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Action 52: A Pothole in the Road of Gaming

Active entertainment is a small game company with only two full titles to its name, one of which is the Action 52 (the other being the unreleased NES title Cheetahman 2). The masterminds behind this game must have thought that if they could create a cartridge with 15x as many games as normal, they’d be millionaires. Considering the results, it would seem like they either A) Hired a group of college programmers to create some basic games or B) Hired ONE man to create every game in his basement. Any of the above options would have probably turned out better than what was released.

In truth, Active Enterprises contracted FarSight Studios to create their abomination and thus the Action 52 was released in 1991 for both the NES and the Genesis.

FOR $200! Yes, considering the cart held so many games, they figured charging for more than a damn Genesis itself would be a PERFECT retail price. A few rental stores bought the games, but that was about it. Soon, the price was driven down to $80, but that still was more than Phantasy Star II, so not many carts were ever sold. Most could be found in the rental bargain bins around the time PSX came on the scene. Active had plans for not only a SNES version, but for their own handheld console (the Gamemaster) as well. Only about 10,000 carts were ever made, so it is, ironically enough, considered something of a collector’s item.

Unfortunately, with the NES dead and their connection with Sega lost, Active decided to cut its gaming losses. They were unable to go ahead with their release plans, and the Action 52 was such a failure that they changed their focus in the mid-90’s from video games to voice detection software. As of 2001, they are still doing such work. I guess those college kids need A LOT of money to create 30 space shooters. Vince Perri of Active Enterprises, is somewhere out there and may have more info, but he seems to be a very secluded guy.

But that’s not all. For today I am braving a simple, yet needed task. I will create a top-10 list of Action 52 games.


10. Bonkers

A simple game controlling a super ball as it hits its proper targets. If you go too fast, you’ll miss the proper target, and then you’re playing all over, which can get irritating. Not a bad game, but pretty generic.



9. Ninja

You are BLACK NINJA, and you must run by the same 3 background statues for eternity. It is your destiny! Course, being pissed with your destiny, you decide to take out the entire Strawberry Milk Syrup ninja army with your shurikens. Unfortunately for you, the SMS army also has infinite shurikens to dispose of you with. Also, they have another power; they can actually walk at different speeds!


8. Appleseed

There’s only one reason I would put this Kaboom clone here. The basic idea is that the farmer must catch all the apples to win. What happens if you miss one? Nothing. He just keeps going as if nothing’s happened. But catch one of those GREEN apples, and he drops his basket and has an aneurysm while dancing. Its great laugh factor is the only reason this game makes the list.


7. Star Ball

The only pinball title on the cart, and considering everything thing, it’s actually not that bad. I love pinball, so maybe I’m biased. Whatever, the music itself is great.



6. Star Evil

With all the shooters, especially all the space shooters, I had to pick at least one. Here we have Star Evil, where the only real difference is the various obstacles you have to avoid, thus creating more than 30 seconds of replay time. It’s not the best, but it’s one of the better shooters here.


5. Billy Bob

Lethal Enforcers gets its own game here as well, especially the second game (Lethal Enforcers II). You get 25 bullets, and you better use them well, or your dead. Various bad guys run in front of you waiting to be shot, but don’t forget the background. I’ve been sniped more than once by some guy in the salon up the street. And when you shoot one of the guys in the windows, be sure to wave back.


4. Ooze

Captain Keen….I mean Mr. Green Hair is in an alien ooze world, where gravity is 3 times earths gravity, which must be why falling a 1/100000 of an inch causes you to explode. Another simple platformer that only is challenging because of the horrible jump control.



3. Man at Arms

You are a single bowman from the Brick Red Crayola Crayon kingdom, and you must defend the fort against the Robins Egg Blue and Daffodil Yellow forces. You can easily win by holding shoot and push away the attacking knights. Let one touch the fort, and you pussy archer gives up. The most serious snowball game ever.


2. Sharks

You are Scuba Ronald (Scuba Steve was taken), and you have been given a mission: Take this harpoon gun and shoot anything that moves, mostly sharks. Like most of the games, a simple touch forces your body to explode into a bomb of blood, even if a shark fin hit your gun. Still, it’s a good way to waste a few minutes. Much like this entire compilation


1. Cheetaman

What else? You’re a mutant cheetah who roams the forest for bad guys from the other games. Although it may take a second to get into it, it’s surprisingly fun. The controls aren’t that bad, and you can actually forget what your doing while playing. It’s one of the few games here that can actually be FUN. Now if more titles on this collection were had made more of an effort, Active may still be around in gaming today.


Well, I actually did it. I got my self through ten games on one of gaming history’s bigger travesties. It’s not all horrible, so getting it for at least a few bucks shouldn’t give you buyer’s remorse.

Here’s the full game list:

  • Bonkers
  • Darksyne Dyno
  • Tennis
  • Ooze
  • Star Ball
  • Sidewinder
  • Daytona
  • 15 Puzzle
  • Sketch
  • Star Duel
  • Haunted Hill
  • Alfredo
  • Cheetahmen
  • Skirmish
  • Depth Charge
  • Minds Eye
  • Alien Attack
  • Billy Bob
  • Sharks
  • Knockout
  • Intruder
  • Echo
  • Freeway
  • Mousetrap
  • Ninja
  • Slalom
  • Dauntless
  • Force One
  • Spidey
  • Appleseed
  • Skater
  • Sunday Drive
  • Star Evil
  • Air Command
  • Shootout
  • Bombs Away
  • Speed Boat
  • Dedant G
  • Fighter
  • Man At Arms
  • Norman
  • Armor Battle
  • Magic Bean
  • Apache
  • Paratrooper
  • Sky Avenger
  • Sharpshooter
  • Meteor
  • Black Hole
  • The Boss
  • 1st Game (Pong)
  • Challenge
  • Music Demo
  • Randomizer

One Comment

  1. “Bonkers” is a ripoff of Varcon Systems’ “Diamonds”, which then was still recent.

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