16 April 2010

Shaq Fu - SNES, Genesis

There are video games and then there are VIDEO GAMES. Some of them just transcend an entire generation of gamers. Street Fighter is one of those titles. For some reason people flock to it as if it were the Holy Grail of fighting games. On the other side of the coin though sits a little gem known as Shaq Fu. While all the cool kids were over hanging out at the arcade showing off their Street Fighter skills, I was kicking anyone’s ass who would throw down with me in Shaq Fu.
Yes, Shaq Fu is a classic. It maintains a special place in my heart because I never saw the lore of Street Fighter, but Shaq was a different story. I loved the way the man played his chosen profession of basketball (since his days at LSU) and the way he capitalized on this to pursue his other passions. I think he gets a bad rap for milking things, but really, he has such genuine enthusiasm for everything he does. I’ll watch his movies, listen to his music, he even introduced me to one of the greatest culinary advancements during my lifetime – The Double Decker Taco (seriously, has there been a better food invention in the past 20 years?!). So the least I could do was check out his video game. And it wasn’t bad.
I may take some heat for this, but my main takeaway from Street Fighter is the d-pad/joystick + button combos, and, you know what, Shaq Fu has them too! That was enough for me. I’m all for the underdog. I was in college when Shaq Fu came out so there was always non-stop gaming going on in our dorm. The Shaq Fu challenge
consumed months of ‘study’ time for us.
It was absolute fun and Shaq was a character everyone either loved or hated. Some of his in-game adversaries were a bit strange but at the end of the day they all packed a little something special so you could easily have a favorite. And the thing was the game was easy to pick up and play and with a little time you could find some
glitches to exploit and strategies to use.
So when I was thinking about what games really made an impression on me, about what I’ve personally played and its impact, Shaq Fu was one of the first to come to mind. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but it was an iconic game for me. Prior to that only a few fighting games really stood out (like Killer Instinct) but due to time and circumstances Shaq Fu happened when there were always lots of people around and when there was nothing we’d rather be doing (for the most part). And I know my fellow floor mates all felt the same way.
What does this really say about the game? Not too much I suppose. But it definitely proves that regardless of how technically good a game may be, it can still be an absolute blast – in those days it came down to how much fun can you make it. Shaq Fu was the ultimate in cashing in by wrapping a persona around an established gameplay mechanics but for me, it was something more. It occupied months in my SNES and great memories and, at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing in the world. Long live Shaq Fu!
By Rob Fleischer

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