It was a close shave, but with just hours to go Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn managed to reach its crowdfunding target of $450,000. As we reported back in March, Shaquille O’Neal and Big Deez Productions had taken the follow-up to 1994’s Shaq-Fu to the masses with a little help from Indiegogo.
Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn ended its campaign on $473,884, and 1,340 funders, after the addition of a few extra-special incentives for Shaq fans. Anyone who has pledged more than $20 will have guaranteed entry into a Shaq-Fu tournament, with the final champion then taking on Shaq in Los Angeles for the chance to win $25,000. Backers also snapped up some of the more extravagant prizes, donating $3,000 to have a meal with Shaquille O’Neal, and $4,000 for lunch and a game of basketball at O’Neal’s home in Florida. One backer even paid a whopping $35,000 to have The Diesel himself DJ at a house party.
The Big Deez team are developing a very different game from the 1994 flop. Shaq-Fu was so poorly received that it’s routinely listed as one of the worst games of the era, with a website even dedicated to the destruction of any copies. Instead of the one-on-one fighting of the Super NES and Sega Genesis original, the sequel is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up with co-op, destructive environments, customizable move sets and adaptive AI. Big Deez have described it as “Streets of Rage meets Street Fighter meets Devil May Cry”, and have promised that “this time, we won’t FU it up!”
The backing of Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn raises questions about the nature of crowdfunding, however. Is this the kind of project that the likes of Indiegogo and Kickstarter were originally envisaged for, rather than unique ideas that fall outside of the comfort zone of studios and publishers? Or is there space for crowdfunding to be used like this as well, where the main role is to assess the level of public support for the celebrity-powered project? Big Deez Productions themselves have stated that the main reason for placing the game on Indiegogo was “to see how much interested there is in becoming Shaq’s partner and in seeing the game happen.”
There is also one question that is perhaps the most terrifying of them all. With the popularity of Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, and the support that Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn has received, will this eventually lead to some kind of HD remake of Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City?
One thing’s for sure: we’d love to be a fly on the wall for that house party DJ set.
Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn has no release date as of yet, but will be available on PC, Wii U, PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360.