After Nintendo had succeeded in saving the home video game industry with the release of the NES in 1985, other companies again started to bring their own consoles to the marketplace, and almost all were left dead in the wake of the Nintendo juggernaut. One of the quickest deaths was that of the Action Max.
The Action Max was released and died in the same year, 1987. Released by Worlds of Wonder, the makers of Teddy Ruxpin, the console was a lightgun-only system that ran off of videotapes instead of cartridges, so it had to be hooked up to a VCR as well as the television. As the tape rolled, the player had to shoot at live-action targets on the screen. Whenever you scored a hit, a red light that came with system would light up and an LCD counter on the console would count up all your hits. Since the games were all live-action video, it was the best system out there in terms of graphics. But due to the fact that all the games were on videotape, you could only play them once before they became horribly repetitive.
Only five games were released for the Action Max: “.38 Ambush Alley”, “Blue Thunder”, “Hydro Sub: 2021”, “The Rescue of Pops Ghostly” and “Sonic Fury”. All the games were rail-shooters, the player moving on a preprogrammed track and shooting at the same targets. The only difference between them was the things the player was shooting at.
While developing the system, Worlds of Wonder fell into financial difficulties. The Action Max barley limped into stores and no other games were released other than the initial five launch titles. Since there was no advertising campaign for it, the system quickly wound up in the bargain bins and died a quick death.
Yes, I own an Action Max. I received mine when I was 7 years old as a present for my first communion. My parents refused to buy me a Nintendo, so I was counting on the kindness of my relatives to give me one. When one of my aunts handed me a present saying it was “one of those video things all you kids want” my heart filled with hope. Imagine my dismay when I found this piece of trash in my box. Luckily, later on that day my Uncle Jack went against my parent’s wishes and forever earned a place in my cool book by giving me a brand new Nintendo Entertainment System.
I can safely state that the Action Max is one of the crappiest systems I have ever seen. Everything about it screams “CHEAP!” from the featureless gray console to the shoddy plastic gun. The only game I ever played was “Sonic Fury,” because that was the one that came bundled with the system. After about twenty minutes of boring and repetitious gameplay, I put it in the back of a closet where it remains to this day.