It’s better to master two moves than to know 20,000.
You dive and you kick. Dive… and kick… That’s all there is to it. First, the game’s name: Divekick. Then instead of saying “Fight!” before each round begins as nearly every fighter ever released does, the announcer yells “Divekick!”. Two of the main characters are brothers named Dive and Kick. There are only two moves and two buttons—you guessed it—dive and kick. As long as it took you to read what I’ve written so far is about how long it takes for Divekick’s charm to be played out.
Despite only two moves and two buttons, there’s a surprising amount of depth to the combat. All that diving and kicking requires a substantial mastery of timing to succeed. But it’s simplicity in favor of variety, which loses its appeal quickly. First instincts tell you to play defensively, but like any Pay-Per-View Boxing or MMA match where the fighters are being too cautious, it gets boring fast and leads to unanimous boos. The most exciting moments come from when you’ve dive-kicked too close to your opponent and frantic dive-kicking over each other’s heads ensues. Plus there’s a short set timer urging you to get on with it.
There are a number of characters, but they still just dive and kick. What separates them, though, is the speed and trajectory at which they do so. Each also has a special move governed by a meter, and have different gems that bolster certain attributes. The cast is comical, but not memorable. None of them really stand out for their talent, or their design and story, which is laughable in both a good and bad way.
Story mode takes roughly 30-40 minutes to complete with each combatant depending on equal parts skill and luck, offering up a side of cheesy humor with the combat. Even with the few snickers and giggles, it comes off as dry compared to playing against a human.
Online play is available, but the most enjoyment and mileage—at least on the PS3 version—will come from local play where ball-busting and face-rubbing provides immediate satisfaction. The PS Vita version has local play as well, where two players each get one side of the Vita to control, playing on the one screen. I’ve seen this type of gameplay before on the Wii U, but it’s the first of its kind that I’m aware of on the Vita. I like it, and it’s a cool idea, but it’s uncomfortable and cramped to play for more than a couple matches.
Trying to navigate, switch, and select options within the menu are all handled with the same two buttons. One goes forward, the other back, and pressing both at once is how you select. It’s confusing and it's a chore. It’s a nitpick, since you don’t spend much time in the menu, but why disable the standard D-pad and button selection for the sake of selling the two-button-ness of Divekick?
The two button control scheme is genius—mad scientist, hysterically laughing lunatic-type genius. Although I surmised it from the idea, the gameplay, and the goofy story where the brothers are raised in West Philly but shipped off to Bel-Air to live with their uncle after a scuffle, watching the end credits shows that the developers at Iron Galaxy are a bunch of knuckleheads. They’re exactly the type of people I’d love to share a beer with, but I’m still not sold on them making my video game.
Divekick is a crazy idea that just so happens to work well for a short while, but wears out its charm long before you get your money’s worth out of the content. Unless you plan on playing locally on the couch with some buddies that are as like-minded as you and the developers are, the $9.99 asking price would be better spent elsewhere.