Divekick review for PS Vita, PSN

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PSN, PS3
Publisher: Iron Galaxy
Developer: One True Game/ Iron Galaxy
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

I’m generally pretty bad at fighting games. While there have been a few I’ve liked (Injustice and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 spring to mind) for the most part, the limits of my abilities only go as far as button-mashing will take me…and in most cases, with the endless combos that usually need to be memorized, that’s not very far.

While I wouldn’t say that I’m good at Divekick, it’s the first fighting game I’ve ever played where I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as horrible, either. This is because there’s really not much to it: you jump, and you kick. You use two buttons the whole way through the game (menus included), there aren’t any combos to memorize, and every match ends after the first hit (or up to 20 seconds, whichever comes first).

divekick 1

I can understand the temptation to look at that and think the game is just a joke. After all, Divekick is filled with plenty of those — probably even more than I realize, given my total unfamiliarity with the fighting game community. On top of that, the characters are all kind of silly, the graphics bring to mind ’80s cartoons (which makes the game retro, but not in the way you’d expect from a retro game), and the whole thing, at times, seems like it’s just a parody, an extended in-joke for people who like Street Fighter and King of Fighters a little more than is healthy.

Beneath all the silliness and the simplicity, however, you’ll find that Divekick actually places a premium on timing, reflexes and strategic thinking. I mean, yes, you could rush into each match, hopping and kicking and hoping to connect with your opponent; you might even get a few wins that way. But after playing a few matches with a few different characters, you’ll quickly realize that each character has their own individual jumping and kicking styles — and consequently, each character requires you to approach their matches in different ways. Not only that, you soon find that while the game may not require you to pull off endless combos, you still need to jump and kick at just the right moment if you want to win. It may sound easy, but it’s really not — particularly against tougher opponents.

divekick 2

That said, Divekick isn’t flawless. The hit detection seems a little wonky at times; I had several matches where I was sure I’d hit my opponent, only for the match to continue on (or, worse, for my opponent to turn around and kick me for the win). Additionally, the single-player mode feels a little boring after awhile; like most games that rely on competition, Divekick will live and die by the strength of its online community, and at this stage — writing, as I am, before its official launch — there aren’t enough other people online to tell how that part of the game will work out.

Based on how fun Divekick can be, however, I’m pretty sure that the online portion will come around in time. In fact, I could see the game having a much larger following than most other fighting games, simply because the entry barriers are a lot lower here than they are elsewhere. Simply put, Divekick is a fighting game that you can — and should! — play even if you’re not usually good at fighting games.

Grade: A-