Shaq-Fu was released at the end of 1994 for the Mega Drive/Genesis and SNES. It would later be ported to the Game Gear, Game Boy and Amiga in 1995.
As the title suggests, the game stars the former professional basketball player Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal as the character players take control of. Nowadays that might seem really odd but at the time Shaq was a huge deal.
Commonly accepted as one of the worst video games ever made, such is the infamy of Shaq-Fu that many have a negative impression without even playing it. Truth be told, a lot of the complaints regarding it are exaggerated. It’s not a good game by any counts but the worst game ever? No, that is not a fair summation. Regardless though, it is a terrible fighting game.
Shaq-Fu is a 2D fighting game where the player takes on the role of Shaq as he enters a dojo while on his way to a charity basketball game in Japan. Inside Shaq is mistaken for someone else and sent to another dimension to rescue a child named Nezu from the evil mummy Sett Ra.
In the ‘second world’ Shaq must defeat opponents in traditional fighting styles on route to facing off against Sett Ra. It’s as straightforward as that, move Shaq to a location and get ready to fight. Unfortunately, this is where the problems start.
Fighting in Shaq-Fu, the most important aspect of the game, is pretty bad. Shaq is slow and clunky to move making getting closer to your opponent a real challenge. Many can and will use projectiles to attack you from distance forcing to you constantly jump to avoid and get closer. You’ll spend matches trying to leap closer and closer only to have your opponent move as soon as you get close.
It’s incredibly frustrating as considering Shaq’s size, he doesn’t have a lot of reach with his punches and kicks. Gameplay works like most fighting games, utilising the directional pad alongside buttons to pull off special moves and attacks. These are very limited though and are rarely worth the time and effort put in trying to find what combination works. You’ll find yourself sticking to basic moves that do the job.
Beat your opponent twice and you’ll have won but the difficulty spikes fairly quickly and with limited continues, you’ll be restarting Shaq-Fu many times.
As a fighting game it fails to get the basic fundamentals right. Decent visuals, in particular the character sprites, can’t hide that fact. It’s not unplayable. Far from the worst game ever made but it’s easy to see why, after playing it, many consider it so. Ultimately, it’s just not fun. Just go play Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat instead.
The Final Score - 4/10