Back in 1994, a 2D fighting game release that would end up being considered a blemish on the gaming industry as one of the worst games of all time. Now, in 2018 a legend is reborn.
Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn completely changes the core gameplay from the original that was released 24 years ago. Instead of being a 2D fighter it has shifted to a beat-em up. The narrative isn’t important but is the foundation for most of the humour in the game besides the fourth wall breaking. Thankfully the game not taking itself seriously is a massive part of what makes it enjoyable; Shaq’s narration and reactions to what’s going on in game voicing as himself fills the downright ridiculous plot of him being a Chinese orphan that’s tasked with saving the world by defeating various celebrities (characters based on real life ones such as Justin Bieber, Donald Trump and Mel Gibson to name a couple) with laughs.
Each level has its own theme which is meant to be a play on something associated with the boss in that level with unique enemies introduced in each. Later on in the game portals appear which can bring back enemies from previous levels to fight you. Shaq is able to dispatch his enemies in a few ways; the first being simple combo attacks that automatically chain together from pressing attack. After chaining some kicks in, Shaq can unleash his size 22s to slam foes into the ground or send them flying into the screen.
He also has the ability to dash and carry lighter enemies with him, briefly stunning some and can also perform a special attack called Shaq Wave to deal heavy damage to all enemies around him. Both the dash and Shaq Wave have energy bars associated with them so you have to keep an eye on them. For mobility he also has a jump and dodge so he can avoid attacks. In some timed events Shaq can become ‘Big Diesel’ or a ‘Shaqtus’ which turns him into a wrecking ball of punches or cactus spines for any enemy in his path.
Being a beat ‘em up, Shaq Fu doesn’t have a lot of replay value unless you want to beat it on all 3 difficulties or you care about level scores. It is quite a short game as well coming in at around 3 hours long. Despite being a one playthrough game you can tell effort was actually put in. The voice acting is actually quite well done, the animated cutscenes are professional quality and the humour is definitely a selling point on its own.
I should note that there’s a fair bit of stereotyping so if you’re the kind of person that can’t handle that sort of thing you probably won’t like the game. Various other quips are made such as many references and jokes about Shaq’s sponsored products and even the game itself in some forth wall breaking scenarios Shaq even stops the game to talk to the creator.