Through some combination of celestial alignment, blood magic sacrifice, and viral marketing, internet forces have conspired to manifest a sequel to Shaq Fu, one of the most reviled games of the 90’s. On May 6, developer Big Deez Productions’s Indiegogo campaign squeaked past its $450,000 goal to make Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn. The people’s mandate has been heard.
The original, published in 1994 for SNES and Genesis, is a 2D fighting game where Shaquille O’Neal, on his way to a charity basketball game in Tokyo, is sucked into an alternate dimension where he must fight his way through a series of enemies to rescue a child named Nezu from the evil mummy Sett-Ra. Released in the shadow of Street Fighter 2, Final Fight, and Mortal Kombat 2, the game was generally panned at the time as a poorly-realized cash-in on a hot genre and O’Neal’s rising star power (two albums in to his rap career, “Kazaam” just on the horizon). Since then the game’s legend has only grown, Shaq’s misapplied star power keeping it high on various people’s lists of the worst games of all time. Shaqfu.com is even a website dedicated to buying up copies of the game and “liberating them from existence,” in order to “prevent other generations from feeling the corruption of this game and its evil.”
Cashing in on our nostalgia for misbegotten 90’s culture, the new game will be a brawler in the vein of Streets of Rage, where players will don Shaq’s enormous shoes to fight their way through thousands of enemies in single-player, co-op, and player-versus-player modes. Along the way they will unlock new moves and abilities to customize their own fighting style. Levels will feature dynamic, destructible environments, power-ups based on “every nickname Shaq has ever had,” and a huge variety of melee weapons. Bosses, once beaten, will be unlocked as playable characters in the game.
Many fans have asked why the developer is turning to crowdfunding in the first place, when O’Neal took home $292 million from the NBA and could easily afford to fund the vanity project himself. To that the developer has responded that Shaq will indeed be investing large sums of his own money in the project, and that the Indiegogo campaign is to provide a chance for “unprecedented partnership” and to gauge fan interest before shouldering the lion’s share of development costs themselves. This adds another interesting talking point to the recent debate on celebrity crowdfunding, inspired by the Kickstarter successes of Zach Braff and the Veronica Mars movie.
Regardless, having met its goal, the game will be available for Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4 Wii U, and PC. With that accomplished, the we can now turn our attention to finally getting that Moonwalker sequel made.