Also available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/10/2018 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Game of the year 2018 right here, guys. I had been curious about the “free game” included with Shaq Fu that the cover advertised, but I didn’t think much of it after I finished the game. Let me tell you a story about how greatly I underestimated that little inconspicuous part of the cover. I usually lie in bed scrolling through Twitter or Facebook at night, and one night, I evidently fell asleep while scrolling through Twitter. I woke up around 3 or 4 in the morning, and thought “Man, what a crazy dream I had. I dreamt that they added Barack Obama DLC to Shaq Fu. Weird.” So I got up to make a sandwich like I always do when I wake up in the middle of the night, and that “dream” keeps nagging at me, so I decided to grab my Switch and just check. Just in case. Lo and behold, it wasn’t a drunken fever dream but a glorious reality! I’d apparently read a tweet about Barack Fu right as I fell asleep, so upon waking, I thought it had been a dream. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.
If you’ve played the base Shaq Fu game, then you know how Barack Fu plays. It’s not long – only about an hour or so – but you play as Barack Obama going to the “Paris Fashion Weak” to find American rapper and eternal pain in the ass of thinking people everywhere “Con-Ye” and force him to shut the hell up. Along the way, you’re forced to fight a veritable army of stereotypical Frenchmen wielding baguettes, absurdly dressed models, and even a sub-boss parody of Marine La Pen, Emmanuel Macron’s fascist opponent in the 2017 French presidential election. Throughout all of this, Obama drops the most amazing puns and one-liners I think I’ve ever heard in a video game.
In terms of gameplay, while it may play just like Shaq Fu, it’s a bit tougher with harder enemies, longer sections between checkpoints, and less forgiving health drops. That’s not to say that it’s brutally difficult – I only died once in my playthrough, and I suck at games – but it’s a good challenge that I found IMMENSELY satisfying. While it doesn’t have as many power-ups as Shaq Fu (being, like, 20% of the length), it does have one totally amazing power-up – “Dirty Barry Mode.” With this power-up, Obama dons a pair of aviators, pulls out two Uzis, and mows down hordes of enemies. It’s…simply beautiful.
Visually, it’s obviously identical to Shaq Fu, and while it doesn’t have Obama versions of the hella catchy songs the base game has about Shaq, the voice acting is fantastic. It’s obviously not the actual Barack Obama voicing the character, but the guy they got to do it sounds JUST like him. All of the speech quirks and mannerisms are there, too, from the frequent pauses to the “Uhhs.” It’s perfect. I don’t know who voiced Obama’s character, but whoever it is did a fantastic job.
The game’s strongest aspect, as was the case with the base Shaq Fu game, is the writing. It’s comedic genius. It’s not as excessively meta as Shaq Fu was which I personally find to be a good thing, but the puns and humor are no less brilliant. The story is ridiculous and outlandish in all the right ways, and the dialogue is fantastic. It pokes fun at President Obama’s less popular features as well as his endearing ones, and while it’s pretty obvious that the developers were Obama supporters, the game is silly and absurd enough that even those who vehemently opposed the 44th president should be able to get full enjoyment from the writing.
Barack Fu: The Adventures of Dirty Barry is pure brilliance as far as humor goes. It looks and plays just like Shaq Fu, but that’s not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. It’s currently only available to those who purchased a retail version of the game which, while kind of screwing over digital folks, is a big plus in my book because screw digital downloads. Physical games for life, yo. It’s only an hour or so long, but it’s an hour that could give any stand-up or sketch comedy routine a run for its money. I cannot recommend this highly enough, and this is ABSOLUTELY a reason to go buy a physical copy of Shaq Fu right now. I struggled really hard with whether to give this a four or a five, and I was tempted to break my no-half-points rule. In the end, the only thing keeping this game from getting full marks from me is that it’s just so short at only two levels. This is too brilliant to be this brief, and it really does deserve its own full-length game. Hopefully, that will come sometime in the future.