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Growing up in the ’90s, Shaquille O’Neal was everywhere. He was a Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award winner, a goofy genie hero in “Kazaam” and pretty much the only reason anyone cared about the Orlando Magic. Today, he’s better known as a comedian, rapper, unabashed commercial spokesperson and motivational speaker. Considering his various hats, is it really any surprise he was also the face of a 1994 video game that pitted him against a bevy of weird karate masters in an alternate dimension where he would fight to save the life of a young child from a kung fu mummy named Sett-Ra? Actually, yeah. That’s pretty weird.
Besides being one of the most bizarre premises for a video game ever, Shaq-Fu was — and still is — legendary for being one of the worst video games of all time. It’s a standard tournament fighter with a young, high-profile celebrity athlete who, at the time, was just in his second year with the Orlando Magic. With its senseless plot, mediocre gameplay and broken control system, what seemed like a silly Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis title worth a weekend rental for the laughs alone was utterly unplayable. Shaq-Fu is so awful, there’s even a website dedicated to eradicating every copy of the 16-bit game; but there’s also a competing campaign to preserve those copies.
Fast forward about 20 years, and Shaq, likely regretting the travesty as one of his worst marketing decisions of all time, is looking to fund a sequel through Indiegogo. Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn’s uninspired title already evokes horrid memories of history’s stupidest video games of all time. The tag on its crowdfunding page even shows the game and its designers are rather self aware of its blemished past: Shaq-Fu returns and this time we won’t FU it up! The campaign is still well short of its $450,000 goal despite offering perks for various donor levels including animating your own signature move ($150) and even playing a ball with Shaq at his personal gym ($15,000). I’m skeptical this game will ever get off the drawing board, but admittedly curious about how the sequel could turn out.