An Ironic Slam Dunk? – ShaqFu: A Legend Reborn Review

Sep 20, 2018
Action

Really? There’s a -ShaqFu- sequel? And they ported the entire thing to mobile? Oh… this is not going to end well.

ShaqFu is a joke so mythical at this point that most of the people referencing it didn’t even play it on a SNES or SEGA MegaDrive. In which case… congratulations kids, this is a nightmare you almost escaped experiencing, but Kickstarter felt otherwise. Did I mention the game’s not very good? Because it’s not, but A Legend Reborn is also somehow not offensively bad. Like, culturally, there’s certainly some questionable jokes, but when it comes to the gameplay, ShaqFu is basically just a really lazily constructed brawler with very semi-decent graphics.

This feels less like a game and more a Shaquille O'Neal fever dream that somehow escaped the 90's.

Why bother talking about ShaqFu: A Legend Reborn if it’s so mediocre? Because there’s a morbid sense of entertainment from playing it. It’s terribly imbalanced in your favor, the enemies struggle to put up a challenge, and there’s even sections where you just pummel everything. I didn’t get to see the story intro because it just spontaneously skipped ahead. No audio would play for me no matter what I did. Blatant product placements are used as jokes on an almost Idiocracy level. This feels less like a game and more a Shaquille O’Neal fever dream that somehow escaped the 90’s.

You don't often get a trainwreck quite like this.

Nothing feels congruent. Level aesthetics don’t match the enemies. You go from fighting basic grunts to magical hydras in less time than it takes to blink. Multiple bossfights occur with no real setup, even for a retro brawler, and range between hampered by the game’s awkward physics engine to outright brokenly simple despite clearly somebody trying. Levels are broken up but also seem smashed together as some stages are separate or connected with no clear reason why. Cutscenes try to emulate Dragon Ball Z‘s action-packed antics, but instead come across hilariously stilted.

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It's an amazing, surreal experience that's like a time capsule of game design and quality assurance modern gamers will have never seen before.

You don’t often get a trainwreck quite like this. Nothing prevents the game really from moving forward, and it’s remarkably been released as a free (to start) title on mobile, so the barrier to entry is low as possible. If you told me this was some rushed out license tie-in game to a ShaqFu movie, I’d believe you, but instead this is the core product they spent roughly four years working to release. It’s got so much moxxy to even try and make the ShaqFu series work. Also, ShaqFu is technically a series now, and I don’t quite know how to process that information.

ShaqFu: A Legend Reborn is not a good game, and don’t delude yourself for a second that any other fate awaited it. It’s an amazing, surreal experience that’s like a time capsule of game design and quality assurance will have never seen before. If you’re nostalgic for that kind of game or want to know what it was like, maybe this is worth it for you; I mean… it -is- free to try – though the $5 USD asking price for full unlock is a bit harder to swallow. As such if you’re just looking for a good game, please check our other reviews – we have much better options for you.

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn
Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn
Developer:
Price: Free+
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Elijah Beahm

Elijah is a man who can't stop talking about games, geeky things, and to the chagrin of his colleagues, horrible puns. He's been working as a game journalist for several years now, and in addition to Appolicious, His other work can be found at GameCritics.com, I Need Diverse Games, and The Unabridged Gamer on YouTube. When not reviewing games, you'll probably find him ranting on Twitter, writing, or replaying Dead Space 2 for the zillionth time.

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