“My Wrap Is Better Than Your Rap.”
“He wears Size 22 EEE shoes on his feet.
His opponents usually wear them on their face.”
Knick-knack Shaq-attack, give Important Business Dinosaur a bone.
It’s hard to hate on Shaquille O’Neal. Outside of his career as an NBA MVP, he’s also earned himself the reputation of being one of basketball’s most lovable goofballs: Constantly charismatic, and never taking himself too seriously. At the same time, you get the feeling that no matter what this dude sets his mind to, he just commits to it 200%, and I admire that a lot. He’s also a man who refuses to be labelled as just being a figure in sports, willing to try his hand at anything he seems to develop an interest in; whether it be acting, rapping, or even pursuing a doctorate degree. And of course, he was even the star of his own video game, now with a sequel set to release nearly 25 years after the fact. Sadly, this last bit isn’t really an accomplishment all that worthy of celebrating.
1994’s Shaq Fu likely needs no introduction, but it’s gonna get one here anyway: It’s known as one of the very worst games of all time, making a multitude of lists and countdowns on the subject. It is the product of a very particular era in licensed games history, where celebrity brands found themselves associated with all manner of unlikely, seemingly unrelated genres of game. So reviled is this game, it’s spawned a website dedicated entirely to the purpose of tracking down and destroying every last copy of it. Even O’Neal himself has gone on to spoof his involvement with the title in all manner of media, able to find the humor in his name being tied to such an infamous product of 90’s excess. As a result of all this, Shaq Fu might very well be the most well-known bad game of all time.
At a certain point, Shaq Fu seemed to transcend the very medium of video games, and became something more… how you say, incorporeal? Seriously; folk seem to think of it less as a physical cartridge to be plugged in and played, and as more of an idea — some intangible, purely imaginable thing, spoken of more along the lines of legend rather than as a real product that was ever offered for sale. The problem here is, more folk have only ever talked about Shaq Fu than have actually ever played it for themselves. So much of what is “known” about the game is rooted in reputation and oral tradition rather than actual hands-on experience, giving the game this sort of mystical aura about it. But Shaq Fu is obviously more than just myth: There really is an actual game cartridge buried beneath it all!
So, here’s the score: I’ve gone and played through Shaq Fu, and now I’m here to write about what exactly made it such a hated game to begin with. Not only that, but I’m also here to discuss who developed the game and how it even came to be. But you know what? That still isn’t quite enough for me, so I’m also going to go ahead and review the four conversions of the game to different consoles and handhelds of the era! And hell, as long as I’m here, I might as well talk about Shaquille O’Neal’s hip-hop career too, because why the hell not? And when I’m finished with all that, I’m going to tell you why the sequel we’re getting now is a stupid idea, and why it will ultimately underwhelm everyone foolish enough to pay it mind. In the spirit of the man himself, “I’m a be a Shaq knife and cut [this game] with precision.”