If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Learn more.

Have You Played... Action 52?

Behold the cheetahmen

I guess Action 52 is a PC game, in the same way that a furious drunk forcing a hand through your letterbox at 3am is a house guest. I mean, it was a game, of sorts, and I certainly played it on a PC, so that’ll do, right? Usually with these pieces, I’ll open up a couple of tabs in my browser and do some cursory research to make sure my memories of a game haven’t strayed too far from the truth, but in this case I’m not going to. I have so little respect for Action 52, I will simply scrape the contents of my mind onto the screen, like an inedible takeaway curry being slid into a bin.

It was 2006, probably, and my mate Matt had a student house in Southwest London where we smoked loads of weed and played old games, like cool guys. He put a megadrive emulator on his PC, and we resolved to start playing through its massive A-Z archive of games, in search of the worst one on there. It was a bit like a sort of inverted, stoner version of Unknown Pleasures, if you like.

We never got past Action 52. It was, it turned out, perfectly shit. Hailing from the early 90s, it had been an attempt at a legal version of one of those dire pirate compilation cartridges from Taiwan, but managed to be even shoddier than the illegal thing it was copying. All the games in the collection were creatively bankrupt rush jobs; most were mortally wounded by bad code, some were altogether unplayable, and even the best could most charitably be described as “minigames which functioned”.

Even better, Action 52’s ripping from its cartridge to be included in this super-duper PC emulator archive - itself a move of dubious legality - had mangled its code still further, leaving the games as tortured spectres of their already dire original selves. Sampled speech was distorted into crunching groans, clipping seemed optional in every title, and most of the games got more and more bleakly unplayable the longer you attempted to run them.

The crown jewel of the collection was Cheetahmen (pictured), a game that Action 52’s publishers had actually sunk some budget into, and which was a desperate attempt to cash in on the Battletoads formula. With Battletoads, of course, being a desperate attempt to cash in on the Ninja Turtles formula, Cheetahmen was a bootleg of a bootleg, and was as miserable a specimen as you can imagine.

And since this bootleg of a bootleg was to be found inside a mangled compilation version of a mangled compilation game, you can only imagine how broken it was - and how euphorically funny it managed to be after a few hours on the bongs. And now, it’s given me an article. So, like John Lennon (probably) said - any time you enjoyed wasting, wasn’t time wasted. Mind you, I don't think he'd played Cheetahmen.

About the Author

Nate Crowley avatar

Nate Crowley

Reviews Editor

Nate Crowley was created from smokeless flame before the dawn of time. He writes books, and tweets a lot as @frogcroakley. Each October he is replaced by Ghoastus, the Roman Ghost. You can email him at: nate.crowley@rockpapershotgun.com

Support Rock Paper Shotgun

Sign up today for access to more supporter-only articles, an ad-free reading experience, free gifts, and game discounts. Your support helps us create more great writing about PC games.

See more information

Comments

We love having a friendly, positive and constructive community - you lot are great - and we want to keep it like that. Our main commenting rule is "be excellent to each other". Please see our code of conduct, where you can find out what "be excellent" means. TL;DR? Respect others, think before you post, and be prepared for puns.

More Features

Latest Articles

We've been talking, and we think that you should wear clothes

Total coincidence, but we sell some clothes

Rock Paper Shotgun Merch