Ask anyone that grew up playing video games in the ‘90s and you’ll find an overwhelming majority played fighting games. Whether it was the gory uppercut-fest of Mortal Kombat or the hadouken spamming in Street Fighter II, the popularity for the genre soared thanks to these two classics. Accomplishing a feat I never would have imagined, Iron Galaxy Studios has successfully removed the superfluous fluff bogging down modern fighting games and replaced it with two buttons: dive and kick.
The core of Divekick comes from gauging your opponent, trying to create an opening by feinting and dodging. It’s an incredibly simple system, but requires dedication and precision to master. Every hit results in a KO, the first person to win five rounds is declared the winner. Scoring a head shot will temporarily stun your opponent at the onset of the next round. Pressing both buttons simultaneously in the air or on the ground activate special abilities, such as increased dive speed or altered kick angle. Moving backwards requires you to kick while still on the ground, as jumping only launches characters vertically in the air with no horizontal movement until kick is used. Cheap deaths are frustrating and occasionally your foot will appear to go right through an opponent without it registering as a knockout.
Featuring 13 goofy and charismatic characters, all of them inspired by various fighting game characters and professional gamers. Kick randomly quotes Will Smith and is a student of Uncle Sensei’s Bel Air dojo, Kung Pao is a parody of Kung Lao from Mortal Kombatand the straightjacket wearing fiend Stream represents “stream monsters”, to name a few. The game’s final boss S-Kill – with his crossed hands – is based on Seth Killian the former community manager at Capcom. Fun fact, Street Fighter IV’s Seth was named after him.
Both the PlayStation 3 and Vita version (I didn’t test the PC version) of the game feature online and local multiplayer. If you haven’t experienced huddling together with a friend invading each other’s personal space to grab hold of both sides of the Vita, I highly recommend it. Divekick works well as a party game due to the quick nature of the matches and the hilarity that ensues. The online multiplayer experience is rock solid and I didn’t experience any latency issues across a couple dozen matches.
For such a quirky title, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Divekick, even if I don’t stand a chance in the online competitive scene. The single-player mode is held together by a thin narrative, if you’re one of the few that play fighting games for their story. Keeping your movement unpredictable is the key to success and once I found the character that worked for me I spent hours playing Divekick with a group of friends.
Note: The Divekick review was written based primarily on the Vita version of the game. The PS3 build was play tested for any noticeable differences. Both versions of the game were provided to use for review.