Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn... Dual Review!

This game was exactly what I thought it would be... and that's a good thing. A big diesel sized shout out goes to Saber Interactive and Big Deez Productions for supplying the game for this review!

Related imageShaq Fu: A Legend Reborn... is a side-scrolling Shaqtified arcade beat-em-up. Now... Shaq even admitted that the original Shaq Fu wasn't the best game out there (even though I played it faithfully on GameGear), but I think he redeemed himself nicely with this game.

Even if the original wasn't the best game out there... I don't think it was the worst of the worst (for the record). I've played a ton of games... and... it was okay. Sega's Eternal Champions games felt similar... to me, and they were what they were. They weren't Street Fighter... but I wasn't the kid playing games because they felt similar (if they did they did). I just gamed... a lot.

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn is a lot better than Shaq Fu was... and I appreciate the first that motivated the second (I feel the same about Tomb Raider... and I found the first two on PS1 SUPER frustrating). You still get you the martial arts action in Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn (as one of expect), but it also gives you adventure and... comedy. Some of it may not be appropriate for kids, but its delivered in a way that they likely will not know what certain things are until the kids get a bit older. They danced on that thin line... which had me even thinking things like "Is that a... yep, it is".

You play as orphan Shaquille Fei Hung (probably inspired by martial artist/physician/folk hero...Wong Fei Hung), raised in a Chinese town by a woman who found him floating in a bag when he was just a baby. A town elder by the name of Ye-Ye takes you under his wing and takes you through the motions that help you become the master you are today. I think they missed an opportunity with the backstory that could've served as the actual training mode.

Ye-Ye turns out to actually be some sort of guardian training you "The Chosen One" for what was to come. As he explains it to you... (BAM) it begins. So aside from the training, you learn that you're in the water once you're waist deep in chaos... taking on demons and minions.

I'm glad they didn't just throw the player straight into gameplay with no purpose for the fighting... because they have a good story here. It flowed well with a style that's quite fitting for an arcade beat-em-up... and I found this story more appealing than some I've found in other games. You weren't just going from A to B... reading dialogue, they wanted to make it a fun experience in more ways than one. After completing the game, I give it two thumbs up because they rounded it out well and left an opening for a sequel. One thing that caught my attention was the comedic value... and it sort of reminds me of my humor. You go from where the story begins in the town of Hunglow (in China)... then off to South America... Los Angeles... and so on. Eventually, you end up in hell, but I won't kill the story for you (but it was a fun ride). There are a lot of characters in this game that hint at various celebrities, so I was interested in who I could identify and some of you will probably be able to identify some or all of them as well.

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As far as the gameplay is concerned, I thought it felt good... especially on PC. I was able to play on mobile, but I'm not the biggest fan of playing games on mobile unless they really feel at home with touchscreen controls. There isn't a difference in the adventure, but your focus isn't on gameplay as much as it could be on mobile because of the multiple buttons you have to utilize in order to fight. The fun factor increases by two when you don't have the touchscreen buttons to deal with... in addition to the phone's on-screen buttons popping up (I've had a problem with multiple mobile games because of this). Luckily you can play this title with compatible gamepads, Xbox controllers should be a part of  that compatibility list but... I digress.

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(This is what the initial concept looked like.)

The animations are well done and I like how smooth the fighting animations feel while kicking enemies into the middle of next week... or into the screen, and I didn't notice a difference in the frame rates on PC or mobile. Visually the game looks great too, the initial announcement of the game showed a more realistic yet stylized version... which I was interested in, but the final results turned out to be good too (they took more a toonish route). If you've played the game already... some of you may agree that it almost feels like Shaq meets the Boondocks (at least when it comes to the cutscenes). The characters can be challenging usually, once they start to really outnumber you and those special enemies are added to the mix. Though enemies can be repetitive, they delivered enough variety to keep me going from start to finish without giving a crap.

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(This is what the final version of the game looks like.)

Tip: Focus on getting to the special enemies immediately so you aren't dealing with their attacks while taking out the basics.

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While challenging, sometimes you'd catch a break by way of the cakewalk powerups like the Big Diesel Boost and the Shaqtus Talisman. The Big Diesel Boost places you in a steampunk-like suit of armor with exhaust pipes and gives you the ability to rev up and punch at a rapid pace with serious power. 

The heat builds up, so you have to beware of overheating, but... if you use the heat build-up wisely, you can use a seismic Shaq smash to clear a ground (and even level a block... which includes cars and other smashable things in the environment). BOOM!

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The Shaqtus Talisman places you in a cactus costume that gives you the ability to shoot needles at a rapid pace. The special attack for this powerup is super needles able to shoot multiple enemies. From what I know, Shaq acquired this nickname while playing for the Suns... while Diesel was the name his debut album (thought it was cool that he added a few personals in there... considering the game is... about him).

So you get the luxury of having these at times, and while they may feel like a cake-walk... I think that Shaq was overall aiming at the fun factor in this game and these powerups feel like he was paying homage (in a sense). You won't have these abilities through the entire game... they're more so just here and there or else this would be a different type of review, but I think the number of times I was able to utilize them was just right. The challenge of this beat-em-up remains... right along with the comedy.

You have replay value when it comes to the achievements, but the replay value would've increased if they simply created an online leaderboard... instead of it just being offline. So they missed out on an opportunity there, but... I don't know how it would've worked out unless there were an endless mode or something.

Pricewise... $19.99 is on point for the PC/Console version, and I appreciate the fact that they didn't overprice it (this is spot on). The mobile version gives you the option of downloading and playing the first area... free, but you have to pay $4.99 to continue the adventure. There are no ads, and the only paygate is merely a one time purchase for the rest of the game. Its the exact same game as the PC/Console version... so if you have a compatible gamepad you're really getting the game at a steal. It's a fun-filled experience that doesn't break the bank and gives me the option of enjoying a good change of pace game without completely eliminating my game budget. Some gamers have a $50 to $60 limit per quarter, and that will either go to one game... or a few games. I think this indie game, along with another good mid-range game will seal the deal for quite a few people.

Overall, I think this game was created with fun in mind... showing love to old school beat-em-ups in an updated Shaqtastic way. One would hope they're all fun, but all cannot deliver "fun" in the exact same way or it may not fit the story. Shaquille O'Neil has always been one for a good time and was one of the first basketball players to really go this route (correct me if I'm wrong). This game sorta takes me back to the days of good pizza, candy, soda, and... gaming the night away with friends to a new beat-em-up. Speaking of friends, if I could add one thing to this game... it would be a two player option... even if its Shaq in an alternate outfit because that was also a plus about beat-em-ups.

PC Version

Fun factor: 5

Visually: 5

Replay value: 2

Price: 5

"4.25 / 5 Cool Points"

Mobile Version

Fun factor: 4

Visually: 5

Replay value: 2

Price: 5

"4 / 5 Cool Points"

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