With only two buttons, Divekick manages to be one of the most thrilling, captivating and entertaining fighting games around. Unfortunately, it has some technical issues and some of its modes are uninspired.
Without a doubt, “fighting” has always been one of the most intimidating genres in video games. Pulling off a convoluted combination of buttons, countering moves and performing parries have always been a trademark of the genre and since these mechanics tend to overwhelm newcomers, some players usually give up before they even understand what the genre is all about. Unlike most traditional fighting games, Divekick is approachable and welcoming to newcomers and while some of the game’s main components always remain simple, Divekick never loses its depth.
In terms of gameplay, Divekick couldn’t be simpler to grasp. There are only two buttons: one is used for jumping and the other one is used for kicking, hence the name of the game. Since characters have 1000 HP and each hit does 1.000.000 damage, getting hit means losing the round and this fast-paced element makes the game incredibly thrilling (not to mention ridiculously funny.) The “less is more” approach guarantees that those who have never played fighting games before can immediately pick up Divekick and have fun with it.
Although the game seems remarkably simplistic at first, additional mechanics add depth. First of all, each character has unique jumping and kicking abilities: S-Kill can teleport, Stream moves in a wave-like pattern, The Baz leaves a trail of electricity after kicking and so on and so forth. Since most characters have their unique abilities and capabilities, analyzing which character is better against certain opponent is definitely part of the strategy. Apart from those characteristics, pushing two buttons at the same time let’s you perform a special move.
Like in Street Fighter X Tekken, Divekick features a gem-selecting system. There are four types of gems: one increases jump speed, another one increases kick speed, a third gem increases the rate of Kick Factor and the last one increases all statistics significantly, but if you lose at least one round, you lose the match. As you can imagine, gem-selecting is an important part of the strategy and selecting gems according your character’s advantages or disadvantages can make the difference in most matches.
As you can see, while Divekick only requires two buttons to play, this shouldn’t be confused for a simplistic fighting game. There’s a deep strategy involved: calculating the angle in which characters kick, building up the Kick Factor meter, selecting a gem at the beginning of the match and performing special moves when the situation requires it is a prominent part of Divekick and if you don’t take all this into account, you’ll have a huge disadvantage.
That said, the roster of characters is absolutely ridiculous and an important part of what makes this game so funny. Jefailey’s head inflates after winning each round, making it easier to get hit. Victoria Shoals is a doctor who always takes down notes, even after she loses the round. Twin brothers Dive and Kick parody Yun and Yang from the Street Fighter series. Uncle Sensei is an old man who uses boots in his hands as well as his feet and he alternates between both after every kick. Overall, the roster is varied and funny and each of the thirteen characters is based on famous fighting game characters who are well-known for using dive kicks.
But for all its strengths, Divekick isn’t without some issues. First of all, the single-player mode is lacking. In the single-player campaign, you play against a series of opponents in a succession. At the beginning and the end of those matches, you see a cutscene that explains why the character you’re using decided to fight and what happens after he or she wins the tournament. Without a doubt, story mode was one of the game’s most promising modes, since the ridiculous sense of humor that permeates every single aspect of the game (loading screens, character design and even the credits) could have been put the great use here. Unfortunately, this mode is lackluster.
In addition, I had some technical issues during my playthrough. There were times during the single-player campaign when characters were obviously making contact, but the game refused to declare a winner. This situation aggravated during the online play and while this might have be related to lag or connection issues, I clearly remember times when one character was directly kicking another, but the game completely disregarded this and the match continued. Finally, one of the most noticeable omissions is the lack of modes: there’s a story mode, versus and online modes and that’s pretty much it.
In conclusion, Divekick is an approachable fighting game that those who have always felt intimidated by the genre’s convoluted mechanics can enjoy. If you’re willing to overlook the lack of content and if you want to play against others, Divekick might be the fighting game for you.