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"Make your selection... now."
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Action 52 is a compilation of 52 games for the NES, with a second version for the Sega Genesis released by Active Enterprises and advertised in the back of many gaming magazines of the day. It was famously sold for $200, which would be a real bargain for 52 games worth playing. However, these games... weren't.

It all started when the head of Active, Vince Perri, saw his son playing a pirated NES multicart he borrowed from a friend of his that had 40 games on it. It immediately became quite popular with other kids in the neighborhood, who were amazed that so many games could fit on one cartridge. This provided him with a revelation; if programmers in Taiwan could produce multicarts, why not programmers in America? Instead of putting in games from other companies, why not put in original games you couldn't find anywhere else? Thus Action 52 was born.

The truly amazing part? Perri was apparently a big dreamer, and accompanied the grand unveiling of Action 52 with a press release, proclaiming the upcoming release of Cheetahmen action figures and a "Disney-quality" Saturday-Morning Cartoon, and the Action Gamemaster, a portable system that would play games from nearly every console available at the time. None of these products ever came to fruition, as Action 52 was a commercial failure, but it has gained a new lease on life in the Internet age as the subject of many video game reviewers' mockery.

Several years after the game was released, a protoype for an unfinished sequel to Cheetahmen on the Nintendo Entertainment System was discovered. Cheetahmen II had been programmed onto hundreds of crudely relabeled Action 52 cartridges, but was never officially released. Only around 1,500 copies of Cheetahmen II are known to exist, making it one of the rarest and most expensive NES carts.

A history of how the game came to be is in The Other Wiki. The Angry Video Game Nerd reviewed the most of Action 52 here. The second part, covering Cheetahmen and its unreleased sequel, can be found here. Even though his review contains some inaccuracies, it still sums the games up pretty well. A more detailed series of all 52 games note  can be seen here.

Action 52 has been given a shot at redemption with two projects: the Action 52 Owns Project (in which indie game developers are collaborating to remake each game in the collection) and Action 52 Revisited (which tries to relate all games together).

The games on the compilation:

     NES version 
  1. Fire Breathers – The one game on the cartridge that is two-player, and there needs to be two players to really do anything with it.
  2. Star Evil
  3. Illuminator
  4. G-Force Fighters
  5. Ooze – The game is titled as "Oooze" (with 3 O's) inside the manual. The select cursor always starts on this game when the menu is loaded. It also crashes partway through level 3.
  6. Silver Sword
  7. Crytical Bypass [sic]
  8. Jupiter Scope
  9. Alfredo (aka Alfred n the Fettuc) – "Alfredo and the Fettucinni's" in the manual. This game crashes the Rev. A cartridges if one attempts to start it; a player will need an emulator or Rev. B cartridge to play this game.
  10. Operation Full-Moon
  11. Dam Busters
  12. Thrusters
  13. Haunted Hill (aka Haunted Halls) – "Haunted Hills of Wentworth" in the manual.
  14. Chill-Out
  15. Sharks
  16. Megalonia
  17. French Baker
  18. Atmos-Quake
  19. Meong
  20. Space Dreams
  21. Streemerz – This game has the potential of crashing the cartridge after making it a ways into the game.
  22. Spread-Fire
  23. Bubblegum Rosy (aka Bubble Gum Rossie) – "Bubblegum Rosie" in the manual.
  24. Micro Mike
  25. Underground
  26. Rocket Jockey
  27. Non-Human
  28. Cry Baby
  29. Slashers
  30. Crazy Shuffle
  31. Fuzz Power
  32. Shooting Gallery – Attempting to exit this game after starting it will likely cause the cartridge to crash, necessitating a hard reset.
  33. Lollipops
  34. Evil Empire
  35. Sombreros – "Sombrero's" in the manual.
  36. Storm Over the Desert – "Storm Over the Desert (The Land War)" in the manual.
  37. Mash Man
  38. They Came... – "They Came from Outer Space" in the manual.
  39. Lazer League – "Laser League" (with an S) in the manual.
  40. Billy Bob
  41. City of Doom
  42. Bits and Pieces
  43. Beeps and Blips
  44. Manchester – "Manchester Beat" in the manual.
  45. Boss
  46. Dedant
  47. Hambo (aka Hambo's Adventures)
  48. Time Warp Tickers
  49. Jigsaw – Like Alfredo, this game crashes on Rev. A cartridges and only works on an emulator or Rev. B cartridges.
  50. Ninja Assault
  51. Robbie Robot (aka Robbie n the Robots) – "Robbie and the Robots" in the manual.
  52. Cheetahmen (aka Action Gamemaster) – "The "Action Gamemaster"" (with quotations) in the manual.

     Genesis version 
  1. Bonkers (aka Go Bonkers)
  2. Darksyne
  3. Dyno Tennis – Two-player game.
  4. Ooze – Remake of the NES version.
  5. Star Ball
  6. Sidewinder
  7. Daytona
  8. 15 Puzzle
  9. Sketch
  10. Star Duel - Two-player version of Darksyne.
  11. Haunted Hills – Remake of the NES version.
  12. Alfredo – Remake of the NES version.
  13. The Cheetahmen – Remake of the NES version.
  14. Skirmish – Two-player game.
  15. Depth Charge
  16. Mind's Eye
  17. Alien Attack
  18. Billy Bob – Shares its name with the NES version, but is a completely different game otherwise.
  19. Sharks – Remake of the NES version.
  20. Knockout – Two-player game.
  21. Intruder
  22. Echo
  23. Freeway
  24. Mousetrap
  25. Ninja – Remake of "Ninja Assault".
  26. Slalom
  27. Dauntless
  28. Force One
  29. Spidey
  30. Appleseed
  31. Skater
  32. Sunday Drive
  33. Star Evil – Remake of the NES version.
  34. Air Command
  35. Shootout
  36. Bombs Away
  37. Speed Boat
  38. Dedant – Remake of the NES version.
  39. G Fighter – Remake of "G-Force Fighters".
  40. Man at Arms
  41. Norman – Remake of "Storm Over the Desert".
  42. Armor Battle – Two-player version of Norman.
  43. Magic Bean
  44. Apache
  45. Paratrooper
  46. Sky Avenger
  47. Sharpshooter – Remake of "Shooting Gallery".
  48. Meteor – Remake of "Jupiter Scope".
  49. Black Hole
  50. The Boss – Remake of the NES version.
  51. 1st Game (aka 1st Video Game) – Two-player game. Clone of Pong.
  52. Challenge (aka Action 52 Challenge) – Not so much a game in itself; rather, it's an endurance mode of the most difficult levels of the other games in random order.

Action 52 includes examples of:

  • 1-Up:
    • Some games feature pickups that give extra lives. For an example, in Hambo or Beeps and Blips.
    • Running over Satan Hosain in Storm over Desert also gives an extra life.
  • All There in the Manual: The NES manual contains descriptions for each of the games, providing bits of backstory not covered in the games themselves, such as Fire Breathers focusing on "the last of the dragon wars," and the main villain of Boss being "The Toad" with an army of salamander hit men. You can see the manual for yourself here.
  • Antagonist Title:
    • Non Human. The title refers to the abominations the player faces, and not the player himself.
    • According to the manual, the title of Megalonia refers to the Empress Machine that is controlling the game's enemies.
  • The Artifact: Game #52 was originally going to be focused on the Action Game Master with the plot of him being sucked into the TV and facing off against characters from all the other games. Late in development, Vince Perri decided that using the game to launch a merchandisable property in the vein of Ninja Turtles would be a better idea. Thus, the game became Cheetahmen instead. There are still many leftovers of that original concept, such as the Action Game Master being prominent in the first cutscene and even the box art, and the enemies in Cheetahmen being pulled from other games.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: "Satan Hosain," the gigantic version of Saddam Hussein that appears in Storm Over the Desert.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Several enemies in Haunted Hill/Halls are these.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Haunted Hill/Halls takes place in a series of dark, dilapidated hallways filled with ghosts.
  • Blackout Basement: Illuminator's central mechanic is that the screen goes dark shortly after the game starts, and the lights briefly turn back on every time the player defeats an enemy.
  • Bleak Level: The final level of Cheetahmen is very dark, and does not contain any regular enemies leading up to the final boss fight.
  • Blob Monster: Most of the enemies in Ooze are blobs of slime that bounce around. The large, blue, faceless ones are the most dangerous, as they cannot be defeated by your gunfire, and can only be avoided.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: Sort of. The last game, Cheetahmen, uses an array of Palette Swapped enemies from previous games. A few of them are actually based on bosses, but they don't put up any more of a fight.
  • Boss-Only Level: Level 2 of Ninja Assault is entirely dedicated to a boss fight against a red-clad ninja. The game moves on to stage 3 after he is defeated.
  • Bottomless Pits: There are many bottomless pits found in the games, particularly in 2D sidescrollers such as in Ooze. Some cause unintentional vertical Wrap Around.
  • Bullfight Boss: White Rhino in Cheetahmen does nothing but charge the player. Funnily for these, his charge actually doesn't go all the way across the screen. making it possible to simply hug the wall.
  • Captain Ersatz: The Action Gamemaster from Cheetahmen is a pretty obvious knockoff of Captain N: The Game Master.
  • Cartoon Bomb:
    • One enemy in Fuzz Power is a black sphere with a fuse and a green face.
    • One of the most common enemies in Boss are hands that reach out from the windows in the buildings and drop red orbs with fuses.
  • Catchphrase: The Cheetahmen comic attempted to give the trio a pair of these. "Let's sink some subs!" being their battlecry (the villains being mutants called "sub-species," you see), and "Livin' large!" as their version of "Cowabunga!", apparently.
  • Cat Folk: The Cheetahmen are a trio of cheetahs that were mutated into a humanoid form after being injected with mutagen by Dr. Morbis.
  • Character Title: Multiple games are named after the titular character you play as:
    • Alfredo
    • Bubblegum Ros(s)ie
    • Micro Mike
    • Billy Bob
    • Hambo's Adventures
    • Cheetahmen
  • Checkpoint Starvation: There isn't a single checkpoint in any level, in any of the 52 games. If you die at any point, you're starting that level from the beginning.
  • Chest Monster: The moneybags in Streemerz damage you if you collect them, as indicated by the green frowning face that appears.
  • Cinematic Platform Game: Attempted with Billy Bob, which has most of the classic signs: ledge-grabbing, slow jumps, and a fairly realistically-proportioned hero with decent enough animations.
  • Collision Damage: Hitting any sort of obstacle causes you to take damage. Hitbox Dissonance is common.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Genesis version has this on the main menu, with the game titles being in different-colored text depending on their category:
    • Yellow is used for "Expert" (#1-2, 4-9, 11-13, 15-18).
    • Purple is used for "Intermediate" (#19, 21-36).
    • Green is used for "Beginner" (#37-41, 43-50).
    • Blue is used for "Two Player" (#3, 10, 14, 20, 42, 51).
    • White is used for "Special". Game #52, Challenge, is the only game to use this category, along with the Music Demo and Randomizer options on the menu.
  • Copy-and-Paste Environments: It even goes so far that some sections of levels in many games are repeated over and over with the same enemy placement (if it's not random).
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: In all of the platform games, the "jump" and "attack" buttons are B and A respectively, the opposite of the vast majority of similar games on the system.
  • Deadly Walls: In most of the Shoot 'Em Up games, contact with the walls will cost you a life. Poor collision detection kills you before you actually touch them. Star Evil is the worst offender, as you can get killed less than a second after starting it up due to the speed of the level scrolling.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Cheetahmen was the main attraction of the NES version and was deliberately placed as the final game on the cartridge, with a special intro cutscene that none of the other games have. In the Genesis version, however, it's just another title found partway into the compilation (game #13) with no added story significance. Likewise, the bosses from the NES version of Cheetahmen show up in the Genesis one, but are just regular enemies.
    • Active Enterprises's planned Cheetahmen III game for their Action Gamemaster console would have emphasized this even further, along with the NES Cheetahmen and Cheetahmen II. Showing that the Genesis Cheetahmen, unlike its NES counterpart, wasn't even being counted as part of the main series.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack:
    • In Dam Busters, your character can only fire in the four cardinal directions, but the enemies can fire in any direction they want.
    • Apollo in Cheetahmen, has an extremely narrow field of fire, as his crossbow only fires in a straight line at a single height, whereas his brothers have attack ranges spanning their whole sprites.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: From the intro of Cheetahmen: "The Cheetahmen ran off... ... and now... The Cheetahmen"
  • Descriptiveville: In the Genesis version, Segaville in Sunday Drive.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Despite being the Big Bad, Dr. Morbis is actually the first boss of Cheetahmen II, and extremely easy to defeat.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: Some of the platform games have platforms you can jump through. In extreme cases, this can allow you to jump and glitch through the floor.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: City of Doom has it right in the title.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Chill Out, despite its name being a common slang phrase, is mostly about a guy in a parka running around an ice world.
  • Down the Drain: Some levels in Cheetahmen take place in sewers.
  • Dungeon Bypass:
    • It's possible to skip most of levels 1 and 3 of Cheetahmen by finding the secret exits. This should also be possible on level 5, but a Game-Breaking Bug causes the game to break if you try to do that.
    • You can also skip level 2 of Slashers by walking into one of the doorways.
  • Early Game Hell:
    • The first two levels of Billy Bob are noticeably harder than the rest of the game. While the early levels contain extremely dangerous platforming with lots of screens that place hazards on the start point of the following screens before you can see them and have chances of loading obstacles in unavoidable positions, the last two levels consist mostly of straight lines that are fairly simple to charge through at full speed.
    • Also applies to Fuzz Power, as the first section is nearly impossible to do with pure skill but the rest of the game is fairly manageable. (At least until the insurmountable wall in level 3)
  • Engrish: The manual. Very surprising because it was made in the US.
  • Endless Game: Most of the games loop back to the first level upon completing thhe final one, if they don't crash first.
  • Enemy Summoner: The spider bosses in Haunted Hill/Halls shoot baby spiders at you, which are standard mooks from level 2 onwards.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You:
    • The classic example: the clearly-marked bags of pain sitting on the floor in Streemerz. Not to mention the deadly bouncing balls and clowns.
    • Haircare products in Fuzz Power.
    • Chains in Haunted Halls.
    • Windows, bowling balls, insects and rubble in City of Doom.
    • Candy products in Lollipops.
    • Some weird... things in Spread Fire.
    • Pasta in Alfred(o) N The Fettuc(ini).
    • Food, file cabinets and envelopes on wheels in French Baker.
    • Child toys in Space Dreams.
    • Weird... things in Timewarp Tickers
    • Utility tools in Jigsaw.
    • Green Elton John heads in Non-Human.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Shooting Gallery" is well, a shooting gallery.
  • Excuse Plot: Most of the games that have ones that are explained in the manual, with Cheetahmen being the only one to have an opening cutscene.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • Star-Evil begins with an obstacle directly in front of your ship immediately after the game starts.
    • In any of the single-screen Platform Games, the enemies spawn in random locations, meaning there's nothing stopping them from spawning right next to the player character and leaving the player no time to prepare for them.
    • In certain games like Underground and Evil Empire, enemies can spawn in large quantities on certain small platforms in such a way that it's impossible to reach the platform and shoot the enemies without dying.
    • In Billy Bob, certain screens begin with pits immediately in front of or under the player, making the pits impossible to avoid unless the player knows that they're coming beforehand. Additionally, the falling obstacles appear in random places, sometimes appearing in spots where they are impossible to avoid.
  • Fake Trap: Certain spikes in Bubblegum Rosy have no collision detection, meaning the player can fall on them without taking damage. This only applies to some of them, however.
  • Flip-Screen Scrolling: Billy Bob only displays one screen's worth of stage at any given time, and does not move to the next screen until the player character moves off-screen.
  • Flunky Boss: Star Evil's bosses have enemies spawning alongside them.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: So, so many.
    • In certain games like Star-Evil and Megalonia, the stage boss has a chance of not spawning at the end of the stage, leaving the player with no choice but to kill themselves. However, Megalonia doesn't provide this option, forcing the player to reset the entire game.
    • Certain games crash after beating specific levels, making the games impossible to beat. Ooze is the most well-known example, as it crashes after clearing level 2, making the contest associated with the game impossible to win.
    • Alfredo and Jigsaw cause the game to crash upon being loaded, unless you're using certain emulators. Alfredo in particular sometimes fails to start not only in the Genesis version as well, though with less consistency.
    • Level 5 of Atmos Quake is nigh-impossible to beat because your ship explodes randomly.
    • They Came is particularly easy to crash, as it crashes upon dying, clearing the first stage, or resetting the game.
    • In Level 5 of "Cheetahmen'', accessing the hidden level skip results in the player being sent to Level 10, where the game completely glitches out.
    • In Cheetahmen II, if you take too long to defeat the second boss, the Ape Man, then he'll eventually walk off the screen and never return, forcing you to restart the whole game. If you actually do defeat Ape Man however, the game fails to load the next level, leaving you no better off than you were before.
  • Genre Shift: Between ports, Billy Bob changed from a Prince of Persia-esque platformer to a Wild West-themed first person shooter.
  • Giant Eye of Doom: A few of the enemies in Non Human are just floating eyes.
  • Goomba Stomp: Mash Man and Bits 'n Pieces let you attack enemies by stomping them.
  • Graffiti Town: The odd-numbered levels of Boss take place in a decaying city, albeit with the twist of them being populated by frog people.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: In most of the games to feature boss fights, they're the easiest parts of the game. Haunted Hills/Halls and Cheetahmen have stages filled with incredibly stiff platforming challenges, but the boss tends to be pretty predictable and their attacks are easy to avoid. Cheetahmen II is particularly notable, since the first boss, Doctor Morbis, does nothing but run left. Micro Mike is a game so difficult many players never even learn the game has a boss fight, and it's by far the easiest part of that game, since Mike isn't rocketing off at absurd speed and instead moves at a normal rate.
  • Hard Mode Filler: The only difference with different levels of Space Dreams, Spread Fire and Shooting Gallery is that the enemies gradually move faster with each level.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Very severe in some of the games. Attacks that should miss you hit, and attacks that should hit enemies don't.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Johnny Jawbreaker from Lollipops fights enemies by clubbing them with a large lollipop.
  • Infinite 1-Ups: Evil Empire and later levels of They Came... spawn 1-Ups infinitely.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: A lot of enemies cannot be destroyed, including the bouncing enemies in Bubblegum Rosy.
  • Invisible Block: Some pits in level 3 of Alfredo can be walked over, making this a rare case that invisible blocks make a game easier.
  • Invisible Wall: Especially bad in the game Sombreros. The first level requires you to walk down a very narrow street against the flow of traffic and avoid getting hit by cars. For some reason, it's completely impossible to step on the clearly visible sidewalk where there are no cars!
  • Japan Takes Over the World: The box art stressed that the cartridge was made in America, playing on a rise in anti-Japanese sentiment during the early '90s recession in the U.S.
  • Jump Physics: All of the platformers have stiff, sloppy physics that will only let you move in mid-jump while you're descending. The jumps also have no momentum or weight, whether you're rising or falling.
  • Kid Hero: Illuminator and Bubblegum Rosy both have fairly youthful-looking protagonists.
  • Kill Screen: The second-closest thing to an ending. In Ninja Assualt the graphics become heavily glitched upon reaching Level 4, and although the level is playable, the game does not progress upon reaching the end, effectively still making it an example.
  • King Mook: The bosses in Manchester basically look like the standard enemies with their hair on fire.
  • Ladder Physics: Work as ladders in video games do except in Lollipops where you can go up the ladder only by jumping up them.
  • Leap of Faith: Quite a number of levels require you to jump on a platform you can't actually see. Made worse with jumping controls that make redirecting yourself in midair difficult.
  • Level Ate: Lollipops is entirely made out of food. French Baker and Alfredo have food-themed levels.
  • Living Toys: The enemies in Space Dreams include teddy bears, dolls, mobiles, rattles, and balloons.
  • Luck-Based Mission: So many:
    • In some games, enemies appear in random places. In some games, a bad enemy placement means death, or an Unwinnable situation, e.g. in Under Ground. Bullet enemies in Micro Mike can appear behind the player during boss fights, making it impossible to dodge them. Hambo is probably the worst offender for this, as not only do you start the game with just one life, it's possible for enemies to spawn right on top of Hambo, killing him as soon as the level begins.
    • In other games, enemies which are able to shoot, do it at random times. Sometimes they don't shoot at all while other times they shoot several bullets at you, and the player characters don't have enough mobility to be able to dodge them.
  • Mighty Glacier: Your tank in Storm Over The Desert is this, being so slow that even the soldiers outrun it, but able to destroy the pink tanks, the unsurprisingly weak soldiers, and Satan Hosain. It can be destroyed, but it takes many, many hits.
  • Mind Screw: Non Human, Spread Fire, Time Warp Tickers, among others, are incredibly difficult to discern what they're about. Time Warp Tickers in particular looks like it was inspired by a particularly intense Mushroom Samba, its setting is that nonsensical.
  • Mini Game Game: Action 52 consists of 52 small games.
  • Minus World: Several that are encountered during normal gameplay, in many cases unavoidably.
    • If you fall down a hole in Level 5 of Cheetahmen, you end up in Level 9, which is a room with a 1-Up. When you exit the room, you go to Level 10, which is a garbled mess where you fall to your death.
    • In the second level of Thrusters, the screen starts blinking, and you can't progress any further. If you crash here, your ship scatters into a glitchy mess that can still move around. It can be avoided only with a right emulator and rom.
    • The "lost levels" of Cheetahmen II, which are Remixed Levels from Cheetahmen I where the music is all glitched, and your Cheetahman is invincible. Once you play through here, the game locks up, just like at the end of Level 4.
    • In the third level of Lollipops, the music becomes heavily glitched as the result of the game interpreting other game data as music.
    • The last level of Ninja Assault is populated by Glitch Entities, and the game does not continue upon reaching the end.
    • Level 8 of Beeps n Blips, where the background is garbled and the level can't be completed because both the player and enemies are invincible.
  • Mooks, but no Bosses: The majority of games have no boss battles.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Satan Hosain, the apparent main antagonist of Storm over the Desert.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Bits and Pieces has zombies making up the common enemies.
  • Ninja: Ninja Assault, unsurprisingly, is about these. The Genesis version also contains a game simply called Ninja.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • The evil "Satan Hosain" from Storm Over the Desert. Running over him gives you an extra life. In Cheetahmen, he becomes an easily-dispatched midget.
    • The "Elton John" heads in Non-Human.
  • No Ending:
    • The majority of the games simply loop back to the first level upon completing the final one, with no acknowledgement that all the levels have been completed. Meanwhile, other games are simply impossible to beat, as they are either guaranteed to crash at a certain point, or otherwise are designed in a way that they are impossible to overcome.
    • Individual levels have no proper indication for when they end; they just end abruptly.
    • Ooze has an ending screen telling you to enter a code and send it to Active Enterprises for a chance at a prize. However, in most versions, the game crashes upon completing Level 2, making this ending impossible to see normally.
  • No Fair Cheating: An unintended example. Most of the games become a lot easier to beat if you play on a PAL-format NES or an emulator switched into PAL mode, which slows the games down. The lone exception is the one game where it would have helped the most, Micro Mike, which in PAL mode quickly glitches out and becomes unplayable due to graphics corruption.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: The protagonist of Streemerz is clearly both a clown and a good guy.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Ninja Assault goes the Karateka route and replaces the standard Game Over screen with a "The End" screen instead.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…:
    • In most of the platform games, falling can kill you, and you need not actually touch the ground from a long jump for a character to begin his death animation.
    • Billy Bob is a notorious example of this. If he drops off a ledge, not only does he die before he hits the ground, but he stops in mid-fall, lies flat on his face, and stays there levitated in mid-air.
  • One-Hit Kill: In the Cheetahmen comic, the Cheetahmen defeat all of the rival sub-humans in one hit. Even White Rhino gets killed in one hit, despite having the look of a Mighty Glacier.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The vast majority of player characters lose a life if they take any damage at all. The main exceptions being the Cheetahmen, Bubble Gum Ros(s)ie, and the tanks in Storm Over the Desert.
  • 1-Up: Some games have 1-up pickups. Games with these include Evil Empire, Dam Busters, Crazy Shuffle, Cheetahmen and more. In Beeps 'n Blips, the 1-Ups don't increase your life count but rather give you more hit points.
  • One-Word Title:
    • Illuminator
    • Ooze
    • Thrusters
    • Sharks
    • Megalonia
    • Meong
    • Streemerz
    • Underground
    • Slashers
    • Lollipop(s)
    • Sombreros
    • Manchester
    • Boss
    • Dedant
    • Jigsaw
  • "Pachelbel's Canon" Progression: The music of Dam Busters has this in its second half.
  • Poison Mushroom: The money bag collectibles in Streemerz give a frowny face and damage you upon being collected, though a dummied-out smiley face suggests this is unintentional.
  • Power Glows: According to the manual, Rocket Jockey was supposed to have a lasso which would glow brighter as it gains power, but this doesn't appear in the final game. It was added in the Action 52 Owns remake, though.
  • Press Start to Game Over:
    • In Star Evil, the first level contains a wall directly in front of your ship as soon as the level starts, meaning that the player can lose a life immediately as the game starts unless they know to move out of the way the moment they gain control.
    • Hambo's Adventures starts the player with only one life, and the enemies spawn in random locations. If the player is particularly unlucky, they can have an enemy spawn on top of them and get Game Over less than a second after starting.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Jigsaw uses "Long, Long Ago." Cry Baby uses the Alphabet song.
  • Pun: "Lights! Camera! Action 52!" from the phrase "Lights, Camera, Action" used when filming is shown in media.
  • Punny Name: Hambo, who is a pig.
  • Rail Shooter: Many games, particularly the side scrolling space shooters, but almost all the games are side scrolling.
  • Ratchet Scrolling:
    • Any game that features screen scrolling only moves in one direction.
    • Dam Busters has certain points where it's completely possible to go too far into a dead end with no way to backtrack, forcing you to reset the game.
  • Recurring Boss: In the majority of the games that feature boss battles, there is only one boss that appears at the end of every stage.
  • Recurring Riff:
    • Space Dreams and Dam Busters use similar melody at some points. Also, you can hear the level 1 motif of level 3's theme in Lollipops sometimes.
    • There's also the theme for They Came and Beeps 'n Blips, which uses the same melody from level 2 of Haunted Halls.
  • Recycled Soundtrack:
    • They Came and Beeps 'n Blips have the same music, while the themes from Fuzz Power and Cheetahmen end up being reused in Cheetahmen II (and Syobon Action, in the case of the latter).
    • A lot more noticeable in the Mega Drive version, where the entire soundtrack (bar the title and menu themes) is used in multiple games.
  • Refugee from TV Land: The Cheetahmen enter a kid's living room via a TV in the commercial for the game.
  • Rocket Ride: The Player character in Rocket Jockey is a cowboy flying a rocket while sitting atop it. Some of the enemies do the same thing.
  • Rolling Attack: The main character in Fuzz Power attacks by performing a somersault that allows him to ram into enemies.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Several of the game descriptions in the manual have this:
    • Micro Mike - "He's only the size of a flea, and it's difficult getting from her to their when you're smaller than the stand of hair. It seems like your in the land of the giants."
    • Streemerz - "Try climbing to the top of this one by throwing steamers and climbing them"
    • Bubblegum Ros(s)ie manages to combine this with Gender-Blender Name.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: The Cheetahmen consisted of Apollo, Hercules, and Aries. Considering Aries is supposed to be a master of martial arts and the group's combat expert, he was probably supposed to be named after Ares. (Aries is the ram constellation, Ares is the Greek war god.)
  • Save the Princess: Illuminator, Billy Bob, and Lollipops all have this plot, according to the manual. This is not reflected in the games themselves.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty:
    • Level 3 of Sharks is much harder than the rest of the game, due to the sharks being replaced with jellyfish which are hard to hit.
    • In Billy Bob, it's extremely noticeable where the game gets easier with each level.
  • Secret Level: Level 9 of Cheetahmen (a single room containing a 1-Up), which can be accessed by a secret exit in any of the odd-numbered levels. However, doing this in level 5 will cause the game to go level 10 where the game completely glitches up.
  • Sentry Gun: Some games like Robbie Robot have these. Sentry Guns are the sole enemies in Operation Moon.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Some levels in Storm Over the Desert have sand traps.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: Several of the games take heavy inspiration from other games:
  • Skippable Boss: The bosses in Megalonia will have less health depending on how many enemy ships the player shoots leading up to them. If the player shoots down enough ships to reduce its health to zero before it appears, the boss will not appear at all, and the game will continue to the next stage.
  • Some Dexterity Required: To move while jumping in most of the platformers, the B button has to be released - it can't be held down. However, the B button is also a jump button. In four of the platforming games, the player can jump only when moving, although Haunted Halls, Bits 'n Pieces and Cheetahmen don't have this problem.
  • Space Is Noisy: Many space shooters in this game collection, true to the genre, have a lot of noise going on.
  • Space Western: In Rocket Jockey, your character is dressed as a cowboy, and whirls around a lasso while riding on a rocket through space.
  • Spell My Name with an S: The title character of Bubblegum Rosie has her name spelled inconsistently between the game-select screen, the title screen, and the manual. Respectively, they spell it as "Rosy", "Rossie" and "Rosie".
  • Spikes of Doom: Bubblegum Rosy features some which won't work at all. In Mash Man, spikes have much larger hitboxes than it seems. And in Underground (where these take on the form of mushrooms or spears) it's safe to fall on top of them but not safe to walk past them.
  • Stalactite Spite: Spears in Billy Bob only start to fall when Bob is under them.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • A possible example with Thrusters, which has a rather suggestive looking spaceship as the protagonist.
    • The characters in Boss are amphibious gangsters, effectively making them cold-blooded killers.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Most games which have water have it be a one-hit kill.
  • Technical Pacifist: Hercules in Cheetahmen doesn't want to attack unless provoked, according to the Cheetahmen comic book.
  • Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats: The Cheetahmen, basically.
  • Threatening Shark: Both versions contain a game called Sharks in which the main enemies are sharks that attack your diver.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: The character from Silver Sword lobs his sword at enemies.
  • Tilesweeper: Meong, the 19th game. You control an A52 logo and walk through three grid fields. Some tiles are traps which you can tell if you watch their animations. Standing in one spot for a few seconds blows you up. Also, the layouts are not randomised and the furthest side columns are typically empty.
  • Title by Number: Action 52
  • Title Drop: Meong provides an odd variation, with the main character being an "A52" logo.
  • Trap Door: In Meong, the goal is to traverse a tiled area while avoiding the tiles that hide these.
  • Trapped in TV Land: The plot of Cheetahmen involves this, as a kid called the Action Gamemaster is pulled into the game. Then the Cheetahmen show up, tell him not to worry, and run off to fight things. The Action Gamemaster never sees them again.
  • Tyop on the Cover: The game selection screen has Crytical Bypass (unless it's an intentional case of Xtreme Kool Letterz) and Alfred n the Fettuc, which is supposed to be "Alfredo and the Fettucini".
  • Underground Level: Underground and Dedant are entirely that for obvious reasons but some other games have underground levels as well.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • Bubblegum Rosy starts off as a side-scrolling platformer, but turns into an overhead driving game in level 2, then back into a platformer in level 3.
    • Ninja Assault is primarily a side-scrolling beat em up, but the third level onward adds in elements of a platform game, with the addition of bottomless pits.
    • Cheetahmen has more of a non-indicative first taste of gameplay — the first level is an isometric 3D sidescroller a la Double Dragon, but after that, all the levels are strictly 2D platforming.
  • The Unfought: Dr. Morbis isn't actually present in Cheetahmen despite being presented as the main villain in the comic book. He doesn't appear until the sequel.
  • Unsound Effect: Time Warp Tickers has "Time?" as the stock death animation.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • Many of the games contain tough, nasty and cruel examples. Most famously Ooze, which was part of a back-of-the-box competition where anyone who beat said game would be entered into a raffle. Since the game is impossible to beat (after getting past three of its five levels, it crashes the cartridge before the third level can load), this raffle saw extremely few entries.
    • In Star-Evil, when too many sprites are onscreen when it's a boss time, the boss itself doesn't appear at all.
    • The fifth level of Atmos Quake is unbeatable since your ship always randomly explodes.
    • It's possible to get stuck at a dead-end in Dam Busters thanks to the game's Ratchet Scrolling. If that happens, your only option is to reset the game.
    • Fuzz Power's third level has a jump that's impossible to pass.
    • The fourth stage in Starevil is unwinnable for being extremely glitchy (a pink background with no way to pass the level).
    • The eighth stage of Beeps and Blips, which glitches up, and there's no way to die or kill anything.
    • The second stage of Thrusters; if you happen to die, your ship glitches out and it becomes invincible, but you can't pass the level. If you do manage to clear the level without dying, it just repeats the same screen in an endless loop.
    • The first stage of They Came...; if you die, the game crashes. If you complete the level, the game crashes. If you try to exit the game, the game crashes.
    • The fourth stage of Ninja Assault; your character is horribly glitched up but you can still move around and defeat enemies as normal. When you defeat the boss however, you don't advance to the next stage, you are simply stuck in limbo.
    • Go Bonkers' ninth and final level cannot be completed since an area featuring blocks that must be destroyed to finish the level are blocked off by other blocks, including those that kill you upon contact. The small openings that exist between these blocks are small enough that your ball could pass through... if only one side of the tunnels wasn't a death block.
  • Variable Mix: Unintentionally in level 3 of Lollipops where walking and hitting things changes the tones.
  • Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The last level of Cheetahmen takes a stab at this: dark locales, difficult platforming, and swarms of enemies.
  • Wackyland: Time Warp Tickers and Manchester take place in locations that are, charitably, nonsense. There are unintentional examples too. Like Micro Mike, due to tiles chosen for the level.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Cheetahmen: The Action Game Master never appears again after the opening cutscene. According to the manual, he transforms into each of the Cheetahmen, but this is not reflected in the game.
  • A Winner Is You:
    • In Cheetahmen you don't even get a "Conglaturation!" screen for your troubles. Beating the final boss instantly returns you to the title screen.
    • Sharks and Dedant will give you the Game Over screen when the final mission is completed.
  • Word Purée Title:
    • Megalonia
    • Meong
    • Dedant
    • Alfred n the Fettuc (Although this is supposed to be Alfredo and the Fettucini)
  • Work Info Title: The title reflects that the game a collection of 52 action games.
  • Wrap Around: 2-directional horizontal variation is present in Chill Out, Cry Baby and Dedant. There are unintentional examples too.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Streemerz and Lazer League.
    • Likely unintentionally done in Crytical Bypass.
  • Zero-Effort Boss:
    • Ironically applies to the Recurring Boss in Boss, where you can just go to the left and shoot constantly because he never goes beyond the right-hand side of the screen or attack.
    • The Scavenger, the Final Boss of Cheetahmen. If you stay to the left of the screen and off of the middle platform, his predetermined movement path will never touch you. Additionally, you play this fight as Apollo, who is armed with a crossbow. The Scavenger has no additional attacks, either, so there's no reason not to simply shoot him from a distance, where he can't do anything to you.



Video Example(s):


Dam Busters

The Angry Video Game Nerd discovers that he can get trapped by going the wrong way due to Ratchet Scrolling in a game in Action 52.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / UnintentionallyUnwinnable

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