The Xbox One launched with a killer fighting game that continues to be updated even now. That would be Killer Instinct, which will start its second season of content next week. While the new Killer Instinct was originally developed by Double Helix, Chicago-based Iron Galaxy Studios eventually took over on development duties. Iron Galaxy has quite the history with fighters, having developed/ported several Xbox 360 fighters for Capcom.
Now Iron Galaxy has just published its own fighting game Divekick: Addition Edition + on Xbox One as part of the ID@Xbox program. Divekick is anything but serious, filled with joke and parody characters and requiring only two buttons to play. It's a fighter boiled down to the barest essentials. Bring your sense of humor and appreciation for fighting games and you're going to love the art of divekicking. Read on for our detailed review and watch Jonathan Dollison and I divekick it on video!
Divin' and Kickin'
Most fighting game players will tell you, the most exciting moment in a match is when one player has no more life left to lose. Will he or she pull of a reversal and emerge victorious, or will the other player land that finishing blow?
That make or break moment is every moment in Divekick. Both players have life meters, and yet, one hit is all it takes to knock either competitor out and win the round. It takes multiple rounds to win the match, but that Bushido Blade-like element of trying to land that one vital blow is still there.
The one-hit mechanic would be different enough, but Divekick takes things a step further. Maybe I should say it takes them a jump further, because there's no walking in this game. Fights use exactly two buttons, with no input from the d-pad or stick (though you can assign either button to a direction on the d-pad). But those two buttons offer surprising versatility.
You have the dive button, which jumps, and a kick button. Tapping kick while standing while perform a backwards hop, allowing you to dodge or move away from your opponent. Jump in the air first though, and you'll pull off the all-important divekick. A divekick is a jump kick in which your character flies towards the ground at an angle. Yeah, this game is pretty much all divekicks, hence the title.
Each of the 14 fighters also has two special moves at his or her disposal. Tap both buttons at once on the ground to perform one move, or hit them both in the air to pull off the other. These moves consume energy from your Kickfactor meter. Allow the meter to fill up and you'll go into Kickfactor mode, moving faster and delivering divekicks at a different angle.
After selecting your character, you'll choose between three different gems before the match à la Street Fighter x Tekken. One makes your dives slightly higher and faster, while another increases kick speed and angle.
The YOLO gem is the choice of extremely confident fighters. Choose it to start with all but one round lost, essentially putting yourself at a handicap. When Jonathan and I recorded our gameplay video, I kept choosing the YOLO without knowing what would happen. Doh!
Frauds and clods
As simply as Divekick plays, it has a few more humorous mechanics to keep fights interesting. For instance, anytime someone lands a divekick on the other guy's head, that counts as a headshot. The headshotted combatant will start the next round with a concussion, moving slowly for several seconds. Keep pulling off headshots and your victories will score Double Kills and Triple Kills.
Other win and lose conditions will result in special in special messages as well. If a player loses every round without scoring a single win, he or she will be dubbed a fraud – someone who talks a big game but can't back it up. Winning all but one round and then going on to lose the match will cause the game to declare that you Choked, as fighting game players sometimes do when they get nervous.
Divekick even has a unique way of deciding the victor when time runs out. Once that happens, a red line appears down the middle of the stage. Whoever is closest to the line wins the round. But if both players are the same distance from the line, a Monty Python-style foot will descend to smash them.
Meet the Divekickers
Divekick has fourteen playable characters, all with their own stories that are told through digital comic-style sequences throughout each playthrough. These stories are interesting and genuinely funny, much like the characters themselves.
A brief rundown of the Divekickers:
- Dive: Kick's brother who excels at divekicking thanks to his amazing math skills. A parody of Yun from Street Fighter.
- Kick: Dive's brother dreams of being a rapper. A parody of Yang from Street Fighter.
- Mr. N: A fat guy with a neck pillow who is notorious for rigging Divekick matches.
- Redacted: A humanoid "skunk bear" and a parody of Wolverine from Marvel vs. Capcom.
- Kung Pao: A parody of Kung Lao and Kitana from Mortal Kombat. Her voice cracks me up.
- Dr. Victoria Shoals: A podiatrist who wears a mask over her diseased face. A parody of Doctor Doom and Dr. Sholl's foot care products.
- Uncle Sensei: Dive and Kick's uncle became a bum after losing all of his money during a rigged match. He wears boots on his hands and often stands on them.
- Alex Jefailey: A tournament organizer, his head grows after every round he wins. Based on a Kickstarter contributor and community manager for Iron Galaxy.
- The Baz: A heavy metal-looking brute based on a rejected Street Fighter character named Zubaz.
- Markman: Actual Madcatz Community and Sponsorship Manager Mark "Markman" Julio.
- Stream: A straight jacket-wearing monster who enjoys trolling and complaining during fighting game streams.
- Kenny: An angel who returns to earth for more divekickin'.
- S-Kill: The boss of the game, based on former Capcom Community Manager Seth "S-Kill" Killian.
- Johnny Gat: Yes, it's Johnny Gat from the Saints Row series! His special moves involve the Black Hole Launcher and Dubstep Gun from those games.
Divekick supports 2-player matches both locally and online. Online matches come in ranked and unranked variety. Divekick's online mode uses GGPO netcode, widely considered the best netcode for fighting games.
As much fun and creativity as Divekick displays in other areas of the game, its 14 Achievements are actually pretty awful. Story mode only gets three Achievements: beat the game once, beat the game once with the YOLO Gem, and beat it with the 13 original characters. Considering the game has a paltry 14 Achievements, why not offer an individual Achievement for each character we beat it with?
The other 11 Achievements all involve winning Ranked online matches or local Versus matches. Those would be fine, if not for the two grindy ones: play 1,000 local matches, and win 2,000 Ranked matches. Come on! Nobody wants to play over 2,000 matches in a real fighting game, let alone a parody fighter.
What was the developer thinking with those grinding Achievements? Players who would be likely to care about Achievement completion that much are just as likely to see the 2,000 Ranked wins requirement and decide not to play the game. It's an Achievement few people will have, and nobody will really feel good about.
Achievement issues aside, Divekick is a wonderful little game. You barely see legitimately funny games, let alone actual parody games. That makes this one a real gem.
Anybody can play Divekick and goof around with it thanks to the mobile-style two-button controls. And despite the simple mechanics, the game actually has some depth that will appeal to real fighting game players. If you like the genre and have a sense of humor, download now and prepare to smile.
- Divekick: Addition Edition + – Xbox One – 3.6 GB – $9.99 – Xbox.com Link