Review: S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team (NES)


Although it's now of course primarily known for its Harvest Moon games, Natsume developed quite a few unique, entertaining little titles in the past. We've already had a few rereleased on Virtual Console, and rest assured, S.C.A.T. can easily stand with the rest of them.

If you're a Sega or Capcom fan, taking a glance at the game's screenshots might ring a bell to you. Yes, you're right, it plays quite similarly to Forgotten Worlds – you control one of two warriors and fly through the air with your gun, while two small turrets that can also be controlled hover around you. You've got the choice of Arnold or Sigourney (who very clearly are not based on any prolific movie actors, oh no), but aside from looks there are no differences between the two. The two turrets will hover above and below you, each one making half a circle from your front to your back over and over, shooting at the same time you do with your gun in the direction they're currently pointing.

Of course, it would be quite silly if the turret shots were to constantly go all over the place, so to add some nice strategy, the turrets can be stopped in their current position with a press of the B button, making them exclusively fire in the directions they're pointed at. You can unfreeze them at any time with another press, of course, so there are some times when being able to quickly change their positions comes in real handy. For the most part, positioning them to fire forward works quite well – you'll have triple firepower against anything that approaches from the front, and should anything attack from behind, you can just turn around yourself and shoot it while the turrets continue to cover the front.

You start off with a rather poor pulse gun, but shooting open one of the many floating capsules in the game will always reveal a powerup in the shape of a squared letter for you to collect. There's three alternate weapons, the [B]omb, [W]ave cannon and the [L]aser, of which the wave cannon is arguably the best. There's also [S] and [R] pickups, but don't be fooled into thinking they're a rocket launcher and shotgun: the S increases your speed and the R recovers some health, which will be incredibly useful.

You have six hits to begin with, which is quite a sizeable amount for a shoot 'em up, but the game has plenty of stuff to avoid, and if you're not careful those hits will be all gone in no time. None of the stages have any checkpoints and you only have one life per go, so every time you die your score will reset to zero, and you'll have to begin from the start of the current stage again. As usual, of course, every stage also has a boss, but all of them have extremely simplistic patterns, which means you should be able to come out of most fights damage-free.

As a 1991 NES title, you can expect a decent bit out of the graphics and music, and the game does deliver on both fronts. There are some quite nice graphical effects in some stages, like electrical beams that bounce off walls, which look very smooth and fluid while doing so. There's also some surprisingly catchy music which could stick around in your head for a while.

The game is very entertaining, not too hard and not too easy, but there is one rather big drawback: it's incredibly short. The stages are not too long, and there's only five of them altogether, meaning you could easily beat the game within half an hour if you were to never die. It does, however, have a simultaneous two player mode, which is extremely uncommon for a NES game, so if you've got a friend to play with it can be quite entertaining.

One thing to note is that in Europe, the game is another victim of "fake importing." We originally received the game under the title of Action in New York, but on Virtual Console we've been given the North American version instead. That does mean it runs at a nice, clean 60Hz, but it also means that we get to pay 100 Wii Points extra: you decide if it's a worthwhile pay-off.


S.C.A.T. is a bit of an overlooked NES shooter, but there's no real reason for this. It may not be the very best NES game in its genre, and it's quite short, but it's a highly entertaining title while it lasts and is quite replayable, whether it's by yourself or with a friend.

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