Friday, June 15, 2018

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn Review (PS4)

The original Shaq Fu 16-bit fighting game has gone down in history as one of the worst games of all time, so why anyone would feel nostalgic enough for it to want a reboot in 2018 defies logic. The brand new Shaq Fu, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn, isn’t a total disaster like the first game but is only at best a thoroughly mediocre beat-em-up sprinkled with enough diet racism and homophobia disguised as humor to make even the most tone deaf person take notice. Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn should have stayed dead. See our full PS4 review for details.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Saber Interactive
  • Developer: Big Deez
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: Beat-Em-Up
  • Pros: Shaq career references
  • Cons: Awful humor; thoroughly mediocre gameplay
  • MSRP: $20 digital, $30 physical

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn doesn’t have anything to do with the original game and instead tells a new origin story for our hero Shaquille O’Neal where he grew up in China and learned kung-fu. The story is shallow, but the sense of humor the game leans on is entirely racist stereotypes (first in China but then moving on to other parts of the world) and homophobia and is totally inappropriate in 2018. Full stop. You shouldn’t play the game because of this. This type of humor should not be rewarded.

If you can somehow overlook the racism and awful humor, the gameplay in Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn doesn’t have much to offer. It is an extremely simple side scrolling beat-em-up where you punch and kick your way through waves of braindead enemies. Nothing in the gameplay is particularly bad – lots of special moves when you build up normal combos, some imaginative boss fights, solid enough controls – but it is mind-numingly, soul-crushingly boring. It just isn’t any fun to play.

One highlight, however, is that characters and promotional deals from Shaq’s past play a role in the game – you can transform into his Big Diesel and Shaqtus characters, for example, and Icy Hot muscle relief serves as health pick ups. I like this self-deprecating, self-referential humor because Shaq is, let’s be honest, a big doofy lovable idiot (I mean that in a nice way), so paying homage to his big doofy career outside of basketball was a good move. Too bad the rest of the game wasn’t as well thought out.

The presentation is okay-ish. The visuals are bright and colorful, but the environments are pretty bland and the characters are pretty low poly and not very detailed. The sound is interesting with a new original rap from Shaq himself, and Shaq did a ton of voice work for the game and he’s clearly super excited and into it, which is kind of infectious.

All in all, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn just isn’t a very good game. It isn’t awful, but with its thoroughly mediocre gameplay and lackluster presentation there just isn’t much to keep you interested unless you’re just a wild raving Shaq fan. The offensive humor also can’t be ignored and has no place in 2018. Skip it.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by Saber Interactive and Big Deez Productions.