The Fighting Games of PAX East 2013 – Divekick Part 1: The Game System

By on March 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm

It was my second day of PAX East, running on nothing other than two hours of sleep and awful pizza, when I walked up to the Divekick booth for my scheduled appointment. I had a few minutes to kill before the team was ready for me, so I decided to try my hand at beating a pro and winning a poster. The pro in this instance was Alex Jebailey, organizer of the Community Effort Orlando tournament series. I stepped up to the monitor, shook his hand, and began to slap those big yellow and blue buttons, but in only a few seconds I heard the fraud detection siren blare.

This was my last chance. I had to prove myself in front of an audience that rivaled the size of many triple-A title crowds on the show floor. I took a deep breath, rubbed the fatigue out of my eyes, and…got kicked right in the face. Jebailey pulled me over to the side to get my hand stamped with a large black “FRAUD” that would stick with me through the rest of the convention. While the ink has long since washed off, the sting will last for the whole of my fighting game career. I held my proverbial scarlet letter high and hung my head in shame to the laughs and applause of the crowd as I shambled over to the media station for the promise of a full demo and interview, as well as a roast beef sandwich that fit snugly inside my shirt pocket.

This, despite all the exclusive media demos, invite-only parties, and panels that I spoke on, was the greatest moment of my PAX East trip this year, and that’s exactly why you should play Divekick.

Divekick may have started as a joke, but it soon became much more. While the game is simple and easy to jump into, it has depth that rivals even the most complicated fighter. As you become more proficient in Divekick, you’ll find yourself not only planning headshots, but footshots as well, taking advantage of tiny intricacies in your opponent’s position and hurtbox. Mindlessly mashing out kicks is a recipe for disaster and will get you exposed as a fraud quicker than you can say “Mike Ross”.

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the Divekick hype, here’s a quick rundown of game:

Matches are best of 9. The game has two buttons, dive and kick. Dive makes you jump into the air and kick makes you kick toward the ground. Pressing kick while on the ground causes you to “kickback,” which is essentially a shallower backward jump. Each divekick does one million damage, making every attack a one-hit kill as characters have nowhere near that much health.

Each character also has a meter that builds every time you kick. Filling the meter makes you go into Kickfactor mode, which gives you an incredible speed boost for a limited time (and according to Keits in the early days of the game, a damage boost as well. Two million damage!). New to the game are “techniques,” activated by pressing dive and kick at the same time. Techniques spend meter, so using them makes you less likely to enter Kickfactor. You can use techniques while in Kickfactor, but it makes the power-up run out quicker. All characters have a ground technique and an air technique, and the amount of meter that it takes to perform them is marked by arrows on your Kickfactor gauge.

Headshots and concussions also play a big part in Divekick strategy. If you manage to land an attack on your opponent’s head, they will start the next match concussed, taking a hit to both speed and jump height. When the concussion wears off, all the meter in their Kickfactor gauge is lost, so avoid getting kicked in the face at all costs.

Gems remain a key part of the game, and the PAX build had four different ones to choose from. The Dive gem makes your dives 10% faster and the Kick gem makes your kicks 10% faster, as normal. The DLC Divekick gem has been removed and replaced with the Style gem, which makes your meter build 10% quicker. The final new gem is the Man Mode gem, which gives you a constant 30% increase to dives, kicks, and meter gain, but spots your opponent four wins at the start of the match, requiring you to fraud him or lose.

Speaking of frauds, the game’s fraud detection system is now more sophisticated than ever. Lose four times in a row and the fraud detection siren will start blaring, prompting you to step up your game. Lose again and you will have to live with your shame, but run it back and you’ll activate a new (not yet implemented in the PAX build) choke detection warning at 4/4. Show your opponent that you’re no fraud!

Most of the setups at the Iron Galaxy booth showcased the console version of Divekick, complete with authentic Divekick arcade controllers designed by Dustin and Shawn Huffer of Hitbox fame. However, they also had the PlayStation Vita version set up, which plays differently than you might think. When a Vita game kicks off, one player holds one side of the handheld while the second player holds the other. Dive and kick are controlled with the d-pad and the X and O buttons, so you get to play a full game of Divekick huddled uncomfortably close to your opponent the whole time. This is great if you are playing with a significant other and horrible if you are playing with random unshowered con-goers. Still, I can’t help but hope the Divekick EVO tournament is held on the Vita version in this way, with both players shoulder to shoulder, a camera looming over their heads, and a commentator peering over the side to see what’s going on.

“Divekick. It brings couples closer together.” –Keits

Stay tuned for part two of this feature, which will go over the game’s updated roster.

Angelo M. D’Argenio A.K.A. MyLifeIsAnRPG got his start in the fighting game community as a young boy playing Street Fighter II in arcades down at the Jersey Shore. As president of Disorganization XIII, he travels the convention circuit presenting a variety of panels from discussions on gamer culture, to stick modding workshops, to fighting game comedy acts. He has a passion for looking at the fighting game community from an academic standpoint and has completed several studies on effective fighting game learning and the impact fighting games have on social circles. A six year veteran of the gaming industry, he also writes for Cheat Code Central and is a lead game designer for Ember Games. On Tuesdays, you can find him getting bodied by Chris G and getting mistaken for Seth Rogen at The Break.