Action 52 shoehorns 52 different games into one. Active Enterprises promises the games are "new and original." While you can debate both claims, you mostly get a batch of games that appear to have been programmed in a college course.
Lights, Camera, Action 52!
Even with the card-deck of titles on hand, you won't find much that makes you feel like you got a bargain.
ProTip: When you're playing Freeway, keep your dog near the center of the screen as much as possible. This gives you the maximum response time for vehicles coming from either side.
Obviously the programmers had to cut corners to cram 52 games into one, and it shows. Much of the software looks like first-generation NES or Atari 2600 games (one game, 1st Video Game, is just a remake of Pong). While some of the titles try to use advanced visual effects like multi-plane scrolling to add the illusion of depth, it looks like two pieces of paper sliding on top of each other. Most playfields are very flat, and the character animation and backgrounds are uninspired.
In a similar memory-saving move, most of the games duplicate sound effects or use rudimentary audio. A flying jet is accompanied by static as engine noise. A driving game offers monotonous squealing around corners.
Overall, the music fares better, with some nice, though repetitive, stereo in spots. Of higher quality is the voice that announces the level in each game. Some of Sega's licensees could learn from Action 52's clean, digitized vocals, though they get redundant.
- In Billy Bob, any part of the cross hairs touching an enemy when you fire scores a hit. This gives you a lot of leeway in shooting.
- In the Depth Charge game, concentrate on the ships coming from the left. The ships on the right can trap you against the screen edge.
The controls are the worst. For example, in Star Ball, with its featureless pinball table, you can't tell when the ball has touched the flipper, so it rolls right by. This and numerous other examples add to Action 52's low-quality feel.
Granted, there are some intriguing games, such as Darksyne, Freeway, and Bonkers. However, most of the games appear to have been thrown together without much concern for quality or fun.
It's not likely you'll find Action 52 at your local software store, because non-licensed products like this are pretty rare. Where you'd likely see it is in a rental location, and it might be worth the couple of bucks to give this game the once-over. Beyond that, Action 52's a has-been.