The Cheetahmen Saga
by Polly

Granted, I didn't happen to stumble across the atrocities that are Cheetahmen 1 and 2 on my own. A lot of the credit goes to my friend, Chad who knows a little more about games than I think anyone has the right to know.

Anyway, these games were unleashed upon unfortunate gamers in 1991 and 1992 by a little unlicensed "company" called Active Enterprises. Enterprise? Aren't we getting just a little fucking bit ahead of ourselves? I'll leave the history lesson to those far more experienced in the field, so read all about Active Here and even more of the good stuff Here. Trust me, this is some fucking good reading, and I recommend it to anyone wanting to become a little more versed in the history of videogames, or if you just want to laugh yourself silly.

Let me first start by saying that, playing these games was a nightmare. My first time actually trying to get through each one was a lesson in pain. One me or my eyes won't soon forget. I knew there was no way possible I could beat these games under any normal means due to them being barely playable (and due to the fact that I don't exactly feel like dumping out close to $200 for a game cartridge simply because it's rare), so I used an emulator and ROMs in order to make use of save states.

So, loaded up the Action 52* ROM and selected the Cheetahmen game from the menu. If this game was meant to be the star of the cart (and believe me, it's the best but that's still not saying much) then why'd we put it all the way at the end of the list at NUMBER 52!!!

We take over the gaming industry 
by hiding our star game!!!  IT'LL FUCKIN SELL!!!

If anyone plays a game that's either on the 1st or 2nd page as the first selection they ever play, Cheetahmen has about a 28.3% chance of ever being seen. I've gone through the agony of trying to play all 51 games prior to Cheetahmen, and I can safely tell you that you can live the rest of your life just fine if you just skip to the last one. You'll thank me for that.

Entering the game I was immediately treated to quite possibly the most awesome cinematic experience I've ever witnessed.**

Seems Captain N has nothing on the Action Game Master . The Action Gamemaster, being the cool ass fucking dude that he is, was sitting around playing HIS videogame. Not your's, they're not cool enough. Then, COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED, IT HAPPENS !!! Our radical and overly gnarly dude is pulled into his TV by a wicked-bad cybernetic arm. And where, praytell had our beloved gamer been pulled off to? A land full of big-titted women waiting to fulfill his every desire, you ask? Thrown into his own super cool, bad ass action flick starring alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, you ask? FUCK NO! Who needs pussy and death when you can get dropped onto the ground at the feet of the fucking COOLEST NES GAME CHARACTERS EVER!!! And what did our hapless Game Master do once he faced 3 cheetah mutant freakpots? Personally? I'd shit myself and probably just run the other way. But not our Gamemaster. You see, he's just so used to seeing human size, bipedal, cheetah mutants that he immediately struck up conversation. So off the Cheetahmen ran into the dangerous world leaving the Gamemaster behind to fend for himself. And finally, our journey can begin.

Are you as fucking excited as I am?

Sexy man beast exhibit A

Now this is the type of stud I'm looking for. Only.. fuck it. Anyway, Meet Aries. He runs around and hits things with his club, and he's quite the bad ass I'm guessing. I sound really enthusiastic don't I?

Are those maraccas?

So, stage 1 starts out pretty normal. Seems what we have here is a Double Dragon-esque side-scrolling beat em up. I think, "Hey, I like Double Dragon," and then proceed forward.

I'm immediately amazed at the enemy design. In what other game, can I play a mutant cheetah and have to fight...

Fucking floating pies!!!

Yes, while traversing the mountain it's immediately apparent that I'm up against some type of evil Scientist/Circus Clown, so I'm thinking, "Hey, this can't be too bad." I come to a ladder, go up and then have to maneuver in between a series of pits. I'm an agile creature, being a Cheetahman, so this little feat of agility should be nothing for me. WRONG!!! Something happened to young Aries as a kid (cub?) and he's not able to walk in diagonals, so I have to maneuver through this area in an odd manner. I'm a Cheetahman, what's a little extra work to me. HA, I say. I walk a bit further and suddenly the screen goes black and briefly tells me that I'm now on Stage 2. Wow. No warnings before the end of the stage. It was just BAM! Stage over. That's not a complaint.

Alright, 2nd stage, pretty blue, me likes. I fall for what seems like eternity before touching the ground below which appears to be some type of temple. But it's a temple with blue ground so it's okay with me. I start about my merry little cheetah way and from the right side of the screen walks the funniest thing I've seen in any game.


I shit you not. Little Saddam Husseins run around in the level and just dart right for you. This is the MOST FUCKED UP thing I've ever seen in a game. It had me laughing for a good 10 minutes straight. As if flying pies weren't good enough, fucking shit throw in Saddam Hussein.

The level's pretty straight forward (read: Boring) but I make my way to the end and to my immediate surprise there's a boss.

That guy. He's not much in the line of a boss or anything. He just jumps around a lot. Punch him 5 times or so and he's out for the count. I think the game only has an 80% chance of continuing from here. The first 2 times I beat him the stage didn't end. I was stuck in the Temple of Blue And Saddam for eternity. I reloaded the state until it eventually introduced me to a new Cheetahman! RAPTURE!!!

Sexy Man Beast exhibit B
Hercules... I don't have much to say about him.

So stage 3 starts off and now I'm someone new...who doesn't control any differently than Aries. No biggie! That just means this shit should be over sooner since I know what I'm doing. The thing I notice right off is this stage looks oddly reminiscent of a stage from (the world's greatest action series) Contra. (and I just wanted a reason to to mention Contra).

Not only do the stages look fairly similar but there are gun turrets on the walls that fire streams of bullets at you too as can be seen in the 2nd image. This stage is pretty much the same ol drill as the last few have been. Except the enemies just keep getting more and more laughable.

Yes, I guess this little toy car is supposed to be quite menacing!

And so a little way further into the stage and it ends abruptly just like all the others.

It's odd that the first thing I noticed upon entering Stage 4 was that I could actually now see my character's health meter for the first time. I'm not sure why, I guess it just decided it needed to make a cameo. So now, I know that my Cheetahman can sustain 4 hits before dying.

I guess at this point anything will suffice.

I will give it to them, this stage is somewhat put together decently. It's a lot of platforming and has working conveyor belts that pull you in directions when you step on them. Kinda neat. The enemies range from flying, 50% transparent black things, to walking, half-eaten donuts. Can't win em all right? And the stage features the game's 2nd boss, who is just as easy to beat as the first. Is that Rocksteady? Nevermind. So, anyway, in a manner somewhat resembling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1 for the NES, this guy just charges back and forth trying to hit you. All you have to do is stand on the left side of the screen and keep punching. That's it. No fancy tricks, no smoke and mirrors, no seductive tactics. Just stand there and punch. Rock on. Turtle fucking POWER.


Once the boss is out of the question, we meet this fellow. Unfortunately, I guess he was the runt of the litter seeing as how the programmers saw fit to show his face, but not give a description. To make sure he didn't feel so bad, I went ahead and made his picture bigger than the others. He uses a bow. Yay!

Let me first start by saying I hate hate hate hate hate this fucking stage. Because you use a projectile weapon enemies that home in on you are almost impossible to hit unless you jump and shoot at the precise time. Needless to say I spent a great deal of time on this stage saving states and reloading after almost every monster encounter.

Later in the stage, things get somewhat hairy. It appears that the programmers either thought this would be neat or just didn't finish the game. My bet's on the 2nd one. If you happen to fall down a hole later in the stage you're warped to a "Stage 9 which is just a solitary room with a 1-up to collect. You can exit to the right. HOWEVER, once you do, you'll be taken to a "Stage 10." Stage 10 is kinda like the minus world on Mario, only not as cool. The graphics are fucked up and inverted. You can jump but it will kill you. You can move forward, but it will kill you. You can jump REALLY far and the game will just crash entirely.

Who needs green mushrooms?


But if you're a coordinated little Cheetahman, and can make it past the platform jumps, well consider yourself home free.

This is all that stands in your way! Go ahead, jump up there and just unload on his ass. He won't fight back. He just flies around unmenacingly. And once you've pumped enough shots into his ass, the game will start back over to the 1 Player 2 Player menu. That's it. No flash, no fireworks, no ending. Just the satisfaction of knowing you're scarred for the rest of your life.

Now, normally after I've suffered this much I'd call it quits, but I was feeling quite masochistic and needed a little more pain just to get me off. So, with a bit of hesitation, I fired up the Cheetahmen II ROM.

The monkey man that leads to eternity!

To make a long story short, one hour later I found out that there's no way to finish the game on normal terms. After you beat the 4th stage's boss, the game just ends. You're stuck in the boss' room forever. The only way to play what's past that is to find a hacked ROM. And by this time, it was 7am and I just didn't give a shit anymore.

By now I was tired, hungry, and viciously self-mutilated, but I'd survived my journey into the world of the Cheetahmen and made it out with as few scars as possible. My only concern is what happened to our poor Game Master. Where was he during all this? I guess, the world may never know...

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