Let’s play pretend. Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal announces that he’s got a game coming out. Despite a few forays outside the realm of sports (remember the magic of Kazaam and hard-hitting rhymes of “Biological Didn’t Bother”?), you assume this venture will have something to do rebounds, layups and fast breaks.
Well, that’s partially true of Shaqdown, but the complementing points of the plot are closer to The Walking Dead than SportsCenter. In the game, Shaq is the Justice Bringer, thwarting mutant zombies with slams, uppercuts and laser beams.
You’re clearly confused by this intro. But you’re also interested in what the heck is going on with this game and how exactly Shaq came to be fighting the supernatural. Read on after the jump to get the gist and to find out if Shaqdown is good for more than just a few laughs.
The Chilling Story
“In the not-so-distant future, humanity suffered a catastrophic zombie outbreak that wiped out millions of people.” This block of text from Shaqdown’s story mode sets the foundation of the game. Apparently these zombies were infected with a virus that served to make them more powerful and they set about enslaving the rest of the humans whose brains they hadn’t yet eaten.
The man, the myth, the legend that is the Justice Bringer — known to us as four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal, though in Shaqdown, sometimes called Dunkman — is the only one who’s had any success fighting back against the zombies. He’s humanity’s last hope to be rid of their mindless menace.
Power Forward, Downward, Upward
To ensure the survival of humankind, Shaq has come prepared and is equipped with some serious supernatural-slaying moves. In a perpetual state of movement, our hero races forward, often with zombies above, below and directly in front of him.
To vaporize one of the weaker bad guys, just continue running forward. Shaq will rush into them and take them out of the game quicker than a technical foul. Now what about the zombies who hover on levels above you or are creeping around the levels below?
All it takes to get Shaq on their level is swipe either upward or downward. If you move Shaq to the top level, he’ll jump up and continue running just as he did on the middle of the screen. If he happens to move up but a weaker zombie gets in the way, Dunkman will perform an uppercut move that will eliminate that particular walker.
The same rules apply when you control the Justice Bringer downward. The difference here is that instead of the uppercut, Shaq executes a slam move, which delivers the same result: a vanquished zombie.
Slam Dunk with These Super Powers
Not every enemy you encounter is a pushover. Some of the zombies have been infected with the virus and are mutating right before your eyes. The best bet for players is to have Shaq jump above or below them to avoid direct contact. Running directly into these baddies will result in the end of the game with no chance for overtime. (Though there are ways to beat them. Stay tuned!)
It doesn’t mean these guys are unstoppable, though. Occasionally while Shaq is making his way forward, you can use a few super powers to destroy weaker zombies or downgrade the strength of those who are more powerful.
Tap the screen and Shaq will toss a ball at zombies. It’s a gimme that will help move roadblocks of bigger and stronger enemies. From there, Shaq will be able to run into them or execute a slam or uppercut as he normally would and continue down the path of revolution.
Shaq also has the occasional ability to fire a beam of energy that vaporizes zombies in its path (the button to do so being at the bottom of the screen). This skill has to be built up by combatting enemies, so be sure to use it wisely, as it’s a great deal of help for seemingly inescapable zombie patches.
It’s also possible to slam or uppercut mutating zombies, but it seems like you have to connect with them at precisely the right time in a very specific spot. More often than not, attempting to attack them just resulted in death. But if there’s a way and a points can be earned from it, give it a shot. Mastering the moves could only escalate your points, your ability to conquer the many challenges presented and makes you rely less on special powers to stop them.
More in Store
Seems like every game has a store where power-ups can be earned and purchased, and Shaqdown is no exception. Here, such earnings are called Shaqra, and you are capable of buying everything from maxed out power levels to different outfits.
One in-app purchase you can make is the Lee Kemp Assist Attack. Kemp, noted as being one of the greatest amateur wrestlers that ever was, will assist Shaq by performing a move that does serious damage to zombies who wear armor. His abilities can only be used once per life per stage, so should you make the investment, just know his contributions are limited.
Outside of the store, there are things that can be unlocked, such as a survival mode, in which you can practice slaying outside of a regular the game.
Dead End or Lively?
Sure, the concept of the game may seem a bit silly. But that doesn’t prevent it from being fun. It’s challenging, the graphics are great and besides the fact that connecting with bigger mutating zombies often leads to you losing a life, the game play is fairly easy to pick up.
With the many bonuses, in-app purchases and the survival mode, the game offers more than just zombie slaying — though that in itself provides an addicting experience where you’ll try to beat your best score.
Quirky, yes, but entertaining nonetheless, and an interesting way to look at Shaq as a star off the court.