Action 52 (NES)
Developer: Active Enterprises
This game has unused areas.
This game has a prototype article
This game has a prerelease article
This game has a bugs page
The NES Action 52 is an unlicensed cartridge containing 52 different games (all made in-house at Active), a bundle which retailed for $200. While it sounds like a good deal (just $3.84 per game!), it's actually a huge ripoff - every single game is terrible, buggy, and not worth playing. If you played each game for a week, it would be the worst year of your life.
Make your selection, now.
- 1 Sub-Page
- 2 Cheetahmen
- 3 French Baker
- 4 Evil Empire
- 5 Rocket Jockey
- 6 Ooze
- 7 Billy Bob
- 8 Bubblegum Rossie
- 9 Thrusters
- 10 Unused Graphics
- 10.1 Ninja Assault
- 10.2 Billy Bob
- 10.3 Lollipops
- 10.4 Sharks
- 10.5 Hambo
- 10.6 G-Force Fighter
- 10.7 Micro Mike
- 10.8 Streemerz
- 10.9 Illuminator
- 10.10 Silver Sword
- 10.11 Mash Man
- 10.12 Space Dreams
- 10.13 Haunted Hill/Halls
- 10.14 Operation Full Moon
- 10.15 Star Evil
- 10.16 Dedant
- 10.17 Bubble Gum Rosy/Rossie
- 10.18 Time Warp Tickers
- 10.19 Cheetahmen
- 10.20 Boss
- 10.21 Cry Baby
- 10.22 Slashers
- 10.23 Miscellaneous
- 11 Warps
- 12 Copyright Notice
- 13 Menu Template
Apollo Cutscene Text
While each cheetah has its own introductory cutscene, the one for Apollo has no text beneath the image due to Active not putting the alphabet characters next to the image tiles in the ROM.
This text can be restored by using a graphic editor to add the missing alphabet characters, or by looking in a memory viewer during the cutscene and Levels 5 and 6:
APOLLO IS THE MASTER OF THE CROSSBOW. USE THE CROSSBOW TO DEFEAT THE ENEMIES ON THE LAST TWO LEVELS AND GET DR. MORBIS
Unused Title Screen
An unused, near-complete title screen using the Cheetahmen II font. It can be seen in the PPU as French Baker is loading.
Does the game crash due to a side-effect of the hacking done to play the unused version?
For some reason, the code for French Baker is present twice in the ROM: once in the same PRG bank as Fuzz Power, and again in the same PRG bank as Shooting Gallery and They Came.
The latter appears to be an earlier version of the game. It's noticeably glitchier, as it frequently crashes whenever a projectile goes offscreen or you pause the game. It also contains different sound effects and a different song on the odd-numbered levels that is not used anywhere else.
To access the alternate French Baker, use a hex editor and copy 32KB (0x8000) of data from 0x90010 to 0x88010 in the ROM file. This will replace Dedant, Sharks, and Beeps and Blips with Shooting Gallery, They Came, and the early French Baker; selecting "Beeps and Blips" will load the early version of French Baker instead. Many actions will crash the game, though, so use a lot of savestates when trying it out.
As a side note, because this version occupies the same PRG bank as Shooting Gallery and They Came, the glitches present in Rev. A of those games are present here. These are fixed in Rev. B.
Unused Title Screen/Font
An alternate logo font containing the letters "EVILMPR".
A set of numbers similar to the title font above, but lacking the shadow.
This large creature is present among the enemies. Possibly a boss, as it is close to 20 times the size of everything else in the game. The manual refers to a great genie, but whether this is said genie is unclear since it looks more like a dragon. It's not known what palette it would have used.
Unused frames for the player/enemies. From left to right:
- Possible jumping frames. The player uses no special animation in-game.
- Holding something in a pose similar to the enemies on flying carpets.
- An animation for climbing the ropes? The final game uses the same animation for all ladder types.
- Maybe a climbing animation for the chains?
The genie bullets have a left-facing orientation, but only the right-facing one is used in-game regardless of the direction a bullet is fired.
The genie pots have three frames with different levels of smoke. The one with the least smoke isn't used.
Unused Level 3
Setting the value of RAM address $338 to 02 (or using Game Genie code ZAOEAPAA) at the Rocket Jockey menu will bring the player to Level 3. This is a semi-playable level with a wrongly-colored background and sprites that glitch out when certain enemies appear. There are also mountains in the background that don't appear elsewhere in the game, as well as projectiles that spawn periodically.
Active promoted a contest where anyone who beat Level 5 of Ooze would be entered into a drawing for $104,000. However, because this game is awful, Ooze locks up on Level 2 and hence it's impossible to complete. While Rev. B fixed the crashing bugs so all six used levels are possible to complete, the message doesn't come up after completing Level 5 without emulation. The "personal code" at the bottom appears to be the same in all copies of the game, across both revisions.
As all the game's text is in plain ASCII, the message can easily be seen at 0x157BC0 in a hex editor:
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU MAY HAVE JUST WON... TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH OF THIS SCREEN AND SEND TO THE ADDRESS LISTED IN THE RULES AND REGULATIONS. YOUR PERSONAL CODE: 7A3H9J0P2R4A2C7S
This frog-like enemy appears twice with different palette indexes, as do many enemies in other games. None of the palettes match it very well.
Unused Level 8
Setting the value of RAM address $338 to 07 (or using Game Genie code YENEGAAA) at the Ooze menu will bring the player to Level 8. This level is set in a different environment than the rest of the levels, taking place outdoors, with pink oozy things and the giant water droplets from Level 1. There's also a 1-Up which can't be collected.
There are a whopping 11 unused levels for Billy Bob, all of them inaccessible by normal means because of a bankswitch bug (the bytes written to direct page 0xFE and 0xFF, which trigger the bankswitch, are switched by accident, meaning the bank switch fails). Even if you beat all of the levels, the game will crash because of another bankswitch gone wrong. This game is the first one in the ROM, even if it isn't the first one numbered on the list. However, there are only four that can be accessed with the hex editor and it can't be done in the same fashion as the unused levels in Ooze and Rocket Jockey. Also, expect this process to take a few tries, and have a save state of the game selection screen ready if you make a mistake.
In FCEUX, go to the game selection screen and scroll all the way down to the bottom of the RAM list. On address 0xFFE3 and 0xFFF3 (meaning they are right on top of one another), you will see just one "L". Click one of them and tap the Spacebar fast and the game will boot up a green level in Billy Bob, without you picking the game. Do this again right after the level loads and the game will boot up a level with a pink color scheme, not used in the game. Do this one more time, and another green level will boot up. After this, there are no more. There is another pink level right after the first one labeled "Level 2", accessed after the first one's exit.
The five pictures below are in order from the first level to the fourth level that can be accessed in this way.
There is something special about these levels (minus the first green one): Billy Bob himself actually has two voice clips for climbing and dying! Neither one is heard in the used levels.
Unused Level 4
A fully-playable level that requires a very specific method to access through FCEUX.
After Level 1 is complete, the game will switch to Level 2, which is a driving stage. While the game believes that you are driving, in the RAM list, scroll down to 0x338 and set the value to 03. Lose a life and you will be taken to Level 4.
Completing Level 4 will lead to a glitch level with the title "Level 5".
The game's theme song is about 64 seconds long, but only the first 52 are heard in-game because every level instantly ends after 52 seconds.
Level 4 is plagued by graphical errors, which renders all the graphics, including the ones for the final boss, unseen in any sensible manner during normal gameplay.
Turns out the final boss is a dragon's head.
There are also graphics for what may be a fire attack for the boss. The dragon doesn't actually do anything in-game except move in a triangle. The palette might not be accurate.
Present at the end of the game's graphic bank. It's either the top half of what appears to be a 1UP graphic or random nonsense.
A frame of Billy Bob standing and holding up his gun.
A stickman with a bunch of frames.
An S shaped thing that looks like an electric eel.
These powerup graphics seem to be for Hambo, but the game only gives you one type of item, a 1-up.
A cloud of smoke(?) that says "ha ha" twice.
A smiley face. Everything you touch in the game gives you a frowny face and does damage to you (enemies, magic wands, bunnies, bags of money). It would seem that picking up money wasn't meant to be harmful after all!
A horn that was probably meant to hurt you as everything else does.
A big battery. Only the small ones appear in-game.
By glitching the game with 001A:54, you can get these unused girl sprites (which according to the game's manual, is our protag's sister) to appear fully assembled and character mapped.
Additional orientations for the player sword projectiles. The game uses the up and/or right-facing ones for all directions.
A set of player sprites with a glow-like effect. The left and right orientations are incomplete.
The eye enemies aren't animated, but there are three frames for them. The red and blue ones use one frame, and the pink ones use another, leaving this one unused. The colored parts are actually repeated three times (they use the same outlines), once for each version. Therefore, two out of three frames for everyone are unused, but aside from the red and blue enemies missing a one-pixel tile from the frame the pink one uses, they are identical.
Found among the background tiles. There are no spherical buildings in-game.
A frame of the player pacifier with the "head" squashed.
A plant enemy that doesn't really fit any palette.
A sprite of the player turning.
Someone in a hooded robe. It doesn't have any animation, but it does have death frames.
Operation Full Moon
The antennas from the player rover. The rover has its antennas baked into the graphics, not overlayed. There aren't graphics for a back-facing antenna for the rover.
Some object twice. The different colors would be used for palette swaps.
Despite being a vertical shooter, a few of the ships have partial horizontal versions. Some missing parts may have been filled by mirroring the graphics that are present, but even then some ships would be incomplete and/or missing the left orientation.
Another bug that doesn't appear in the game, with two frames.
Bubble Gum Rosy/Rossie
An unused font.
An interesting bunch of unused sprites, including two animations of an overjoyed Rosy. There are also three animations of some... wolf(?) that kicks. Six animations of cars were made: two incomplete ones of another color, two complete ones of the same color, and two flattened-looking animations of Rosy's car. Those were probably meant for Level 2 and/or an unused level. There are also three frames of a spider, three of a ball (likely another enemy), and an assortment of circles. Interestingly, getting a game over in Level 2 causes the game to go into an unfinished driving level, letting you see some of the car sprites in action.
Time Warp Tickers
What looks like a key with a pair of legs, possibly an unused enemy.
An unused frame of the worm enemy.
A random conglomerate of blocks, numbers, and something that appears in the "Level 10" room that one of the warps takes you to, rather than the next level that it should have.
The frog thug enemy holding a gun.
Alternate walking animation(?) and climbing sprite for the businessman enemy. Also, a crib, an electrical outlet, poison gas, and numerous powerup items, all of which are mentioned in the Action 52 manual. The correct palette for the various items is unknown.
A climbing sprite for the player. Odd, considering there is nothing to climb in this game.
Possible powerups: a plus, a star, and a bottle.
These tiles are repeated multiple times in the ROM and were used to test animations.
The second door in Level 2 will warp you to Level 3.
The second waterfall of Level 1 and the second pit in Levels 3 and 5 will warp you to a room with a 1-up before taking you to the next level.
The warps in Level 5 (most of the pits) do not work properly: instead of warping you to the next level, they take you to a glitched room where you fall and die until running out of lives.
Copyright 1991 ACTIVE ENTERPRISES All Rights Reserved by Author Driver Version 2.09
One for Active Enterprises, possibly for the sound driver, is at offset 0x80034.
Due to the way the cart handles bankswitching, a few games had to be split up into two or more parts. Each of these parts is essentially a standalone game (hence why you can't exit Billy Bob from Level 3 onwards) and is based on the same code template as every other game on the cart. As a result, a few ROM banks contain a default menu template:
GAME NAME ONE PLAYER TWO PLAYER MAIN MENU
This unused template is present eight times in the ROM: 0x74C9, 0xF4C9 (both Billy Bob), 0x4DC66, 0x555F6, 0x5E1B2, 0x654F2, 0x6DD82 (all Cheetahmen), and 0x1774C9 (Manchester).
The template appearing eight times has misled some people into believing there were eight games cut from Action 52. This is not the case.
The Action 52 series
|NES||Action 52 (Prototype) • Cheetahmen II|
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- Action 52 series
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