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"I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY SOLD THIS S**TFEST FOR $199!! That's about how much it costs for a video game console, pretty much. You could take $199, stand on a bridge and just throw it all away! You'd rather do anything than spend it on a broken down, dysfunctional disaster of video game programming: with games that crash, hideous jumping control, random characters, microscopic sprites, a marathon of mediocre space shooters, dying in mid-air, problems with proportion, misleading titles, misleading power-ups, embarassing weapons, seizure-inducing backgrounds, lack of enemies, games you can't win, games you can't lose, games that make no sense whatsoever, s**tty graphics, s**tty music, s**tty menus, and a f**kton of other things! It should've been illegal for them to sell this rotten s**tload of putrid f**k for any price! I feel humiliated to live on the same planet as someone who designed an electronic abomination of this magnitude! Could they have tried making one good game, as opposed to 52 horrible games?! Quality over quantity. That's our lesson here."— The Angry Video Game Nerd
Action 52 is an unlicensed video game developed and published by Active Enterprises in September 1991 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and then ported to the Sega Genesis by FarSight Technologies in May 1993. It is a multicart that features 52 games, as the name suggests.
Vince Perri is known for being the boss of Active Enterprises, a game development studio responsible for Action 52 and Cheetahmen II, the sequel to Cheetahmen. History of Active Enterprises began when Perri had bought an illegal game compilation with 40 games built-in on the Nintendo Entertainment System from Taiwan for $60 for his son. Impressed by the concept of the cartridge, he began telling his neighbors about the compilation, causing them to apparently go crazy. Seeing their reactions, he obtained plans to make his own game compilation for the aforementioned platform legally in the United States, however without Nintendo's license.
Perri then researched for various investors in foreign regions such as Europe and Saudi Arabia to increase his profits for developing Action 52 under his own company, Active Enterprises, that he would create in 1989. However, at the time development was almost starting, had no knowledge on how to make a game, and took very long to learn how to do so. Because of that, he had to find another investor to make the game for him, but didn't want to spend too much money on them. Suddenly, he didn't actually need to find an investor that knows how to make games for his company, as Perri went into an office in a recording studio, where he did meetings about his new business ventures. He also ended up meeting a man working in the same studio, named Mario Gonzalez, who happened to finish his degree in video and audio production. In January 1991, Perri met Gonzalez with proposal, and became informed that Gonzalez and two of his college friends had experience in video game design unlike him. Gonzalez accepted to join Perri's job, after he demonstrated his programming skills with his team consisting of Javier Parez for art and design and Albert Hernandes for programming. as requested by Perri. All three members of Mario's team were working on a Tetris clone, Mega-Tris, using the Amiga 500 home computer. Perri became again impressed with the build of the game, causing him to give a demonstration of it to his investors who also made positive reactions to it.
But the development team had no experience with making games for the NES at the time, resulting into an anonymous fourth member joining the group (refered to as Dev4 by YouTuber miiyouandmii2,) being surprised to learn that the developers moved on to Utah, U.S. to learn how to make NES games right after he joined. Upon their return, Dev4 decided to visit them as they started developing Action 52. The recording studio then became their base operations, working from around 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM, but normally until 1 AM, or sometimes 6:00 AM. As the company was a recording studio, every wall was soundproof, meaning that it couldn't be heard from other rooms or outside. With no natural light, it was originally called The Cave. The Cave would become the developers' home for 3 months.
For unknown reasons, Perri stated that all 52 games on Action 52 needed to be completed in about 3 months. Around that time, they had a storyboard design, developed the program and would have tested to make sure that all the games on the multicart would work properly. However, 3 months is quite the minimal time to make an NES game, which could mean that Action 52 had been heavily rushed, resulting in glitches, terrible games, and other flaws, giving the evidence that Perri didn't know how big of a task it was, which could become more obvious as development time passed. He was only in the studio very occasionally, entering it with sometimes coffee, and then leave quickly. As Mario himself puts it, the programming of Action 52 started.
Nowadays, it is unknown where Perri is, and so is what is his current fate. Curiously, a plenty of people have searched for him in various locations due to the infamy of the game, but Perri is still nowhere to be found, so there isn't any pictures of him circulating online.
As the title advertises, this multicart contains 52 games in it, mostly based on action and platformer/vertical shoot'em up genres. Action 52 is notably known for having extremely poorly programmed/rushed games with many glitches, and some games crashing when attempting to start.
Each game is given a short description in Action 52's manual, but some of these descriptions cover games from the early development of Action 52 that were very different from the games of corresponding titles; for example, Jigsaw is claimed to be a puzzle game, but the game titled as such on the final product is a platformer involving a construction worker avoiding construction tools.
The Cheetahmen is the featured game on the compilation, and was intended to become a multimedia franchise with an accompanying line of merchandise. A Cheetahmen animated television series, a comic book series and T-shirts were planned. An advertisement for comic figures including concept art came on a comic book packaged with Action 52. However, this was never put into practice due to the bad reviews the Action 52 game received.
This 16-bit port grabs most of the NES version's games back into itself. While many titles have been retained from the NES port, all of them are remade from scratch for the most part. Each game is coded with colors: green for "Beginner", purple for "Intermediate", yellow for "Expert", white for "Challenge" games, and blue for multiplayer games.
Many glitches and technical issues from the NES version have also been fixed on the Genesis port. There is also a Randomizer that selects a random game once selected, along with a music demo mode.
List of games
- Fire Breathers
- Star Evil
- G-Force Fighter
- Silver Sword
- Critical Bypass
- Jupiter Scope
- Alfredo and the Fettucinis (unplayable)
- Operation Full Moon
- Dam Busters
- Haunted Hills of Wentworth
- Chill Out
- French Baker
- Atmos Quake
- Space Dreams
- Spread Fire
- Bubble Gum Rosie
- Micro Mike
- Rocket Jockey
- Cry Baby
- Crazy Shuffle
- Fuzz Power
- Shooting Gallery
- Evil Empire
- Storm Over the Desert
- Mash Man
- They Came from Outer Space
- Lazer League
- Billy Bob
- City of Doom
- Bits and Pieces
- Beeps and Blips
- Hambo's Adventures
- Timewarp Tickers
- Jigsaw (unplayable)
- Ninja Assault
- Robbie and the Robots
- Go Bonkers!
- Dyno Tennis
- Star Ball
- 15 Puzzle
- Star Duel
- Haunted Hill
- Depth Charge
- Mind's Eye
- Alien Attack
- Billy Bob
- Force One
- Sunday Drive
- Star Evil
- Air Command
- Bombs Away
- Speed Boat
- G Fighter
- Man at Arms
- Armor Battle
- Magic Bean
- Sky Avenger
- Black Hole
- The Boss
- 1st Video Game
Why It's 52 Times Crappy
- The entire game is filled with nothing but a bunch of games made with very little to absolutely no effort, terrible gameplay, casts of characters, controls, technical issues and other countless flaws to the point you might not give them any chance due to how bad they are. Even with the 52nd game of the compilation, Cheetahmen, which is seen to be better than others games on the cartridge, is still pretty bad to the point playing it is not suggested and it didn't even make Action 52 for the NES worth it due to having practically the same issues.
- Strangely, in platformer games, you will die and lose a life if you stay too long in mid-air, which is absolutely non-sensical and illogical compared to other games' physics. Good platforming games didn't even do this, even at the NES generation.
- Absolutely horrendous and ugly graphics that might even be as ugly as an average pirated game on a Famiclone, and they look like they do not belong in a NES game. The sprites are badly drawn, some graphics have an ugly colour choice. Due to how bad they are, you might refuse to look at them for more than 2 minutes.
- There are even seizure-inducing backgrounds, most notably in Critical Bypass, which has a background that looks like a flashing image, making the player's eyes to look tired due to the background and being flashy.
- Flickering occurs a lot mostly due to 2 sprites appearing on the same screen being on the same layer, and the animations are very ugly and stiff that is made worse by the still horizontal and vertical velocities when you move/jump.
- In games that scroll horizontally and vertically, the colors will change when their respective tiles appear or disappear.
- In addition, the backgrounds are mostly solid colors with no style whatsoever, and even the other backgrounds that actually have patterns aren't better.
- The 52 games have generic to terrible gameplay with no effort whatsoever.
- In Star Evil, when starting the game, an obstacle appears near the ship, which gives the player almost no time to dodge and can lose a life.
- In Ooze, the jumping controls are poorly programmed, and if the player holds the B button, it can lock you verticality until you let it go in order to move.
- In Critical Bypass, the controls can be clunky with the seizure inducing backgrounds, making it very difficult to complete the levels.
- In Streemerz, trying to touch the power ups like the bag of money or magic wand which turn it into a frowning face, which is misleading.
- In Micro Mike, the player moves too fast, making it difficult to avoid the walls and enemies.
- In Storm Over The Desert, the tank touches anything to make them explode, whenever it's a solider or enemy tank.
- In Dedant, if the enemies make it to the bottom, the player is simply doomed since it can only move left or right.
- In Boss, bombs fall down to the ground, which is highly hard to avoid them.
- Very crappy and hideously laughable sound effects that sound like they came from an Atari 2600 game. Some of the jumping sounds sound nothing like jumping and more like a very weird buzzes noise, and some other sounds are strange, not to mention they aren't very fitting and they are poorly composed.
- The controls in many of the games are very terrible, with sometimes not even functioning like the controls in regular games. In platform games, for example, to jump, you have to press the B button instead of A, as the A button responds for the attack, which is very confusing for people who grew up with games where the A button jumps and the B button attacks. However, in some games, holding the jump button locks you vertically until you let the B button off, forcing you to tap the B button instead of hold it, which ruins the controls even more.
- In some games, the controls are also slippery, where some objects you're controlling move way too fast, meaning you can run into an obstacle or an enemy if you're not careful.
- Due to the game being programmed very poorly, there's a huge amount of bugs and glitches, as well as many collision detection problems. In some games, jumping from platform to platform can be quite difficult because the game will think you did not make the jump correctly and instead you'll fall down, forcing you to restart the level from the beginning. And sometimes, you can even hit obstacles even if you did not touch them. Cheetahmen has an exclusive glitch where pressing the A button and then the B button will cause the character in levels 2 and 3 to jump in mid-air, which could look like a counter against enemies on the ground, but most of them are actually in the air, so performing this glitch it not recommended as most of the enemies fly in the air rather than staying on the ground, and can potentially hit the player to death, and if you jump too high in mid-air, you'll come out of the bottom and lose a life due to the game thinking you feel into the pit.
- Speaking of collision problems, it is so poorly programmed, as most of the time, you can go through walls in platforming games or sometimes fall through them like in Crybaby. These don't really allow the player to cheat in a game by passing through all platforms and enemies while walking on the ceilings, however.
- You can also lose a life while in mid-air, which does not make any sense, since the air cannot make you lose a life. While it may look like the developers tried to make it a bit more realistic where jumping from too high can cost you a life, the fact that you die in mid-air makes this very irritating.
- In some games, such as Star Evil for example, if there are too many enemies on-screen, the boss will not show up, leaving you completely stuck, forcing you to lose a life to restart the level, which is very cruel and annoying. If it doesn't, you have to do the same thing again until the boss will finally show up to progress to the next level.
- Most of the game names are very misleading and non-sense, and they have nothing to do with the aspect of the games whatsoever. To quote in the Angry Video Game Nerd's review for example, "Who would think Boss means a frog running around with a gun being ambushed by falling bombs?" "Boss" in a video game is the term given to an enemy normally more powerful than the others that the player has to beat in a level, a section, or in another environment, so why give that name to such protagonist of a game like that? Also, Slashers sounds like it's a horror game (mentioned by the Angry Video Game Nerd), but it's actually a beat'em up.
- Also due to poor programming, most of the games tend to crash for little to no reason and sometimes for stupid reasons. These are the most notable games:
- Alfredo and Jigsaw both crash the game due to them always failing to load even on emulators. This will force you to restart your NES. No matter how much you will restart the console, they will still not work. The only way to slightly lower the chances of a crash are if you have a Rev B cartridge or play in some emulators. The overall reason why both of them crash in the Rev A cartridge and most emulators is because share the same selection for "Player 1" and "Player 2", as well as the same bank in the ROM, redirecting to an incorrect game, causing them to crash before their first level could load.
- Shooting Gallery and They Came from Outer Space both crash the game when you try to quit them by pausing the games and hitting "Select", as well as when you finish a level or lose a life, forcing you to painstakingly restart the console by pressing its reset button, similar to pausing the game on the Master System by pressing the pause button on the console.
- Streemerz crashes when you reach a certain area of one of the levels, as seen in AVGN’s review of the game. However, this happens to occur extremely rarely, as for the most part, you can beat the game easily.
- Ooze crashes the game everytime you complete the second level, making the game impossible to complete.
- Speaking of Ooze, there was a contest where completing it would enter into a drawing for $104,000, but because the game crashes on level 2, it made the contest impossible to complete, and there was no way to complete this contest, which is just no mercy from the developers.
- Many of the games are repetitive. A notable example is that a majority of these games are mediocre space shooters, just with different backgrounds, level design, enemies, music, and other stuff. This is just to prove that Active Enterprises, the developers of the game were just unoriginal, since it contains a lot of space shooters, like if you would say that this should have been called Shooter 52 since there's at least 11 space shooters in it, or around 21% of the games.
- Additionally, most of the games just show you firing projectiles instead of using melee weapons. Even some games, like Rocket Jockey for example, could suggest you could use something else, but like most games in Action 52, you instead fire nothing but projectiles and that's it.
- The game is an asset flip, mainly when it comes to the game's music. Some of the music in some games were taken from The Music Studio for the Atari ST. These games include: Fuzz Power, Silver Sword, French Baker, Streemerz, Time Warp Tickers, and Ninja Assault.
- Speaking of the music, it sounds terrible and it looks like as if it tries its best to play some good melody, which fails constantly. Some of the music is just loops after a few seconds, such as the music in Operation Full Moon. Some of the games don't even include music at all, just sound effects.
- Despite being made in the United States, there are a lot of grammatical errors and typos, mostly when it comes to the games' titles. Critical Bypass is misspelled as Crytical Bypass, Alfredo and the Fettucinis is misspelled as Alfredo n the Fettuc, Bubble Gum Rosie is misspelled as Bubble Gum Rossie in the title screen and as Bublgum Rosy in the menu (probably due to the limit), Storm Over the Desert is misspelled as Storm Over Desert, and Cheetahmen is misspelled as Cheetamen.
- The Cheetahmen recycles characters from the other games to make them into enemies, including Saddam Hussein, the enemies from Ooze but recolored, and the protagonist of Haunted Hills, mostly due to Action 52 being rushed to be finished in only 3 months as proposed by the game's director, Vince Perri.
- The game's manual is rather pathetic and primitive. Instead of just describing the purpose of the cartridge, the manual instead displays the games and explains the controls. Some of them are also misleading, such as Bits and Pieces being described as a puzzle game in the manual when it's actually a platformer. Speaking of the manual, while it's nice to see it being translated into multiple languages, with them being English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Arabic, it seems pointless as the game was only released in the United States.
- There are no continues in any of the games, meaning that once you get a Game Over, many NES games allow players to continue playing from the level they got Game Over'd without having to start from the beginning or use passwords for game checkpoints, not here though, you have to restart the entire game from the beginning, which is very unfair and irritating because some of the games are extremely hard to complete due to terrible controls and very bad programming, so getting past a level sequence requires huge luck.
- As if that's not enough, upon completing all levels in a game, instead of giving a congratulations screen, it sends you back to level 1 and the game continues until the player gets a game over or quits the game. This shows a really huge sign of laziness.
- Disgustingly overpriced: The game costs $199 at the time of release, which means that each game on the system would cost about $4 on average, and even such a price for a single game in Action 52 isn't worth it. Not to mention, it is way too much for an extremely low-quality product. This price is mostly for consoles, but for games, it's very unacceptable. In fact, there were even computer games stored in floppy disks that often cost almost less than $3, but still, perform much better than all of Action 52’s games.
- Plagiarised music: The game's intro uses the It Takes Two song by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, which was completely used with no permission. Since this is a copyrighted song, this could have resulted in Active Enterprises getting sued by the copyright holders, though this will most likely never happen due to Active Enterprises being defunct since at least 1993. Also, several songs were plagiarized from The Music Studio for the Atari ST.. Speaking of the intro, it is so laughably bad, as it's nothing more than a "lights, camera, action!" type of intro, except that the text is replaced with "Lights! Camera! Action 52." Also, this intro is so poorly animated, and it will glitch up a bit when trying to change backgrounds.
- The game was developed in only 3 months, which is way too short to develop an NES game, especially with 52 games in it. Because of this, Action 52 was heavily rushed. Additionally, due to rushed developed, arguably the cartridge is also poorly designed, as it can become very hot and smell like burning plastic if you play it for way too long, according to AVGN.
- While this version fixed a few flaws present in the NES version, with some of them going even worse: terrible and generic with unresponsive controls, bad and ear-bleeding music, constant non-sense, misleading titles, dying from falling hard into the floor in platforming games (similarly to dying in mid-air in the NES version, but actually more visually appealing, so it's more realistic), and many more. Since this is ported on a console from a later generation than the NES, all of the problems could have been easily fixed in this port of the game.
- The graphics somehow have gotten worse than the NES version, and the Genesis version's graphics are extremely ugly, with most sprites having abysmal colour choices and stiff animations. While the Genesis offered better graphics due to it being a 16-bit console (while the NES was 8-bit), this version surprisingly managed to become worse in terms of graphics.
- In addition, the developers even had the nuts to recycle the graphics from a game to another as well, like Sky Avenger which has the exact same background as Bombs Away.
- Most of the games are pretty much the same thing, such as collect an amount of something to progress, kill X enemies, or just simply get from point A to point B. Some of these games where you have to collect an amount of something to progress are Cheetahmen, Mousetrap, or The Boss, some of the "kill X enemies" games are Darksyne, Force One, or Depth Charge, and some "get from point A to point B" games are Slalom, Speed Boat, or Alien Attack, which can feel repetitive.
- Some games are reskins of each other, such as Spidey and Paratrooper being reskins of Mousetrap (with Spidey being the same thing as the latter, and with Paratrooper having an ability to fire projectiles to your enemies and having walls), or Speed Boat looking like a reskin of Sunday Drive, which could look as if there are less than 52 games due to reskins.
- Additionally, some levels are the same as the previous one, but with more enemies, faster speed, or a combination of both, and different music mostly notable Cheetahmen, Depth Charge or Mousetrap.
- 2-player games also use "levels", when these also clearly look rather like rounds since they are mostly focused on two players fighting against each other using the same weapons.
- Sunday Drive uses the words "Segaville, next exit", which uses the word Sega the name of an actual video game company who actually made the Genesis. This could easily result in both FarSight and Active Enterprises being sued by Sega for unauthorized usage of Sega's name, although due to Active Enterprises' whereabouts being unknown as of 1994 and the fact that the Genesis version was released in May 1993, it could seem pointless now.
- Some games don't even qualify as games at all. There's a colouring program called Sketch, which is not even a game. All you can do in it is just draw and nothing else. It also misses some elements that regular colouring programs have, such as the eraser tool (though gives the background is white in Sketch, it could suggest that the white colour is an alternative method of erasing the mistake you have done), or even the paintbucket tool. This also looks like an inferior version of Microsoft Paint.
- Additionally, you have to draw using the D-pad, as the developers did not program any other method of moving the cursor (such as an mouse), which makes drawing in this "game" very difficult, especially when you're trying to draw a circle.
- Most of the game's soundtrack is pretty bad. Some of them are very short loops, while some sound distorted and are way too loud that would make you want to cover your ears while playing.
- The physics in this port are extremely poor. Notably, in Norman, your tank explodes if you touch an soldier, which makes absolutely no sense. Additionally, some games where you can jump, your character jumps very high like if they were on trampoline, as if they had springs under their feet, which is not even possible to do such thing in reality.
- Most of the yellow coloured games (expert) have terrible level design. Perhaps the most notable example is the last level in Go Bonkers!, where clearing the green blocks in the middle will cause a softlock to happen due to impossibility to progress, with the same thing happening if you waste your key on a different locked block, and even if you manage to clear the middle section of level 9 (the last level), you pretty much have to sacrifice one of your lifes due to no blocks that change your ball colour to green (your ball is only green if you restart the level), but if you're on your last life, it's an instant game over, which is just cruel.
- Despite this port having the same title as the other existing one, there are actually 51 games (or 50 if 1st Game is not included, which is just an average port of arcade game Pong) along with a Challenge mode whose goal is to finish the most difficult levels of every game of the compilation, which is false advertising. Knowing how lazily made the game graphics and sounds are, it might also be a possible reason as to why the developers did not add the 52nd game.
- Speaking of the Challenge mode, it is very horrendously broken. If you complete the first game after selecting the mode, the mode crashes the game after loading the second game, making this mode impossible to complete. It also tells you that you could become the Action 52 gamemaster, but no proof exists if someone managed to somehow complete the mode.
- An incredibly gross gory theme, even for the Genesis standards, where a lot of blood can be seen through the games (such as when your character touches an enemy), even in something that doesn't bleed such as the tank in Norman. Additionally, in Freeway, a clone of an Atari 2600 game of the same title where you control a dog instead of a chicken, if the dog gets crushed by a car, they get cut into pieces and their organs are still visible!
- The soldiers in Norman even have yellow blood rather than red, which makes absolutely no sence, since humans have red blood, not the yellow one, like if a yellow paint covered them.
- Hideous sound effects, where landing makes a "boom" explosion noise, and killing enemies makes a crappy noise. In some shooting games, when you fire your projectiles, a very annoying sound effect plays that makes you want to turn off the volume.
- The grunt, collect and scream sounds are recycled to most of the games on this port much like some of the graphics, which is beyond lazy for a multicart. Not even animal characters in this game get different voice actings despite obviously having different voices than humans, and still reuse the recycled sounds despite the screaming and grunting noises clearly sounding like they're from humans.
- They are also poorly made just like the graphics. Some of them are even ear-bleeding like some of the music.
- This version is more boring than the NES version, where some games don't have any challenges and have very easy levels that go on for too long, making the player easily fall asleep while playing.
- While this version is glitch-free (for the most part), some of the games are broken due to a huge oversight by the developer or just unplayable. In Skirmish, for example, the only way to win is if your opponent chooses "Headquarters" and you get there. However, if none of the players select "Headquarters", you cannot do anything, as you can place only 2 units at the time, with no way of selecting additional units, making it broken. Speed Boat is an example of an unplayable game in this version, as later levels move extremely fast, making it almost impossible to avoid obstacles, which makes later levels literally unplayable.
- For some reason, the enemies can pass through obstacles without any problem, but if you touch an obstacle, you lose a life, which is not fair, as if the enemies had some invincibility code against obstacles but you don't.
- The numbering system in the music box option is messed up. Firstly, it has numbers, letters, a period with quotation marks, glitchy symbols, and black letters from F to J, which makes it arguably the worst numbering system in any game.
- While the music in the game sounds terrible, it still has a good composion, with the most famous one being the music in Cheetahmen, which became one of the memorable songs in gaming and was used for other media, such as Syobon Action (also known as Cat Mario), a hard/frustrating clone of Super Mario Bros. released in 2007.
- Additionally, some games in the Genesis version have surprisingly good music, such as the "odd" levels in Apache, Dauntless and Darksyne, as well as the map screen and title themes for Skirmish.
- The idea for the game where Vince Perri (the creator of Action 52) brought an illegal cartridge from Taiwan having 40 games in it for his son was great. Sadly, it was executed extremely poorly due to serious issues the Action 52 had.
- As mentioned before, the Genesis version fortunately fixed a few issues from the NES version, such as improving controls, reducing the number of space shooters and having less bugs and glitches. Many flaws in the Genesis version, however, still remain.
- The cover art looks somewhat unique.
| "What were they thinking?"
Action 52 received an overwhelmingly negative reception from critics and players. The game was heavily criticised for a large number of issues, terrible controls, horrendous graphics, bad music and too many space shooters. While the Genesis version's reception was a bit better than the NES version, it still received a very negative reception. Due to this, Action 52 is not only considered to be one of (if not, the) worst game on the NES and the Genesis, but also one of the worst games of all time.
It is a rare game and despite its infamy, many video game collectors value Action 52 for its notority and rarity, mainly due to its price. Many reviewers reviewed Action 52 as well, giving it negative reception.
- One of the games in the game, Cheetahmen, was supposed to spawn a franchise, which could include a comic book series, TV show, action figures, and even a sequel, Cheetahmen II. However, due to Action 52's negative reception, none of these were ever made, with the sequel being unreleased, though cartridges for it were discovered in 1996.
- There was also going to be a SNES version, but for unknown reasons, this version was cancelled.