Opinion – Leave Shaq Fu In The Past And Your Money In Your Wallet

by Mike Futter on Mar 07, 2014 at 02:46 AM

Over the past 24 hours, we’ve received tips, emails, and tweets about an Indiegogo campaign to fund a new Shaq Fu game. The original, which capitalized on basketball star Shaquille O'Neal's popularity in 1994, is widely held as one of the worst games ever released.

Whenever we cover a crowdfunding effort there is a halo effect, and no matter what we say about it, it draws more eyes to the endeavor. That’s why I want to be clear. You shouldn’t fund Shaq Fu: The Legend Returns.

Let’s look first at why people are drawn to crowdfunding endeavors. Double Fine struck gold because people wanted a classic point and click adventure. Inxile was successful thanks to the pedigree of the Wasteland name. Harebrained Schemes gave fans the first real Shadowrun title in years.

All of these projects were built on a history of success and fan adoration. Shaq Fu, though? It was terrible.

But, for a second, let’s forget that the original 1994 abomination ever existed and just cut to the bona fides of the team. Shaq Fu: The Legend Returns is being helmed by a new studio called Big Deez Productions.

The team allegedly has connections to Halo, Final Fantasy, Madden, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Perfect Dark. Of the individuals identified in the pitch video, we are only able to find the (tenuous) connection to Halo via Saber Interactive.

Big Deez CEO Matt Karch and producer Rick Raymo both come from Saber, which worked on Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. When a connection like that is claimed, I expect to see at least one resume including Bungie, 343, or even Ensemble.

Without having more information on the team members and their involvement with the identified franchises, it’s impossible to know if there is any substance to the claims. The connections could be legitimate, but we simply do not know right now.

We also need to look at what’s being proposed, especially since we’ve so far seen no gameplay (and I’m not convinced the two images are actually screenshots). The pitch offers lots of buzzwords, including adaptive AI, playable bosses, destructible environments, and my personal favorite, “Streets of Rage meets Street Fighter meets Devil May Cry.” There is a litany of marketing-driven bullet points that don’t say much.

Even with all of that big talk, the biggest red flag is the budget and funding. We don’t know the projected expenses for this game’s development (and you should have some idea before backing). Put simply though, you should never fund a crowdfunding campaign for a game that has taken the flexible funding route. 

Big Deez is asking for $450,000 (and Shaquille O’Neal is supposedly supporting the project with his own millions, though no specific amount is mentioned), but no matter where the effort ends, your money is gone. Big Deez calls this a “green light” campaign to make sure the fans want the game, but the decision to go with flexible funding negates that claim.

I recognize that there is an allure in the “so bad it’s good” genre (we did, after all, livestream all of Ride to Hell Retribution). But if Shaq is serious about this latest narcissistic endeavor, you’ll be able to pick it up in a Steam sale for pennies on the dollar later. 

There are no guarantees in crowdfunding, but this request is thinner than most. Let the big man take the big risk. You can see the full pitch here.