Given the amount of exposure I've had to Divekick
, it seems inevitable that I would have bought it. What I wasn't sure of though, was whether or not I'd like it. Despite my salt and fighting game ineptitude, I came away with a sense of satisfaction, and will likely come back to it very soon.
started as a joke: what if you made a fighting game with two buttons? This joke has since grown, becoming a clever deconstruction of the fighting game genre, and it does hold up. Divekick proves that you don't need to memorise mind-numbing combos to have a good fighting game. It's all about precision, positioning, and of course, the mind games. This is a game that gives your mind more of a workout than you're fingers. Quick-thinking is the key to victory, and mashing buttons wildly is guaranteed to end in frustration.
What makes Divekick
's mechanics (or lack thereof) work is its simplicity and accessibility. Despite shedding the unintelligible depth of most fighting games, it still manages to be addicting. The rounds go by fast; the maximum time limit is twenty seconds, and every attack is a one-hit knockout. It's a fighting game boiled down to those clutch moments, making every fight feel epic. If time runs low, the winner is decided by whomever is closer to the line (draws only occur in the case of both players being of equal distance from the line or in the event of a double K.O.). This might sound kind of arbitrary, but it makes for an entertaining scramble, as players try to position themselves to the centre of the stage without getting kicked. It's in this desperation that you can strike, further enforcing the "positioning" and "mind games" angle.
All of this makes for a game that you'll always want to play one more round of. The short length of the matches makes it easy to get into, especially when you're salty. When hanging out with friends, this can lead to having a few hours of laughs. When playing online, it can lead to a bad KDR.
The background is entirely aesthetic, as it is in similar games (I say similar, but in truth there aren't any games like this one) such as Street Fighter
. However, the characters aren't merely for show. They all approach the diving and kicking gameplay a little differently. Dive and Kick are your Ken and Ryu characters, both of whom are simple, but slightly different in small ways. Them there's S-Kill, who teleports instead of jumping. Of course, there's always Kenny, who is a random character each round, making him impossible to properly counter. My favourite however, is the storm himself, Zubaz. Instead of traditional kicks, he moves through the air (players can control the trajectory by holding down the dive button) and leaves behind a trail of lightning that will K.O. the enemy instead, adding a completely new dimension when playing as him. You have to think one move ahead of your opponent, trapping them in your trail. Jefailey is a cross between Zangief and Dan, moving more slowly than the other characters, and dropkicking instead of truly divekicking. When he wins, his head gets bigger, making him easier to hit. The roster certainly feels diverse, which is saying a lot for a game with two buttons.
There's more to the game than that however, each character can build a super gauge which is activated by holding both buttons in the air simultaneously. Each character has two super: one in the air and one on the ground. Another interesting feature that switches things up is the concussion mechanic. If you score a headshot on the opposing player, they will be "concussed" and will move more slowly for a short period of time.
In addition, players can also use gems, of which there are four. The first three increase either diving, kicking, or super meter fill rate by 10%. In addition to those three, there's the YOLO gem, which increases all three by 30%, but puts the player in a state of self-imposed sudden death, meaning if you get kicked even once, you lose the match. That might sound foolish, but then again, that's what I told my friend before he cleared me Redacted.
Needless to say, we're not friends anymore.
If it seems like I'm ignoring single player, it's because Divekick
does as well. The only single player option available is the arcade mode, which takes the player through that character's story, which is mostly parody. However, versus isn't even available unless you have a second controller available, meaning you can't set up quick matches with the AI. There aren't any challenges or trials, either. Though it isn't a huge deal, I would have also liked to be able to pick my stage when playing some of the modes. My biggest complaint about Divekick
is simply its lack of features. It feels bare bones compared to other games, and I'm not just talking about the button layout. If you find online more frustrating than fun, and you don't have a lot of friends around who want to dive and/or kick with you, you'll likely get bored quick. That said, I've had a lot of fun online, even though I've lost every game I've played. The single player mode could use a bit of work, and a few extra features, but for those with a few close friends, versus mode is the perfect fighting game for playing with a few friends and a few beers. That's how good Divekick
is. It's still incredibly fun to play even when you're drunk.
Especially when you're drunk.
For fighting game fans, this comes highly recommended. Despite its simplicity, it feels like a game made for the fighting game community, who will get all the jokes. This game references everything from Street Fighter to Sp00ky, from Weaponlord to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. For a lot of people, these jokes will go straight over their heads, but the wacky characters and zaniness of the overall game will still make non-fighting game fans laugh. For those who can't get into them, due to the steep learning curve involved in so many of these types of games, Divekick
is a relatively simple game that removes the needless complexity without sacrificing what makes fighting games so great. It boils them down to their most essential components, creating a game that makes every match feel like a clutch moment.