Divekick is here, it’s $10, and it exposes the hideous, beautiful heart of fighting games
The best competitive games have beauty at the core. The need to learn the systems inside of games, master them, and then be able to effectively use them against your opponents is a wonderful thing, and watching players who understand how games work and how to bend those games to their will is amazing. The problem is that it takes a monstrous time investment to get to that point.
Fighting games are a great example. You need to spend hours learning the mechanical skills necessary to learn each character’s special moves so you can use them without thinking. Then you need to learn what moves work best in what circumstances, and then master different characters playing against different characters. The best players practice for an incredible number of hours each day, every day, and after a few years they become competitive. The game they’re playing isn’t the game that casual fans enjoy.
Fighting games, at their core, are about spacing. How to control your opponent, knowing what options they have in every position, and where you have the advantage. This is the beauty hidden in fighting games, and it’s something few of us know enough to see, and even fewer are good enough to experience. Divekick is a shortcut to that experience, and it operates as a way for even beginning players to get a look at fighting games being played on the highest levels of strategy.
Which is silly for a game that began as a joke, still features rather basic graphics and animations, and can be played with only two buttons, but here we are. Divekick asks you to learn what makes each character different, how to move, and then you’re ready to take those skills against other players.
You only need to hit your opponent once to win each round, and since the only buttons you need master are “dive” and “kick,” anyone can play. It’s a game that’s fun to play against children, or first time players who may be uncomfortable with the variety of button presses required by more intricate fighting games. This is a party where everyone is invited. Here's the official description of the game:
At Iron Galaxy we love fighting games. To the average fan, most of what makes them fun is hidden behind a never-ending series of input combinations they have to memorize. That’s why Divekick has just two buttons: Dive (into the air) makes your character jump straight up. Kick causes your character to fly foot first at a downward angle. If you press Kick on the ground, you can jump away from your opponent. Utilizing these moves, the first hit will win the round, and the player that wins five rounds first wins the game.
Still, the strategy is deep, muscle memory is important, and understanding why you need to stay in certain areas of the board to win comes with time. The trick is that the game rips everything that isn’t pure strategy out of the experience, so players are offered a shortcut into the sweet science of fighting games.
This is like Guitar Hero for hardcore fighting game fans: It’s not as good as learning to play an actual instrument, but it will give you a window into understand what playing well feels like, and it could serve as a gateway drug to the real thing.
The game is filled with inside references to personalities and clichés from the fighting game community, and the humor may not make sense if you're not familiar with that scene. Don't worry about it. The real fun here is playing against another human being who is in the same room, which can be done with a single Vita if you go that route, and learning how to bully them into the corner before landing the one hit needed to win each round.