Back in 2014, a few people had a completely crazy idea. They talked with Shaquille O’Neal and decided to do their own take on what is widely considered one of the worst games ever, Shaq-Fu. In fact, Shaq-Fu is so disliked that the fansite it has is the Shaq Fu Liberation Front, dedicated to destroying all remaining copies of the game (kinda like the opposite of digging up those E.T. Atari cartridges).
Still, that failed to make the people at Big Deez Productions stop, and they launched an indiegogo campaign to raise 450k to help develop their game back in 2014. Working with Saber Interactive and Shaq himself, over the next two years there was a slowing pace of updates, but they had by December 2016 done their motion capture, had Shaq in, and said they were almost done. Things were silent for several months until in April a trailer emerged announcing the game for Nintendo Switch and that it was coming soon. In June, Saber Interactive announced that as an apology for the state of NBA Playground on Nintendo Switch (namely lacking online play), everyone who purchased it before June 10th would get a free copy of Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn, which was then expected to release in the Fall. Fall came and went, and as of the end of 2017, there’d been no new word on Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn, making it over a year since the crowdfunding campaign had an update.
With the ball dropped on communication, many began wondering what the state of the project was and that led us to reach out to the creators involved: Saber Interactive, Big Deez, and of course Shaquille O’Neal. We learned that the game has been completed for a time but there were unexpected licensing difficulties that popped up and delayed the release. A spokesperson for Shaq told us that the developers were working on how to release the game and that it was complete.
Speaking with a representative for Saber Interactive, we were told that the game was dropping the once promised PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U releases to focus instead on just PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. They tossed us over the following statement on the situation:
Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn is a co-production of Saber Interactive and Big Deez Productions, and on behalf of both parties, we’d like to apologize to our backers for not communicating better when the game and its associated rewards will be delivered. We want to assure the community that the game is intended for release in the near future, and we thank everyone for their continued patience.
We are currently working on an official update for the Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn Indiegogo page, which should be ready in the coming weeks, that will explain a number of details the community has been waiting patiently for, including an official release date. We’ll also be informing our backers that the game will launch on the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC, but not the previously stated PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii U. While we know this change may not be ideal for everyone, we think it’s necessary given how dramatically more modern gaming hardware has been adopted by the gaming community as a whole since the original Indiegogo campaign.
We recently reiterated our commitment to provide a free copy of Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn on Nintendo Switch for those who purchased NBA Playgrounds on Switch before June 10, 2017. We’ll be able to share more details with the community on how that process will work as the game’s release approaches.
In follow up they confirmed that the issue was indeed due to unexpected licensing conflicts. The fact that it is licensing issues may partially explain the quiet from the developers, as they are attempting to negotiate and navigate some complicated legal issues.
With that we can say Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn is expected to release sometime in the near future for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.