive, peaceful dude. 2/10

37. Mash Man

action 52 mash man

Hey now, you’re not just gonna slip that shit past me. That’s the troll from Fuzz Power minus the boobs and hair, but now in some kind of futuristic, space setting. Gameplay consists of moving to the right and jumping. There’s nothing to draw you attention here. 2/10

38. They Came From Outer Space

action 52 they came from outer space

Another space shooter, only this one crashes the entire game upon death. Another 1/10.

39. Lazer League

action 52 lazer league

A decent playing (for Action 52) horizontal scrolling shooter that’s made nigh unbearable by a constant buzzing noise, probably put in the game to represent the jetpack’s sound. However it sounds less like a jetpack, and more like your NES is filled with mosquitoes. A NES full of mosquitoes is probably a better bargain for $200 than Action 52. At least the NES could be weaponized or something. Action 52‘s wobbly cartridge would just shatter. Not only is the Nintendo Entertainment System made of Nintendium, but then you’ve got the cloud of mosquitoes after your enemies. Give it some thought. 2.5/10

40. Billy Bob

action 52 billy bob

A promising game with animation similar to Out of This World and Prince of Persia that is cut down by its horrible design and high difficulty. C’mon guys, half of these games have completely no chance of death, and half are unbeatable without exploits or god-like patience. How hard is it to make a game in between those extremes? 2.5/10

41. City of Doom

action 52 city of doom

Climb a building! Shoot some bugs! Have zero fun! 2/10

42. Bits and Pieces

action 52 bits and pieces

A decent horror themed sidescroller. You can’t attack, but your jump is adequate enough to avoid enemies. Nice background, sprites that appear to be what they mean to represent, and music that sounds like it should be here. 3.5/10

43. Beeps and Blips

action 52 beeps and blips

Beeps and Blips would have been a better title for this entire collection than Action 52. This is another shooter. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t allow me to shoot myself. 2/10

44. Manchester

action 52 manchester

Glitchy, ugly, confusing, nonsensical, and a 1.5/10.

45. Boss

action 52 bossWith a name like Boss, I was ready for greatness. The word “boss” brings forth visions of power, respect, dominance, Solid Snake’s father, Rick Ross, and Japanese coffee advertised by the great Tommy Lee Jones. It doesn’t describe this one sidescroller featured in a collection of other bad sidescrollers where you’re a lizard toting a firearm in a city where bombs drop from windows. Cute graphics, but this one still isn’t worth playing. 2/10

46. Dedant

Action 52 (USA) (Unl)-54

Another vertical shooter with an alright feel to it. I didn’t enjoy the concept (bugs are gross, bro) but the speed and feel of the shots make this one of the passable games from Action 52. 3/10

47. Hambo’s Adventure

action 52 hambo's adventure

The manual description for this game literally states, “Donkey Kong kind of game.” Getting over the fact that games simply don’t refer to each other like that in marketing or in instruction (Sonic the Hedgehog didn’t have “Fast Super Mario kind of game” in the manual), Hambo’s Adventure has the audacity to claim that it is even slightly like one of the most enjoyed, influential, and historic games ever made. This game, 1 of 52, of the most lazily crafted games, ripping from the ideas of others using the most basic knowledge of coding possible to throw these together and have NES buttons create a reaction on screen, compared itself to Donkey Kong. Yes, there are obstacles rolling at you on platforms linked by ladders. However, there’s no charm, no cutscenes, no plot, no motivation, no score, the graphics aren’t pleasing in the slightest, and no one will ever remember it as ever having any importance in the history of anything. Let’s go with “Worthless kind of game.” 1.5/10

48. Timewarp Tickers

action 52 time warp tickers

Strange in all areas. The presentation is nice, but weird, and gameplay is just as strange. I don’t mean that in a good way. 3/1o

49. Jigsaw

action 52

This game won’t even play on a regular NES. It’s not worth playing emulated either though, and it’s likely that it was made unplayable because even for A52 standards, this game is atrocious in gameplay and graphics. 0/10

50. Ninja Assault

action 52 ninja assault

Of course, ninjas would save the day. This game is playable and somewhat enjoyable. There’s a catchy tune, and plenty of frontflips and ninja smacking to be done. A bare minimum representation of a sidescrolling beat ’em up. 3.5/10

51. Robbie and the Robots

Action 52 (USA) (Unl)-58

To be honest, I played this one all of 15 seconds. I regretted even that amount of time. 2/10

52. Cheetahmen

action 52 cheetahmen

This sidescroller is what Action 52 hoped would stick. Like Street Sharks and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Cheetahmen were going to be badass animal dudes who beat up bad guys. The game actually begins with a cutscene, so that lets you know this game means business. It’s misleading. Like all the other games in the collection, it’s buggy and mediocre at the very best. However, there is a gem resting in this trash bin. There’s this song. This groovy, catchy beat. Something you’d find in a much, much better game. A song so good it makes the game feel worse in comparison because of the dissonance.

I’ve included the Genesis sound font version just because it makes the bass-y bits even better. There’s also been rock, and orchestral remixes of the song. The devs of Action 52 wanted at least the Cheetahmen to be what was remembered from the 52 games. But the bad reputation of the entire collection and this one song seem to be Action 52‘s legacy.

Action 52 is a complete mess. With some games that don’t work, and none worth actually playing, this game deserves no place in anyone’s collection as more than a curiosity, and I can’t ever see anyone willingly paying for it. I expected to enjoy it in the way we enjoy unintentionally bad media, where things are too cheesy or take themselves a bit too seriously and result in hilarity. I ended up finding zero enjoyment from the collection. Nothing ever feels complete enough to be examined and enjoyed even for its badness. This collection isn’t funny, fun, or any other positive word. I’m very glad that it’s over.

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Written by ChronoSloth

ChronoSloth


Video game reviewer with a specific love for the fourth and fifth generation of consoles. In an exclusive polygamist relationship with Nintendo and PlayStation. Fluent in Al Bhed and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 combo notation. Follow him on Instagram to see lots of pictures of video games.

 
 

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5 Comments

  1. HIT BUTTONS: THE GAME!

     
  2. AbyssalOblivion
    AbyssalOblivion says:

    Great review of a quite odd specimen. I actually have the NES cartridge of this, and it remains probably the strangest NES game in my collection. Now you must review CHEETAHMEN 2!

     

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