Longtime readers of this site should know that I love fighting games. From back in the days when putting a quarter on an arcade’s monitor meant “I got next,” to the online communities of today, I’ve tried to get my hands on as many fighting games as possible. Yes, even War Gods. And I’m certainly not the only one. Just ask anyone who’s a card-carrying member of the “Fighting Game Community” (FGC). This group of gamers has turned their love of fighting games into a full-fledged Olympics of sorts. While I consider myself a fan, the folks you see at EVO and the like are on a completely different level. Fighting games have become a mental chess match, where knowledge of even the most miniscule aspect of a character’s size, shape, and moveset can mean the difference between victory and defeat. And as the FGC gained more members and became more close knit, the inside jokes inevitably followed.
This is where Divekick comes in.
Platforms: PC, PS3 (Version Played), Vita
Publisher: Iron Galaxy Studios
Developer: One True Game Studios
Genre: First You Dive, Then You Kick
Release Date: August 20, 2013
ESRB Rating: Teen
Divekick is a parody of fighting games and the community that plays those games religiously. The best way to describe Divekick is to say it is the Hot Shots of fighting games. This both works in the game’s favor and against it. Whereas a good majority of the jokes are pretty funny, a few are so obscure that many players simply won’t get them. Essentially, this game was made specifically for the FGC. Normally, this would warrant a recomendation to skip it unless you’re heavily involved in the community. Fortunately, there’s a very enjoyable fighting game at the heart of this spoof for any gamer.
When selecting your character, you also assign a gem (Inside Joke Alert: this spoofs the gem system in Street Fighter X Tekken), which increases your dive speed, kick speed, meter, or all three at the expense of being behind in the fight four rounds to one – lose one round and it’s over. Aside from the mechanics, many are of the mindset that a fighting game is only as good as its characters – and in Divekick, they do not disappoint. Divekick’s characters are hilarious rips on several well-known characters in the fighting game genre. Redacted is a cigar-smoking skunk bear whose mannerisms mirror that of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3’s Wolverine. Kung Pao spoofs Mortal Kombat – specifically Kung Lao and Raiden. Some of the characters are even based on real-life people. Mr. N riffs on Marn, a competitor in the fighting game circuit. Jefailey is based on Alex Jebailey, the creator of Florida-based tournament CEO. The game’s final boss, S-Kill is Capcom’s former Community Manager Seth Killian, who is hell-bent on rebalancing the world – again a spoof of fighting games as a whole.
To get a good idea of the in-game jokes, I invited my buddy Chris over to play the game, as he is without a PS3. Chris heavily follows the fighting game scene. He always watches the Twitch.TV streams whenever there’s a tournament. He spends hours playing games solely in training mode to perfect his art. He was keen on playing Divekick, as he is with any fighting game. Within minutes he was cracking up, leaving me in a state of bewilderment. I had to ask him to pause the game in order to find out what was so funny. After a lengthy explanation, I still kind of didn’t get the joke. But hey – those references were made specifically for the hardcore fighting community, right?
Fights in Divekick work a little differently than your average fighter. The goal, of course, is to win the round by beating your opponent. However, instead of wearing down their life bars with combos and special moves, all you need to do is land one hit (Inside Joke Alert: This is a poke at the fact that players have mastered characters so well that landing one hit often results in an endless combo, guaranteeing victory). The first fighter to win five rounds wins the match.
Divekick is perhaps the easiest game in the world to control. There are only two buttons: Dive and Kick. Hence the name. The analog stick and D-Pad are useless here. The shoulder buttons on the PS3 are your default buttons, but they can be customized. You don’t move around the screen at all. The Dive button causes your character to jump straight up, and pressing the Kick button makes them kick in a downward angle (Inside Joke Alert: The game’s title is based on UMVC3’s Wolverine, whose diving kick is an extremely powerful attack). The developers even made a custom fight stick for this game, although whether it will be available outside fighting game tournaments is unknown at this time.
I know what you’re thinking: “Two buttons? How can there be any skill involved?” Well, there is skill, mister negative pants. Quite a bit, actually. In addition to the two standard inputs, each character has two special moves. You build meter by – you guessed it – diving and kicking, and once full, your character can unleash a super move by pressing the two buttons at the same time. Each character has a ground super and an air super. Letting your meter fill up all the way can activate “Kickfactor,” which is itself a spoof of UMVC3’s X-Factor. Your character’s speed temporarily increases and your kick angle increases a bit in your favor. With these additional moves, it becomes very important to study your opponent and wait for them to dive too late or kick too early. Once they make that mistake, you rush in for the kill. There’s a real metagame involved, so while you are just diving and kicking, you aren’t really just diving and kicking.
Divekick’s options are unfortunately pretty barebones, especially by today’s standards. Your game modes are only limited to story and local or online versus. The characters’ backstories and banter are well thought out and do well to flesh out each fighter. I would have loved to see some more options; such as the inclusion of a training mode or survival mode – just something other than the three options available. Online plays well provided you are able to find someone to fight against. You can choose to fight in either ranked or unranked online matches. Divekick does support lobbies, so if you are more interested in playing casually you may do so.
The best thing Divekick has going for it is its accessibility. Anyone – and I truly mean anyone – can get into this game with little to no effort. Case in point: my six-year-old son who also enjoys fighting games absolutely loves this game. Online, he’s 4-for-4 with his top character, The Baz. To put it in perspective, I’ve only won one ranked online match. Even my sister, whose video game experience doesn’t go any further than Candy Crush, was able to win a few matches in story mode. Divekick is the definition of “easy to play, difficult to master.”
It is a real breath of fresh air to see a game like Divekick. Too many games take themselves way too seriously, and to see a game take such a lighthearted approach is a real treat. Divekick was definitely tailored more towards the fighting game community than the causal fighter – which may work against it for some players. However, due to its simplistic control scheme, it offers an experience that just about anyone can get into. Put some real time and effort into it, and you’ll find an extremely deep fighter that’s quite the challenge. For an entry fee of $9.99 – which includes a Cross-Buy copy for the PlayStation Vita – you really can’t go wrong. Divekick will definitely put a boot – and a smile – on your face.
Review Disclosure: A retail copy of Divekick was purchased by Warp Zoned for the purposes of this review.