Platform | Release Date
PC, PS3, 360, Vita | August 20, 2013
Developed by Iron Galaxy Studios
Published by Iron Galaxy Studios
Divekick is the world’s first two-button fighting game. It distills the essence of the fighting game genre into just two buttons with no d-pad directional movement. Divekick’s focused gameplay demonstrates how much depth a single move actually has, and introduces (or reinforces) skills fundamental to the genre: mind games, spacing, timing, and quick reactions.
Ever have one of those nights when you eat Spaghetti-O’s for dinner? You’re sick and tired of cooking an entire meal so you plop canned pasta into a bowl, microwave, and add a dash of salt? Divekick is the Spaghetti-O’s of fighting games. Simple, slightly childish, and mostly satisfying.
I first saw Divekick at PAX East and was instantly enamored by the offbeat “Adult Swim” style animation and spartan control scheme. Two buttons for a fighting game? Intriguing! Leading up to release, the hype machine was in full effect, with a lot of people propping the title up as some sort of game-changer that would be a stylistic “reset button” flying in the face of overly-complex mainstream fighters. Is this the case? Not really. However, I can tell you Divekick is a hell of a lot of fun to play with your friends, family, and anyone who just wants to have a good time yelling and jamming a controller.
The two-button control scheme is deftly implemented, allowing you to navigate menus, execute the basic combat maneuvers of diving, kicking and divekicking, and perform some special skills as well. I give credit to Iron Galaxy for pulling that off with nuance. It really made me realize how superfluous all the buttons on a modern game controller can be. While there has been some backlash about the game’s final iteration ironically being “too complex” compared to its originally stated formula, I think having it purely based on one moveset would have grown stale very quickly. As it stands, the game is incredibly easy to pick up on a casual level while still providing a variety of different kick styles and powers from each fighter.
The characters are a story unto themselves. While I find most of the roster to be entertaining and full of humorous FGC references, you might not feel the same if you don’t know that acronym I just dropped earlier in the sentence. Members of the the Fighting Game Community (now you know what it stands for) had a lot to do with helping fund this project, and it reflects that with a bunch of inside jokes. My only issue with this is the number of fighters that represent caricatures of prominent community members. Anyone hip to the “inside baseball” will recognize S-Kill as Seth Killian; former Capcom community manager who was instrumental in the creation of Street Fighter IV, but to the uninformed it appears they’ve filled a slot with “some guy wearing glasses”. None of this detracts from the overall gameplay, but I hope they add some new characters via DLC down the road, since their original creations are the most interesting.
Humor aside, the actual fighting mechanics of Divekick are impressive. By stripping out combos and lists of special move executions they’ve distilled the battles down to concepts of spacing, angles, and outthinking your opponent. This game won’t be relegated into the books alongside humorous fighting games like Clay Fighter and Way of The Warrior that lacked solid fundamentals. Online play is solid thanks to the GGPO netcode, but I was definitely bummed out by the lack of a spectator or lobby system. Hopefully that can be patched in at a later date.
Barring a few minor complaints, I really enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) Divekick. For something that began as a joke, it’s obvious the team at Iron Galaxy really put time and care into their creation. If you love fighting games, it’s worth your time. If you’re the type who wants to try fighters but feels too intimidated by them, then this could be the bizarre gem that turns you on to the genre, since it’s easy to jump into and you’ll learn quite a lot about the community by Googling all the references. A unique addition to the fighting genre, and better than Shaq Fu.