When Divekick first appeared, the game seemed like a really well done joke. You take most of the complexity out of fighting games and leave the most basic elements you can. Why would someone want to play such a simple game, let alone pay for it?
Because It’s Brilliant, That’s Why
Think about this for a second: you take away things like combos, varied normals, and special moves and what are you left with? A set of characters that are more likely to be balanced and a game that is based less on perfect execution of button presses and more based on reading your opponent and baiting them.
Whether it’s the juggles in Tekken, the insanely long strings in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, or even simple cancels in Street Fighter, there is nothing wrong with combos in and of themselves, but for many players, especially ones without arcade sticks, these are hard to pull off.
While Divekick strips this away, it teaches you something that is fundamental to all fighting games: mind games. You and your opponent are almost completely equal, save for minor character differences and the gems in the game: increased kick, increased jump, or the powerful but handicapping YOLO gem (which gives you power but gives your opponent an automatic 4 round lead.)
This equal footing (pun intended) makes the fights boil down to who falls for whose bait. Are you going to aggressively approach your opponent by short jumping and kicking until you’re close than trying to out jump them? Are you going to bait them by jumping back and waiting for them to attack first? What are they planning on baiting you with?
Mind games are so fundamental to fighting games, it is safe to say they are much more important than being able to pull off long strings. If your opponent can consistently bait you to do something unsafe, they can just chip you down with normals in games that aren’t Divekick.
As someone who really sucks at pulling off more than just basic combos, I love what I played of Divekick. It is much easier to stand toe to toe with even more experienced fighting game players. As long as you can trick them, you can win.
I plan on buying Divekick on day one. The concept is hilarious, but as I mentioned, it is actually more complex than it appears on the surface. It’s also just plain ol’ fun.