Welcome back! This month we will be looking in to the ancient ways of Shaq-Fu. For those of you who missed this one, Shaq-Fu was a game developed by the now non-existent Delphine Software (possible karma here for making this game), and published by Electronic Arts. It was released on the Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, and Game Gear platforms on October 28, 1994, with a later exclusive port to the Amiga in Europe.
To start the story, we follow Shaquille O’Neal into a Kung Fu dojo while he is wandering around before the start of a charity basketball game in Tokyo, Japan. Inside, O’Neal is greeted by an old man, who immediately tells him he is the warrior from the stars and must go save little Nezu, if he really is the magic one. When Shaq questions this, the old man basically tells him to shut up and go save Nezu. Then the game-play starts with Shaq entering another dimension called second world.
Now, since we don’t judge games on their concepts (even terrible ones like this) here in the Digital Dojo, we will just move on to examine the game’s fighting. To begin with, and I hope this is not a shock to anyone: there is no such style as Shaq-Fu. So the question is, what style, if any, are they using for Shaq?
One would think Kung Fu might be involved in a game with the title Shaq-Fu. After all, like Karate, there are many styles that fall into the category of Kung Fu, which could have been drawn upon for this game. If one did think that however, then one would be wrong. Except for the very brief stance Shaq drops into just before the match begins, this style is scarcely present. For whatever reason, Kung Fu did not seem logical for the programmers. In fact I believe what they chose over logic was chaos.
Shaq’s regular guard stance has his front hand down and his back hand up around chest level. This could be pulled from several styles in Karate, or possibly some Kung Fu, but the fighting itself looks to be based off traditional Karate. Karate tends to be a stiffer martial art than Kung Fu, and in the game Shaq moves rather ridged. He also throws a majority of straight line attacks. Kung Fu, while throwing some straight line attacks, definitely focuses on circular striking to keep a more fluid motion for the fighter.
From a form stand point, the strikes have proper base mechanics, like most games we look at, however Shaq’s hands drop all over the place when he is kicking which is terrible upper body position. I should point out here there are some styles that really don’t see that as much off a problem, but in reality it is very simple… if your hands are down, it is much easier to get hit in the head, therefore your hands should stay up. The other thing I have to ding this game for is the ridiculous shuffle dance Shaq does after beating an opponent. As far as I know there is not martial art that teaches you to gloat over your opponent after you beat then. A bow at the end would have been more appropriate. Of course since it looks like the programmers just threw together a fighting game to capitalize on Shaquille O’Neal’s fame, I guess this dance just works to sum up the poor way this game represents martial arts.
Here ends the lesson.