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Shaq-Fu

Genre: Fighting Developer: Delphine Software Publisher: Electronic Arts Players: 1 Released: 1994

Who knows? Who knows why a certain basketball player needed to be shoved down the entire world’s throat. He can be seen in toys, rap music and assorted other merchandise, including of course, video games. And I don’t just mean basketball games.

Imagine this meeting between Shaq and his agent in 1993:

Agent: Listen Shaq, Jordan’s game is gonna be hitting the streets soon, most are saying it’s the next Mario (he pronounces it Mare-E-O).

Shaq: Uh… Ok

Agent: We need to get your name out there! Now, I was thinking…

Shaq: Maybe I could do some charity work. You know, become a sort of gentle giant.

Agent: I’ve got exactly what you need.

Shaq: The Human Fund?

Agent: No, that was on Sienfeld.

Shaq: United Way?

Agent: Nope! A fighting game!

Shaq: …

Agent: I knew you’d react that way. Now just listen. These guys called Electronic Arts are putting together a fighting game…

Shaq: …as long as I don’t play a genie rapper or a steel mill worker superhero.

Agent: Yeah… about that…

That’s the basic point. A game that just doesn’t seem to fit gets mixed with Shaq, and is released to mostly ridicule. But that’s what makes it even sadder. This game, isn’t really THAT bad. Created by Delphine software (a.k.a. the Flashback guys), You can either play a story mode that pits you (Shaq, or if you know the cheat, any of the other competitors) against the other fighters, until you ultimately face Sett, the cheap mummy bastard. You can also simply play the fighting game in two-player vs. mode.

The fighters are somewhat original, if not entirely inspired, almost like emptying a character sketchbook and making a game with it. The actual characters are animated nicely, even if the sprites are a bit smaller than other games. The actual hitting motions don’t look horrible and don’t really take away from the game. Even Shaq – who just looks REALLY out of place – is done nicely.

The actual fighting isn’t Mortal Kombat advanced, but instead leans towards the simple part of the fighting game spectrum. You’ve mostly simple punches and kicks, with maybe two to three different moves between the twelve selectable fighters. It doesn’t really matter though, as most matches will be won by pushing your opponent in the corner and pressing kick about twenty times. Yeah, it can get boring…

The sounds fit the game well, and aren’t too annoying, and the music can actually be quite catchy at times. I found myself humming little tunes, and not being able to identify what they were. I have since found out what they were when I played this for the review, and was surprised they came from this game.

Hey! I just remembered, there’s an actual story here. Shaq is in Japan for a charity basketball game. He’s suddenly pulled into an old generic shop where some old guy tells him that his grandson is being held for ransom by a mummy and a hell beast. The old man tells Mr. O’Neal that only HE can prevent forest fires… I mean save the boy. Shaq decides he must do what’s right and go through the scary doorway. On his way he faces the other 11 fighters, most for no other reason than because he walked into their place and pissed them off. Eventually, you will battle Sett, the evil mummy with demonic powers. He is also the cheapest bastard in the game. Holding the fierce kick button as your only attack is now a thing of the past. Soon, after you learn Shaq’s special moves, Sett is defeated. The boy is saved and returned. Shaq goes and wins his game, and meets a young man who say’s he’ll be one of Shaq’s greatest teammates ever. Shaq tells the young man to grow up first, then maybe he would be one day. The boy’s name? Kobe Bryant.

Ok, I made that last part up, but the game still has the obvious happy ending; slightly disappointing after the relative short journey to get there. But this game was never made to do much more than make money and get Shaq’s name and face in the public.

In the end, it’s not a horrible game and has good animation, nice yet underdeveloped characters, a simple fight scheme (which could be good or bad), and catchy music. It can get boring quickly though, with the easiness of the matches, and the generic storyline. The only thing that seems to really make it a form of ridicule and hold it down is its star. I’m looking at you Mephis!

SCORE: 5 out of 10

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