Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn is one of those games that you know isn’t very good while you’re playing it, but you enjoy it anyway.
Like a cult B-movie, there’s just something about it that keeps you entertained. In the case of Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn, it’s the fact that it’s absolutely batshit crazy. And I love batshit crazy.
The latest in an inexplicable wave of side-scrolling beat ‘em ups to be released in the last month or so, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn plays just as you’d expect. You have a standard attack button that you can mash to perform a combo, a powerful special attack that requires a meter to be charged before use, and a dash attack to close the distance between you and an opponent quickly. You also can stick your massive foot into the action, Bayonetta style, which acts as a combo finisher, and contextual counter attacks can be used to give you the upper hand. Suffice to say, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn feels a bit more showy and varied compared to most side scrolling beat ‘em ups.
Your available methods of dealing with enemies doesn’t end there, either. Weapons can be picked up and used, barrels thrown across the screen, and boulders rolled down hills. Then, at certain points in the game, you can don a robotic suit or become a cactus to dispatch your foes with ease. Don’t ask me why, you just can, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
It’s just a shame then, that Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn has a number of issues. Screen tearing is one of them; I played the game on both an Xbox One S and Xbox One X and the screen teared on both. Not enough to really put me off playing, but enough for me to notice. I also found myself having to restart from a previous checkpoint twice after two separate bosses got stuck in the scenery. Both of these issues pale into insignificance, however, next to Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn’s major problem: enemy density and variety.
While side scrolling beat ‘em ups make a habit of recycling enemies but with different colour schemes or visual tweaks, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn feels particularly bad for it. Or maybe it’s just because there are so many enemies thrown at you that it feels more problematic. I think I defeated 500 or so enemies by the end of its first level. And when the credits rolled upon completion of the sixth level I had beaten down thousands. It’s just too much; certain sections of the game really feel drawn out and tedious as you kill hundreds of enemies approaching from both sides of the screen.
Despite it all though, it’s hard for me to not reflect fondly upon my time with Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn. It’s got a wicked sense of humour that pokes fun at everything and everyone. Some will no doubt find it offensive, but I found it so over-the-top that I couldn’t help but chuckle along with it. Fighting a great big floating giant arse, for example. Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn is crude, rude, stupid, and senseless, and it’s all the better for it.
I honestly can’t remember how good the original Shaq Fu was. I can’t imagine that it was as much fun as this utterly ridiculous sequel though. If you’re a fan of side-scrolling beat ‘em ups, have an open mind when it comes to humour, and don’t mind the odd bout of tedium, you’ll probably like Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn quite a lot; just like me. Technical issues do pull it down a little though; just be aware of them, and its ability to offend, before you buy into it.