Back in the early 90s, Shaquille O’Neal became one of the biggest sports (and entertainment) figures in history. In addition to breaking basketball records (and more than one backboard), the Orlando Magic center was a branding machine – with everything from hip-hop albums (his debut, Shaq Diesel, was even certified platinum) to film appearances (most notably in Blue Chips, Kazaam, and DC comic adaptation Steel) along with more standard sports-related endeavors (a shoe line, t-shirts, and product endorsements).
However, one of the most memorable (and maligned) samples of O’Neal’s multi-media domination was Shaq-Fu – a 1994 fighting game for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (followed by paired-down Game Boy and Game Gear ports). The 2D cartoon-graphic brawler was panned by critics, but despite underwhelming gameplay, remains a gaming culture touchstone. Now, according to a new interview with O’Neal, players may finally get the Shaq-Fu 2 they never wanted.
Gamer Fitnation spoke with the former basketball star at CES 2014 – concluding their on-camera time with a joke about Shaq-Fu 2 – only to discover that the game is actually in development.
Check out the interview segment below (NOTE: Shaq-Fu 2 talk starts at 1:40):
After discussing the evolution of technology (O’Neal was at CES after all), the sports icon promises Shaq-Fu 2 is “coming soon.” The rest of the video is mainly just O’Neal hamming it up for viewers, play-fighting, and teasing that the unannounced game will feature “crazy graphics.”
At first, it would be easy to dismiss O’Neal’s comments as nothing but trolling, given that he doesn’t offer any concrete details about the project and no official announcement has been made. The original title was near-universally panned, meaning that there isn’t exactly a rabid fan base demanding a sequel. In fact, the other end of the spectrum is much more active, considering the ongoing effort by a collection of gamers at ShaqFu.com actively seeks to erase the franchise from gaming history – by destroying every copy of Shaq Fu in existence.
Yet, O’Neal’s company Mine O’ Mine recently registered Shaqfighter trademarks; plus, in an industry where indie development and low-cost digital titles (especially ones that play on childhood nostalgia) can post a solid return on investment, it would be a mistake to assume that O’Neal is entirely kidding. The campy concept, coupled with a return appearance from Shaq (as well as other possible sports personalities) could easily be made profitable with budget pricing – as a next (or current) generation digital download or mobile title, especially if the gameplay is (at the very least) adequate this round.
For anyone who never had a chance to play the original Shaq-Fu, the game borrowed heavily from other popular fighters of the era – most notably the Street Fighter series. The story saw O’Neal pulled into an alternate dimension, full of monsters and evil wizards, in order to save a young boy from the mummified Sett-Ra.
Check out the trailer for Shaq-Fu followed by a gameplay video below:
The game featured seven playable characters – several of which are based on common cultural stereotypes: Shaq (decked out in an unlicensed variation of his Orlando Magic jersey), Kaori (a cat-woman), Beast (a fleshy-looking demon), Sett-Ra (the aforementioned mummy evildoer), Mephis (a witch-like creature), Voodoo (a voodoo priestess), and Rajah (an Indian sorcerer). It’s unclear whether or not any of the original roster, besides O’Neal, will return – though it’s hard to imagine, given the lackluster gameplay, that many players spent significant time experimenting with the extended roster.
We’ll keep you updated when (and if) official Shaq-Fu 2 information is revealed.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.