Games are hard right? With 32 input options on a standard Xbox 360, controller games have become exceedingly complex and thus have gained a high barrier to entry. Divekick aims to bridge the gap between the hardcore fighting game community that can read controllers like books and the casual community of gamers and non-gamers that have always thought games were too complex. How? Well let me explain.
Divekick is a two button fighting game. That’s right, 2 buttons. One for diving, one for jumping/kicking. To make it even easier, the games health system is a one-hit-kill variant, you get hit in any way and you lose that round of the match. The game is based on the classic “cheapo” move in the majority of fighting games, the dive-kick. The move involves a vertical jump, and a kick from the air. The move is traditionally hard to block and easy to pull off, making it the friend of button mashers all over the world.
So a game made for cheapos? Well no, despite the simplistic control scheme that will allow for easy play, Divekick maintains a sense of depth by hosting a cast of characters with incredibly divergent versions of the one move in the game. One character teleports instead of jumping, but kicks at almost ninety degrees and the other has a shallow jump but has a very long and horizontal kick that allows them to easily cover the length of the screen, To add a reward for precision, the damage system allows for headshots. Kick your opponent in the head and they not only die, but also start the next round dazed and unable to kick for a short period of time.
Dicekick’s gameplay is both simple and varied, which is a hard line to walk. There is a low enough barrier to entry for new players, but also enough complexity for a seasoned gamer to dominate the button mashers of the world.
However, past the gameplay there is a real lack of good writing. It is not the focus of the game, but it’s in there. The writing is clever and witty but often straddles the line of racism and sexism in both its dialogue and character names. For example, there is a Chinese woman in the game dubbed Kung Pao, as in king pao chicken, with a large circular hat that belongs in a ‘60s movie featuring Asians. Other jokes are not exactly inappropriate, but sometimes just flat and cheap. It’s very much hit and miss depending on who you play and how often, as dialogue can become repetitive.
If one can push aside their sensitivity to these jokes and the sporadically bad writing, then I believe the game is incredibly enjoyable, and a good introduction to the fighting genre. The game knows what it is, and executes accordingly. It is less a fighting game and more a love letter to the fighting game genre from the developers.