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By Matt Hawkins . April 6, 2013 . 3:00pm
Without question, one of the biggest curiosities on PAX East 2013 show floor last weekend was the game calling itself Divekick. Whenever someone passing by caught wind of the goofy name and how it really does tell you everything you need to know—which is simply about two things: diving and kicking—the immediate reaction was: “Is this for real?” And two seconds later, they immediately got in line, to see for themselves.
My first question for Dave Lang, president of Iron Galaxy, the publisher of Divekick, was how it all came to be. Lang explained how his company does a lot of work for hire for Capcom; they’ve helped port various arcade fighting games for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. As a result, they hire fighting game experts all the time, to make sure their ports are up to snuff.
Which is how Adam “Keits” Heart became involved with the studio. Heart is a noted Street Fighter player, and EIC of Shoryuken.com. One day, Heart and his pals came up with a goofy little side project, something to help draw people to the tournament that he organizes, the Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament. Something that “you couldn’t play anywhere else, much like Johann Sebastian Joust,” noted Lang.
Thus Divekick was born; the initial version was crude, but the mechanics were there. “It was started out as a joke,” explained Lang, “but everyone involved quickly realized that Heart was onto something here.” Hence the decision to develop into something more, so Heart decided to turn towards Kickstarter to help finance a full on game.
The goal was quickly met, which was only $30,000. Which prompted Lang to brush Heart aside and ask: “Dude, what are you doing? What are you going to do with $30,000? That won’t pay for shit!” Hence why he offered to partner up. “Let’s do the game you want to make, not the game you can only afford to make.” Thus the Kickstarter was cancelled and Lang brought in a number of his programmers, all of whom had experience in creating a finely-tuned fighting game affair.
PAX East 2013 served as the revamped game’s first public unveiling. When asked about a release platform and date, Lang stated that they wanted it out on PSN and Steam in time for EVO, which is around July. “We’ll ship it when it’s good and ready, but we have a lot of motivation to have it out in time for EVO.”
Speaking of seasoned fight fans, I asked about their reaction to Divekick. I was told: ”They love it! They were the first to get it. Here’s the deal; I love fighting games. My entire childhood was spent with friends, going at it in Virtua Fighter 2. But I don’t have that kind of time anymore, and I therefore stink at fighting games.”
“But that’s the best part of Divekick; it really boils everything down to the most fundamental part of every fighting game. They’re all about the space between two characters, that’s it. The distance between two characters, what attacks you each have at your disposal.
“The thing I love about Divekick is how it makes you feel like an expert in almost no time. You can wrap your head around the mechanics in just 15 minutes, and all the possible character match-ups in under an hour. The rest is all in your head. There’s not a billion different button combinations to memorize.”
And it’s true; the game is quite simple. The entire game is controlled with just two buttons: one of diving, and the other kicking. There isn’t even a control stick. To leap in the air, one simply hits the kick button. Hitting the diving button while kicking does just that, plus it helps you move forward. To move back, just double tap dive button.
The PAX East build had six different characters; which were differentiated by how high they jumped in the air, how fast they moved, and the angle of their kicks. Each also has one special air and one ground technique. It was noted that there were be plenty more characters in the final version, but Iron Galaxy is hesitant on giving out specific numbers since nothing on that end is finalized.
Though there was one other element that made the game so much fun to play, and that was the special controllers being used. I asked if they would ever be made commercially available.
“We’re working on deals for that,” Iron Galaxy shared with me. “But we basically need to prove that thousands of people will want them. I think shows like this will help a long with generating interest. Though it’s fully playable with anything that has two buttons.”