Memoirs of an Action 52 Programmer

In which I chronicle my memories of working on Action 52.

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Starevil, Illuminator & G-Force Fighter

Albert Hernandez
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Greenville
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Okay, so it's been quite a long time since the last post. So much for that once a week thing, huh? Sorry but December was just really busy and other excuses. I spent about 30 minutes just now playing Starevil, Illumninator and for the heck of it, G-Force Fighter. It's sad but with Action 52 games, it doesn't take much playing to pretty much feel like you completely grok a game.

I think this is a sign of the rushed process. When Mario came up with the games, he created some really neat backstories for each one but we barely developed them more than a backstory. Personally, I find the space shooters suffer the most for this. Games like Starevil & G-Force Fighter both feel very similar even though one is a vertical scroller with a top-down view and the other is a side scroller with a horizontal view. Mechanically, they play just about the same. The differences are subtle or maybe trivial. This really amounts to not having enough time to develop each game.

A second thing I find obvious from playing is that we never had play-testers. We tested all the games ourselves. What I have come to learn over the years is that people get used to what they have to work with and learn to just deal with it. While making these games, it wasn't obvious that the pause between levels and the splash screen at the start of each level really aren't enough. They are short. They don't say much and you have no way to stop the game from starting. From the instant you die, you have about 1 second to read the screen and hand over the control to player #2. When the game ends, you don't really know what your final score was or anything. It's frustratingly anti-climatic. Honestly though, we just weren't looking for those kinds of issues. We didn't have enough time and were mostly rushing to make sure the gameplay worked. If we'd had the forethought to get an actual tester... even just one, we might have seen these issues and fixed them. They wouldn't make the games any more fun to play but the frustration would be just a touch lower. So be it though, the games are what they are and it's easy to armchair develop 30 years after the fact.

Between Starevil and G-Force Fighters, I much prefer Starevil. The game is unreasonably difficult with the fast scrolling and the large obstacles in the way. I played the first three levels. I barely remember the third even just a little later but the first two, start with a big block in the way and you have to avoid it or die instantly. It's pretty annoying. At the time, we thought it was a bit clever and just an added challenge.

Befgore talking about Illuminators, my favorite of the three, let me get a bit too technical without really getting technical and thus just making a mess of things...

While playing, I came across two technical issues. The first is that in Starevil, you can see the top of the screen getting re-drawn as you advance. I don't know if this is because I am playing on an emulator or it was also like this years ago on a TV. What is going on, is that for a game like this, you are supposed to draw the new section of screen before scrolling it into the visible area. You always draw a couple of rows ahead. For whatever reason that isn't happening here.


The second thing I saw was while playing G-Force Fighters. The screen suddenly glitched and then a row was drawn incorrectly with some junk. This is related to the timing of the page. I think it's pretty standard, or at least was, but with a game like this, you only had a bit of time to re-draw the screen. I don't know how modern screens work, but with an old TV, the image on the screen was drawn one pixel at a time starting at the top. The ray or tube or whatever it was would from left to right drawing that row, then go down to the next row and repeat until it got to the bottom. It did this like 20 or 30 times a second. Once at the bottom, you had a split second while the thing reset to start the next frame at the top again. During that brief interval, you can write to the screen memory to update it. The rest of the time, while the frame was being drawn onto the screen, you could do the rest of the code.

The NES had an interrupt that would trigger each time the screen was done drawing. The code is tied to that interrupt. Probably what happened was the code was still working when the next interrupt was triggered and it tried to draw the screen when other stuff was going on.

Okay, on to Illuminators. As I said, this is my favorite of the three. I really like the idea behind this game. You are in a haunted house and all you have is your flashlight. The evil creatures live in darkness. Whenever you hit one with your flashlight, you destroy it and for an instant everything is visible, but then, you are plunged back into darkness. Hopefully you saw enough to careful avoid the monsters while you hunt them down. I really think that's cool. The game does an okay job of recreating that. I do wish there was a bit more to the game. If the story had been more developed and the game had some more variety and depth to the levels, this could really be cool. I've always liked this game and is one my favorites.

I'll come back and add some pictures once I figure out how to get them out of my RetroPi
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Sun Jan 9, 2022 4:48 pm
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Fire Breathers

Albert Hernandez
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Greenville
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When I started this blog, my intent was to publish a post a week. I seem to be falling behind a bit as my last update was four weeks ago... whoops. Some of the delay is because I've just been much busier, especially now that we are in the fall. Some of it, though, has been because I played Fire Breathers and find the idea of writing an entire post about it kind of hard. Enough stalling... let's see what we can get out.

I played Fire Breathers solo. That's not much fun really. You fly around and shoot a stationary target over and over and continuously win. It's not much fun this way. Obviously, this game was inspired by Atari's Combat. That game came with the Atari and so a lot of folks would have had experience with it. My recollection was that this game was fun enough as a two player game but like I played the other day, my experience with this game was primarily as a solo activity. The reason for that is that this game was the first one I created so it got played a lot as the kinks got worked out.

The process for testing the game went like this... modify the code, compile it and download it into the NES emulator. I had a decently working game at one point but with just the one dragon. One time, I downloaded my latest copy of the code to the emulator and turned on the TV. There was the game with the dragon flying in place but when I tried to move it, nothing happened, it flew in place. This was really weird because I had already gotten the joystick movement working. What in the world had I done? Well, in fact, when I wasn't in the office, Mario & Javi put the game on and recorded it on a VHS tape.. they recorded the dragons just flying in place for a couple of hours or so. When they new I was getting ready to test, the turned on the VCR without me realizing so that it was play8ing when I turned the TV on.

So the way I managed to code 52 games in a year (a game a week!) was by making a single game engine and then tweaking the knobs, so to speak, for each game. Once the engine was initially created, Fire Breathers was the first game I put together into something playable. The kind of variables I'm talking about are things like.

1. Does the screen scroll or is it static?
2. Is there gravity?
3. Is there jumping?
4. How many hits can a character take.
etc., etc.

I don't remember how many of these variables existed but my idea was to code all this up front at first, then for each game, tweak the variables to get a unique game. This is why folks complain that the games all feel the same. They basically are. The engine only allowed so much tweaking. If I'd had more time to work on the engine or more time to develop each game then I could have made the games feel more unique but that never happened.

When I started making the games, I didn't have any sense of how the cartridge would store and manage 52 games. The pirate cartridge we had seen had 52 distinct games. Our assumption was that we would make 52 distinct games. So what happened then was that I spent a fair bit of time getting the first game, Fire Breathers working. Once that was done, I then copied the code to a new folder on my PC and added the art files and sound files for the next game, tweaked all the variables and tested it to make sure the parts had been put together. I would then copy that again and repeat for the next game and then the next and then the next until all 52 were done.

Well, that was the plan but it didn't entirely work out that way. What I found as time progressed is that I would need to modify the code. In some cases it would have been new features. In other cases, it may have been bug fixes. Honestly, I don't recall exactly why, but I do recall that I had to make changes to the code as time progressed, but as time passed, the master engine did change and evolve. I think that means later versions of the engine would be more refined, for what that's worth. However, there were other changes I needed to make. Not all games fit into the two banks we had allocated for each game. In that case, I sometimes found I needed to maybe remove some of the art or even chunks of code that may not get used just to save space. I can't give any specific examples, because I don't remember but the sort of things I mean is that I would have taken out the code for scrolling if a game didn't needed. It wouldn't be a ton of code but every byte would help.

We didn't know it at the time, but we could have easily fit all the graphics without having to tweak and change the engine itself for each game. For a long time, we had no idea how the pirated cartridge worked and how it fit all those games on the cartridge. It used bank switching, which maybe I should talk about in more detail the next time I make a post. That bank switching would have allowed us to fit more data on the cartridge or even more games.

So anyway, yeah Fire Breathers. Playing it, I have fond memories of that game, probably because I spent so much time with it, but I see all sorts of changes I would love to make to it.
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Sun Nov 28, 2021 10:51 pm
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A First (New) Look at the Games

Albert Hernandez
United States
Greenville
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So I have been playing a bit of Action 52 this last week! It's been quite a while since I last played. It was in 2013 when I flew out to Miami for a small Action 52 reunion. Even then it was only a couple of minutes. If you want to play Action 52, it's not hard to do at all. At the least, all you need is an NES emulator and a copy of the ROM. Both of those are easy enough to find with a small amount of looking on-line.

Here's how I did it...
Raspberry Pi running the RetroPie OS
A download of the ROM
A Bluetooth controller that looks like a cross between an old NES/SNES controller.

The results are really good and it takes me way back. It's funny but when I first played Action 52 as I was developing it, I was downloading the ROMs into an emulator.

My thought had been to write about the first game, Fire Breathers but then the cartridge loads and it shows that intro sequence of "Lights, Camera, Action 52" followed by the menu and realized that's were I really need to start. Honestly, I don't recall making the lights, camera, Action 52 sequence but maybe I did. Probably I did. The menu though, that wasn't my work. That was the other programmer, Vince #2.

As I recall, the intro sequence was Vince Perri's idea. I'm pretty sure he came up with the Lights, Camera, Action 52. Who came up with the idea of using the Rob Base sample I don't know but it I think that's probably the best part of the intro! I don't recall music or sounds on the NES ever really sounding as good as that did.. it's all very blippy music so this was a fresh take.. it was supposed to tell you something different was about to happen.

The menu was the "work" of the other Vince, the programmer that was hired to help me. When he came on, it was such a relief. One, I was grateful for help because I knew I couldn't do this all alone and, two, I has keen on learning some things from someone else. This was going to be good... or so I thought. This other Vince turned out to be a joke and we figured that out early on.

He told us a few things that made his integrity suspect. First, he told us he had programmed some classic arcade game. I forget which it was, either Galaga or Galaxian or something like that. The second thing he mentioned that was suspect was that he had a CD recorder he had gotten in Japan. We kept trying to get him to show us the recorder or copy CDs for us but he kept avoiding it with statements like "Oh, I lent it to my friend". We knew he was lying and got pretty annoyed with him. Just to prove my point, not that I still hold a grudge, but according to Wikipedia "CD-R recording systems available in 1990 were similar to the washing machine-sized Meridian CD Publisher, based on the two-piece rack mount Yamaha PDS audio recorder costing $35,000, not including the required external ECC circuitry for data encoding, SCSI hard drive subsystem, and MS-DOS control computer." and "by 1992, the cost of typical recorders was down to $10,000–12,000".

So I still hold a grudge against this guy, but not because of his CD-R. In the end, the only help he was able to provide was to make the new menu for the 52 games. What's worse, is that he didn't make a new menu. All he did was replace the text in the bootleg game Vince had gotten from his son and then implemented the bank switching code to switch the menu to the games. In fact, he may not have had to do anything to make that happen. Chronos Engineering developed the cartridge hardware and may have copied how the bank switching worked for the pirate cartridge. If so, then there was nothing for Vince to do there. The amount of effort involved he put in was trivial. I was working super-hard to get these games made and all he could do was copy the stupid menu... grrrrr.

Actually, even getting that out of him was hard to do. He was being really slow about getting his stuff done. I was at the office one day and Vince Perri came by. He was annoyed at how little work Vince the programmer was doing so we went to the other room where the phone was and called his lawyer friend. The half of the conversation that I could here went like this.

"I want you to send someone over to talk to this guy." After a pause, "no, don't hurt him, just scare him a bit."

You can imagine my reaction after hearing that. I swear I started typing faster then. I didn't want to get on Vince's bad side. I didn't need anybody to come by and scare me, not that I would be at home. I was just about living at the office. I realize I only heard half a conversation and this could very well be a Three's Company style misunderstanding. Who knows what the person at the other side actually said.

Anyway, there are are a few other comments worth making about the menu itself.
I dislike how it starts with a game halfway down the screen selected. It should start at #1, especially since you can scroll up at the top to get to the bottom and visa versa.
I like how each page is a different color.
The game names on the menu don't match the game names on the rulebook. That's because they were entered by Vince the programmer. He seems to have made some typos but he also had to do some abbreviations to make it fit. I suppose he could have put fewer games on each page and added a few pages, then the full titles would be available. Of course, that would have required some programming.

I actually had been looking forward to making the menu and had planned on making something original and not just stealing the menu from the pirated game.
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Sun Oct 31, 2021 2:45 pm
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Video Interview with Mario

Albert Hernandez
United States
Greenville
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Mario shared a link with me the other day. He just did a video interview with Arcade Attack Retro Gaming Network. I found it fun to watch and hear Mario sharing his memories. He has a very different perspective than I do as he came up with the game ideas and most of the music. My focus and thoughts tend to be more around the technical aspects of the game.

It's available as a podcast or a video
https://arcadeattackpodcast.podbean.com/e/mario-gonzalez-act...

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Sun Oct 24, 2021 1:49 pm
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Office Life at Action 52

Albert Hernandez
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I started this blog with plans on making a post every week. Already last week I forgot to make one. It's not a big deal but that's not a good sign for a blog about memories, is it?

So I've wanted to describe life at the Action 52 world headquarters. Actually, world headquarters was a really small place. I no longer recall exactly were it was but it was somewhere on Bird Rd in Miami, west of I-85. Bird Rd is SW 40th Street. I used Google street view and drove down Bird Rd a bit looking for the place but I had no luck finding it. It was a small office building. The 1st floor was a parking garage and the 2nd and 3rd floors had offices. I think we were on the third floor.

Next door there was a Little Caesar's and, I think a Subway's. Across the street was a shopping center with an All-In-One. This was a Pizza Hut, Taco Bell & KFC combined so you could go and order food from either of the three menus. It was great!

From gallery of fractaloon
The office had two rooms. The outer room was small at maybe 12'x12' or smaller. It had a desk and shelves on the walls behind it with old computers. The inner office had been a recording studio when we started working there. It must have been 12'X15' so not very big either. Because it was a music studio, the walls have been covered with dark blue fabric and, I think, insulation behind that to make it sound proof. In one corner, there was an isolation room for a vocalist or someone to go into. Because of the padding on the walls, we had no windows. It all gave the space a very claustrophobic feel to it. Along the the two longer walls, Vince had two sets of desks made.. really, these were just 2'x4's with plywood on top as a work surface. It had the feel of a dot com years before dot-coms were a thing.

That picture on the left, I'm not sure about the scale but I think it's pretty close. It definitely wasn't a big environment. By far, we spent most of the time in that larger room. With 5 people in there, it would definitely start to feel cozy. Fortunately, it was usually just three developers in there at a time.

There was a bean bag in the room. I'm not really sure were it came from. I guess Mario brought it in or something. It's a good thing we had it though, because we often spent the night there working and that would be the bed we would crash on when someone needed to sleep. Very much it was a crazy environment. We would work there all day without site or sound of the outside world other than we we went out to get some food, often at the Little Caesar's.

For periods of time, especially Javi and I would be there for a few days. We'd go to my house to shower up and have some real food and relax a bit before returning back to work. I don't know just how many hours we put in, but it was a LOT.

Most of the time it was just the three main developers in there, until developer #4 joined us and then later on Joey, the artist, worked there too. Occasionally, we got visitors. Vince & Publio would come by every few days or so, usually in the evenings to check up and see how things were going. Vince smoked cigarettes. He would come in and light up a cigarette in the office. It's a small crowded room so we all got to enjoy 2nd hand smoke. Back then, that wasn't such a big deal at least not yet. But then, he would flick the ashes of his cigarette on the floor and rub then into the rug with his chanclets (that's Spanglish for chancletas, a.k.a. flip-flops. When he showed up in the evening he was usually wearing flip-flops, jeans and a t-shirt.
Anyway, he would flick the ashes onto the floor and rub them into the rug. That was our bed that rug! We slept on the floor with the bean bad as a pillow. I hated that.

Sometimes, other folks came by. Mario's cousin came by once or twice, my grandmother visited my work once when she was in the US from Cuba for a few months or someone's friend would pass by. I gotta say, I find that weird. I don't know why though. Most of the visitors felt random and out of place but it was nice to break things up.

I think the most common meal in those days was pizza from Little Caesar's or Taco Bell. Those were the cheapest options so it's what we went with. Keep in mind that I was the only one getting paid and it was a minimal salary, especially considering the hours I put in.

That isolation room ended up becoming a closet, or really, a junk room because we didn't have a use for it. I don't even remember what was in there but it got pretty full. One time, I recall we went in there for something and someone found a pizza in a box leaning against a wall with other boxes and stuff. No idea how long that had been in there but it was amazing how much better the place smelled once we found it and threw it out. This place very much had the vibes of a bad college dorm.

I don't recall how far into the project we were when developer #4 joined. He was going to college in the day and would come in during the evenings. He was a breathe of fresh air to the project. It was nice to have a new point of view and an new voice. One of the changes he did though was HUGE. One day he was in the office working and said something along the lines of "I can't take it any more" and proceeded to rip down the blue padding covering the windows. I was mortified.. we'd get in trouble for doing this! He didn't care though. It was dark and dingy in there and he was tired of that. Once he did that, we now had this big window that spanned the length of the wall and let all sorts of light into the room. It really made a big impact to the environment. I was also surprised that Vince was okay with it all. His comment was simply that it looked good. I have to admit, that was a relief.
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Sun Oct 17, 2021 3:49 pm
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The Cast of Characters

Albert Hernandez
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Greenville
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Here's a brief description of everyone I remember that was relevant. I recall other folks coming and going into the office over time but they wouldn't have an impact on the story. I am sure I am being redundant across other posts regarding some of the memories I am sharing, but I'm okay with that.

Having made this list below, it is apparent to me that only the last two entries are folks that really knew what they were doing. Everyone else was in over their head and just fumbling along in the dark. That right there may be the real reason the cartridge was such a failure. It was a bunch of folks with a dream of making games but no idea how to really go about doing it.

Vince Perri - Vince is the guy that came up with the idea of the project. He came up with the idea for Action 52 when he saw a bootleg cartridge with 52 games. He didn't personally know anything about video games but was passionate about the project. Not being in the game industry, he didn't know any game programmers. That's why he ended up with us.

Publio - I don't recall his last name. Publio was Vince's right hand man. I recall that he has a nice guy. He would often come by with Vince when they were working on something or other. I recall he said he had learned a lot from Vince and was looking forward to use all those skills he learned in the future.

Al - Al was a programmer that Vince knew. He made business software but more than that I don't know. He helped us get the information we needed to make NES games and he was instrumental in getting us in touch with Sculptured Software.

Mikey - The office we had used was also a music studio before we took it over. Mikey worked for or owned that music business. I don't know. I think the first time I new we were in trouble was when he played ones of our games, Slashers, and was able to make it to the end of each level without trouble. All he did was click repeatedly and move right. He was legally blind and I don't think he had any sight. Yes, a blind guy could beat our games.

Me - Of course, there's myself. I did the bulk of the coding for all 52 games. I helped with art but in the most minimal way. I'm sure somewhere in those 52 games there are a handful of tiles that I drew.

Mario = Mario and I were friends from middle school. I used to go by his house all the time and we'd play games on his Atari computer. He came up with all 52 game ideas. Mario wrote most of the music for the games and did some graphics also.

Javier - I met Javier through Mario. We had Amigas and often shared software. Javier drew most of the art of the games and also helped out with the music.

Developer #4 - Developer #4 has kept his name private so I will continue not to share it. I also knew him from my school days. He joined the project through Mario and came later on to help with all the art. He may have also made music but I don't recall. He definitely could have.

Joey - Joey was an artist who joined the project to make the comic book for Action 52. I think he also made animation for the commercial but I'm not sure. He joined the project towards the end. I don't think he worked on game art but may have.

Investor #1 - We had a number of investors that each bought some number of shares in the company. I don't really know how many there were but I think it was around 20. I vaguely remember him coming by the office once in a while. Investor #1 is mentioned and "named" only because it's worth mentioning that folks invested money in this project.

Vince, the Programmer - There was a second person named Vince that was involved in the project. I don't know how Vince found him but he was brought on to help me make the games. In the end, all he did was work on the main menu and it looks like he didn't really do anything with that.

Cronos Engineering - Cronos was a firm that Vince contracted to reverse engineer the original cartridge that his some had gotten. Their job was to figure out how to make a 52 game cartridge possible.

Sculptured Software - Sculptured Software, of Salt Lake City, provided us with training, software and hardware to make it possible for us to make NES games.
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Sun Oct 3, 2021 3:16 pm
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Why 52 Games?

Albert Hernandez
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First of all, it turns out it's hard to write a blog. I published and subsequently deleted the first post I did today. Hopefully this one is better. It at least has more information and less fluff. This one, I think, came out much better.

So this isn't new information really. If you look online you can find Mario has said the same thing. Vince Perri's son had a Nintendo cartridge, a bootleg, with 52 games on it. I have no idea what games he had but they were all official NES licensed games on a single cart. Not sure how he got a hold of that cartridge but he and all his friends were pretty excited by this. Vince saw how the kids reacted about a 52 game cartridge and being the entrepreneur that he was, he figured as excited as kids got over this bootleg what if kids could by a cartridge with 52 original games. It was brilliant!

There are a of course issues with that idea. First and foremost, as we learn at the end of the Action 52 saga, is that it's REALLY hard to make 52 good games with just one programmer. It will also take a lot of money. Fortunately, Vince had investors that helped try to make this a reality. What he didn't have is any idea about making video games. That just wasn't his thing. Honestly, a cartridge with 20 games would have been just as cool and the games would have maybe been better. I mean, that means I would have had two weeks per game instead of just one! Well, when I say it that way, the games would have been just as bad. Fifty-two works because it's so audacious. If the cartridge were Action 20, I doubt it would be remembered quite as, um, passionately as it is today. It really was a innovative idea at the time.

So this is were we came in. When Vince hired us, we needed to come up with, design and then build 52 games. One of the games we were originally going to include in the cartridge was a Tetris clone like the one I had made on my Amiga. We had concerns about that though. Would it be legal to copy Tetris and release our own version. We didn't think so but we weren't legal experts.

Before the final list of games was settled on, between the three of us (Mario, Javi and myself) we had been throwing out ideas for games but nothing concrete and I don't think we even wrote stuff down. This would have been early on. We probably hadn't even signed the contract yet. Then, one day Mario shows up, well I don't know if it was by phone or in person or what but knowing Mario I think it would have been in person. He shows up with a notebook with all the games in it! The way I remember it, the night before he brainstormed 52 ideas for games. It all came to him in a moment of inspiration and he just wrote and wrote. What I remember he presented was a notebook with 52 games listed on it. I think it was a game per page but I'm not sure. I only remember their being titles written down but for each title he provided a premise. He may have had ideas for how each game would play and we would have generally gone with that but as the development process unfolded we hashed out details for a lot of games. Some of it was just us talking together coming up with ideas. Some of it would have been based off the limitations set up by the software I created.

I never brought it up but in a way, I was a bit disappointed that Mario came up with all the ideas on his own. It would have fun to come up with ideas I thought would be cool. I mean, I had been playing video games since the Atari 2600 days and had enough imagination to come up with stuff too. That part of the process of coming up with games and titles would have been a ton of fun. Still, I wasn't about to complain. We had stressed about this and having this list in front of us helped a ton. It gave us more direction and this ideas all sounded fun, well mostly, there are one or two games I never did care for.

The photo below shows us at the office where we worked. I'll get to that place in another post. It features three of the developers and Mario's cousin, but you can see the two posters behind me. That's a list of the games that we worked on. Unfortunately it is just about impossible to make out the text. Each poster has about half the games. I think the columns had the various status of the games we were working on to keep track of the progress, but it may have shown what features each game would include, scrolling, etc.

From gallery of fractaloon


At this point, I don't remember all the games, a few stand out for me. Particularly notable would be Firebreathers because that's the game we first got working on the screen I probably spent more time with it than any other just because of that. This was easy because it only had two characters and the fire to worry about. There were no enemies or anything else to maintain on the screen. Other favorite games include Ooze, Alfredo and Non Human as well as one or two others whose name I don't recall. I'll need to dig into the games more and figure out what was what.

Here's the list of the 52 games. I found it online and transcribed it. Some of these titles may be wrong because they were abbreviated on the title page. I'll see if I can fix them. Over time I hope to write at least a bit about each game. I don't know that I'll have much to say about must but it should be fun trying. As I do that, I'll turn these into links to those articles.


1. Fire Breathers
2. Starevil
3. Illumininator
4. G-Force Fighters
5. Ooze
6. Silver Sword
7. Critical Bypass
8. Jupiter Scope
9. Alfredo and the Fetucini's
10. Operation Full Moon
11. Dam Busters
12. Thrusters
13. Haunted Halls of Wentworth
14. Chill Out
15. Sharks
16. Megalonia
17. French Baker
18. Atmos Quake
19. Meong
20. Space Dreams
21. Streemerz
22. Spread Fire
23. Bubblegum Rosie
24. Micro Mike
25. Underground
26. Rocket Jockey
27. Non-Human
28. Cry Baby
29. Slashers
30. Crazy Shuffle
31. Fuzz Power
32. Shooting Gallery
33. Lollipops
34. Evil Empire
35. Sombreros
36. Storm Over the Desert
37. Mash Man
38. They Came
39. Lazer League
40. Billy Bob
41. City of Doom
42. Bits N Pieces
43. Beeps N Blips
44. Manchester Beat
45. Boss
46. Dedant
47. Hambo's Adventures
48. Time Warp Tickers
49. Jigsaw
50. Ninja Assault
51. Robbie and the Robots
52. Cheetahmen

Edit: I updated the titles for the 52 games. My original list was a bit wrong. Mario pointed me to a wiki that has the correct titles.
https://action52.fandom.com/wiki/Action_52_(NES)?fbclid=IwAR...
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Sun Sep 26, 2021 11:43 pm
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I'm a Thousand Year old Vampire

Albert Hernandez
United States
Greenville
SC
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The show on solitaire boardgaming.
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Microbadge: May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun...Microbadge: Merry ChristmasMicrobadge: Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) series fanMicrobadge: Merry ChristmasMicrobadge: ...and find your shoulder to light on.
So there's this really great paper solo RPG called Thousand Year Old Vampire. In it, you play the role of a vampire living through the ages. As you play the game, you write down memories that help develop the story. All is great but after generations of living, you start to forget old memories. People that were once pivotal in your life or unlife start to fade away. This is done in the game by crossing out those memories for you journal. It's a pretty darned cool concept and makes for a great game.

I'm finding this more relevant right now as I try to remember details about working on Action 52. There are things I have completely for gotten, like the code and other details that I remember but not very clearly, like the timeline. Some things I'm able to piece together. Others are lost forever.

An interesting one is the timeline of when I worked on Action 52. I've said before that it was probably 1989 or so when I worked on it and I worked on it for 18 months total. How much of this can I really figure out? Before working on that project, I worked at LensCrafters. After leaving the project, I went back to LensCrafters. Unforunately, I no longer have any paperwork showing the dates for any of this. I sure as heck didn't have a LinkedIn account back then. I can figure something out.

1. I worked on the project before I turned 21. I know this because a friend, that I met when I was back at LensCrafters the second time around, gave me a fake ID. It was only about a month before I turned 21 so around Dec 1990.

2. We used to listen to a lot of music at work. We listened to lots of industrial, techno and electronic music. We also listened to more eclectic things. One album I specifically remember listening to is Bugs Bunny on Broadway.

Well darned, I just checked Wikipedia and a few other sources. According to them, the album was released on January 29, 1991. That means I was already 21 when I was working on that game. Actually, I was 22. This really bugs me. I was sure I was younger. I haven't given this much thought over the years and just took my memory for granted.

That also means a lot of my other assumptions are wrong. That is to say, everything in in this blog is to be taken with a grain of salt. Memories are not infallible and bits will disappear only to return slightly differently years later.

Hopefully I get more right than I get wrong.

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Sun Sep 19, 2021 5:50 pm
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Welcome to my Memories!

Albert Hernandez
United States
Greenville
SC
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The show on solitaire boardgaming.
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Microbadge: May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun...Microbadge: Merry ChristmasMicrobadge: Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) series fanMicrobadge: Merry ChristmasMicrobadge: ...and find your shoulder to light on.
Recently I watched this great video on digging into the code behind Action 52 by Displaced Gamers. It was quite well done and they obviously did their research. They got into a lot of the technical details of how the game works and made some interesting comments. Not all correct but he never really got far off the mark. This got me thinking that I should probably somewhere record what I remember about working on Action 52. People seem to care a lot about the game and having some information may be useful. It may also rekindle some memories.

I posted an article, Some memories and ramblings about Action 52, over on the Action 52 page yesterday. We can consider that as the first part of my story. I hope to add to this more over time.

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Sat Sep 18, 2021 3:48 pm
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