Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Obligatory Shaq Fu Post

I don't need to tell you, random person that lived through the 90's, that Shaq Fu is a bad game. Still, it is a notoriously bad game. If it weren't for the existence of Kazaam, I could easily declare it the lowest point Shaq's career. It is even lower than “What's Up Doc? Can We Rock?,” or possibly anything from his four solo albums. But anyway, everyone knows Shaq Fu is terrible, so what angle can I come at this and still make it entertaining? For one, I purchased the Game Boy version of the game. For two, I beat it.


I wasn't aware that a game boy version existed, but when I saw it in the bargain bin I knew I had to get it. Speaking strictly in the terms of the quality of the port, it's not bad. It is very similar to the SNES version, though, obviously, it has been pared down. Surprisingly, the tiny sprites are still ridiculously overanimated, giving the game its trademark difficult-to-control feel. It is admirable that developers Unexpected Development put in the time to recreate the 16-bit game on the Game Boy, and it is a great emulation of shit.


It's sad that Delphine Studios, whom created the critically acclaimed Flashback and Out of this World, known as Another World in most regions, were also responsible for one of the most bizarre debacles in the history of video games. They didn't actually develop the Game Boy version, but did all the original console versions. To be fair to Eric Chahi, the guy behind Another World, he wasn't actually involved in Shaq Fu, though Flashback and Shaq Fu do share a design lead.
Bitch, you better go to the clinic.  I ain't payin' for no kittens.
Of all the games I've played for the Game Boy, this takes the longest time from power on to title screen. The first splash screen for Unexpected Development initially made me think the game had some sort of error and it was throwing up an exception or something, but that it was just their poorly considered logo. After that there are a couple of more logos and a couple of copyright screens, finally followed by a credit role, when it is finally possible to press buttons to skip to the title screen. It's almost as if the developers were actually wanted people to know they worked on it.

The game is not fun. It's even worse on Game Boy, where playing versus with friends takes considerably more work, not that there is an actual competitive fighting game hidden in there somewhere. Shaq Fu doesn't hold up as a single-player game either. I tried to be shocking by proclaiming that I beat the game, but in actuality the game pitifully simple. On the default settings I just held down and hit punch and it got me through the entire game having only lost one round.

The small bit of joy I got from this game was from seeing the weird pictures of Shaq. The title screen and story mode screens are delightfully awkward. His pre-fight and post-fight picture is also great because he always looks angry and accusatory, pointing his finger at people. The best, though, are his happy, sad, and angry portraits used during the fights. Nothing is more amazing than the story, which I will leave for you here. Special thanks go out to whoever originally transcribed this from the manual, they are truly and Enforcer of Justice, just as Shaq was long before he was made an honorary U.S. Deputy Marshall.
Long ago and far away, in a place called The Second World, there ruled the heartless sorcerer Sett Ra. His hunger for power still gnawed at him even though his dominance over the Second World was unchallenged; he longed to extend his grasp to the fair First World, Earth.
Sett Ra’s plan was simple. He would destroy the Pharaoh of Egypt and usurp his throne. He created a perfect assassin from his own shadow who would serve him without question. This shadow became Beast, the mightiest and most loyal of all Sett Ra’s minions. Beast destroyed the Pharaoh, and the disguised Sett Ra soon sat upon his throne.
However, the Pharaoh’s son Ahmet was not deceived. He brazenly confronted the powerful sorcerer, threatening to reveal him. Sett Ra called forth Beast from his shadowy other domain. Ahmet barely escaped the palace to the Great Desert, where his grandfather, Leotsu the Wise, dwelt as a monk and hermit. Leotsu and Ahmet united with a coven of powerful wizards from the lands beyond Egypt, and their combined power was able to sent Sett Ra back to the Second World, comatose and imprisoned within a rune-encrusted pyramid. He slumbered for a millennium, bound by the wrappings of a mummy.
Beast roamed the Second World, dedicated to finding an releasing his dread master. Successful at least, Beast and Sett Ra vow to wreak havoc on those who stopped them before. They have gathered a battalion of formidable fighters to further this end.
To regain his full strength and to end his exile from the First World, Sett Ra must perform an ancient ritual upon a descendant of Ahmet. Beast has now returned from Earth with the child Nezu, a child in whose veins the royal blood runs pure. All is ready for the final cataclysmic battle - only the Chosen One who possesses strength, spirituality, courage, agility, intelligence and unsurpassed skill in martial arts.
Where will the world find such a one?
Only Shaq Knows.
  I bet this was your face when you read that last line.

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