It’s All in the Mind
Fighting games have been in full-swing ever since Street Fighter IV threw them into the spotlight back in 2009. Ever since then, it seems like every “classic” fighting game franchise has had some sort of revival. Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs. Capcom, even Killer Instinct are getting a fair shake. This resurgence has also put the somewhat insular fighting game community in a similarly large spotlight, with every spat and tiff ready to be eaten up by game sites. Realizing this, Iron Galaxy have put their humorous twist on the entire fighting game landscape with the indie hit Divekick. It may look simple, but it’s as competitive as any Capcom or SNK fighter you’ve ever played, and for a fraction of the price.
Divekick’s schtick is that on the surface level, it’s a very simple game. How simple? Well, the game runs on two buttons. That’s all you get. They’re cleverly titled “dive” and kick”. You “dive” to jump, and you “kick” to…well, you get the picture. What makes this mechanic even more interesting is that it only takes one hit for you to be knocked out. This cuts out the high-level combo studying that you’ll see in games like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, making competitive play extremely easy to boil down to. That’s not to say Divekick doesn’t have its own set of knockoff abilities, items, and character traits – it does, but the main mechanic of simple controls and one hit knock outs means that those extras never feel overpowered. Divekick cuts out the middle-man and goes straight to the most fun part about competitive fighters, the mind-games.
Thirteen characters litter the field in Divekick. Some are original, and some are a little more…inspired. Characters like Dive and Kick are parodies of other fighting game duos like Ryu & Ken, or Yun & Yang. They play fairly similarly to the naked eye, and are the most well-rounded in the game. Other characters like Dr. Shoals and
Redacted (yes, that’s her name) are based off specific fighting game characters. Dr. Shoals is an obscenely clear MvC3 Dr. Doom reference – from the way she dives and kicks to the way she speaks, to the fact that she wears a metal mask over her face. Some characters still are just full-fledged parodies of the fighting game community, which is where the game starts to feel a little more insular.
Characters like Jefailey, Markman, and S-Kill are just caricatures of famous figures of the fighting game communities, and while they all have unique play-styles, these references can easily fly over peoples heads should they not follow the fighting game community very closely. Again, it’s a small gripe when you consider that they all have different kinds of dives and kicks, and are deserving their own place in Divekick, for sure. The jokes don’t stop their, though. The game will throw references at you from almost every angle – from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to Street Fighter to a fourth-wall breaking sensei stereotype. There’s even a story mode if you want to soak in the absurdity of some of these fighters’ backstories.
The cast doesn’t exactly have the most unique blood running through its veins, but what saves them from just being in-jokes are how they all play differently. Dr. Shoals, being a parody of Dr. Doom, has his two kicks from Marvel 3. S-Kill can teleport instead of jumping in the air. Uncle Sensei changes his stance every time he hits the ground. These are just a few of the characters in Divekick that have minor differences. It’s the uniqueness of the various fighting styles that keeps them feeling fresh.
For as simple as Divekick is, it doesn’t mean it’s literally just diving and kicking. The game picks and chooses various abilities from other fighting games. You have concepts like “kick factor”, a reference to Marvel vs. Capcom 3′s X Factor, which powers your character up for a few seconds. You also have things like gems and headshots that keep the game a little more fresh. One could argue that the game has traded the original cache of being a two button, one hit knock out fighter for some clever jokes and references, but it’s these things that let the game have larger legs to stand on. The novelty of Divekick would have worn out had it not been for the various copycat enhancements.
While the fun of Divekick lies in local play, the game excels better than almost all other fighting games at online play. This is to be expected from GGPO, who have surpassed expectations in the past with titles like Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online and Marvel vs. Capcom Origins. Even on my horrid connection, my games ran super-smooth and with little to no lag. There isn’t a lot added to Divekick besides your typical ranked, unranked, and lobby matches, but the fluidity of going from match to match makes up for the few shortcomings it has.
There’s not a lot of padding added to the various modes attached to the game, but for $10, you’re easily getting your money’s worth. It’s worth mentioning that if you get Divekick on PSN, you’ll get both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions. What’s more is that because of Sony’s Cross-Play feature, PS3 players can duke it out with Vita players, too. The experience on both platforms are virtually indistinguishable, and it makes Sony’s Cross-Buy and Cross-Play initiatives that much more reliable.
Divekick cuts out the dozens of hours of training needed to master a fighting game and cuts it down to two simple commands – dive and kick. While some of the jokes fall flat and may go over your head, don’t let that stop you from experiencing one of the most fun and simple fighting games I’ve played. I can definitely see a bright future ahead for Divekick.