A remake of the 1994 Street Fighter clone Shaq Fu – a game which is still considered by many to be one of the worst of all time is being Kickstarted! (Well, it’s on Indiegogo to be precise).
For those of you whose childhoods fortunately did not include the original, it was released on the 16-bit SNES and Sega Megadrive consoles. It also had Gameboy and Gamegear ports, along with an Amiga version that was a direct port of the megadrive edition.
Players took control of the then 22-year-old Basketball sensation as he travelled around a mysterious-East style map, looking for a young boy who has been kidnapped by an evil mummy. Of course, standing in his way are a series of rather uninspired fantasy type humanoid creatures. Short, cursory text screens before each enemy battle set the flimsy premise for a fist fight, leading into familiar one-on-one beat-’em-up gameplay.
What really sets this game apart are its controls: unresponsive, rubbery and slippery, making the fights less about the visceral satisfaction of caving an opponent’s skull in with a well-timed roundhouse kick (as in Street Fighter 2) and more about jumping all over the screen attempting to make contact with your adversary. It seemed to be an even 50% of the time that you are chosen to land a hit, and the characters’ strikes themselves are horribly over-animated. This means that the fight is a confusing mess of leaps and complicated single animations which launch flaming kicks into thin air.
Winning is as much about luck as skill and I can remember, as an 8-year-old gamer, being maddened and confused in equal measure as a vanquished Shaq crumpled to the ground over and over again, beaten in a game he just didn’t get the rules of.
When it came time to put the cartridge back into its VHS case and return it to the video store, I was glad to get rid of it and angry that something that should have been fun, was just the opposite- how could they mess up a Street Fighter clone in a fantasy world, after all?
Stepping up to the plate and offering to right this terrible wrong from my childhood, is an Indie dev. going by the name of Big Deez production – including, it claims, members who have worked on Halo, Street Fighter, Max Payne and even the amazing Spec-Ops: The Line. They’ve also managed to enlist the Big Man, Shaquille O’Neill himself, promising in the trailer on the fundraiser that the team “Won’t fu it up this time”.
It looks like Shaq Fu is going to be a 3D side scroller, much in the same vein as Cult Classics MadWorld and Die Hard Arcade. The team are promising dynamic play, adaptive AI and also selling on the access that the rewards provide funders to the game – such as appearing as a character – as well as access to Shaq. Depending on how deep your pockets are, you can have him record a voicemail for you, or take you to lunch. The studio is also donating part of their income to charity.
But can they do enough to remove the 20-year-old sour taste of the original? Considering how awesome Street Fighter IV is – and how true to its roots – I have high hopes that the studio can crowdfund and produce something that isn’t just trading on a legendarily awful legacy, but gives us a fun beat ‘em up in its own right. Hopefully it edges us closer to an era where games are genuinely by the gamers, for the gamers.
So,If you’re inspired to help get it off the ground, head to indiegogo for the full rundown. They’re looking for $450,00 total for 7th Gen. (360, PC and PS3) but have set an 8th Gen. (PS4 and XB1) stretch goal of an eye-watering $1,620,000 (about £973,000). That’s a lot of Shaq Fu!