DiveKick is just absolutely insane. A part of me wants to say, “yes, it does look and play like the flash game everyone passively thinks it is,” but the other part screams, “no one understands what it really is!” The idea of making a super simple game with a lot of nuance sounds like something a lot of people try to do, and no one really does right. When it comes to gameplay, I think DiveKick really hits the nail on the head.
One button dives (into the air) and the other button kicks. If you hit the other player with one kick, it’s the end of the round. One hit and you get the knockout. That’s it, making this a fighting game so simple, pretty much anyone could pick it up and win a few rounds. That’s just the surface level of the gameplay though, which avoids some of its deeper aspects. There a thirteen characters, and each of them dive and kick differently. Also, each character has two special abilities which can be activated by hitting the dive and kick buttons simultaneously in the air, or on the ground. One of those might be a hover, or it might just let the character run backwards, away from the enemy, but there are plenty of variations, all with different uses.
Each gives the character a little bit of flair and variability. Believing that the matches will all go pretty much the same because everyone does the same thing, one, isn’t entirely true, and two, doesn’t actually apply at all. You can have intense moments down to the last second just like with any other fighting game, but you take out 90% of the moveset. It gives the players less to remember and practice, so that at the end of the day, anyone can take the time to get really good, and really technical with DiveKick.
The laughable characters and the crazy gameplay are wrapped up with a hysterical presentation that makes DiveKick look like a spoof of every other fighting game. It works, definitely, creating a fun and goofy vibe that just feels welcoming to all players. If story is what you came for though, the offerings of DiveKick are pretty limited. Each of the characters do have a story, but the only unique aspects are the comic-book style scenes at the beginning and end of each tale. Other than that, you’ll get a few funny lines of dialogue, but nothing special or intricate. The jokes and quips in the dialogue are quite funny though.
I really wish that the presentation went past the gameplay, and into the interface, which has serious problems. The menus to sift through the modes are just really awful, and the only two buttons usable on the menus are whatever you have delegated to “dive” and “kick”, which makes sense for the use in arcades, but on a controller at home, that just seems reductive to the player. Plus, when you have entered a game mode, there is no way to get back out to the main menu until you actually start a match, press the pause button, and quit out. The online mode thankfully allows you to hold the dive button to get back home, but it just seems like a huge oversight, which could have been fixed by allowing the player to use a full controller set in the menus.
If you were looking to play an expansive array of online modes, than you have come to the wrong place. DiveKick features ranked and unranked matches, and the ability to create a lobby with only one other available spot. There aren’t any online problems though, and it’s simple enough to mute your opponent if you aren’t interested in chatted. I didn’t hit much lag, and the gameplay was as smooth as you’d expect from a retail fighting game. The game will also start searching for a new match as soon as you finish the current one.
One big drawback to the online is that there is no way to actually invite your friends to a match. You have to create a private lobby and wait for someone from your friends list to join. It just seems like way more of a hassle than it should be. Along with the interface, it makes the game challenging to set up and play.
I really enjoy DiveKick, and everything it sets out to do it accomplishes 100%. It boils down fighting games to those last few seconds of super intensity, where literally anything can happen. The problems with the online and the user interface only take so much away from such an incredibly fun time you can have with this game.
This review is based on a copy of the PS3 version of the game provided by Iron Galaxy Studios.