The new parody fighting game Divekick has made its way to the PC! But is it worth checking out or just a big joke? 411's Marc Morrison checks in with his full review!
From top to bottom, Divekick is a silly game. It is littered with jokes about fighting game characters, fans, and even the people who make the games. Still, even with the in-jokey attitude the game has, and the extremely simplified control system, there is hidden depth that can be uncovered if you look hard enough.
Divekick is a fighting game where you only have two buttons: Dive and Kick. This is literally it. “Dive” is the misleadingly named jump button, while “Kick” is kick. There are no punch buttons, no special attack buttons, nor even any movement buttons. It is simply “Dive” and “Kick” you have to worry about. The obvious question that pops up is “How do you move around the screen?” The answer to that, is by diving (jumping) and kicking which provides for all your movement in the game. It’s also how you kill the enemy fighter, in a single hit.
Yes, except in a few very specific instances, the game is built around a one-hit kill “sudden death” model. A few characters have special abilities to escape once, but that is it. Also, each round lasts 20 seconds (or less), so it makes for quick battles with you and the enemy constantly diving and trying to kick each other. In the event of a round over, the character who is closest to the starting line, the line between both fighters at the start of the match is declared the winner.
There are other factors that can help determine a winner. As you dive/kick and miss your enemy, a special meter builds in the lower corner (in the shape of a shoe). Each character has two different special attacks which you activate by pressing the Dive and Kick buttons together. Special attacks can range from throwing projectiles at your opponent (freezing them for a second) to lighting part of the stage on fire (forcing people to jump), to a special teleport move, to countering a single kick and having the chance to escape.
If your meter reaches full, you’ll enter into a critical state called “Kickfactor” (red outline around your character) that has your character being faster, and having slightly higher jumps. The counter to this rage state is being dazed. If you manage to kick the enemy in the head, you’ll get a “Head Shot” attack, and in the next round the opponent will be dazed for a bit. This leads them to not being able to jump quite as high, and to have their special meter drained/frozen until they get back to the normal state.
There are two other factors that are involved in the fighting system. If you press kick while on the ground your character can do a quick dash away. Not all characters can do this, some have other moves, but it’s an effective way to evade an attack, if you can be quick enough. The other system is after you’ve chosen your fighter, you choose to give them a gem to use for a passive buff. There are four gems, one increases Dive (jump speed), one increases Kick (kick speed), one increases your meter build-up speed. The fourth gem gives you all three bonuses at once, but puts you at a deficit of having lost 4 rounds already. So if you lose the first match, the match is finished. Picking this gem automatically sets the match on a “Fraud Detection Warning” system.
This isn’t integral to the game, but if you manage to defeat the other player 4 times, without dying, then the Fraud Detection Warning bit comes in. If you manage to kill the other player a 5th time making it a clean sweep, then the other player is designated a “Fraud”. If the other player wins, then the fraud is averted. If the other player manages a big come back and then sweeps the other player for four rounds then the “Choke Detection Warning” system is activated. If the first player wins, the choke is averted. If the second (fraud) player wins then the Choke is activated. Like I said, it’s not crucial to the game, but does happen from time to time and adds to the drama of the match.
There are 13 characters for you to choose from, be it Dive, Kick, Dr. Shoals, Kenny, and more. Three notable characters are “S. Kill” (short for former Capcom fighting game guru Seth Killian), the boss of the game, who can teleport around the stage and can counter attacks. “The Baz” is another interesting character in that he has an almost completely horizontal kick. His kick itself does nothing, and if you try to kick another player, you’ll lose. However, his kick leaves behind a lightning trail that does kill the enemy. The trail is fairly long, so if the opponent jumps into it, he/she/it is dead. The last notable character is “Jefailey”. I’m not sure if he’s supposed to be a John Cena parody or not, but the dual wrestling belt and jorts make it seem obvious. He’s essentially the “Dan” of the game, having an abysmal range for his kick. If you do manage to win with him, during the next match his head will grow, which makes it easier for the other player to score a head shot on you. I’m not sure if there’s any hidden depth to him, but he seems like a joke character to me.
This kind of brings me to my one big issue with the game, the lack of a training mode. Every character controls differently and has different attributes. S. Kill can teleport, Dr. Shoals can do a dual-kick in the air, Stream has a mid-air teleport move, etc. You’re just kind of expected to know how to play these characters from the start, without the game teaching you the nuances of its systems. When I first started playing I picked a character named Kenny. That was a bad move on my part. Kenny’s unique ability is that he cycles the attacks of the other fighters between matches. So during one match he might have Dive’s fighting skills, and in another he would have Redacted’s, or someone else’s. There is a “How to play” instruction in the options menu, but it’s just static text screens detailing what the moves are. This isn’t enough, especially for certain characters, who have more complex styles going for them.
Graphically, the game keeps up its simple aesthetic, but there is some great animation contained within. All the characters are nicely detailed and have varied looks, especially with their alternate costumes. The backgrounds also have good hidden depth, usually making fun of Iron Galaxy in the process. It’s not going to win any technical awards by any means, but it’s a “less is more” approach, that keeps the game grounded in the action.
The sound fits well into the game’s jokey atmosphere. The announcer voice actor has a satirical accent of other fighting game announcer. Most of the other voice work is appropriately over the top, and thus funny, so it works out. The sound effects are unobtrusive and fit into the game’s style. The music is good, typical fare for a fighting game. You’ll notice it at first, but then it will blend into the background.
Recently, I reviewed Mortal Kombat on PC and noted that it had an excess of different modes, unlockables and things to do once you’re done with the game, however the online multiplayer was garbage. Divekick has the reverse of this problem, the multiplayer is superb, but the game only has 3 modes: Story, Versus, and Online. There’s no unlockables, mission mode, or survival mode. Each character has their own funny story for you to go through. The versus mode is just you against another player. Since the game only had two buttons, you can easily play on the same keyboard or even controller if you want. You assign both buttons at the start of the game and that’s it. However, the real treat is the multiplayer mode. It uses the GGPO network protocol which is really the gold standard for fighting games. What this means to you is that in the 10 or so matches I had, I experienced absolutely zero lag at all. None. And considering the game is about one-hit kills, this is extremely important. The usual modes for online play are there, ranked, unranked, create a room, or join a room. It just works and that’s way more important than having 150 pages of concept art. Although if there were more Dave Lang videos to unlock and watch, it would be even better.
Wicked sense of humor about fighting games
Hidden depth about a basic game
The online is great and works well
Lack of a real training mode
Some fights in the story feel very cheap
Lack of other modes or bonus content in other fighting games
Strangely also Dave Lang
Divekick is a deep fighting game, wrapped in a simple idea. Having only 4 or 5 things to be worried about in a match, as opposed to the usual 40 in most fighting game, distils the action down nicely. It’s the perfect game for those who enjoy deep fighters, or those who have never played a fighting game before.
The Lang Zone
The detail is great, which is the hallmark of 2D fighting games. There is no slowdown in the action and great little detail abound.
It appears silly and simple but it’s really not. The definition of “easy to pick up, hard to master” Headshots are great to pull off.
Some funny voice acting helps the characters have personality. The music is good enough for the genre but nothing positively special.
The online multiplayer saves this game immensely. Even local is fun, since the buttons can be mapped to anything.
The game is just pure fun, almost akin to a chess game. You have to be aggressive but know your enemy is doing the same.