Fighting games have notoriously hard learning curves. Unless you and a friend are willing to spend time learning complicated systems, mastering perfectly-timed button combinations and constantly practicing against one another for weeks, most fighting game matches devolve into button-mashing and hoping that cool moves happen randomly. But “Divekick” removes all the excessively time-consuming elements of fighting games to create a seemingly simple yet surprisingly complex game that captures the tension-filled play of high-level fighting games.
At first impression, the premise of “Divekick” seems like a joke. The game is controlled by only two buttons: dive and kick. The dive button makes your character jump while the kick button initiates a diagonal kick.
One kick is enough to knock out your opponent and end the round. This means quick fights that are tense, exciting and goofy as you and your opponent fly through the air, attempting to dive-kick each other.
The game features single-player stories, split-screen local multiplayer and online multiplayer modes, but the crazy, intense nature of the game is well-suited for local matchups.
But the layers of complexity built upon this two-button system make high-level play, usually reserved for those who have dedicated themselves to fighting games, immediately accessible.
Both the dive and kick actions are contextually different, depending on whether your character is in the air or not. Landing your dive-kick on your opponent’s head also stuns him or her momentarily into the next round, giving you the opportunity to make a quick offensive. You also gain points on a “Kick Factor” meter throughout the match, which you can use for special moves by hitting both buttons simultaneously.
The game features 13 characters, and each character has unique jumps, kicking angles and special moves. But at its core, the fight is based on psyching out your opponent and predicting his or her movements to land the perfect dive-kick.
Despite the game’s simplicity, the aesthetic surrounding “Divekick” is filled with references and inside jokes that only devotees of the fighting game community will know.
Originally a Kickstarter project that was canceled and picked up by Iron Galaxy Studios, “Divekick” is a tongue-in-cheek take on fighting games. Character designs and names are clear knock-offs of characters from games such as “Street Fighter,” “Mortal Kombat” and “Marvel vs. Capcom,” while others are based on prominent real-life figures in the fighting game community. The game will mock you for not winning a single round in a match or choking in a final round.
For a project that originally started out as an inside joke within the fighting game community, “Divekick” offers an intense, satisfying experience that is so much more than mashing two buttons. The game streamlines the experience of learning fighting games and allows you to start mastering the game right away. Every fight is exciting and engaging because every dive and kick can determine the match.
If you can look past the joke-y nature of the game and purposefully awful art design, “Divekick” distills the hardcore fighting game experience into an intense yet light-hearted fighting game that welcomes all players alike.