The Fighting Games of PAX East 2013 – Divekick Part 2: The Roster

By on March 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm

This article continues from part one, which details Divekick’s gameplay mechanics.

Six characters were available in Divekick’s PAX build: Dive, Kick, Redacted, Kung Pao, Mr. N, and newcomer Dr. Shoals. Dive and Kick are easily the Ryu and Ken of the game, though they do have some important differences. Sticking to their namesakes, Dive is better at diving and Kick is better at kicking. This naturally makes Kick the more offensive and Dive the more defensive of the two characters.

Their techniques only reinforce these identities. Dive’s ground technique lets him jump forward instead of straight up, which is extremely useful for catching an enemy that has just kicked over your head, and his air-technique makes him plummet to the ground extremely fast to avoid getting hit in mid-air.

Kick’s air technique, on the other hand, is an extremely fast downward kick, far faster than his normal kick in kickfactor. When used inside kickfactor it’s almost an instant attack, perfect for anyone who likes to blow their meter on big gambles. Kick’s ground technique, the Party Starter, causes him to stomp on the ground with a slow start-up animation. If your opponent is on the ground at the time, they will be popped up into the air and temporarily concussed. Kick can then easily wave-kick forward to get in range for an easy kill.

Redacted was billed to me as a “beginner character,” but I honestly don’t think she’s very good. Her divekick and kickback are both very steep, which is useful for people who like to be responsive or for people who just like to kick wildly. However, her angle is so steep and her foot is so hard to see under that fur that it’s easy to mistake her non-kicking leg for her kicking leg, which results in a lot of near miss pass-throughs that will frustrate the living heck out of you.

Redacted’s air technique is a wall jump that costs almost no meter and really makes the character come alive in the corner. It’s in this area that she dominates and I had the best luck when I purposefully cornered myself as it’s hard to beat the trajectory control this gives you. Her ground technique lets her duck, but the feral stance she takes is almost as wide as she is tall meaning it doesn’t affect whether or not a given kick trajectory would hit you very often. Maybe if she moved forward a bit while crouching this would be better, but for now I can’t find a good use for it other than avoiding the more horizontal kicks in the game, like Kung Pao’s. Overall, Redacted was my least favorite character, though it is important to note that the game is still a work in progress.

Kung Pao is extremely difficult to use but highly effective. She retains her low jump and shallow kick, which makes her extremely vulnerable from above. Most of the cast can jump over her for better positioning, so she has to be played in a very conservative fashion and needs to make good use of her kickback. Her ground technique causes her to do a backflip kick that creates a crack in the playing field. Using her air technique then allows her to immediately teleport to the crack and come out of it kicking. So, in a way, she is a trap character and is one of the closest things to a zoner that Divekick has. Though she’s hard to get the hang of, she is incredibly fun to play and is capable of some pretty dirty tactics.

Mr. N received a bit of a makeover in the PAX version of Divekick. For one, he is fatter. I don’t know why the design the team could possibly have wanted to do this to his character model, but it looks good on him. He still has his steep kick and somewhat awkward dive, and like Redacted it’s possible to have pass-through collisions if you aren’t looking at his kicking leg, which is short and stubby. Mr. N has two of the most useful techniques in the game, however. His air technique allows him to hover for a short period of time in order to fake people out, and his ground technique causes him to run away, making kicks that would otherwise hit their mark totally whiff and leaving the attacking character vulnerable. Both of these techniques can be used in some sick ways if you are creative. I promised I wouldn’t talk about some of the tricks I saw behind closed doors, but know that technical players will love Mr. N.

Finally, Dr. Shoals is the most unique member of the Divekick cast so far. Kicking in the air causes Shoals to kick across the screen in an almost entirely horizontal path. However, in the middle of the horizontal kick you can choose to kick again, causing her to interrupt it and drop down in a nearly vertical arc. Her ability to kick twice also means that she is able to gain meter far quicker than other characters, which is an extremely good thing because she also has one of the best techniques in the game. Activating her air technique causes her to enter flight mode, at which point you can make her fly left and right. You can attack out of flight mode, and re-enter flight mode afterwards, giving her some sick movement options.

More characters are coming in the future and Uncle Sensei has already been confirmed, though he wasn’t playable in the PAX build. The roster of Divekick was maybe one of the most impressive things. Regardless of my personal vendetta against Redacted, it feels as if a ton of effort was put into making the roster interesting to play. The fact that players were able to develop tech and real tricks in a game where the only things you can do are dive and kick is absolutely astounding. This low complexity high-depth learning curve is something that most developers only dream about!

However, it’s also worth mentioning that Divekick character design excels in areas other than mechanics. Their visual design is also incredibly pleasing. From the way that Mr. N binge eats after a win or loss to Dr. Shoals’ excessive note scribbling, every character is just dripping with personality. Even those who didn’t get the fighting game in-jokes seemed to really enjoy the cast, which makes Divekick’s future outside of the community a promising one.

“Divekick. You’ll get a kick out of it!” – Keits

And on that note, be sure to check back tomorrow for part three of our look at Divekick.

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.