After years in development, the hotly-anticipated sequel to Shaq Fu is finally out. Unfortunately, while the game may have some positive elements, it is more of a disappointment than anything.
Self-aware story. The game’s greatest strength is just how self-aware it is. It knows that it is a Shaq Fu game and it shows. From constantly breaking the fourth wall to telling the most stupid jokes, it was quite the comedic experience. The game even took jabs at its own development, with one character stating that he is unable to participate in the fight “because the campaign did not earn enough money to implement his attack animations”. This type of comedy may not be for everyone, but it definitely made the otherwise lackluster story a bit more enjoyable.
Awesome power-ups. The game includes two power-ups, Shaq Diesel and the Shaqtus. Both are references to previous works by Shaq and feel right at home in a game about him. The power-ups themselves are pretty basic in what they do (both limited to just two attacks), but they were a nice addition.
Limited jump. Shaq Fu is not tied to a 2D plane, allowing movement left, right, up, and down. As such, it was a bit surprising that the game’s jump does not allow Shaq to take advantage of this additional axis, only allowing him to move left or right while airborne. This made getting out of large groups of enemies a bit tricky and I fail to see why the jump was limited in such a way in the first place.
Repetitive gameplay. Normally, a beat ’em up game like this has some degree of repetition, but Shaq Fu takes it to the extreme. There are some levels where the screen stops scrolling and Shaq must take down 200 enemies before progressing. As if that was not bad enough, the enemy variety is pretty lacking, with most enemies just being reskins from previous levels. There is the occasional unique enemy or two, but nowhere near enough to lose this sense of repetition. On top of that, there are only two power-ups in the game. Even though those two are awesome, a few more would have worked wonders in making the game feel less repetitive.
Short game length. It took me just under two hours to clear the game at a normal pace. Coming from a game that was funded roughly $460,000 and was in development for years, this is a rather disappointing result. Of course, this is on top of the lazy attempt to stretch out the game through repetitive gameplay. I may not be one of the game’s backers, but I can definitely see why many of them are upset at how the game turned out.
For a game that was in development for years and was funded as much as it was, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn is pretty disappointing. It barely takes two hours to beat and that is on top of the repetitive gameplay stretching out that time. The self-aware story and power-ups are cool, but not enough to warrant recommending this game.
You can buy Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn on Steam here.
I was provided a free review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.