Retro: VC Weekly #156

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

Natsume have been famous for creating many a quality title and although this featured example may have a questionable name, don't let it put off as that would be a shame. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!

Available for download this week we have...

  • S.C.A.T.

Points: 600
Publisher: Natsume
Developer: Natsume
Released: 1992
System: NES

Despite having a somewhat amusing acronym - which stands for Special Cybernetic Attack Team - this lesser-known title is actually something of a cult-classic among fans of the scrolling shooter genre. The story is set in 2029 and boils down to alien invaders led by Vile Malmort planting an 'Astrotube' which connects the ruins of New York with their space station; so now it's up to you as a member of the aforementioned team to combat the alien invasion.

You have a choice of two characters, either a male marine name Arnold or a female soldier named Sigourney � It's not hard to guess where they got the names from � and while there is no actual skill difference between the two it's always good to have a choice. The game bares a striking resemblance to the Capcom classic Forgotten Worlds as the screen scrolls automatically and you merely have control of your character as you fly through the air plus your weapon fire which allows you to not only shoot either left or right with your gun but two additional orbs above and below you will fire in other directions in sync with your shots; you can also opt to have them either orbit you or remain stationary which proves to be a very useful feature throughout.

Level design is most excellent and once you've got over the somewhat unconvincing way in which your character 'flies' around you'll start to take in the beautiful but deadly way that each area is created... and then realise just how hard it actually is to complete! This game is no pushover and really throws everything it has at you from the start as increasingly difficult enemy spawns try to catch you out; there is hope however which comes in the form of collectable letters which enhance your fire-power like 'L' which changes your gun into a laser and helpfully you can collect a letter 'R' which will replenish lost segments of health, these are usually found just before bosses which is just as well being that you're going to need them.

Bosses are genuinely original, challenging encounters which will test your skill, this is a refreshing change from many other similar titles where these fights are quite easy to blast through in comparison. For a NES title the graphics show a decent level of detail even if the character models feel like they could have been afforded a few more pixels, the audio is genuinely immersive and just goes to show how good an accompanying selection of music tracks can be when a decent amount of time is spent on the composition.

How much you'll get out of this title will largely depend on your willingness to persevere with its rather harsh level of difficulty which ranges from challenging to slightly unfair, it is however worth sticking with as the feeling of reward from completing each level is immense. If you have a rather short attention span for these type of games though then you may wish to purchase one of the many other 'easier' scrolling shooters that are available; purists of the genre however will revel in the unique challenge that it presents.

Verdict : A spectacularly crafted, awe-inspiring title.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins
[email protected]

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