The lights are on
Divekick is a joke. Sort of. But it's also much more than that. Hidden behind its satirical coating is a deep fighter that boils fighting games down to their essence and eliminates much of the needless complexity of "hardcore" fighting games.
You see, Divekick is a fighting game that only uses two buttons for everything: Dive and Kick. To move forward, perform a divekick. To jump back, press the kick button. And when I say Divekick only uses two buttons for everything, I literally mean everything. Even the menus are navigated using the dive and kick buttons.
Combat all boils down to cunning timing, understanding your distance, and twitch reflexes. Each player can only take one hit - get hit once, and it's round over. Because you can only dive and kick, you really have to understand the capabilities of each of the game's 13 silly fighters to succeed. Each have different styles and rates at which they both jump and descend, as well as a special move or two to understand. Almost every one the characters that make up the roster are over the top and in some ways stereotypical, all spouting ridiculous (and often hilarious) dialogue and win phrases. You have the Chun-Li rip off, the mandatory animal fighter, the two rivals who trained under the same master, the character who each round adopts a new fighting style. It all adds up to an amusing and colorful cast of characters.
But the game was once even simpler, featuring instead only two identical characters, the brothers and rivals Dive and Kick. In some ways, adding more characters and special moves defeats Divekicks original purpose - to be a satire on the complexity and absurdity of many fighting games. By eliminating special moves, character differences, and difficult button commands, old Divekick boiled fighting games down to their very core, while this new version adds some of these mechanics, but in a tongue in cheek way.
New Divekick definitely doesn't shy away from or ditch the joke aspect of the games original intent. There is something funny in just about every aspect of Divekick, especially if you are a fighting game fan. Defeat an opponent in a round, and the somewhat offensive Asian announcer occasionally exclaims "Perfect!", a phrase normally reserved for rounds in other fighters in which you emerge victorious but also undamaged by your opponent. It's funny, because every round in Divekick is technically a perfect for one player or the other. Kick an opponent in the head and the announcer yells "Headshot!" and doing so again in the next round scores you a "Double Kill." Win four out of 5 rounds in a row and the game announces a "Fraud Detection Warning", and if you proceed to emerge victorious in the final round and take away the win, your opponent is literally stamped as a fraud. It works the other way as well, win 4 rounds in a row only to lose the next 4 rounds and the game announces a "Choke Warning".
The whole game is tongue in cheek. The boss character for the game is a game developer obsessed with "fixing" his game and releasing new spinoff or updated editions with ridiculous subtitles such as Divekick: Super Ultra Magnum DX Edition, while another character creates fighting game accessories for a living. The story modes cutscenes and character backstories are just as ridiculous as just about any other fighting games story, which I guess is kind of the point. Dive and Kick are parodies of Street Fighter's Ryu and Ken, the rivals who learned from the same master and have almost identical moves.
Divekick would be an amusing diversion if the game only focused on the satirical aspect of game, but it wouldn't necessarily succeed. Instead, the developers opted to make a fighting game of surprising depth and complexity, but at the same time eliminated much of the barrier of entry that intimidates some gamers from playing fighting games. Anybody can understand and play a game that only uses two buttons. Everybody can perform these special moves. And everyone can laugh at a game that laugh's most of all at itself.