S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team

S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team Review

Hasta la vista, alien scum!

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a NES on

S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team is also known as Action in New York and is available as a Virtual Console game for Wii U, 3DS, and Wii

ESRB Everyone rating

It's hard to believe how well some games still hold up after decades have passed since their initial release. Almost 25 years ago, this 2D scrolling shooter came out for the NES and it remains a must-play for fans of the genre.

S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team screenshot 1
Lasers and turrets are no match for Arnold

It looks like alien Supreme Commander Vile Malmort is as nasty as his name suggests since he has begun invading the planet via an Astrotube that connects New York City to his space station. Luckily, the president has a confidential team of cyborg badasses who can use the aliens' weaponry against them. You control members of the Special Cybernetic Attack Team who each have a name suitable for fending off aliens (believe it or not, Arnold and Sigourney). So, it's time to take out the big guns and blast some old-school aliens back to the planet that they came from.

For a NES game, S.C.A.T. looks fantastic. Its graphics appear more like a modern indie game that's trying to be retro as opposed to an actual retro game. Your character mostly remains motionless as they fly through the stages but as you fire your gun, you can see them retract from the recoil. There are plenty of enemies who always behave as their appearance would suggest. Enemies with large hind legs will probably jump up at you while metallic enemies require more hits to take out. The stages themselves are quite detailed from ruined cityscapes to enormous battleships. There are even subtle visual effects such as lightning that you can see in the background before it briefly lights up the screen. Musically, this game has one of the best 8-bit soundtracks ever. It matches the action perfectly and makes you feel like a hero as you save the world one stage at a time. The audio effects are delivered perfectly as they add satisfaction to the intense gameplay. Stronger enemies sound like they absorb bullets with more ease than weaker ones and your satellites click as they lock or unlock from their position. There's nothing more gratifying than the sound of your gunfire exploding the nefarious alien invaders. This game truly masters how to get the most out of a NES.

S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team screenshot 2
Horizontal scrolling gets boring; let's fly up the Astrotube at lightning speed!

S.C.A.T. is played like any other 2D automatically scrolling shooter yet there's a lot more complexity than you would expect from the 8-bit era. Besides moving your character around and shooting left and right, you are equipped with a couple of satellites that shoot as they automatically rotate around you. By the push of a button, you can lock them into place to concentrate your fire in that direction. This adds a layer of strategy to the constant stream of challenges that are presented to you. The controls are tight and supplement your abilities excellently. You start the game with your standard weapon but you can acquire three stronger weapons by picking them up (a laser, wide beam, and bomb). You can also collect a power-up to make you faster and one that restores your health. It's kind of annoying that the power-up and weapon pick-ups look the same with the exception of the letter on them since you'll have to memorise which letter corresponds to which collectable. You don't want to replace a preferred weapon with another one, but you'll learn.

There is only one mode that contains five levels with a boss at the end of each. You can either play by yourself or cooperatively with a friend which is not only a lot of fun but also makes the game easier. The boss battles are simply awesome because each one is incredibly unique and challenging in their own way. They include a tank complete with turrets, a tunneling snake that seems to show up wherever it wants, and a wall comprised of rocket engines. All of them are a delight to destroy. If you ever get a game over then you can continue at the beginning of the stage that you were on but there are no passwords or any way to save your progress. Therefore, you must either play through in one sitting or play it on Virtual Console which will save your progress for you. Although it only consists of five levels, you may find yourself playing through this retro gem from time to time just to experience the magnificence of it all over again.

S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team screenshot 3
Arnold warms up by taking on the first boss

S.C.A.T. is a shooter that has definitely stood the test of time. If you enjoy the genre (or retro action games in general) then do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of this incredibly satisfying yet brief adrenaline-fueled tale of alien invasion.

  • + Solid mechanics with tight controls meet challenging and satisfying gameplay
  • + Fantastic visuals and awesome soundtrack
  • + Incredibly unique boss battles
  • - Only consists of one mode with five levels
  • - All pick-ups generally look the same
  • - No way to save your progress or scores (unless you're playing on Virtual Console)
7.8 out of 10
Gameplay video for S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team 3:17

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