At first it started out as a joke: a fighting game that wasn't really a fighting game? Then it turned into something that nobody really expected – a phenomenon that would draw all sorts of attraction at PAX East, eventually becoming enough of an independent darling to earn a forthcoming release for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to DiveKick.
This game was developed by One True Game Studios before being picked up by Iron Galaxy, the makers of the recently released Darkstalkers Resurrection for Capcom. It isn't your typical one-on-one beat-em-up affair. There are no special moves to learn, no perfectly timed counters to execute and not even any super moves or fatalities. Nope, it's a matter of who can kick their opponent with a jumping move first in a best-of-five round.
DiveKick's gameplay consists of two buttons. The first allows you to jump in the air and the second executes your kick as you're jumping. You can also hold the two of them together to pull off your specific character's special move, which is usually something defensive like running backwards. Inevitably you'll have to face the music and try to dive kick your opponent before he does the same to you.
But as simple as the controls sound, there's actually a bit of strategy to DiveKick. For instance, you can keep an eye on your opponent and see how they're trying to jump in towards you, whether it's small, frenzied jumps or an elevated aerial attack. You can respond accordingly, jumping out of the way and striking back or timing your incoming attack so that you land a "headshot" where you kick them in the head and "dizzy" them for the next round and get an advantage in the next match.
The game can be played with a regular controller but Iron Galaxy has also made a custom two button pad with glowing yellow and blue buttons. It's not known yet whether Iron Galaxy will make this available for purchase, so keep those fingers crossed.
In addition to how each character handles in the game, DiveKick also has a system where you can use gems to give yourself an advantage in the match. There are four different gem systems to choose from in all: yellow allows you to improve your "Dive" technique, with a ten percent boost in diving height; blue lets you push your "Kick" capabilities with a faster kick speed; grey gives your kick factor style a ten percent push; and Double Red gives you all three powers, but also takes away four victories, meaning you have to win five matches in a row or you lose the first chance you're taken down. Each one is worth experimenting with to see which set-up works right for you.
The game consists of seven characters thus far, with the possibility of more being added closer to the game's final release later this year. There's Dive, a hoodie-wearing thug who never takes his hands out of his pockets; Kick, a streetwise fighter with a habit of literally "dropping the mic" following the conclusion of his match; Kung Pao, a stylish chick who can use a Dimension Break to her advantage by appearing behind her opponent to strike; Mr. N, an overweight man who is much stronger than his portly shape lets on; Redacted, a strange bear-like creature that has Wolverine-style claws (though he doesn't use them while divekicking); Uncle Sensei, a wise old master who dispenses helpful advice prior to each match (like "Don't play this game underwater") before proceeding to knock you around; and Dr. Victoria Shoals, an evil female doctor paroding of the Dr. Scholls name who can levitate in mid-air longer then strike with a Divekick attack at an angle. Each of these fighters adds something to the game, even if their gameplay doesn't change much outside of a couple of minor adjustments.
That brings us to one of the bigger parts of the game: multiplayer. When we were battling people at PAX East, we saw how heated the competition got. Players were jumping frantically and figuring out the perfect moment to strike. We're hopeful when the PS3/PS Vita versions roll around that we'll see some kind of Cross-Play features implemented along with online features via PlayStation Network. (We're already thinking of a name for our devoted DiveKick league, like the Hong Kong Cavaliers…)
DiveKick may appear to be a basic fighting game, but it's very complex thanks to its crazy yet concentrated two-button gameplay style. We'll see how it fares when it “dive kicks” its way to consoles and PC this Fall.
Our money's on Uncle Sensei…