There was a time (and still is, BTW) when a sports star is so good that he lands on the cover of a video game. The Madden series has made stars (and curses) out of those who were good enough to be on the cover… but, there was a time where sports wasn’t the only place a sports star could be in.
Meet Shaquille O’Neal. In the 90’s, he was a beast best remembered for delivering a slam dunk so hard that nearly bent the entire hoop structure in half (!!!). But, he wasn’t just a basketball megastar. He had a rap album, two (horrible) movies and a fighting game under his belt. Today, I’ll talk about the fighting game… Shaq Fu.
Being that this was 1994, the idea of putting Shaq in a video game, let alone a 2D fighting game, was probably the most lucrative idea out there. Too bad this game flopped hard. For one, it tried to hop on the ‘blood sport’ bandwagon. Well, this game had nothing to do with MK… in fact, it would be better to call this a weapon less Samurai Shodown and that might be a stretch.
Plot wise, Shaq is in Tokyo for a charity game when he goes to a curio shop and something or other there transports him to the Second World. Yes, it’s called the Second World. This world is being ran by an evil mummy overlord named Sett who has kidnapped a kid named Nezu, who has been brainwashed by this evil mummy overlord…. yes, it’s a fighter. Plots in fighting games are kinda like points in Whose Line is it Anyway?: They don’t matter.
What made this game different is that it was a four button game (like Mortal Kombat) but acted like a six button game thanks to it’s move boost button. This button could be used for skills like dashing or retreating (hold forward or back and Boost), perform a throw (forward and Boost at close range) and create a (mostly) projectile proof barrier (hold down and Boost). It also has the Fury meter. While you take damage, it goes up. Once full, it starts to empty and you can do more damage… think of it like the half assed cousin of Samurai Shodown’s POW meter.
The two big modes are Duel and Story. Duel is the game’s arcade mode… nothing needs to be said there. Story is just that… it’s not much of a story mode. But, you do get some cheesy dialogue.
Oddly enough, the PAL version of this game was better then the NTSC version. Maybe that’s why Reinhold wanted to see this game up here… hmmm. Anyway, that is the end of this trip. Next week, I take on a game so violent that it got canned before release only to find new life thanks to emulators.