You’re in the crucial last seconds of a match. Your opponent only has 1% of their health bar left, a small breeze, a sharp look or even a fire uppercut would bring them to their knees, and a win to your score. The only thing between you and them is the entire screen. So what’s a fighter to do? Divekick.
Iron Galaxy Studios has put together this parody fighting game that pays homage but also lampoons many long standing institutions of the Fighting Game Community (FGC) and fighting games in general. The game is built around two simple moves, diving and kicking. The two button control scheme feels rather straightforward at first, actually contains some depth when you tie in the roster’s special moves. Divekick doesn’t offer a training mode, save for a single screen in the options menu. You’re going to dive (which is jump) and kick. This is a game of angles, but also quick reactions. The only way to advance towards your enemy is to attack, and you can only retreat so far on screen at a time. There is a delicate balance here, but its effective at pushing the action.
Many times you’ll close the distance on the opponent to whiff on your attack and spend the next few seconds diving or countering out of the way to setup the next attack. Building meter up to 100% will give you a boost that is similar to X-Factor in Marvel vs Capcom 3. It can be tough to build up the meter to full depending on your play style, and even in the 20 second window of a single round. However, the meter boost can be a tipping point in a long match up that brings victory.
Divekick uses a first to five match system, and during the course of the game an announcer will make goofy call outs based on the action. While some are just pointless (“perfect!”), others are based around attacks. Headshots are important as they will stun/stagger your opponent, and if you string them together, the announcer calls them out like its a first person shooter, all the way up the chain to multi-kill. Fraud and Choke detection appear when you’ve aced an opponent 4-0. These aren’t impacting on your character, but a good reference to how the same type of blow-outs are treated in the FGC.
Characters like Dive and Kick are pretty plain in terms of abilities, but the roster has a bevy of kickers that have their own unique attacks. Most of the characters seem based on Street Fighter or Marvel vs Capcom characters, which are the two most well known fighting games on the scene. Kickstarter backers had a chance to digitize themselves or suggest characters to be in the game. As an example, Alex Jebailey, who is a FGC event organizer in Florida, is in the game as Jefailey, who is entering his own divekick tournaments to boost attendance. Every time he wins a match, his head grows larger (like his ego). Dr Shoals, is not based on a real person, but has moves patterned after Doctor Doom from Marvel vs Capcom (and a great name-play, popular shoe insert buyers!). Stream is a devil in a straight jacket, based around the chat room you might encounter in a Twitch channel. You can pick from a few different color palettes for each character, and then add on a power-up gem that gives additional stats, similar to Street Fighter X Tekken.
While Divekick is a parody title, it is accessible to anyone of any skill level with fighting games from a game play standpoint. We found that the level of referential or “inside baseball” humor is going to be impacted on your familiarity with the fighting game world, though some of it is just silly enough that you’ll laugh anyway. The art style is cartoonish, but works well for the game. The audio samples are funny, but you may eventually find the announcer loses its charm. We’ve played the PC and the Vita versions of Divekick, and both are very solid. Story mode, versus and online play are available. Matchmaking online works well, and GGPO implementation keeps things smooth. While Divekick isn’t meant to set the world on fire, it has garnered a lot talk due to its tongue in cheek approach to the genre. Hopefully Iron Galaxy can get the Kickboxes mass produced, as these would be a blast to pull out at a party and let people drunkenly smash away at each other. This is a worthwhile purchase at $10, and can hopefully illicit the same laughter for others, as it has for us.