“Oh my God, I won again!”
My stepsister was beaming with pride. This was her third win in a row and she was kicking ass, which must have felt like a miracle, because every other time I introduced her to video games she would always come face to face with her greatest enemy: trees. The Burnout series led to spectacular crashes as soon as nature showed up, the Metal Gear series had Snake’s swift maneuverability foiled by foliage, and she just never really “got it.”
And it’s pretty easy to understand why: we only became brother and sister in our twenties, and our childhood activities were drastically different. I was a lifetime gamer nerd, and her, by virtue of being older, lived through an era where video games weren’t a cool thing to do for young women.
But today, it was different. Today she finally “got it,” and she was smiling and having a blast. She was also beating me, a veteran of the fighting game tournament scene. I wasn’t taking it easy. This was real.
These are the kind of moments that the indie hit DiveKick could provide for people, because at it’s core, it is the most simplistic game ever made. One on one match, fighting game style. One hit kills. Two buttons: Dive and Kick. That’s it. You tell that to your friends and show them a basic match with the two most basic characters in the game… coincidentally named Dive and Kick. It might take them a match, it might take them two, but in mere minutes they will be sucked into the fast paced world of this incredible game.
The One True Game
And here’s where DiveKick truly shines: for a two button game, there is an abundance of variety and strategy. The character roster is deep:14 characters in all, and each one comes with their own quirks, maneuvers and strategies. Just like in other fighting games, a “matchup chart” exists, with some characters feeling overpowered against some characters, underpowered against others.
But instead of spending weeks and months learning and perfecting these matchups, you will only spend minutes, since after all, the game is only about two things: diving and kicking. Yes, there are also “Special Moves,” activated by pressing both buttons on the ground or in the air, and a “Kick Factor”, similar to “X-Factor” in the latest iterations of Marvel vs Capcom, but within minutes of first using them, you are already mastering them and coming up with new ways to beat your opponent.
How DiveKick Mocks Fighting Game Cliches
The DiveKick setting is a humorous nod to the competitive fighting game culture and everything that surrounds it: after all, that is where DiveKick got its inspiration from.
Several characters in several fighting games had seemingly overpowered dive kick maneuvers that players would rely on for victory. This was especially obvious in Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition, where the twins Yun and Yang were added to the roster and immediately rocketed up the tier lists, thanks in no small part to their dive kick maneuvers. Even legendary Japanese player Daigo Umehara, known for his character loyalty to Ryu and other “shoto” fighters, picked up Yun and took him all the way to the semi finals of Evolution, the most prestigious fighting game tournament in the world. The dominance of Yun and Yang led to the first iteration of DiveKick, with the “twins” Dive and Kick parodying Yang and Yun, respectively.
From there, DiveKick only grew. With each showcase, Divekick grew in popularity, eventually leading to a well funded Kickstarter campaign to create a version for Microsoft Windows. However, developer Iron Galaxy Studios stepped in and agreed to co-develop and release the game, which meant that the “One True Game” would appear on the one true home of fighting games: consoles.
The beauty of the setting and story of DiveKick is that it’s accessible and interesting to anyone. Hardcore fighting game players will recognize the nods and inside jokes right away, from character inspirations (for example, Dr. Shoals is based on Dr. Doom), to fighting game community members (eg. Markman of Namco fame), to stages (Da Beech), and even a living. breathing personification of “stream monsters”: the people who watch, comment on and troll fighting game streams without ever going to a tournament themselves (represented beautifully by the character Stream, a straitjacket wearing, fire-spitting monster).
People who are not aware of the fighting game world—and let’s face it, that’s most people—will laugh at the Fresh Prince of Bel Air jokes, the pre match “pro tips,” the over-the-top action star personality of The Baz, and the continual misfortunes of Mister N. Plus the very detailed story mode, complete with cutscenes, will make even the most casual player feel like they are immediately part of the DiveKick world.
With all of these factors combined, DiveKick turns out to be a very fun, easily accessible game that anyone can play. And I mean anyone: I have tested this, from the hardcore MOBA player, to the drunk girl barely coherent enough to hold a controller, to your older relative who calls any video game ever “a Nintendo”… every single one of those people can not only pick up and play DiveKick, but enjoy it and get good at it in no time at all. Games like this are rare and need to be celebrated.
I urge everyone to pick up DiveKick. After all, it’s the one true game.
Read More: Greatest Gamers: Daigo “The Beast” Umehara