Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn (Xbox One) Review

By Albert Lichi 16.06.2018

Review for Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn on Xbox One

Between Shaq-Fu on the 16-bit consoles and the flop films of Kazaam and Steel, Shaquille O'Neal can't seem to catch much of a break outside of his gifted basketball prowess. In the 1990s, when Shaq decided to diversify his talent, he explored many avenues, with videogames being one way to expand his appeal. The original Shaq-Fu is best remembered as a woeful fighter, but when scrutinised today it does have some merit. Developed by Delphine Software, the first Shaq project still has some impressive sprite and animations expected from the team behind Flashback: Quest for Identity and Another World. Gamers back then just were not keen on such an absurd concept that was not refined enough to compete with the likes of Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat II. Celebrity tie-in and flashy visuals could only get a game so far and now, decades later, Shaq strikes back. Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn is The Big Shamrock's second chance to redeem himself. Is A Legend Reborn fit for The Real Deal, or should it be tossed in the heap with the countless cartridges of Shaq-Fu?

Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn makes its intentions very clear early on. This is not a game that will take itself very seriously and neither should anyone who is willing to play it. This is not like the 16-bit original at all due to a genre change from fighting game to a beat 'em up, nor is it made with any hint of sincerity. A Legend Reborn is very self-aware that it's the by-product of decades' worth of being the butt of jokes and the absurdity of its concept. With the original Shaq-Fu, there was never any suggestion that it was made under ironic pretences; that it was made by people who genuinely believed in what they were making and were passionate. A Legend Reborn is like the Sharknado of videogames. It knows it's junk and wears it proudly on its sleeve... even to the point of its own detriment.

After its first level, all the seams that make up A Legend Reborn become apparent. Expect all the assets to get recycled in one form or another. There are about three or four distinct character rigs and animations and they all get used for every enemy type. There are a few gimmicky mechanics that get re-used once in a while to artificially pad out the game, like when Shaq becomes the Shaq-tus or the mecha Shaq and he must arbitrarily kill a few hundred goons before continuing. This gets re-done many times to the point where it becomes something to dread. Other moments where the game lingers on for so long are sequences involving pushing boulders over. These parts go on for so long that even Shaq himself comments on how inane it is becoming, cueing the game's designer to chime in and force him to do even more of the tedious filler. It is like A Legend Reborn has been meticulously designed to be terrible and to frustrate.

Screenshot for Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn on Xbox One

Maybe some people may appreciate the post-modern, ironic game design. This is when A Legend Reborn's core beat 'em up mechanic must be scrutinised on its own merits. Does it work? Of course it doesn't. A Legend Reborn is a mess of inconsistent frame boxes, unresponsive controls, stiff and worthless jumping, and random finishers. This feels like it is still incomplete, since the frame-rate tanks and the screen constantly tears itself up into oblivion. Why aren't there any platforming sections in this? Shaq has a huge vertical leap and all the levels never utilise this ability. Even his aerial attacks have no point since the one enemy in the game that does have air-time is used so sparingly and appears very late on. The balance is also pitifully easy since stage weapons, like barrels, are infinite and basically kill most threats in one throw. There really is nothing redeeming about A Legend Reborn as a basic brawler, especially since a much older title like Streets of Rage 2 is widely available and is leagues ahead. Even WayForward's Double Dragon Neon had more care and attention put into it than this.

Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn really tries to be funny but is tragically desperate to make players laugh. The poorly animated Flash cut-scenes are approximately something that would be expected from an early 2000s Adult Swim cartoon, but less humorous. Much of the comedy relies on the trite "I clapped when I got the reference" type jokes, lots of poor celebrity knock-offs, and lazy puns.

Screenshot for Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

From being a technical disaster and unfunny self-aware piece of software, Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn is an embarrassment to Shaq-Fu's 16-bit legacy. The original may not have been much, but at least it was not made ironically. The original was made by a talented team that did the best it could with what it had. A Legend Reborn is made with current technology and it somehow looks uglier and plays worse than the game that was coded in the '90s with pixels. Shifting the genre to a beat 'em-up was a logical choice, but this execution was a terrible miscalculation. Compounded with the overall poor quality, this is an extremely short game that clocks in at about two and a half hours. Not much value in Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn at all. Better stick with the 16-bit original.

Developer

Big Deez Productions

Publisher

Saber Interactive

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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