ChainDive, developed by Japan's Alvion and released on PlayStation 2 in October of 2003, is played from a 2.5D perspective with 3D visuals and backgrounds locked on the 2D plane. The camera pans, zooms and tilts during scripted sequences and in-game cut scenes but the gameplay remains solely 2D. The player character, Shark, carries the 'Plasma Chain' which allows him to latch onto the plentiful green orbs that populate the levels. Once attached, his momentum and the left analog stick can be used to adjust his swing. For example, latching onto an orb from below will propel Shark upward but his trajectory can always be influenced by moving the left analog stick. Shark also has a double jump that can be activated at any time.
For attack and defense, Shark carries a glowing purple-blue, double-ended sword. The particular enemies in ChainDive can be frozen just by approaching Shark's swinging, spinning blade but cannot be destroyed by it. Once frozen, Shark can latch onto enemies with the Plasma Chain, diving straight towards them with his sword, and destroy them for points and a boost in momentum. With swift timing, the sword can also be used to deflect enemy fire, freezing them in their tracks.
The gameplay and combo system is designed to encourage fast, non-stop flying action as Shark freezes a series of enemies, latches on and dives through them and continues bounding forward to the next batch. A combo counter slowly dwindles and when it finally times out Shark is awarded points for his successive moves and his health is even restored upon touching down on the ground for a moment.
Though most levels are based on grappling and swinging through stages, one level sees Shark snowboarding down an icy mountain, another running towards the screen from a huge monster while carrying a female companion over his shoulder. Many stages end with boss encounters and are capped with in-game and illustrated cutscenes with Japanese voiceover. Time Attack and Combo Attack modes are unlocked after completing the game. A training mode is available with demo videos and tutorials.
U.S. Demo and Potential Release
A playable demo of ChainDive was released to the U.S. on a demo disc packed with the Official PlayStation Magazine, Volume 79, in April 2004. At the completion of the demo, a splash screen touted an American release as "Coming Soon", but ChainDive was never released outside of Japan.