Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!
Today we're taking a look at Shaq Fu for the Sega Genesis. This game was originally released in 1994 and has a reputation for being one of the worst games of all time. But is it that bad? I certainly didn't think so when I gave it a B-. Do the critics agree with me or everybody else? Let's dig through the pages of Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and Next Generation to find out what critics thought of Shaq Fu!
(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)
Shaq Fu (Electronic Arts)
GAMEPRO (December 1994) 4.5 out of 5
GENESIS: "The Shaq Attack is back! The SNES version was good, but this Genesis game's even better. Shaq Fu can muscle its way close to Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, but the small Shaq sprites may keep some fighters at bay. However, spend some time to master Shaq's attacks, and you'll gladly play the Fu." -Slo Mo
DIE HARD GAME FAN (December 1994) 80% out of 100%
GENESIS: "The graphics in Shaq Fu are excellent, there's smooth character animation, very good color and creative artwork. Shaq is represented really well with an exaggerated look that adds greatly to the theme. Many of the moves are executed a la Street Fighter II. If it wasn't for this setback, I'm sure I would have enjoyed Shaq Fu a lot more. If you have the time to master Shaq Fu, I think you'll find it a worthy fighter. If is a quality title that is well thought out and put together." -Takahara
GAMEPRO (November 1994) 4 out of 5
SNES: "The Shaq Attack is after Street Fighter II, but EA made one of the biggest men in pro basketball one of the smallest sprites in a fighting game. It's done in the name of game speed, however, so Shaq is no fool. One of the best-known hoops stars makes his video game debut as ... a martial arts fighter! Shaq gets shrunk down to size, but his Shaq Fu stands tall." -Slo Mo
MEAN MACHINES SEGA #24 79% out of 100%
GENESIS: "Polished immediately springs to mind when you first turn on Shaq Fu because, as we've come to expect from Delphine, the presentation looks as if it's had a good going over with Mr. Sheen. Playability-wise, on its fastest speed Shaq Fu really gets your juices flowing with its frenetic action, but the game relies too much on special moves. It's a good and competent game in two-player mode but far from a classic." -Lucy
GAME PLAYERS (February 1995) 77% out of 100%
GENESIS: "With characters smaller than the usual and moves that can be a pain to pull off, this isn't really all that great. The designers insisted on superb animation, and they got it,but that's all they got. Unless you're a real Shaq fan, this just ain't happening."
ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #64 6 out of 10
SNES: "While I'm still confounded by the fact that Shaq is here (WHY?), I do like the animation and the graphics. Even the music was extremely well done. In fact, the only element that really lacks here is the control. This is too slow to beat. It's very hard to play a decent game, especially when the computer can take you down in a matter of seconds." -Ed
VIDEO GAMES (January 1995) 6 out of 10
GENESIS: "The idea of Shaq starring in a fighting game, though, is not such a good one. For starters, what qualifies this guy as a combat specialist? His shoe size? I'm sure there are martial-arts experts all over the world who would love to be considered for a starring role in a project like this, but there's big ol' Shaq, swinging his limbs and curling up like Sonic the Hedgehog when he jumps." -Chris Bieniek
ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #64 6 out of 10
SNES: "Ummm ... are they going to make a fighting game out of anyone? Where's Barney? Sure it's got some decent moves and a story mode, but it doesn't have the technique. The best thing about it is the animation, which were done rather well. However, the characters aren't anything special and the game play doesn't provide the tight control for a good challenge." -Sushi-X
NINTENDO POWER (November 1994) 2.9 out of 5
SNES: "Shaq is a force in martial arts just as he is on the basketball court, at least in this fantasy game. PLUS: A fun idea with some good graphics and animation. (Players should keep in mind that there is no basketball at all in this game.) MINUS: Not a very challenging fighting game when fighting the computer. Play control isn't sharp. Small characters."
NEXT GENERATION #1 2 out of 5
GENESIS: "EA places Shaquille O'Neal's unique persona in a smoothly-animated fighting game. The 24 Mbit Genesis cart boasts four more characters and backgrounds than the 16 Mbit Super NES, bringing the total of each to 12. Delphine -- the developers of Flashback -- wanted to produce the smoothest animated fighting game possible, and succeeded. Shaq Fu includes everything a good fighting game needs, with the exception of good fighting." -Editor
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 69% -
For all the hate Shaq Fu gets, you may be surprised by some of the high scores. GamePro loved Shaq Fu, giving scores higher than many fondly remembered one-on-one hits. Mean Machines Sega and Game Players also enjoyed the game, though had serious problems with Shaq Fu's handling and visuals. Good or bad, everybody agreed that Delphine really nailed the animation. Sadly, few thought the fluid animation helped the game's handling.
While there were a few critics who loved Shaq Fu, many more bashed the fighter. Next Generation said that "Shaq Fu includes everything a good fighting game needs, with the exception of good fighting." Ouch. Nintendo Power also chimed in, complaining about the size of the fighters. Opinions were decidedly mixed when it came to Shaq Fu.
For what it's worth, the Sega Genesis version scored better than the Super NES cart. On the Genesis, Shaq Fu earned a 71% average from the Review Crew critics. On the other hand, the Super NES version earned a 67% average. So the next time people tell you that Shaq Fu was one of the worst reviewed games of all time, just remind them that it received middling scores at worst.
UPDATE (MAY 9, 2014) -
Added a number of Shaq Fu reviews from publications we originally missed, including Video Games, Game Players, Nintendo Power Mean Machines Sega and GamePro. The score has also been adjusted to reflect the changes, and a brand new summary has been added to the page.