Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.
Developer: Delphine Software International (SNES and Genesis), Ocean (Amiga), Tiertex Design Studios (Game Gear), Unexpected Development (Game Boy)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: 20/28/1994
System Released On: Amiga, Genesis, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Game Gear
Genre: 2D Fighter
Who Nominated The Game: I did – your tyrannical lord and master of the site, Alexander Lucard.
Why Was It Nominated: Truthfully? I nominated Shaq-Fu simply because it was the elephant in the room. It’s one of those games that has become something of an Urban Legend in gaming in regards to how horrible it was. Hell, CheapAssGamer.com has “Shaq-Fu” come up instead of profanity on their forums. Shaq-Fu is constantly brought up by people as some sort of crime against game and as one of the worst games of all time by people, who to be honest, haven’t really played a lot of truly bad games. However that doesn’t meet Shaq-Fu is anything less than terrible. So the folklorist in me decided to just nominate this to see what would happen…and because I knew it would at least get some decent responses from my staff.
All in Favour:
Aaron Sirois – You know, I’ve played some terrible fighting games in my time. I’ve also played plenty of mediocre ones. Shaq-Fu is in the latter category. While I’d be wrong to say it was the worst fighting game of all time, it still deserves a spot in the Hall of Shame for one reason.
That reason is Shaquille O’Neil.
Taking an NBA star, putting him in a alternate dimension where he fights off bizarre martial arts masters by throwing flaming basketballs at them is a bad idea. No. It’s is one of the dumbest ideas in video gaming history. Who? Who in the world thought this would work on any level? It is just stupid!
As far as I’m concerned, Shaq-Fu could have played like a dream and still deserve a spot in this list. Just the name alone causes me to cringe.
Christopher Bowen -I wasn’t sure on this one at first. After all, we all joke about Shaq-Fu, because it’s a fighting game starring a basketball player, and it really, really sucked. It’s become such a punchline that that would pass the “did more than suck” clause I include in these votes. But enough time has passed that I actually had to ask myself “is it THAT bad?”
So I did what any intrepid journalist would do: I broke out my old copy that I bought in a game lot years ago on Ebay, and punched it into my Genesis to test it out. I figured if the game was THAT bad, I’d vote to shame it; if it didn’t suck that badly, I’d spare it.
This is where I should mention that the last time I tried a game to see if it was “that bad”, it ended poorly.
It took awhile to get my game working, so to make sure my 19 year old Genesis was about to bite the big one, I tried some other games. Sonic the Hedgehog, all three Phantasy Stars and NHL ’94 all worked (though PSIII and NHL ’94 erased their data, which sucks balls), so I tried Shaq-Fu again. After a minute of fucking with it – including blowing on it like an old NES game – it finally worked.
After having played it, I think it was my Genesis trying to actually reject the piece of shit I was putting into its slot. It probably thinks I was giving it herpes.
Shaq-Fu is maybe the worst fighting game of its generation. There might be one worse – I remember a particularly offensive Mortal Kombat wannabe that only got the gore right, but I can’t place the name right off the top (Alex’s Note: Time Killers – a future HoS nominee if ever there was one.) – and Rise of the Robots was bad, but this was atrocious. No one could move well, I couldn’t block for shit, two very important buttons – A and X (six-button) – were dedicated to what I could only term backflipping and taunting, respectively. I lost every match I played, always because of one or two bullshit moves. Even Aileen would beat me in this game, mainly because she just slaps the controller like a circus seal. It’s not bad in the, “Well, I didn’t care for Street Fighter EX” sense. It’s bad in the, “anyone who bought this for $50 broke the fucking thing” sense.
In the end, Shaq-Fu was bad enough for me to vote to shame it. I tested it, away from the rose-coloured glasses of my youth, and found it every bit as bad as we made it out to be in the 90s. It’s so bad, it makes Shaq Vs. and signing with the Celtics seem like good ideas.
Alexander Lucard – Okay, nominating Shaq-Fu for the HoF is like nominating Stalin for “Hall of Biggest Russian Jerks.” I get that. But it had to be done, so we could get talking about it out of the way and keep readers from suggesting it. So here it is.
Is Shaq-Fu an awful game? Yes. Yes it is. It’s buggy. The premise is awful. It is proof that any idea concocted by mixing PCP and hard liquor could be made into a video game in the 16-bit era and it completes the horrible trinity of Shaq products from that era (Steel, Shaq-Fu, and that awful rap album he made.) The game was basically the turning point from when EA when from purveyor of awesome games like The Bard’s Tale to the worst stateside publisher we have, happily churning out any third rate licensed title they could with only Bioware to eventually help restore their name a decade or two later.
Now the fact of the matter if that if Shaq-Fu didn’t exist, we’ll all probably talking about Michael Jordan: Chaos in the WIndy City which was released a month later and actually developed before Shaq-Fu. It too is an abomination against whatever deity you choose to worship, but the fact it was forgotten and overshadowed by the awfulness that was Shaq-Fu should tell you how truly terrible Shaq-Fu is.
And guess what kids…the SNES and Amiga versions of this game make the Genesis version look GOOD. That’s some Freddy Kruger shit right there.
AJ – During the 1990’s, fighting games became the hot game-style of the industry. Inspired by the likes of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, developers started to crank out fighting games left and right. While some were decent, most were not. Shaq-Fu failed with astounding awfulness. Most fighting games could at least be entertaining as long as players followed the standard formula: three friends, couch, gaming system, winner stays. Shaq-Fu had bad controls, a laughable concept, and very little replayability. This game remains a stern warning to developers that if you want to have an athlete cross over to a different genre, then you had better make an amazing game.
Guy Desmarais– This game is just not original. It came out as a vehicle for Shaq to jump into the gaming world, and it just happened that Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat were popular at the time. Other than sporting a number of laughable characters, Shaq-Fu is still an inoffensive game which is even fun for a while if you have some time to kill with a friend. I wouldn’t even call it bad at all, just very average. I believe that the same goes for Michael Jordan’s romp into the platforming world, Chaos in the Windy City. It wasn’t bad. I even rented it three or four times to finish it. It was just very average.
Mark B – Shaq-Fu was part of this stupid concept Electronic Arts was running with at the time to make regular video games based around famous sports stars (see also Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City), and as such, is retarded from the start. The idea of Shaq fighting various martial arts stereotypes was inane, as was making a Street Fighter style game based around it. It doesn’t help that the game mechanics are generally not that good, as the game is awkward to play a lot of the time, thanks to the odd special move system where one (UND EXACTLY VUN) button activates a special move, and the large jump distance of the characters, and the “four buttons to attack and two buttons to do something else” system, and so on.
But you CAN play it, if you want to, and in the grand scheme of things it’s more playable than something like, say, Slaughtersport or Kasumi Ninja. It was also pretty decent looking at the time it came out and is still fairly fluid today, all in all. I mean, Shaq-Fu is by no means a great game, but the legend of how terrible it is amounts mostly to smoke and mirrors and the fact that a bunch of people think the idea of Shaq in a fighting game is a laughable concept, which it is. If we were inducting terrible concepts, I’d be totally down for bringing this one on board, but as a game, it’s passable, and as such, not really worthy of such recognition.
Joel Rose – Besides being an absolutely ridiculous marketing ploy, and one of the biggest WTF games concepts of the past 20 years, as a game, Shaq Fu was pretty playable as far as it’s genre was concerned at the time. Nothing special, but certainly not the worst.
Aileen Coe – Ah, Shaq-Fu. This, along with Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City are seared into my memory. You see, they came out back in the days when I used to actually follow basketball. Considering those games featured two of the most prominent basketball players (one of whom was part of the team I rooted for), they stuck out even more. It’s wildly jarring throwing a modern real life athlete with a bunch of bizarre characters, including a ghoulish monster and a half feline girl, and pitting him against them.
That being said, the experience was merely mediocre. No, it’s not remotely a good fighter, and the premise is laughable, but it’s not truly awful enough to make the Hall of Shame.
Result: 4 In Favour, 4 Opposed, 50% Approval = SPARED
Conclusion: Well, even though Shaq-Fu didn’t make it into the Hall of Shame, I’m glad we did this little experiment. There was no denying that the game is a bad one, but one of the worst of all time? I think we proved that there are far worse games out there and that even though Shaq-Fu is terrible, a lot of its reputation is exaggeration and hearsay.
Next Week: We look at a licensed game that promoted child diabetes, caused more damage to the environment than any other video game before or since, and is often cited as the moment that ended the first golden age of video gaming. See you then.