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

Special Cybernetic Attack Team or S.C.A.T. is a side scrolling shooter on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which is the forgotten brother to another popular Nintendo title Contra.

There is little to no story for S.C.A.T. In the year 2029, an alien force has landed in New York and planted an ‘Astrotube’ which has unleashed a large army upon the city and the world. Two commandos (Arnold & Sigourney) have been equipped with cybernetic suits outfitted with jet packs and two orbiting cannons in order to defeat the alien invasion.

S.C.A.T. is a 1 or 2-player game. If you’re playing 1 player you can choose between Arnold and Sigourney, if you’re playing 2 players, the first player will be Arnold and the second player will be Sigourney. There is no difference between the characters much like how there is no difference between Bill Rizer and Lance Bean in Contra.

As mentioned before, players are outfitted with jetpacks and two orbiting cannons. This is what makes this game unique and not just a clone of Contra. The jetpack allows you to move in any direction on the screen instead of walking and jumping. This creates a more of a space shooter type feel to the game, so it’s as if the person moves like a spaceship. The two orbiting cannons rotate around the player and can be stopped at any point to focus its fire in one direction. Another difference to Contra is that instead of one hit kills you, you have a health bar. There are several power-ups which the player can collect throughout the game:

  • (B) Bomb – Sticks to surfaces and enemies
  • (L) Laser – It’s a laser!
  • (W) Wave – Large wave attack
  • (S) Speed- Makes the character move faster
  • (R) Recovery – Recovers health

S.C.A.T. is a very unique game because it isn’t a Run and Gun action game like Contra, but it isn’t exactly a space shooter. It’s technically more of a space shooter because if you compare it to another game such as Gradius the character moves the same way as a spaceship and also how the screen pulls the character is the same in both games. Despite how difficult it is to classify it, S.C.A.T. is a great game.

The ability to turn around and shoot backwards was a unique feature for the NES era of games. Along with the different ways the screen moves is very strange at first, but this ‘strangeness’ is what makes this game stand out. You don’t just move from left to right like a typical shooter. The screen moves up sometimes, then goes down, then to the right again etc.  They mix up the gameplay in different ways, so that it feels refreshing. Another thing which makes this game memorable is the setting. It is set in New York City, fighting amidst the rubble and backdrop of the city gives it a sort of relatable feel. It’s not set on an alien planet where you’re wondering what’s going on.

The game has a good length to it. It isn’t too short and it isn’t too long to the point where it’s tiring to complete. There are also a couple of memorable boss fights that will definitely have you gripping your controller in anger as you try again to defeat it. The music in the game is also pretty good!  There aren’t any tracks that will be etched into your memory, but there are some good ones in there you will enjoy. It’s a pity this series was forgotten and never given a proper sequel. There was a lot of potential in this title. There were several ways to improve on the gameplay if a sequel was involved.

The game isn’t very difficult, which contributes to its fun factor.  It’ll give you a nice challenge, but it isn’t discouraging. Rather it encourages you to want to play more until the end. Playing with a second player also adds to the fun factor of this game. If you haven’t experienced this gem before, definitely grab a copy of it and try it out!

ESCL Review Scores:
Gameplay – 9/10
Story – 3/10
Aesthetics – 7/10
Overall Score: 8/10

Fun & unique gameplay that gives you a bit of a challenge. If you like Contra you’ll love this game!

S.C.A.T. trailer –

S.C.A.T. playthrough –

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