Saturday, December 15, 2012

From The Idea Hole: Action 52: The Series

Okay, fair warning: This is easily the single nerdiest thing I have ever written on this blog. It is far too long and thought out to justify its premise, and will be relatable to like five people, who will probably still think I'm an asshole after reading this. You Have Been Warned! 

So anyway, there's this really shitty old school game called Action 52. It originally came out unlicensed for the Nintendo, and was later ported to the Sega Genesis in a much different form, the name in both cases coming from the promise of 52 action packed games in one cartridge. When they worked at all, pretty much every single game in the set sucked massive balls, and it's now known mostly for being one of the most epically terrible video games of all time, so bad that it has developed a cult following and inspired an entire movement to re-make each individual game better.

The most insane thing about the whole mess, at least for me, was how the creators of Action 52 had such grand plans for this property, seeing its (supposedly) best game The Cheetah Men as a launching pad for a multimedia empire akin to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They even went so far as to make a sequel featuring the characters, though it went unreleased, sharing the same fate as the aborted toy line and Saturday morning cartoon show. A game as bad as Action 52 isn't necessarily remarkable on its own, as the video game industry has been and still is replete with cheap shovelware designed to take your money before you realize what shit you paid for, but in this case, it's as if they were so divorced from the reality of how bad this game was, and actually thought it was good enough to sustain a franchise.

So what would that franchise have been like? For a little more history on the game and a demonstration of how it is played, you can watch one of my favorite AVGN episodes HERE, but right now, I'm more interested in the notion that the world of Action 52 might have continued in some other form, the flimsiest of game stories and characters expanded and possibly amalgamated into a single storyline, an Action 52 canon if you will. I've talked before on this blog about my love for 90's action cartoons, most obviously tailor made with large casts of unique looking characters to inspire subsequent action figure sets, so for today's pitch, I thought I'd try to imagine the Action 52 Animated Series that might have been.

I won't be going into too much detail about each individual game outside of the way I'm using them in the proposed show, most of which will be wildly different from how they are presented in the game. As you might expect, these mini-games are often very light on plot, so I will playing a bit fast and loose with what's there, sometimes using the manual descriptions as inspiration, and other times completely disregarding them and using the visuals or other factors, or just plot necessity, to fill in the gaps. In some cases, I'll literally just be using the names for something completely different, because fuck it, its Action 52. I'll also be combining the Nintendo and Sega versions, which contain vastly different games, and whenever I reference a particular game, rather than explain the connection, I will simply link to the appropriate section of THIS SITE, which is a fairly comprehensive breakdown of each game. So, now that that's out of the way, here goes.

Action 52: The Series

The story begins with our intro character, the one who discovers the various aspects of the show as an outsider and provides a relatable voice for the audience, in this case an investigative journalist using the pseudonym THE ILLUMINATOR to anonymously route out corruption in his city. On the trail of a mafia cartel, he stumbles upon a shocking secret, that the local crime lord known only as THE BOSS, as well as his closest cohorts, are in fact hideous Lizard Men in human disguises. He barely escapes with his life, thanks to the help of MANCHESTER, a blue collar cockney version of James Bond, who fills him in on the true nature of the world he lives in, filled with aliens, supernatural creatures, and extra dimensional entities hidden just under the surface. The young journo is recruited into a secret organization tasked with monitoring and containing these threats to our planet, a group called A.C.T.I.O.N. (The Allied Coalition for the Tactical Investigation of Otherworldly Nations)

The organization was formed many years ago following first contact with an alien civilization called MEGALONIA, its people escaping an invasion of their planet by THE EVIL EMPIRE, lead by the alien tyrant STAR EVIL and his queen DARKSYNE, atop their floating city ship THE CITY OF DOOM. The Megalonians traveled to Earth via the very invention sought after by Star Evil, a device called the STAR BALL capable of creating 52 portals to 26 different locations throughout the universe, from hidden places on Earth, to other planets, and even alternate realities and timelines. Star Evil wishes to use the Star Ball as a weapon to take over the universe, and before leaving for a far off safe haven, the Megalonians leave it in the care of the United States government, who create A.C.T.I.O.N. with a mandate to use the device to protect the planet from those who would seek to steal it and exploit its power.

Over the course of the series, the cast would balloon out both on the side of the heroes and the villains, just as many shows of the time did to introduce more toys, so that by the end it will resemble something close to Justice League Unlimited, with a massive roster of characters to highlight from episode to episode. The leader of the group is a super intelligent perpetual infant codenamed CRY BABY, once an adult psychic with the power of the MINDS EYE, allowing him to access the DREAM SPACE, a collective unconscious connecting the dreamworlds of everyone on the planet, transformed into a baby after losing a psychic STAR DUEL with Darksyne. His right hand man is Manchester, a super spy code named due to his recruitment as a teenager while part of a British boy band in the 80's called Manchester Beat, using his celebrity to conduct clandestine operations before retiring from his public life and becoming a full time agent.

The Star Ball provides access to another reality called the CRITICAL BYPASS, an in between realm which can in turn access 26 other locations throughout the multiverse. Each location has two portals connecting to it for a total of 52, one portal fixed, always opening in the same place, and another roaming, that can appear anywhere at random within its larger location. Many of these portals can be opened individually through other means, but the Star Ball is the only way to open all of them at will, and to control where the roaming portals open. Much of the show would involve traveling to and from these various points, as well as combating various ALIEN ATTACKS FROM OUTER SPACE and other assorted invasions.

The 26 Points


Main headquarters of A.C.T.I.O.N., located somewhere in the Nevada desert, sometimes called Area 52, a massive fortified tower designed to be the first line of defense against a terrestrial assault. The static portal is located in the lobby, in the middle of an automated defense system designed to rain gunfire on any threatening thing that may step through.

The City Of Doom

A massive floating city that can travel through space and hover in the atmosphere of other planets, the home of Star Evil, Darksyne, and the Evil Empire. The static portal opens in the King and Queen's throne room, heavily guarded by armed soldiers.


A dead world, once home to a technologically advanced utopian civilization, until their invention of the Star Ball caught the attention of the Evil Empire. Their world was destroyed in the war against Star Evil, leaving behind ruins that are now picked over by alien scavengers looking for technology to sell, braving the still active planetary security system.

The Ooze Planet

An alien world conquered by a sentient green OOZE creature covering the entire planet, consuming all life that is not itself. Content mostly to remain sedentary, it is attracted to the light generated from the randomly opening static portal on its planet, often sending pieces of itself to other worlds, seeking more food. Star Evil often captures these smaller ooze creatures, each capable of growing as they eat, as planetary destroying weapons.

The Magic Realm

A parallel Earth of fantasy where magic evolved instead of science. Its most well known residents, The knight known as MAN AT ARMS, wielder of the mystical monster slaying SILVER SWORD, and his dragon FIREBREATHER, formerly his greatest enemy turned greatest ally. Also escaping to Earth, in league with Star Evil, is BEANIE, a mischievous young wizard practicing LEGUMINA.

The Spirit World

The land of the dead, typically inaccessible by flesh and blood humans, the portal opening on the HAUNTED HILLS, a place on Earth in between the realms of the living and the dead. This land has been watched over for generations by the Wentworth family, and currently by its standard bearer, professional monster huntress and supernatural investigator Alissa Wentworth, who protects both worlds from being exploited by the other. Her mortal enemy, in league with the Evil Empire, is DR. PIECEMEAL, an undead patchwork mad scientist and monster maker who needs dark power to sustain his existence. 


A massive city sized air ship floating above Earth, akin to the Sky Carrier of S.H.I.E.L.D., home to AIR COMMAND, a sister organization to A.C.T.I.O.N., led by the bad ass eye patch clad SKY AVENGER and her team of BOMBERS, PARATROOPERS, and APACHE helicopter squadrons. They will often lend out their top agents, a trio representing Land, Sea, and Air, the expert pilot SIDE WINDER, the super car racing DAYTONA, and the SPEED BOAT riding SHARKHUNTER when the need arises. Their chief adversary, the terrorist organization SKIRMISH.

Cuisinia and The Candy Kingdom

A parallel Earth made of entirely edible matter, where humans co-exist with living anthropomorphic foodstuffs. A bloody civil war rages between the meal-centric Cuisinia and the dessert-centric Candy Kingdom, resulting in many of the locals fleeing to Earth, including the meekly heroic edikinetic (food controlling) chef ALFREDO, and his evil Darth Vader-esque mentor THE FRENCH BAKER. Meanwhile, BUBBLEGUM ROSIE, super gum wielding princess of the Candy Kingdom is sent to Earth in exile along with her loyal hammer clad bodyguard POPS, both of whom are pursued by the licorice boned evil clown assassin STREEMERZ.

The Wylds

A savage alternate world populated by anthropomorphic animals, its main peninsula inadvertently flooded by the central dam bursting, thanks to a group of bumbling but good natured GIANT BEAVERS. The result is a steady stream of refugees to Earth, including the nomadic CHEETAH MEN tribe, the muscle bound pig soldier HAMBO, and the evil rodent trickster MOUSETRAP.


Home to an A.C.T.I.O.N. Lunar base carrying a super weapon called SPREAD FIRE designed to mount a planetary defense of the Earth in the case of direct alien invasion.


A deep space satellite station built and funded by A.C.T.I.O.N. to detect signs of incursion by Star Evil's forces. Home to the G FORCE FIGHTERS, pilots flying a fleet of small attack ships called THRUSTERS, who seek out and destroy artificial METEORS flung towards Earth by the Evil Empire, each containing robotic soldiers, giant machine monsters, and other devices designed to attack our planet. This base is also the launching pad for the BLACK HOLE, A.C.T.I.O.N.'s exploratory vessel designed for deep space travel.

Robotic Earth

A parallel Earth dominated by machines, where humanity is long since extinct. A young boy named ROBBIE once became stranded there after accidentally discovering the roaming portal to this world, developing technopathy as a result of his time spent there. He escaped back to Earth along with a helpful artificial intelligence named NORMAN (subsequently installed inside an army tank), whereupon they were both recruited by A.C.T.I.O.N. They are hunted by forces from the robotic world who seek the return of Norman, chiefly by the technology absorbing cyborg JIGSAW.


A mysterious realm thought to be some kind of endless purgatory, with the roaming portal suspended in a maelstrom, spitting out those unlucky enough to stumble into it and then moving on, stranding them to die. The static portal is located on a massive mountain peak designed as a challenge for those who seek escape.


A subterranean world on Earth populated by massive creatures that are always threatening to climb to the surface and wreak havoc on the world above. The static portal opens in the cave of the one human resident of this world, a young girl trapped there as a baby during an earthquake, raised by underworld creatures and able to psychically compel them to do her bidding.

Dino Earth

A parallel Earth where Dinosaurs survived and attained human level intelligence, keeping the human population from evolving past the point of cavemen, used as a slave race, and sometimes as fodder for SPORT.


A reality in between time, allowing for travel into the past and future. This space can only be accessed briefly, as staying too long can drive one insane, and because it is protected by the Tickers, savage creatures that consume anything that doesn't below, Langolier style. The mysterious A.C.T.I.O.N. agent known only as NON HUMAN was evidently born inside the Timewarp, traveling to Earth from this realm and joining the team for unknown reasons.

The Micro World

A vast microscopic realm that can only be accessed by shrinking down to the appropriate size. Home to two warring civilizations the BEEPS AND BLIPS, as well as MICRO MIKO, an A.C.T.I.O.N. agent who discovered a means to "SHUFFLE" from human form to microscopic size.

The Dream Space

An astral plane composed of the interconnected dream worlds of every living being in the universe, which can be accessed unconsciously by the sleeping, consciously by powerful psychics, and physically via the portals of the Star Ball.


A conception of Heaven as an infinite highway, spreading out into every possible location, allowing the dead to revisit every moment of their own life, as well as any potential afterlife vacation spot they can imagine.


A conception of Hell as an infinite suburban street which cycles back on itself with no way to escape, outwardly pleasant, but sickeningly boring and repetitive to the point of madness.

The Cartoon World

An alternate reality governed by cartoon physics created from the collective imagination that breeds the medium. Humans cannot typically exist here without either dying or transforming into cartoons, though cartoons can escape into the living world, like the insane living bouncy ball BONKERS, and its power can be exploited, as with the psychic cartoonist villain SKETCH, who can bring to life anything he draws by tapping into this dimension's energy.

Kung Fu World

A parallel Earth governed by the insane kick ass laws of kung fu exploitation movies. Home to the mysterious A.C.T.I.O.N. agent known only as the NINJA, as well as his evil sister and Star Evil compatriot MEONG, mistress of the hidden explosive. Technology from this world smuggled into Earth would lead to the creation of the SLASHERS, human criminal gangs augmented with mystical technology, allowing them to eject blades from their bodies.

The Tundra

An alien world frozen in ice and snow, populated by a race of savage creatures called CHILLERS, resembling abominable snowmen with massive Cthuloid jaws instead of faces, as well as the part time A.C.T.I.O.N. agent codenamed SLALOM, who lives among them like Jane Goodall and the chimps.


An outpost in orbit around Earth in the far future, a portal that travels through the Timewarp to establish its connection. It is home to the Lazer League, a group of jet pack wearing super soldiers who protect the Earth of the future from the Evil Empire, there led by the son of Star Evil and Darksyne, ATMOS

The Wild Weird West

An old frontier town in the past, accessed through the Timewarp, a part of the Old West besieged by artifacts from the multiverse effecting their culture due to the portal's presence. The town is home to native A.C.T.I.O.N. agent SHARPSHOOTER, who acts as sheriff with his Mexican deputy SOMBRERO and protects the people from his own self from an alternate timeline, an outlaw who calls himself SHOOTOUT. In the present, a guild of assassins called the SHOOTING GALLERY traces its founding back to this era, using anachronistic high tech weaponry throughout history to kill their targets.

The Hairy World

An alien world covered in hair, home to the mysterious FUZZIES, benevolent creatures resembling Cousin It from The Addams Family. MASH MAN, an A.C.T.I.O.N. agent thought to be a deformed freak with giant super strong feet, is actually a member of this race, exiled to Earth for having no hair.

Assorted Other Characters and Elements

ROCKET JOCKY: An A.C.T.I.O.N. agent formerly native to The Old West, who slipped into a portal into the future, and now rides a giant rocket sled like a bucking bronco.

BILLY BOB And APPLESEED: Two rednecks, one an A.C.T.I.O.N. agent and Cajun adventurer, the other a member of Star Evil's group, a wandering nomad spreading poisonous apples across the country like an evil Johnny Appleseed.

DEAD ANT: A former Spiderman-esque costumed superhero called Red Ant, able to climb up walls, lift objects with the proportional strength of an ant, and so on, until he was killed in action, only to be brought back to life by Dr. Piecemeal as the black suited Dead Ant. Originally an amnesiac villain, he eventually remembers who he was when he was alive and joins up with A.C.T.I.O.N.

THE 15 PUZZLE: A security system around the Star Ball inside Force One that when activated involves a complicated set of 15 individual puzzles that must be solved in sequence to open the vault, with one failure initializing the self destruct countdown in the base.

DEPTH CHARGE: A shark poacher and expert in aquatic explosives, mortal enemy of Sharkhunter, Black Manta to his Aquaman.

KNOCKOUT: A former boxer now wearing super powered metal gauntlets, Manchester's former partner before he turned to the dark side and started working for Star Evil.

INTRUDER: One of Star Evil's agents, an expert thief able to travel through walls and other surfaces with a high tech phase shifted suit.

ECHO: Another Star Evil agent, a female alien from a conquered race able to create duplicates of herself and generate intense sonic blasts.

SPIDEY: An arachnid super villain and mortal enemy of Dead Ant.

SKATER: A teenage Star Evil agent with a high tech alien hover board.

BATTLE ARMORS: A mass produced line of evil living tanks secretly built by anti-A.C.T.I.O.N. forces in the military, patterned after the artificially intelligent Norman, designed to keep the organization in check, until they went rogue and became a fleet of independent killing machine.

There, I think that's everything from the game, except the Challenge thing in the Sega version and the First Game, which is just Pong. You can probably call bullshit on like half of it, but over all, I think I see the potential for a syndication deal somewhere in here. If 90's me bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I think he'd totally get into this. Let me know what you think in the comments,unless you hate it, in which case, I'm surprised you made it this far to the end. Frankly, even if you enjoyed some of this, I'd still be surprised if you got this far.

In fact, I'm almost certain no one is reading at this point. I could say anything and no one would ever know. In 1974 I killed a hobo just to watch him die. Estelle Getty is clearly the most bangable of all the Golden Girls, even now as a corpse. The money's buried under a big W!

That is all.

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