Unlike most leagues, the National Basketball Association (NBA) prides itself on marketing larger-than-life superstars that transcend the teams they play for, which is why promos bill games as LeBron James and the Heat versus Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, or Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks squaring off against Paul Pierce and the Celtics. That said, Shaquille O'Neal is arguably the biggest personality the sport has ever seen. His antics, nicknames (The Big Aristotle) made him one of the more marketable icons, which explains why Electronic Arts thought it would be a great idea to create Shaq Fu, a 1994 2D brawler designed to capitalize on the Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter craze that partially dominated the 90s. Unfortunately, Shaq Fu was atrocious in every respect, where not even the muscle bound center could salvage it.
Fast-forward 18-years, and Shaq's ready for a new starring role in ShaqDown, a new iOS and Android action game that puts Shaq Fu to shame, though as most classic gamers will attest, such an achievement isn't exactly difficult.
On that note, ShaqDown takes advantage of two unstoppable trends to great effect: zombies and endless-runners. As it turns out, the game takes place in the future, the zombie apocalypse, to be more exact. Unfortunately, the undead morphed into mutants with a firm grasp of the English language, and have used their newfound smarts and physical strength to run amok. As you probably guessed by now, Shaq is the only person capable of thwarting the creatures' schemes through brute force.
Each of the three stages feature Shaq running from left to right across the screen, and there are three platforms (high, medium and low). Your job is to swipe up and down to move the hero while at the same time plowing through as many zombie mutants as possible to kick start Shaq's combo meter that, once full, lets you unleash special attacks.
Of course it's more complex than that. Shaq must avoid super mutants at all costs, and stop others in mid transformation by hitting these enemies with super charged basketballs, otherwise known as free throws; humorous that the developers at One Spear Entertainment call them that, since free throws weren't Shaq's specialty.
The higher the combo, the more virtual currency you'll earn, otherwise known as Shaqra. What can you do with that? Purchase new outfits that boost Shaq's abilities. The game also comes with in-app purchases for a temporary sidekick, special Dunkman costume and other useful things. Thankfully, you'll score plenty of Shaqra from those aforementioned combos and earning achievements.
Meanwhile, the game features brief voice clips from Shaq, and the developers were able to hire celebrated artist Long Vo to handle character designs, which look phenomenal; you can see more of Vo's work in Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix for Xbox Live and PSN, as well as the Street Fighter IV collector's edition.
All of this combines to form one of the more humorous and enjoyable endless-running zombie games we've played. Granted, it's short on options. It won't take long to plow through each stage, and beyond that, there's an unlockable Survival Mode, but for $0.99, ShaqDown is a basketball-whipping, mutant-punching riot.
Download ShaqDown (iOS)
Download ShaqDown (Android)
What's Hot: Charging into mutants, unleashing special moves, one-liners from Shaq, character designs by Street Fighter artist Long Vo.
What's Not: Only three levels in Story Mode, probably should have been free-to-play.