ood fighting games boil down to position and timing, and Divekick gave me exquisite control over both through an intuitive two-button interface. It subverts expectations by whittling the notoriously complex movesets of the fighting genre down to two simple maneuvers: diving and kicking. The result is engaging – after only a few rounds of combat, I was able to feint, dodge, and fake out my opponent with gratifying precision. Peel away the colorful artwork, and Divekick closely resembles the best of classic arcade fighter design philosophy. The goals and interface are instantly comprehensible, bouts are quick,
AUGUST 20, 2013
Divekick distills the essence of the fighting genre into a two-button, no-joystick, rage-inducing form that can be enjoyed by anyone.
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JARED PETTY SAYS
Persona 4 ArenaBlazBlue: Calamity TriggerSuper Street Fighter IV and the pacing is snappy. Practice and experimentation are tangibly rewarded by skill development. Divekick has no dull tutorial or five-minute story interludes, just fighting, an occasional dumb joke, and more fighting.
A diverse cast of characters infuse Divekick with a variety of special abilities without overly complicating matters. I found something to appreciate in every one of the 13 warriors, but I kept coming back to Uncle Sensei, a cartwheeling hippie wearing boots on his hands. The nearly horizontal angle of his full-body Divekick extension leaves him vulnerable, but it frequently beguiled my opponents, creating an intriguing risk vs. reward proposition.
Divekick’s humor varies between cute and bizarre, and occasionally it goes too far. There are gobs of in-jokes about fighting-game tournament culture, staples, and tropes, as well as less obscure comedic one-liners. Some of the visual gags are quite funny – I laughed out loud the first time I watched one of the fighters writing notes on her clipboard while divekicking through the air, immediately before her foot impacted on my face.
Less successful is the tongue-in-cheek commentary on racial prejudice. Mr. N’s announcement that “I don’t hug white girls” might make sense to folks familiar with personalities in the fighting-game circuit, but stripped of context it just comes across as unsettling and offensive. The ill-advised naming of Asian martial artist Kung Pao also strikes a distasteful chord.
The Vita version has a remarkable competitive two-player mode. My first local Divekick match took place in an IGN hallway on a single handheld, where I held half of the Vita and my opponent held the other half. I expected the layout to be awkward, but was pleasantly surprised to find it quite ergonomic. I could easily envision two friends on a train or kids sharing the back seat on a road trip going at it. It can, of course, also be played online, and my experiences on PS3, Vita, and PC were nearly free of latency.
Divekick is a deep, refreshingly approachable tournament fighter. The unusual control configuration is no gimmick, but rather a functional design choice that helps tear down the barrier of entry for players intimidated by combo breakers and juggling. It is unfortunate that there’s not a better single-player mode, and more unfortunate that Divekick’s cultural insensitivity can be downright cringe-worthy, but it’s still a successful experiment in simplified fighting.