When Divekick was first shown in fighting game tournaments last year, the response was mostly that of amusement and laughter. The game parodies a lot of things about fighting games and the community, so it got a fairly good reception. When it was announced that it was actually going to be released, first as a Kickstarter and then as a product by Iron Galaxy, skeptics and detractors started to pile in. How could a joke game ever sell? It turns out though that there are quite a few reasons to get this game.
Divekick was the brainchild of Adam “Keits” Heart, a known figure in the fighting game community. Another fighting game with a similar background is Skullgirls, also recently released in full and designed by another fighting game community figure. Keits and his team, One True Game Studios, worked on the game and had succeeded in getting it through Steam Greenlight with the help of Iron Galaxy Studios, which is known for GGPO-enabled ports of classic Capcom games. For what’s supposedly a “joke game”, they’ve been pretty serious at working on it, and it does show here.
For those who are not aware of what this game is, it’s basically a fighting game based on the divekick maneuver, employed by characters like Yun and Rufus from Super Street Fighter IV, Benimaru from King of Fighters, Wolverine from Marvel vs Capcom, and so on. The controls are composed of only two buttons, which are dive (jumping up high) and kick. Whoever is hit in that round is instantly knocked out and loses. Different characters have different ways of jumping and kicking, so it’s all about being familiar with your character and getting the timing down right.
While most would still scoff at this game as a novelty title, two things become apparent when you do play this game. First off, it actually is quite tactical as it breaks down the fundamentals of fighting games down to its barebone essentials. Spacing, timing, and many other factors that govern the basics of fighting games are now your only tools for victory in this game. You have no special moves or button-spamming to fall back on, so you are forced to get a good hold of the fundamentals in order to stop sucking.
The second thing is that when you’re playing this game with friends, it’s actually quite fun. This is one of those games that you don’t really take that seriously, but will have a lot of laughs with. In that regard, most people would allude to the novelty of the game as the reason. But when you’re playing this once again for some strange reason when you have friends over, then you’ll see that it’s no longer the novelty but Divekick actually being a pretty good party game. It’s very easy to set up and learn, the premise is very simple, and the fun factor is surprisingly high.
Since one hit is all it takes to kill you, the game can get downright exhilarating, especially when no one has gone down yet for over 15 seconds or so. Matches can go pretty fast, and it’s a mix of both skill and luck that makes it a fun multiplayer experience. If a player doesn’t get a win in four straight rounds, a Fraud Detection Warning comes up, and you are declared a fraud if you can’t avoid it by winning the next round. If you win the first four rounds, but then lose the next four, you get a Choke Detection Warning. This is a parody of tournament situations in fighting game competitions, and Divekick does it perfectly.
There is no point in intellectualizing this game, but it’s still quite a treat. This is worthy enough to buy if you’re someone who has friends over from time to time. However, if you’re the type that’s a bit more reclusive, then this wouldn’t be that fun at all and you may keep giving this game a cold shoulder. However you view this game, you have to respect what it has become, which is perhaps one of the purest examples of a game’s simplicity being its greatest strength and its premise for fun gameplay. No need for fancy graphics, complicated control schemes, sophisticated strategies, and so on.
If you’re looking for a pick-up-and-play kind of game, then you may want to get this. If you want something different once you’re tired with Mario Party, then this is actually a great way to spend fun times with your friends. If you’re still not convinced though, then look out for a sale when the price drops to almost nothing. Only the lowest of misers would ever keep flinging mud at this title, even though we already know what it is really good for.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 8/10