There are some things in this universe I will simply never understand. Mainly, I'm referring to math and this older gentleman who goes to the bar where I do karaoke every week and only ever sings Gangnam Style, but the idea that a sequel to the universally reviled Shaq Fu could exist in the year 2014 is up there too. As if that's not enough, it gets even more bewildering: Shaquille O’Neal, American household name and multi-millionaire basketball star, is hoping to garner $450,000 of gamerly cash on Indiegogo. Or rather, the company he's working with is. Right? I don't even (indie) know-know anymore. There is a trailer of Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn below, and it is certainly... something.
The game itself looks like a worse, beat-'em-up-based version of Street Fighter, and the pitch video is absolutely painful to watch. Well, aside from the Shaq pun section. They got me with BioShaq and O'Neal of Fortune. I'm sorry, everyone. I've let you all down.
Developer Big Deez boasts talent that - in some non-specific form or fashion - has worked on Halo, Street Fighter, Final Fantasy, Alan Wake, Spec Ops: The Line, Battlefield, Killzone, Max Payne, and Duke Nukem, and the game itself is apparently "Streets of Rage meets Street Fighter meets Devil May Cry." Or, in more words:
"It’s a modern day take on the classic beat ‘em up. Play as Shaquille O’Neal – learn hundreds of moves and battle techniques, take on thousands of enemies with dozens of cool melee weapons, battle bosses in dynamic arenas, master cool finishing moves and play with your buddies in COOP mode or against each other in player vs player combat."
"In Shaq Fu, dozens of unique and varied enemies await which require careful use of tactics. The game also features destructive environments, awesome power ups and a series of well-designed, beautiful levels with interesting progression."
The concept is enjoyably silly enough, though the comedy seems rather forced so far. But then, that's all up to taste.
To their credit, Shaq and co at least address the rationale behind rooting through fans' pockets despite having access to a war chest deeper than many triple-A development studios. Predictably, it's about exposure and collaboration, which is still pretty strange given that we are talking about Shaquille O’Neal, but I suppose it sort of makes sense if Big Deez is specifically trying to court an audience of hardcore gamers. Even then, though, why so much money? Why not ask for, like, $20,000 or something? The game would still garner attention (not to mention make far more than that), but without all the skepticism and scrutiny.
What's less debatable, however, is the utter grossness of some of Shaq Fu's backer rewards. There's the Penny-Arcade-style $500 option to pay for the privilege of having Shaq follow you on Instagram ($1,000 for Twitter!), and you can even pay $6,500 to work as a concept artist on the game. Yes, you pay them for your job - not the other way around. (Oh, but don't worry: if you're actually talented, Big Deez might have an opening for you after you've proven your chops/ability to unwisely spend large sums of money.)
So that's upsetting on quite a few levels. I'm all for more quality action games, and I'm a total sucker for all things Devil May Cry-esque, but there sure are a lot of red flags here. Proceed with caution, lest you be metaphorically dunked upon by the consequences of your own actions.