At 5 a.m. during a Marvel vs. Capcom 3 session, Adam Heart and a group of friends were joking about divekicks, that staple of fighting games. What if there were a game in which fighters could only do divekicks? A game with only two buttons, one for jump and one for kick. After the laughter stopped, they realized such a thing should exist. It had to exist. The fruit of this labor is Iron Galaxy and One True Game’s Divekick, and the simple idea is making big waves in the fighting community. Fighting game legend Seth Killian has called its exploration of controlling space “brilliant.” GamerTell talked with Divekick creator Adam Heart about making this unique game a reality.
“We’re hearing mostly positive stuff with reviews and people talking on Twitter,” Heart said. “I know you can’t please everybody, but I just ask you to try it before you say something negative. I respect you if you tried it. Some of the things people that don’t like it have talked about are things like art design. I understand if that’s not for you. One of the complaints has been that there aren’t eight player lobbies, and we just didn’t have the time to add that. We’ve had mostly positive response though.”
One of the things that has surprised people is the amount of depth in a fighter with two buttons. This was inevitable with a competitive mind like Heart doing it. That wasn’t necessarily the plan in the beginning.
“We started out just trying to make people laugh and have as much fun as possible,” he said. “That’s a good place to start. The test groups couldn’t put it down. I would invite people over to play for a little while and 14 hours later, I can’t leave my house.”
Still, the fighting game community loves breaking things down and determining the best ways to win. Two buttons or not, they started making tier lists. Heart ended up using Kung Pao (a gender swapped version of Mortal Kombat’s Kung Lao) because the community decided she was bad. He respectfully disagrees.
“I think she’s great, and the more we used her the more things we found,” he said. “If you’ve never played a good Kung Pao and you run into one, you’re going to get blown up.”
There’s something about fighting games that makes us want to watch the masters at work. Put a fighter on display at an event, add some skilled players and the whole scene quickly turns into an arcade. Everyone is either waiting for a turn, or watching just to be part of the experience. After eight months of playing, Heart said they are still uncovering new tactics and techniques. At E3, they demoed the game with special two button controllers. Fight sticks are important part of the genre. But because of the expense to make them, it probably won’t be marketable for Divekick. Some dedicated fans have made their own.
“I saw one guy that took a shoe and put two buttons in it,” Heart said. “Another used a Pringles can to make a controller. Somebody used a GameCube converter and they play with their Donkey Kong bongos.”
That’s the kind of passion that turns a game into a hit.
When they demoed the game at PAX East, this unusual fighter knew there was an audience for it. There were lines to play the game, and Sony noticed them. Indie developers are changing the gaming landscape. Sony has set aside funds to help them do so. They actively seek out projects that are worthy of attention but need a little help to get there. Seeing the reaction to Divekick, Sony made it part of the PS Vita Summer Select Sale. That’s going to give it a world of exposure.
“They see the value of smaller projects,” Heart said. “They see that the industry is full of $10, $15 games right now. There will always be the AAA games for $60, but that’s not the right fit for every game. I look at what I play now, and it’s a lot of the $10 games. It’s cool that Sony realizes that and they have made it a part of their formula.”
Perhaps you have wanted to try fighting games, but didn’t want to learn elaborate moves or intricate combos. This game is for you. Divekick is available on Steam, PS3 and Vita. Our review is online, in case you’d like to learn more. PAX Prime attendees can give it a try for themselves Aug. 30 – Sept. 2, 2013. If you like it, feel free to tell some of your friends. For tips, follow @Divekickgame and Uncle Sensei.