Oh, to count the time I wasted beating and rebeating this game. Any activity up to and including masturbation would have been a more worthwhile venture, and yet every now and then, I'd be sitting there doing something close to nothing and think "Hey, you know what would be really goddamned awful? Firing up the ol' Action 52 rom and beating The Cheetahmen!" It was my own little sickness.
The Cheetahmen (which, judging by it's title screen, is also formally known as "The Action Gamemaster") is not the worst of Active Enterprise's demonic little games, falling somewhere in between the flat-out awful to below average games that litter the cart. But when you think about the sheer amount of clueless ambition behind these characters (those uninitiated on this may read |Tsr's expose here), it could easily be considered one of the company's greatest failures. For a franchise that was hoped to penetrate the minds of children everywhere along with their parent's bank accounts, their Action 52 game isn't exactly a winning introduction.
The game starts off on a sour note with an opening cinematic, in which "The Action Gamemaster" is pulled into his television to meet The Cheetahmen. The story presented is incoherent and sloppy, so it's basically in the right place. Can't fault these guys for inconsistancy, at least.
On a side note, I enjoy how visibly horrified "The Action Gamemaster" is by the video game he's playing. It's quite accurate to how I looked playing Action 52 before my senses went numb.
From here, get ready for six stages of tolerable yet clunky gameplay, killing a collection of enemies from previous Action 52 games. For whatever reason, stage one is set up like a beat-em-up, while the five stages that follow play like a standard sidescroller. It's like if you could only play Super Mario Bros. if you beat a stage of Double Dragon first.
The first four stages are mindless enough to blaze through and quickly forget, but once you hit stage 5, you gain control of Apollo, the Cheetahman who can only attack with projectiles. The game turns from mindless to frustrating in the blink of an eye when enemies that you have little chance of actually hitting zone in on you with the quickness. But with fast reflexes and full knowledge of the game's shitty play mechanics, it's possible to overcome even this.
Stage 5 is also home to the game's most damaging glitch. If you fall into the pits near the end of the stage, instead of dying as usual, you are transported to the hidden "stage 9," which is a single room with a 1-up. Upon exiting, you may expect yourself back in stage 5 with another Cheetahman under your belt, but since this is Action 52 we're talking about here that is, of course, not the case. Instead, you enter stage 10, a glitched out digital purgatory where all you can do is walk into the deadly grey space and kill yourself.
Assuming you avoid this glitch and make it to the actual final stage, you're greeted to a long, empty passageway leading up to the world's easiest final boss. And what do you get upon defeating him? An update on just what happened to "The Action Gamemaster?" Credits? A game over screen with your final score?
The fucking title screen. That's what. Thank you and good night.
Three months later...
Ring ring! Ring ring!
Oh hi! Hello may I speak to Sweetbee please.
What's Up!! It's good to hear your voice.
Sweetbee you recognized me! How are you healing?
Oh, you know. I've been able to eat solid food for a week now. Doctors say my hair color might go back to normal after awhile.
I like grey hair it reminds me of Donald Sutherland.
He is a great man. So what's new?
Listen I know you might not want to hear any more about Action 52, but I was hacking into it with a seventeen Genie stack and I found something you may think interesting.
Seventeen Game Genies!?
Yes I had to build a support structure around my Nintendo with Lego.
Wow! So what did you find?
It's a hidden ending screen for beating all 52 games! Surprised?
... No... Actually, this explains a lot.
Well when you get out you should come over to my place and play some Hogan's Alley. I made a new code, every shot is a bullseye!
Finally, some good gaming! I'm looking forward to it, What's Up.