Shaquille O’Neal is and has been many things: a basketball legend, a reserve police officer, a genie, and now… a zombie fighter. ShaqDown is responsible for that last addition by putting the man in the role of hero in a particularly gruesome future of mutant zombies.
ShaqDown’s premise is that zombies came and ruined lots of things, but then they mutated to become sentient killing machines bent on human enslavement, after which they ruined everything. If not for Shaq, all would be lost– so naturally, it’s your job to guide Shaq through his quest to save humanity in this side-scrolling runner.
Gameplay consists of three levels that Shaq can jump between while running to either fight or avoid three types of mutant zombies: the weak, the unstable (two hits to take down) and the nearly-invincible. Shaq does most of the legwork of the fighting, while you control his movement and special moves, which include “free throw” basketballs, Street Fighter-esque beams, and super runs.
Perhaps fitting for such a bleak future, the difficulty curve is steep, which is worsened by the fact that one wrong move knocks Shaq down for good– a little unforgiving for such a legend. What’s more, a couple of the moves are unresponsive, and crashes occasionally plagued our playthroughs. This is tempered slightly by the ability to retry boss battles in the story mode.
After the three stages of the surprisingly short story mode, survival mode is unlocked– which requires replay value to survive itself. This is provided by a flurry of achievements and new outfits for Shaq (bought with in-game Shaqra or real money) which function to increase difficulty and improve Shaq’s skills.
Gamers all around will get a grin out of Shaq’s free throwing and dunking zombies, and while the brevity of the story and the difficulty curve will likely deter many gamers, fans of endless runners might get a kick out of the challenge.