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"The Ultimate Challenge" here would be to convince yourself that this was actually worth $200.

"Make your selection... now."
Game Voiceover

Action 52 is a collection of 52 games for the NES — well, perhaps "games" is too kind — 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 wallowed in obscurity, but it has gained a new lease on life in the Internet age as the subject of many video game reviewers' mockery.

This isn't to say that Active Enterprises never did anything again; indeed, there was a second Action 52 compilation on the Genesis (which Active farmed out to another developer, Farsight Technologies, who did a much better, though still just barely passable, job), and a third was planned on the SNES (likely scrapped when they couldn't figure out a way around Nintendo's lockout).


Additionally, several years after the game was released, a very 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. Then Active Enterprises never did anything again.

A history of how the monstrosity came to be is in The Other Wiki. The Angry Video Game Nerd reviewed the game here (part one of two; 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.

This collection of games is almost universally considered a pile of crap. However, the background music used in Cheetahmen (and reused in Cheetahmen II) is an exception: it is surprisingly well-regarded, with a large number of musical remixes.

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). Hey, it's not like they can make the games worse, right?

The games on the cartridge (NES version):

  1. Fire Breather note 
  2. Starevil
  3. Illuminator
  4. G-Force Fighters
  5. Ooze note 
  6. Silver Sword
  7. Crytical Bypass [sic]
  8. Jupiter Scope
  9. Alfredo (aka Alfred N The Fettuc)note 
  10. Operation Full-Moon
  11. Dam Busters
  12. Thrusters
  13. Haunted Hill
  14. Chill Out
  15. Sharks
  16. Megalonia
  17. French Baker
  18. Atmos Quake
  19. Meong
  20. Space Dreams
  21. Streemerz note 
  22. Spread Fire
  23. Bubblegum Rosy (aka Bubble Gum Rossie)
  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 note 
  33. Lollipops
  34. Evil Empire
  35. Sombreros
  36. Storm Over the Desert
  37. Mash Man
  38. They Came...
  39. Lazer League
  40. Billy Bob
  41. City of Doom
  42. Bits and Pieces
  43. Beeps and Blips
  44. Manchester
  45. Boss
  46. Dedant
  47. Hambo (aka Hambo's Adventures)
  48. Time Warp Tickers
  49. Jigsaw note 
  50. Ninja Assault
  51. Robbie Robot (aka Robbie N The Robots)
  52. Cheetahmen (aka Action Gamemaster)

The games on the cartridge (Genesis version):

  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. Ninjaa
  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 note 
  52. Challenge

Action 52 includes examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The manual summaries for the games appear to be based on the projected versions rather than the final ones. They talk about features that don't appear, or give descriptions of the games that are just flat-out wrong. For instance, the description of Bits and Pieces in the manual makes it sound like a Tetris-esque game, but the actual game involves a Frankenstein-esque monster jumping over other monsters. The description of Shooting Gallery describes several different modes of play, but there's just one style with several levels of increasing difficulty.
    • The summary for Billy Bob reveals that the aim is to escape from a prison and rescue your girlfriend, neither of which are made clear in the actual game. Likewise, the manual claims that the Action Gamemaster featured in the introduction to Cheetahmen transforms into the three title characters throughout the course of the game, while in the game's intro they're shown as different characters with the Cheetahmen running off after doing nothing whatsoever to suggest the kid is transforming into them in sequence.
  • Antagonist Title: Non Human. The title refers to the abominations the player faces, and not the player himself.
    • Megalonia, if the manual is to be believed, refers to the main antagonist.
  • 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.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Not the case with Apollo, the leader of the Cheetahmen. He's got a long reach but a narrow attack range in the NES version, and the levels where you control him are generally considered to be the hardest in the game mainly owing to this. In the Genesis one his arrows take three hits to kill most enemies, while his brothers can kill any enemy in one hit.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: "Satan Hosain," the gigantic version of Saddam Hussein that appears in Storm Over the Desert. Due to the general incompetence involved in the package, it's hard to tell whether his size was intentional, or a screw-up on the part of the developers.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Johnny Jawbreaker, the protagonist of Lollipops.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Several enemies in Haunted Hill/Halls are these.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Haunted Hill/Halls takes place in one such haunted house.
  • Blackout Basement: Illuminator takes place in a building where the player must go up and down floors and light bulbs. When no bulbs are lit, the screen goes dark. Bulbs burn out after a few seconds, so you have to keep lighting them up.
  • Blatant Lies: According to the box, as displayed on The Other Wiki, its creators gave it the "Action Seal of Quality Assurance". What kind of quality they were talking about is unclear, but it certainly doesn't mean what most of us would think "quality" means. Hopefully, it means "We're saving the best for last". Also: the manual contains numerous inaccuracies.
  • Blob Monster: The enemies in Ooze are mostly blob creatures.
  • Boss Rush: 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 consists of a boss battle.
  • 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
  • Buxom Is Better: The protagonist of Haunted Hill has breasts bigger than her head (although it is also possible they were going for Gaston sized pecks).
  • Captain Ersatz: The Action Gamemaster from Cheetahmen is a pretty obvious knockoff of Captain N: The Game Master.
  • Cartoon Bomb: The enemies in later Fuzz Power levels throw the classic black spherical bombs. Cartoon bombs are also thrown in Boss.
  • 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 cat people.
  • 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: Money from Streemerz damages you.
  • 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.
  • 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!: The "jump" and "attack" buttons are B and A respectively, the opposite of the vast majority of similar games on the system.
  • Deadly Walls: Most of the Shoot 'em Up games. 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 but it's just another title in the Genesis version. Likewise, the bosses from the NES version of Cheetahmen show up in the Genesis one, but are just generic one-hit-kill enemies.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: Most noticeable in Dam Busters, where you can only fire in the cardinal directions but the enemies can fire in any direction they want. It's also quite a problem in Apollo's levels of Cheetahmen, with him having an extremely narrow field of fire whereas the other Cheetahmen 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.
  • Dummied Out: Seeing as the game crashes on Version A cartridges when trying to play Alfredo and the Fettucini (also known as Alfredo or Alfred n the Fettuc) or Jigsaw, the two games are effectively Dummied Out and can only be played on Version B cartridges or an emulator. Same goes to later levels in some of the games (Thrusters, Shooting Gallery etc.). Ooze even had cut level 8 and a screen for the Unwinnable contest. Additionally, ROM hackers have discovered art assets for yet more games that didn't make it onto the cart, as well as a title screen for French Baker.
  • 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.
    • 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 around from the last level, 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 them. Most of the plots are explained in the manual, with Cheetahmen being the only one to get the honor of an opening cutscene (and it still makes no sense).
  • Fake Difficulty: All the games in Action 52 are notoriously difficult, not because they're supposed to be hard, but because all of the games are poorly designed and full of bugs and glitches, making it very easy to die or lose.
  • Fake Trap: The spikes in Bubblegum Rosy are an unintentional example; fall on the spikes and nothing happens.
  • Flunky Boss: Star Evil's bosses have enemies spawning alongside them.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: So, so many.
    • If apocyphral stories are to be believed, the programming duties were done by college students.
    • The Genesis version is a lot less buggy... but somehow manages to find a way to still suck.
    • Some games don't even load at all, unless you're using certain emulators. Alfredo in particular has the (dis)honor of failing to start not only in the NES version, but also the Genesis version.
    • Cheetahmen II has a particularly cruel example. 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.
  • 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 shouldn't
  • Improbable Weapon User: Johnny Jawbreaker from Lollipops uses a large lollipop as a weapon.
  • Infinite 1-Ups: Evil Empire and later levels of They Came... spawn 1-Ups infinitely.
  • In Name Only: Several of the games on the Mega Drive version reuse names from the NES original despite being completely different games.
  • Interface Screw: The life bar in some levels of some games isn't visible. In a few others, the life bar isn't visible at all.
  • 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: In Illuminator and Bubblegum Rosy both have fairly youthful-looking protagonists.
  • Kill Screen: The second-closest thing to an ending. Particularly frustrating in Ninja Assualt — the cave is right there, and moreover, it's actually been pretty decent so far.
  • 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 (unless they're glitchy) 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: Many of the enemies in Space Dreams, including teddy bear enemies.
  • 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. 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. Stuart Ashen, who played the game as part of his second "Quickest Game Overs Ever" video, managed to die in 0.4 seconds, the quickest Game Over he found in either video, and had this happen twice in the five times he played the game. Additionally, he noted that whereas every other game featured in the two videos required stupidity on the part of the user (or, at worst, a nasty Guide Dang It! moment), Hambo was the only one where the instant Game Over was purely a result of developer incompetence.
    • 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, resulting death.
  • 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.
  • 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 2, which are Remixed Levels from Cheetahmen 1 where the music is all glitched, and your Cheetahman is invincible for some reason. Once you play through here, the game locks up, just like at the end of Level 4.
    • The third level of Lollipops, with its musical mind rape that results from the game interpreting other game data as music.
    • The last level of Ninja Assault is populated by Glitch Entities, and you're stuck in limbo at 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 at
  • 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.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Possibly the crowning achievement of Ninja Assault: big-nosed, coonskin-wearing hillybilly ninjas. Strange indeed are the ways of the Zin-Zan.
  • Nintendo Hard: Games with enough coherence to begin with usually wind up in the worst excesses of this.
  • 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.
  • No Ending: Most of the games. In some you just keep doing the same level(s) over and over, and in some you can't even reach the ending (if they DID program one) for various reasons. Another thing is that a lot of the 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. Pity a lot of the cartridges have it crash after level 2.
  • 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: 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.
  • Obvious Beta: More like Obvious Alpha. Some games are worse than others, but at one point or another, it becomes clear that most of them were just getting started, especially when compared with the way they are described in the manual.
    • Cheetahmen 2 was an Obvious Pre-Alpha, and they still programmed it into cartridges. Did they really intend to distribute it in that state?
    • Even the cartridge itself was prone to this. As The Angry Video Game Nerd pointed out, if you have the cartridge in your NES while turned on for an extended period of time, it starts to overheat due to the plastic casing, leaving behind a burned plastic smell. He also pointed out this can happen with any NES model, be it the original grey box, the Top Loader, or even third-party clones like his Nintoaster.
  • One-Hit Kill: In the Cheetahmen comic, the Cheetahmen kill every single sub-species in one hit. Even White Rhino gets killed in one hit, despite his appearance.
  • One-Hit Point Wonder: The vast majority of player characters are this, 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.
  • Palette Swap: The hero of Mash Man is the "defeated" sprite from Fuzz Power with clothes.
  • Poison Mushroom: Money bags give a frowny face and damages you in Streemerz, 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 the idea was scrapped. It was added in the Action 52 Owns remake, though.
  • Press Start to Game Over: As this video from Stuart Ashen demonstrates, it is very easy to kill yourself immediately at the beginning of Starevil and Hambo's Adventure—the latter of which he timed at less than half a second. The only reason he disqualified the former is because there's more than one life, meaning the game over takes too long.
  • 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:
    • Dam Busters has this, and it can easily get you stuck in an area that keeps you from moving forward, forcing you to reset the game.
    • All of the platformers have this as well.
  • 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: What you and some of the enemies do in Rocket Jockey.
  • Rolling Attack: The main character in Fuzz Power can do that.
  • 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, the characters of Active's flagship property that never was, 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: You have to rescue your sister in Illuminator and a woman in Billy Bob.
    • And Princess Lolli in Lollipops.
  • 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 goes easier 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 are bad attempts at ripping off other games:
  • Skippable Boss: The bosses in Megalonia can be skipped by shooting down enough ships.
  • 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. It makes it HELL trying to jump across pits.
    • 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": Rosy, Rosie or Rossie?
  • 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: To another unlicensed multicart called Supervision 52-in-1. The two games have identical coding for the main menu, and both are a compilation of 52 games (although in Supervision's case, it is mostly made up of slightly edited versions of other games, and it actually has 50 games with two repeats).
  • 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.
  • Take That!: The Saddam Hussein analogue in Storm Over the Desert can be killed in just one hit. As a double Take That!, he is basically a slightly modded sprite from Super Mario Bros.. What's more, his name is Satan Hosain. Because subtlety is for wimps.
    • Also worth noting that the Iraqi tanks are pink and that running over Hussein gives you extra lives.
  • Technical Pacifist: Hercules in Cheetahmen doesn't want to attack unless provoked, as backstory tells.
  • Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats: The Cheetahmen, basically, obviously created in an attempt to cash-in on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (in the likes of Battle Toads that also started as a NES game).
  • 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: Action52
  • 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, as some 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 (which is a platformer, but has a driving level) and Ninja Assault (a side-scrolling beat-em-up that has you jumping from one log to another in the third level) both fall victim to this, for the worse.
    • Cheetahmen has more of a non-indicative first taste of gameplay — its first level is an isometric 3D sidescroller a la Battletoads, but after that, all the levels are strictly 2D.
  • The Unfought: Dr. Morbis isn't actually present in Cheetahmen despite being presented as the main villain in the comic book.
  • Unsound Effect: Time Warp Tickers has "Time?" as the stock death animation.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake and Unwinnable by Design:
    • 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 fourth level can load), this raffle saw extremely few entries.
    • In Starevil, 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.
    • Micro-Mike moves way too fast to plausibly complete.
    • 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. Welcome to Hell.
    • 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: So what happened to the Action Game Master? Granted it contradicts what the opening cinema shows, but according to the manual he transforms into each of the Cheetahmen.
  • 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 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, the character you're using for this fight is armed with a crossbow. The boss has no projectile attacks. You do the math.


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