I think I may have heard of the name of the NES title "S.C.A.T." (full name S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team) as an example of a terrible video game name before it was released on Nintendo Switch Online, but I had never paid any attention to it. I can't recall ever seeing it on best of the system lists or anything like that (although apparently it's gotten uniformly favorable reviews in its previous Virtual Console releases on Wii, Wii U, and 3DS), so I basically went into it blind. It turns out the game is actually a really enjoyable shooter, with a very Contra-like feel to it. You're a soldier floating through the space and able to move in all directions, so it should feel more like something like Gradius, but the weapons, enemies, aesthetics, and co-op gameplay make it feel more like Contra to me.

The main unique feature of the game is quite inspired and still feels fresh. Each player has two drones that can either be set to continuously rotate around you, or you can press a button and have them stay fixed in place. This mechanic is really fun, and because of the level design you have to make the most of your drones, which adds a nice amount of strategy to what would otherwise be a pretty standard shoot 'em up game. Playing it in co-op, it was interesting to see that while I definitely preferred changing my drones' orientation based on the situation, my buddy preferred just letting them constantly rotate. Also, I definitely preferred the spread gun, while my buddy preferred the gun with bullets that explode on impact. (Both of us avoided the laser gun at all costs).

The game plays perfectly well on Switch Online, and the cheat codes for extra lives and a stage select, along with the Switch Online features to set checkpoints and rewind, make it a relaxing and enjoyable experience for an afternoon, although trying to get through the game as a regular playthrough would require far more memorization and concentration. Apparently in the last ten years the value of the original NES cartridge has skyrocketed and it's now worth more than 100 USD, so it's great that Switch Online is digging up these rare lost gems of the original NES and SNES systems. I'm looking forward to continuing to work my way through the various games they have to offer.


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