|If Action 52 is good for anything, it's that it's an exceedingly
valuable game. You see, you probably already know the story that the
introductory MSRP for the NES Action 52 was $199 and that it came out
during the holiday season of 1991, so the joke is the imagine the thrill
when parents, used to paying $40-$50 per single game could get fifty-two
games for the price of four. Then, imagine the thrill of the kids
who got 52 games on Christmas Day. Imagine, then, how quickly those
thrills turned to shrieks of pain after discovering the terror that lie
This is not exactly true. Action 52 was pushed almost exclusively to rental stores who were usually forced by Active to buy in lots of 40 or more. Used game stores didn't carry 40 copies of Super Mario Bros. 3 in the summer of 1990. Active Enterprises, a rookie game company releasing a compilation for a slowly dying system, was expecting game stores to buy huge lots of games that were pretty damn high per unit largely being marketed to place that don't sell video games. This isn't even taking into consideration the quality (or lack thereof) of the games which quite frankly wouldn't have been known at the time (well, unlicensed = completely shitty is not a dogma invented by Nintendo, only propogated by Nintendo).
So it's no wonder that what we have here is so rare. Yet the convenience and apparently cost effectiveness of having 52 games in one seemed too good for some (naive) patrons to forego, so it did end ultimately end up in some hands and ever so often you'll see copies floating around the auction block today. Let's take a look at it.
1) The block of foam. I guess even Active gets these. I mean, yeah, look, piece of foam, WOO!!
2) Cheetahmen Comic. I'm very, very far removed from a comic book junkie.. Whenever hardcore comic book fans compile lists of their favorite comic-related doodads, I'll be lucky to have heard of a third of them. Even I, being as bereft of knowledge about comics that I am, know this is a terrible example of it. Even I can tell the artwork, while more
If only I could scan the shit out of the comic book, we could really have a good old fashioned beat-down party at the hands of this whipping boy. Someday I may do this, but I guess we'll just have to settle the scans at the Cheetahmen Corner (see links at the Intro page). I am, though, able to discuss the back cover of this cute little comic book, with is pictured to the right.
It remind you that Cheetahmen action figures are coming soon, and asks, no, demands that you ask your local toy store about them. Don't believe me? Look at the firmness implied by the word now down bottom there. I guess we should give Active credit for resisting the urge to childishly throw in at least ah half dozen more exclamation points. I think it would be funny to one day show up to Gamestop and scream deliriously to the store employees about Cheetahmen Action figures. Even after showing them the comic book and telling them the Action 52 store, I bet they still wouldn't get it. The action figures (along with the ones seen here, Active also planned action figures for the three bosses and the evil chief's assistant as seen on the other side of this cover) were never released.
3) The Action 52 cart. It looks pretty cool. It is clear with instead of traditional label art is a semi-translucent sticker of the art found on the manual, sticker and back of the box. Because it's almost invisible here, it will be further discussed in other sections where it is more visible. Actually a non-laughable showpiece.
4) The Action 52 instruction booklet. It's actually an impressive little number in the page department clocking in at nearly 60. The very first page is a quite detailed account (see: strict) warranty (to ensure many loopholes) protecting the game. One can only wonder how these guys would've handled a bum cart ("No, that's not an unfixable bug, that's how it's supposed to be! And, it's in half the games here!")
Most of those pages in the manual, though, are occupied by descriptions and instructions of each game. The descriptions are printed in some five different languages, including what I will assume is Flemish and Arabic. Yes, out of the handful of game system owners whose preferred language is Arabic, these guys assumed enough of them would see the manual in order to merit a special slot for them. The descriptions of the games look as if they were written by a remedial sixth grade English class. I'm not going to transcribe this thing, but several are the mavericks who have gone through the copyright-infringing process, and if you're interested in a good laugh, do a quick search for it.
It is also here in the manual were you can find Active has openly and repeatedly done the unthinkable: they've reversed the functions of the 'A' and 'B' buttons. 'A' does the firing or the equivalent act and 'B' does the jumping for games in this collection. "Uh-huh," says the devil-horned high-ranking Active Enterprises suit, "you're going to have to readjust your gameplay schemata, one that has been crafted and refined through years of non-shitty NES platformers, just for our games." It takes one who has dedicated a formidable amount of time to NES gaming (and because you've read this far in an Action 52 feature, I have no reason to believe you don't fit the said requirement) in order to appreciate the level of blasphemy involved. There is no foreseeable reason Active couldn't have conformed to the mold other than for the sake of being different (perhaps it's their idea of innovation), and like everything different for this reason, Action 52 deserves the old fork in the eye for this.
On the booklet's final page we have a checklist of all the games here. Active asks for which games will you be needing additional help. I guess this adds somewhat of a human element to the process since it's assumed somebody from Active will be looking at and reading your message. Of course, I don't know who in their right mind would have Action 52 (or a single game from it) on their minds long enough to wait the four to eight week transaction process, the time it usually takes one of these things to transpire, out. I would like to see their idea of helpful hints, though.