As seen in some of the other products I’ve mentioned, a sense of ego can be detrimental as well as essential when it comes to broadening your career and branching out into new horizons, but when you’re proposing to attempt something so utterly novel, Ego can be your best tool. When renowned Basketballer Shaquille O’Neal lent his likeness to a video game, it wasn’t a simple basketball sim, it was a high impact martial arts battle to the death, aptly named Shaq Fu.
Superstar Basketballer Shaquille O’Neal gets side-tracked on his way to a charity basketball event in Tokyo and finds himself in a Gremlin’s homaging antiquity shop, in their he meets Leotsu a martial artist, who sends our hero to an alternate dimension called The Second World, In there, Shaw has to spar with a rogue’s gallery of cyborgs, monsters, and physically imposing warriors to save a young boy, Nezu.
Shaq Fu is a game that is loaded with that 90s attitude & style, it’s like the designers (or Shaq himself) got to choose the coolest things to include and add them in, no questions asked. You have some industrial wastelands, mysterious temples, jungle landscapes, and fighters who are made of machines, slime in robes, and possessed mummies among others to play with. The music is inspired too, I reviewed this on the Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis to the Americans) and like most games on the system the YM2612 sound chip is put to good use supplementing the spectacular visuals on the screen, making the whole package a vibrant spectacle of ingenuity.
All that would be pointless without looking at the if the gameplay is any good. The technical fighting handles about as well as any fighter of that era with a whole host of punches, kicks, air attacks to reduce your opponent to a motionless corpse. If you want to skip the aforementioned story, Shaq Fu provides a classic two-player battle mode (that is what the story is consisted of,) that allows you to select two characters and to go straight into the combat. There’s also a tournament mode, in case you have eight or more buddies and you wanted to settle who’s the best in the art of butt-kicking It does help with the tedious mess of randomising and keep track of the fixtures.
For a tie-in game, Shaq Fu feels well-made and imaginative enough to warrant an exploration into its story, as a fighting game it’s a (slightly) family friendlier alternative to the spine removing bloodshed of Mortal Kombat, yet still is a little more flavourful than Street Fighter’s offerings at the time, a fun compromise between the two. Shaq Fu may not have survived the competition of its time, but it certainly fulfills Shaq’s quote of “Excellence is not a singular act; it’s a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.” and if that act is Kung Fu style attitude, this game fulfills it doubly so
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