Shaq-Fu is a Fighting Game released in 1994. It was developed by Delphine Software Internationalnote and published by Electronic Arts. It was initially released for the SNES and Sega Genesis, and was ported the next year to the Game Boy, Game Gear and Amiga.
The plot is as follows: Long ago, in a parallel dimension known as the Second World, ruled a powerful sorcerer known as Sett Ra. Planning to conquer Earth, he created a loyal servant from his own shadow, Beast, who murdered the Pharaoh, allowing Sett Ra to take his place. The Pharaoh's son, however, was not deceived, and sought the help of a powerful group of wizards, who managed to banish Sett Ra back to the Second World, weakened and imprisoned. A thousand years later, Beast finally managed to free his master from imprisonment; to put an end to his banishment, Sett Ra must now perform a ritual upon the Pharaoh's descendant, a child by the name of Nezu.
On Earth, Shaquille O'Neal is doing some sightseeing in Tokyo, as he is to compete in a basketball game for a charity event later that night, when he decides to stop by a kung-fu dojo. Inside, he meets an old martial artist named Leotsu, who informs him that he is the Chosen One destined to defeat Sett Ra. Shaq thus enters a portal to the Second World, in the goal of defeating Sett's battalion of warriors and rescuing Nezu.
Delphine, the developers of Shaq-Fu, had never created a fighting game before, with their main successes having been found in the Cinematic Platform Game genre. Due to this, Shaq-Fu is notable for sharing a lot more in common with their usual output in its controls and style than traditional fighting games. This is evident in the noticeable input lag, long animations with a lot of frames, very realistic character proportions, and zoomed-out camera.
Shaq-Fu is frequently seen in "Worst Games of All Time" lists, mainly because of a ridiculous plot and a severe case of Hitbox Dissonance. The Angry Video Game Nerd does a review on it in Part 2 of his "Yet Another Christmas Carol" episode, and there's even a website dedicated to finding all copies of the game and destroying them And another dedicated to finding all copies of the game and saving them. Coincidentally, EA also published a similar game that starred one of O'Neal's conference rivals a month after Shaq Fu, and both wound up on Nintendo Power's "Ten Worst Games of All Time" list.
An interview with Shaq himself at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has had him confirm that a sequel known as Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn was in the works. A trailer dropped in June 2017, and the game was released on June 5th, 2018. In this continuity, Shaq is not a basketball player, but a Chinese orphan, trained in the ways of martial arts by an old master named Ye-Ye. After years of training, Shaq's destiny is revealed when the Chinese god of death, Yen-Lo-Wang, emerges from hell to destroy the world. Raised as a member of a secret society meant to drive the god back, Shaq must leap into action to defeat Yen-Lo-Wang and his hordes of demonic invaders. Purchasing a retail console copy of the game also unlocks a bonus campaign called Barack Fu: The Legend of Dirty Barry, which follows former President of the United States Barack Obama, now going by the codename "Dirty Barry", as he helps Ye-Ye stop demons posing as celebrities from taking over Earth before aliens from Uranus blow up the planet.
The original game contains examples of:
- The Artifact: "Shaq Fu" was actually a nickname given to Shaq by rap group Fu-Schnickens, to fit the theme naming of the other members as an honorary Fushnick (Chip Fu, Moc Fu, and Poc Fu) for their single "What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock?)". Unfortunately, O'Neal also used it as the title for the game and its sequel, and it's since become shorthand for bad games.
- Adaptation Expansion: The Sega Genesis version has more levels and characters. This version was ported to the Amiga for Europe only, though this version lacks the music.
- All There in the Manual: Most of the backstory concerning Sett Ra's imprisonment and plans to conquer Earth is only detailed inside the instruction booklet.
- Alternate Dimension: The Second World.
- Brainwashed and Crazy:
- Kaori is forced to obey Sett Ra due to a mind-controlling enchanted ring.
- Sett Ra also hypnotized Nezu in order to force him to fight Shaq.
- Breath Weapon: One of Beast's special moves makes him spit fire.
- Brick Joke: When you defeat Beast, he says he'll travel through time to stop you. In the ending, he shows up at the charity basketball game Shaq is supposed to play in.
- Cat Girl: Kaori, who is the champion of an alien feline race.
- The Chosen One: Shaq is stated by the game's backstory to be the Chosen One, the only person able to defeat Sett Ra.
- The Dragon: Beast, to Sett Ra.
- Dual Wielding: Rajah fights using two swords.
- Fake Difficulty: The true enemy in this game are the controls. They make the game harder than it should be.
- Hitbox Dissonance: You basically need to hit the center of your opponents to do any damage.
- Hyperactive Sprite: Shaq will not stop jogging in place.
- I Know Madden Kombat: Shaq's profile states that he is skilled in Shaquido, a martial art form that he created himself.
- Mummy: Sett Ra, the final boss, certainly qualifies.
- Nintendo Hard: Most notable in the sense of its shoddy controls and hit detection.
- Plot Hole: When Shaq faces Sett Ra, he tells him to release Nezu, even though he himself freed him from Sett two fights ago.
- Shock and Awe: Memphis summons lightning as one of his special moves.
- Turns Red: Fury mode increases your attack power and turns your character red when you take major damage during the fight.
The sequel presents examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: When the opening narration admits the story is "convoluted and full of holes", it's pretty clear it's not going to take itself seriously.
- Aliens Steal Cable: The reason why the aliens from Uranus want to destroy Earth. Con-Ye's 24-broadcasting was too much for them.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Shaq was teased in his youth for his height.
- All There in the Manual: The Shaq-O-Pedia provides more insight into the enemies and items of the game.
- And the Adventure Continues:
- The main game ends with Shaq and Ye-Ye heading out to bash another demon.
- At the end of the Dirty Barry DLC, Barack heads out on another case.
- Better Than a Bare Bulb: A good chunk of the humor comes from Shaq acknowledging just how ridiculous his adventure is.
- Birthmark of Destiny: A distinguishing feature of Shaq is a flower-style mark on the base of his neck.
- Black Is Bigger in Bed: During the final scene of Dirty Barry, Michelle comments that Barack's Hawaiian half is clearly not in the lower part of his body.
- Blasphemous Boast: The demon celebrity in the ending claims that God worships him.
- Bottomless Magazines: Played with in the Dirty Barry DLC. Barack can normally fire his guns without being seen to reload, but going into Dirty Barry mode requires him to reload for a second after firing a certain amount.
- Calling Your Attacks: The special attacks of bosses are done like this, sometimes with a quick pop-up of their attack name on the screen.
- Camera Abuse: Defeated mooks will sometimes go flying into the screen and briefly crack it.
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Shaq and Barack have some notable differences.
- Shaq is super muscular. Barack is bean-pole thin.
- Shaq doesn't like to hit women and only kills when necessary. Barack mows down everyone.
- Shaq encourages living healthy, calling a soda vendor a "pusher". Barack regains health with nicotine.
- Dirty Old Man: Ye-Ye, going off Shaq's recollection of the old man's Internet usage.Shaq: I've seen your browser history. Some things are better left unsaid.
- Doomed Hometown: The first level is Shaq's home getting trashed by the demons. Yen-Lo-Wang finishes dooming it while Shaq is off traveling the world, setting it up as the final stage.
- Easy-Mode Mockery: The description for easy mode tells the player to have some self-respect.
- Eye Pop: Shaq pulls one off in the opening cutscene for the fourth level boss, in stark contrast to the more serious styled animation.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: The final level's decor.
- Fragile Speedster: The Shaqtus move allows Shaq to fire off projectiles like there's no tomorrow, but his ability to take a hit drops.
- Genre Shift: The original game is a 2D fighting game. The sequel is a 3D beat-em-up.
- Groin Attack: It seems that enemies can occasionally hit Shaq's groin. We can hear him say "My nuts!" whenever he is attacked.
- Ground Punch: The Shaq Wave has Shaq punch the ground to knock down enemies.
- The Gunslinger: Obama is depicted as such in Dirty Barry, having both a shotgun and a revolver for combat.
- Immediate Sequel: The Dirty Barry DLC takes place a few days after the main game.
- Let's You and Him Fight: One of Barack's bosses in Ye-Ye in a suit of Powered Armor. Justified in that Barack wouldn't know anything about celebrities being demons and was, in his point of view, just trying to stop a public murder.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Yen-Lo-Wang turns out to be Shaq's...adopted mother.
- Medium Awareness:
- Ye-Ye clearly has some, promising to tell Shaq he'll explain where the falling bombs in level 1 come from when they reach level 5 and that he only avoids combat because the Indiegogo campaign didn't reach enough funding to him to get combat animations.
- Shaq later gets in on it when he first uses the Shaqtus transformation and wonders aloud who designed this game.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Ye-Ye is shown in one trailer to bite the dust which happens at the end of the first stage. For added points, it's in Shaq's arms in the rain as Shaq gives a Big "NO!".
- My God, You Are Serious: The rumors that a sequel to the game was being made. Surprised everyone when it turned out, that yes, it was true.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The majority of the game's plot is Shaq travelling the world to fight celebrities that are actually Yen-Lo-Wang's servants trying to brainwash humanity; the fact that they include a pop singer called Baby Face and a skinny woman always seen with her purse-sized dog are just coincidences.
- Offing the Offspring: After learning her adopted son Shaq would be her downfall, Yen-Lo-Wang in her Destiny disguise attempted to drown him by pitching in the river.
- Product Placement: Two of them, both of which Shaq himself has appeared in commercials for as a spokesperson.
- IcyHot patches are a health pick-up.
- Gold Bond, a foot medication, is the same name as a plot device. Ye-Ye even goes off-track during his death scene to name drop the product for additional royalties.
- Putting on the Reich: Some soldiers with a clearly Nazi-styled outfit and German accents appear as grunts in the fifth level.
- Rage Against the Author: Shaq twice calls out the game's developer in the final level for some of their choices.
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: The basic attack of the Shaq Diesel mode.
- Rewarding Vandalism: Smash stuff for cash and power-ups!
- Serial Killer: This is what kicks off the Dirty Barry story. A bunch of famous people getting killed off in rapid succession is going to catch people's attention.
- Shout-Out: Ye-Ye references The Avengers (2012) and Ghostbusters when describing Yen-Lo-Wang.
- Take That!:
- In the final level in his Rage Against the Author, Shaq calls the waves of enemies "free-to-play shit" and asks if this is Flappy Shaq. The developer responds by forcing him into his Shaqtus form and throwing more enemies at him.
- Yen-Lo-Wang calls the idea of someone being saved by whales stupid and cites the making of ten The Fast and the Furious movies as proof mankind is dumb.
- Dirty Barry remarks that as a result of Shaq's mass celebrity demon slaying, he "hadn't seen that many unexplained deaths since the Clinton administration".
- Con-Ye insists his new station will broadcast to every possible device...including Windows phones.
- Toilet Humor: An early boss is a Meat Puppet that's fat because it wasn't designed with a waste exhaust, and another is literally a giant butt.
- Uranus Is Showing: The aliens are from Uranus. These jokes were inevitable.
- Unexplained Recovery: Ye-Ye turns up alive and well in the final cutscene with no explanation.
- Wax On, Wax Off: Shaq believes waxing Ye-Ye's rickshaw was to help with his training. Ye-Ye's reaction is "Sure, Let's Go with That".Shaq: So what was the mankini for?
Ye-Ye: Uh...it improves posture!
- We Don't Suck Anymore: The second trailer pulls no punches with the original's infamous reputation, and promises that it will be better.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Shaq claims at first that he doesn't hit women. But he ends up fighting three female bosses anyway.
- Wrestler in All of Us: One of Shaq's finishing moves is to suplex the enemy.