When the original Divekick was conceived, it was as a joke. How can you deconstruct a fighting game to its bare essentials? Iron Galaxy have had plenty of experience with other franchises, especially with utilising the GGPO client in old arcade fighters. My first experience of Divekick was watching the EVO 2013 tournament which was an addictive if baffling experience. Fighters on screen were parodies of fighting game tropes, from Marvel vs. Capcom‘s Doctor Doom to Street Fighter III: Third Strike‘s Yun and Yang. Divekick: Addition Edition + was conceived to parody the expanded content additions found in fighting games.
Serving as perhaps the best deconstruction of a genre ever conceived, you only need to assign two buttons – one to Dive and another to Kick. Each character has two special attacks activated by pressing both together when the foot bar fills to the right point – one activated in the air and the other activated on the ground, which add a bit of variety. You also have specials when you fill it completely, while getting kicked in the head results in reduced mobility for a short period of time.
Fraud Detection Warning!
Rounds last seconds, with their one hit KOs, but the default best of five structure makes the most sense from a competitive standpoint. It’s just enough to get into a fight, meaning you can’t get too irate when things don’t go your way. The strength of the game is how it manages to get as much out of its limited scope as possible. Fighters feel different and their uniqueness allows combatants to vary up their tactics. Do you wait before or after Kung Pao leaps through the portal she created? How long do you hold Jefailey’s kick button down before launching across the screen? These are questions that come up as you play and are a highlight.
Where things go wrong is when you look at the tone of the game. For a simplified fighting game where you don’t need to memorise combos, instead focusing on the few basic moves on offer, there are a lot of references to fighting game culture embedded within. I’ve already mentioned that there are copies of characters from established fighting games, but there are in-jokes that seem forced. It also doesn’t win any beauty contests either with its simplistic visual and audio style compared to fighters that dress to impress. If you’re wondering what was added to the “Addition Edition +“, it’s Johnny Gat from the Saint’s Row franchise. That’s it. One fighter that is included as a favour/joke.
Death from Above!
But Divekick‘s main problem is its irrelevance. Even the game itself says during one of the character endings that the character won a tournament, that nobody cares about. Given the lack of games available online at the time of review, it’s alarming how true it rings. In the time of review, I was able to connect to six fighters, but only able to play two games against them. When a game actually starts, it’s stable and fun to play; but the problem is getting a connection in the first place!
Mercifully, there is a local multiplayer mode and honestly that’s where Divekick comes into its own. Playing against another human is infinitely preferable to playing against the AI in the story mode – a nine match campaign that is dull. Multiplayer is in contrast a game of cat and mouse. Who leaps first, how high do they leap, and will they be countered? Even when a match becomes heated, the questions soon change to wondering if someone will be kicked or who will be closest to the line at the end of the round.
Sadly though, Divekick is a novelty at best. You’re not going to play this for hours on end. The skill of executing combos adds excitement to the genre. By taking those out, you have a game with an incredibly low learning curve, but also a game with a low threshold of interest. It’s the ultimate gimmick game – fun for a few minutes, but not worth getting invested in.