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Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn review - Shaq Fu wasn't a legend in the first place


For: iPad

And it definitely isn't now

Product: Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn | Publisher: Wired Productions | Format: iPad | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
We all know someone who thinks their jokes are hilarious, who thinks that every story they tell is going to have the entire room rapt with whimsy, laughs, shock, and awe. We all know someone like that, and we all know how wrong they are.

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn is the mobile gaming version of that person. It's always cackling at its awful puns, always trying to convince you that what you're seeing is stunning and, on more than one occasion, it looks to you for approval when it says something downright offensive.

But when it comes down to the actual play, the game is a lumbering, clunky, downright disappointing side-scrolling brawler that would have been slated ten years ago for being out of date, both mechanically and politically.

Shaq-ing up

The game sees you controlling former basketball star Shaquille O'Neal. Or it sort of does. This is an alternate reality version of Shaq who's raised in a small village in China and taught the secrets of an ancient style of kung-fu in order to protect the world.

After some preamble you're stomping through the village fighting off an attack. There are a bunch of buttons in the bottom right of the screen that control your blows, jumps, and special moves, and a joystick that lets you move around the level.

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn iOS review screenshot - Fighting in the streets

Shaq wanders around like he's just woken up from a six month sleep, lumbering from assailant to assailant, sometimes getting stuck on the scenery, sometimes not doing anything particularly useful.

You'll poke at the buttons, Shaq will flail around, and the bad guys will die. Then some tougher ones will pop up, you'll do the same, and they'll die as well. Imagine Golden Axe but lacking in charm, class, or style.

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn iOS review screenshot - A boss battle

Then the game breaks the fourth wall, and oh it's so clever, poking fun at the way the project was crowd-funded or referencing real-life Shaq's rap career. But it just comes off as mocking you for playing in the first place.

There can be warmth in brutality, you can care about the characters and want them to succeed. In Shaq Fu it's sometimes nice to just stop playing and watch O'Neal get his face pounded in.

Oh Shaq


In the first level alone, which you can download for free, the game is racist, homophobic, and downright cringey. Even if those were forgivable things, the gameplay is sloppy, lightweight, and far from entertaining.

The original Shaq Fu was garbage, and it deserved to remain dead and buried. You could say the same about this sequel, and hopefully the collective cultural memory of 2018 will make sure that in 2032 we're not subjected to another entry in this dire series.
 
Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn review - Shaq Fu wasn't a legend in the first place
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 3 August 2018
Shaq was the player that got me into basketball, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn might be the title that gets me out of gaming
 
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