Home Editorial Divekick: The fighting game that will redefine the genre

Since the dawn of the genre, fighting games have been making players salty. Unlike other types of games, where competition was indirect or impersonal (think Pacman high score attacks), competitors in Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and the like had to have humiliation served to them violently by the person standing right next to them.

It’s a natural recipe for excuses, bitterness, and all-out rage.

Now, there’s a new title that’s drawing the attention of the fighting game community – one that will soon unearth a mountain of salt for scrubby players everywhere: Divekick.

Death from above, two buttons at a time

The title says it all; each combatant in Divekick has only two basic moves (Dive and Kick)… that’s it! There’s no directional input whatsoever, so players must navigate the arena using only the trajectories afforded by their foot-fueled airborne attacks. Yes, each character possesses two special moves (one grounded and one in the air), but the vast majority of gameplay comes down to putting your Jordans in the other guy’s gut before he does the same to you. Rounds are only 20 seconds long, and the first player to win five (i.e. best of nine) takes the match.

And oh yeah: this would be a good time to mention that every attack is a one-hit KO.

The most dangerous/hilarious game

If this all sounds silly to you, it is. Divekick is a parody of the entire fighting game genre, with characters copied from Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs Capcom, and, of course, Street Fighter. There are references to many other FGC jokes, both in-game (Street Fighter X Tekken DLC gems) and out (famous fighting pro Marn is a playable character). And the overarching satire of a game that only uses degenerative divekicking attacks is certainly not to be overlooked.

But if you think Divekick is just a joke, you’re gravely mistaken. What the indie FGC hit lacks in graphics, controls, and variety it makes up in competitive game design. There are no complicated inputs. No single-frame combos, or combos at all. There’s no ranking system, hidden moves, or special properties.

There’s just you, your opponent, and four shoes that want to be violently thrust somewhere, fast.

No gimmicks, no excuses

Because Divekick is so simple, there are no lame cop-outs for a loss. If you’re on the receiving end of a K.O., you dived when you shoulda kicked, or kicked when you shoulda dived. Sure, some characters might have slight advantages here or there, but almost all matches are going to come down to timing, prediction, and reading one’s adversary.

In other words: Divekick is 100% skill based competitive gaming.

For that reason, scrubs are going to absolutely hate Divekick. They won’t be able to blame their losses on character tiers or dropped combos. They won’t be able to tell themselves their opponents have been grinding out experience or learning cheap techniques. They might be able to blame lag, but I’m confident that a game with two buttons isn’t going to require particularly advanced net-code.

Players who anticipate the perfect time to Dive and Kick will win, and button mashers/predictable pattern players will lose, hard.

Don’t count out Divekick

Satire or not, Divekick represents an important viewpoint in fighting game development: the idea that mastery of one’s opponent is more important than mastery of arbitrary input difficulty. After all, high-level competitive fighting games aren’t about excellence in execution – it’s pretty much a given that pro players will land even the hardest combos. And if that’s the case, why even have combos at all? Why not just give the player with the best reflexes and instincts the tools to destroy his or her enemy?

That’s ultimately what Divekick is about, and that’s exactly why fighting game players and developers alike need to pay heed to this balls-to-the-wall minimalist masterpiece.

If you’d like to see Divekick on Steam, support its release via Steam Greenlight now! 


9 replies to this post
  1. Hmm, this is interesting to say the least. After all, the high emphasis on personal skill and wit were why I picked up Assassin’s Creed multiplayer. (And its glitches and exploits are why I refuse to call it competitive or admit that Assassinate exists.)

    Of course, this will not stop the evil of the community from at least claiming that you only won due to lag, glitches, or button mashing, even if they know better themselves. Because what will.

    I also like the way of determining timeouts by who is further from the middle. It sounds random, but when you think about it, the only way to come closer to it is by taking ground, and unless you’re the buttonmashing finger of Insert-Deity Himself, you aren’t going to be able to pass your opponent (thus becoming closer to the middle while in your half) without either of you getting kicked. In the face. Yes, perhaps I will like this game.

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