Yes readers, that’s right, Shaquille O’Neal has his own side scrolling beat ‘em up in Shaq Fu. Shaq’s newly found skills come complete with an origin story, bad language, endless puns and an unhealthy amount of passive aggression for certain Celebrities.
As my readers know, this games reviewer is not one to speculate on story of spoilers. But what one will say is that Shaq Fu’s back story doesn’t require depth but is absolutely hilarious. This tongue in cheek narrative sets the mood for the entire game, with some nice dad jokes included. Here is one of my very own Dad Jokes:
“A tree nearly fell on me in the way in this morning, it was UNBELEAFABLE!”
Please Don’t Go, I’ll Stop!
Still reading? Amazing! The gameplay elements in Shaq Fu can be likened to the Mega Drive side scrolling fighters of old such as ‘Streets of Rage’ and ‘Final Fight’. Lots of in game items to chuck or hit enemies with and health and ability pickups to boot. The fighting system itself is quite a simple but effective one.
Players can hit one button to punch and kick, another to jump, another for a power move (delivered by Shaq’s magical size 22 trainers) and pressing L or R delivers a stun rush move. L stick is naturally used to move Shaq around the game world whilst the R stick has been utilised to roll dodge. Dodging becomes very effective against ranged attacks and escaping a congregation of demonic mutants.
We were all thinking it, sometimes publicly.
Big Deez Productions have taken great pride in making a mockery of some of the most annoying celebrities on Earth. One did play around with the idea of giving Shaq Fu full marks for being able to beat up, dance off then once again beat up ‘Baby Face’ in a boss battle and annihilate some ‘Belibers’. Too obvious? This writer feels we are all on the same page on this one. The boss battles are challenging but engaging, an often difficult balance to strike.
A cool feature throughout Shaq’s adventure is finding power ups though out levels, which are paced remarkably well following the hordes of demons that come soon after. This can range from Mech Suits to Cactus Costumes, it sounds a bit daft but the mechanic works brilliantly and still leave room for a challenging game.
What would be a nicely rendered and clear cell shaded graphics style is overshadowed by frame rate issues the moment Shaq is over-encumbered with too many enemies. What gets this reviewer is that sometimes the game handles the stress sometimes, and other times it might be a close up finisher that prompts a drop in frame rate. One wonders if this is a porting issue? Hopefully this will be fixed in a post launch patch as it’s a shame.
Frame Rates and Rhymes.
Bar the frame rate drops it’s a great looking game and has a nice, simplified aesthetic that could be likened to the character and environmental styles in Fortnite. A nice addition is the anime / motion comic style cut scenes which help players get a feel for the various characters’ motivations and personalities. Not forgetting of course, the brilliant crude humour oozing out of the film reel!
The soundtrack is mostly catchy rap/hip hop numbers bigging up the almighty Shaq, and that is absolutely fine. In the game’s first level, some musical references are made towards Carl Douglas’ epic ‘Kung Fu Fighting’. The sound effects are also on point and match there in-game counterparts well.
The most brilliant move Shaq Fu has made is playing around with breaking the fourth wall in the same vein as Deadpool. Quotes are often made about insane game director choices, ribbing the Kickstarter origins of the title and the questioning of Shaq’s nationality (Half Chinese and Half Irish in this title)
Graphics and Presentation: 2.5
Whilst Shaq Fu isn’t family safe by any means, it’s a blast of a title for gaming veterans from the old Mega Drive days with some adult humour mixed in. Whilst the gameplay will only take most players 3-4 hours, it’s a pleasure to see the side scrolling genre being treated with respect and profanity. Let’s hope those frame rate issues get fixed up!
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam
Release Date: 05/06/2018
Price: Click Here to Buy
PEGI Rating: 12+
Publisher: Saber Interactive
Developer: Big Deez Productions
Review code provided by Publisher