The most daunting aspect of a fighting game is easily the learning curve. As the genre has evolved, games like Marvel vs. Capcom have created this mythical idea of what a fighting game is. There’s always going to be insanely complicated combos, and there’s always going to be the element of “learning” a game. While there is definitely truth to that statement, many treat it as a reason to avoid fighting games outright. Divekick, with its comical dedication to simplicity, tears away the complicated layers built atop the genre over the years. It creates an approachable game that teaches players concepts without them even realizing, and it does so with a knowing smile the entire time.
Divekick began as a joke. The brainchild of One True Game Studios, a group of knowledgeable competitive gamers, it was a weird in-joke that slowly grew in popularity. This success lead to a Kickstarter campaign, which led to the game we have today, but the core idea remains the same. What if you removed the joystick from the equation? Instead of regular movement, players leap straight into the air with one button, and kick forward with another; that’s it. The first one to land a blow wins the match. And while that sounds ridiculous at first, the simple nature helps teach you the basics of a fighting game.
Without the seemingly complicated aspect of free movement, Divekick boils everything down to action and inaction. I can stand still or I can kick. This simplicity makes learning the roster of characters more feasible for the less hardcore fighting game fan, myself included. Instead of having to learn entire movesets, I only need to learn one tell, and develop one counter-strategy for each opponent. And the responsive controls allow for enough of a tactile experience that pulling off these single strategies is still fun.
Matches are consumed like potato chips, with each leaving behind just enough of flavor to leave you wanting more. And when playing online, especially if you find a reliable lobby, the fights come quick and easy. Losing isn’t a huge deal, because before you can stress over failure, another fight is already underway. Divekick allows you to dip your toe in the water of the fighting genre. And before you know it you’ll be managing your super meter, reading your opponents every move, and chuckling the entire time.
Divekick has a very specific charm to it. While the visuals may resemble a flash game more than anything else, it sure doesn’t lack character. From the constant barrage of tips from the inscrutable Uncle Sensei, to the absolute absurdity that is each and every plot point, it’s fair to say the game never takes itself seriously. At one point I was playing as a sentient badger who’s only goals in life are protecting her young and smoking cigars. My opponent at the time? A prospective musician from West Philadelphia who spouts Will Smith quotes with every loss. Divekick is intentionally silly around every corner, and while each joke may not land perfectly, there’s such an abundance of them it almost doesn’t matter.
That being said, the feature list of Divekick is pretty bare-bones. The $10 price tag brings with it a story mode, with animated comics for every character, and basic multiplayer. That’s it. One can’t even set up a match with a CPU opponent outside of the trappings of the story mode. Multiplayer is either local with one other person, or online. Unlike Divekick’s more complicated brethren, there’s not even a training mode.
And while this may seem a bit contradictory to my previous statements, it would be nice to have a more streamlined and customizable way to learn a fighter before taking him or her online. Other modes could have helped Divekick feel less like a one-trick pony, and given it legs in the long run. The content that is there, however, is consistently enjoyable.
Divekick is the definition of simple approachable fun. It’s a game centered around two buttons, with just enough rudimentary concepts to make it difficult to master. If you’ve always wanted to get into the fighting game scene, or at least learn what all the fuss is about, Divekick is a great entry point. It may be a little lacking in game modes, but it does have reliable online multiplayer, which at the end of the day is what matters.
Divekick was developed by One True Game Studios and Iron Galaxy Studios, and published by Iron Galaxy Studios. A PSN copy was provided for the purpose of review.