Will 'Shaq-Fu' Reignite Interest in Rap Video Games?

Shaq Fu's Indiegogo
Shaq is Back: In Video Game Form
The Shaq Attack is back, jack! In the definitive example of our economy making a full recovery, last week the Indiegogo for funding a sequel to the 1994 hip-hop fighting game Shaq-Fu not only reached its goal, but surpassed it to a dizzying degree, netting a staggering $473,884. While never considered a classic, or even playable game (its original publisher Electronic Arts has gone as far to refer to it as an "abomination") the gaming public has proven to possess enough nostalgia and/or spare cash to make a follow-up a reality.

When you think of Shaq, the first thing that comes to mind is basketball. The second thing is probably Kazaam. Right around 5th or 6th is probably his rap career and maybe hand-to-hand combat. This is where Shaq-Fu steps in, the 16-bit mid-'90s platformer that saw Shaq's take on the fighting game craze by utilizing his martial arts against mythical beings. It also came with a bonus CD of Shaq's music, so players could fully immerse themselves in Shaqdom.

But while the crowdsourced campaign's success shows that, somehow, there's still a market to see Shaq engage in fisticuffs with ghouls and sorcerers, does this mean there could be a renewed interest in hip-hop gaming?

When most people think successful original hip-hop franchises, the first names that come to mind are ToeJam and Earl. A Genesis exclusive (Sega did what Nintendidn't, or something) that saw the two titular alien rappers who crash landed on Earth attempt to find the missing pieces from their spaceship. It spawned three games in total, included the incredibly titled second installment Panic on Funkotron.

The other notable hip-hop game with a reputation of being actually good is Playstation's Parappa the Rapper. A lovable rhyme-spitting canine whose surreal and inspiring interactions rapping with various anthropomorphic characters in a variety of social situation was not only a smash hit for the system, but coincidentally succeeded at a time when the media was still obsessing over gangsta rap's darker elements a midst the heavily hyped east coast-west coast feud. The closest Parappa comes to tales of drive-bys is the final level where you have to rap battle everyone in-line in front of you at a Port-o-Potty in order to use it sooner.

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