Divekick Review

On it's surface Divekick simply looks to be an elaborate, impenetrable “in-joke” designed soley to appeal to the hardcore fighting game community. But if one decides to dig even just a bit deeper, they'll discover that it's actually a fighting game with a surprising amount of depth that distills the genre into it's most basic and exciting form – the mindgame.

In Divekick, gone are the long button combinations and joystick motions of the fighting games that came before – instead these are replaced by two simple input commands: Dive (up into the air) and Kick. The game's two simple inputs are able to be customized by the player and attached to nearly any two buttons on the controller. In addition to the basic Dive and Kick commands, the player can also press both buttons at the same time, be it on the ground or in the air, to execute two different special moves.

Typically, the learning curve of a fighting game tends to be that you sit in training mode for hours on end learning combos to where eventually, being able to correctly input the correct commands for a combo becomes second nature and is no longer a factor in your performance. This allows the game to shift from being about inputting combos correctly into a fast-paced game of chess, where the game then becomes about what combos to use and when. The true genius of Divekick is its complete removal of the first half of the fighting game learning curve, allowing the player to jump immediately into the much more complex, and frankly fun phase of the game.

While local multiplayer is without a doubt the ideal way to play Divekick, the game also includes a Story mode and online play. Story mode has the player choosing a single character to go up against the game's entire roster of Divekickers, with cutscenes unique to the character you chose sprinkled throughout. The story is wacky and nonsensical, as expected, but a lot of the jokes contained references that flew right over my head, or just straight-up fell flat. And although I understand that the story mode was without a doubt the last thing on the developer's mind, I can't help but think that the game squandered a massive amount of potential to create a story mode that elicits more than the occasional chuckle.

Online play is fairly straightforward, you simply queue up and wait to be matched with another player. The game would usually match me up with a player in a minute or two, but on more than one occasion it took a good ten minutes to match me with an opponent. Divekick uses GGPO netcode, the gold-standard for online fighting games, a system that handles the lag between two consoles with a “rollback” system that essentially rewinds the game if a disparity between the two consoles in play are detected. These rollbacks rarely ever happen, but it's often frustrating when they do, as many times they'll completely reverse a victory. The game's online lobby also features a stats page when you match with another player displaying victories, losses as well as your opponent's disconnect rate, which is a nice way to avoid wasting time battling players who just disconnect at the first sign of defeat. There's also a lobby system included in the game, but it only supports a meager two players in a room at a time. I guess if two friends want to continually fight each other online this would be nice, but without the ability to gather up a bunch of players into a single room seems to make the lobby system useless.

Despite the story being chock-full of inside jokes and the graphics looking cheap and haphazardly thrown together, Divekick is still a game with a decent amount of depth that miraculously manages to somehow cut out the less interesting half of the fighting game learning curve, allowing anyone to immediately jump in to the most interesting part of the fighting game genre.

1 Comments
1 Comments
Posted by Bollard

Nice review duder! Although, it probably would have been better placed as a review under your account, rather than a blog, because that way you could have added a score and attached it to the game's wiki page.

Just curious, what score (if you believe in scores) would you have given the game?

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