Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring Review by: Shogun GamerEhrgeiz: God Bless the Ring - More To It Than You ThinkEhrgeiz: God Bless the Ring
As a note to keep in mind about this game's reputation. Back then, fighting games weren't as exposed to a larger audience as it is now, and thus, many didn't really look deeply into fighting game mechanics to bring out a game's full potential. Ehrgeiz happened to get poor ratings possibly because it's true potential wasn't tapped into by those who previously reviewed it.
However, we are in an era where it's apparently important to know "Frames" and "One frame combos" and "Daigo Umehara level Parries." I don't really believe in that even though I do study into it a bit. Surprisingly, Ehrgeiz has techniques utilized in today's fighting games, some of those being seen in Tekken, Soul Calibur, and even Street Fighter!
I'll start off by mentioning that Ehrgeiz is not everyone's cup of tea. Ehrgeiz originated from the Tobal series before which was inspired by Tekken slightly. However, unlike Tobal or Tekken, Ehrgeiz is not just any 3D fighting game. It LITERALLY is a 3D fighting game featuring 8-way directional game play with the same engine used in Tobal.
Ehrgeiz is simply unique to put it short. What makes it so original is, unlike Soul Calibur's 8-way run in which you are always facing the opponent on a linear horizontal plane, Ehrgeiz allows you to run anywhere on the arena you'd like without keeping your focus on the opponent. There is also a lock on button that allows you to use a walking and ducking command while also allowing more different attacks and maneuvers to be used. Of all features, this would be the first thing you'd notice in how it compares to other 3D fighting games.
The fighting game mechanics consist of, high, mid, and low attacks like with most fighting games. Ehrgeiz also uses a three way game with throws in which you can strike low or high, or throw the opponent which can be escaped on a short frame. It also utilizes the same juggling system of Tobal by DreamFactory, in which the character being juggling will flip and spin all over the place and gain more weight with each attack (if you can perfectly time your long juggle.) Fall recovery, dodge rolling, dash stepping, side stepping, projectile-evasion, interrupting, sword-grabbing, running, hopping, and jumping are all features that add the games depth and make very high levels of gameplay possible.
Another interesting feature that adds to the depth of battle is the new special button not included in previous Tobal games (though projectile shots were possible.) The special button is not just a single purpose move for shooting projectiles, but also has its own small move set of extra techniques to allow for more dangerous ways of battle, to take out opponents in the air, laying on the ground, and what not. Sometimes it can be a style change, as with Cloud allowing him the use of his Buster Sword in battle. Though specials are not the only unblockable attacks, the addition of specials are a welcomed with open arms to change up the close-quarters battle.
As you see, there actually is plenty of interesting features in the combat system that is extremely overlooked and one of the reasons Ehrgeiz received terrible scores in the past. However, combat is not the only thing featured in this game, and I certainly don't want to talk too much into the other features either as I could go on for hours about them.
When you first start the game, you'll notice a menu of the original Ehrgeiz, a mini games mode, and an RPG Quest mode which is tradition with Tobal based games (except the Bouncer). The mini games are actually a great way to get away from all the intense battling action. There are four mini games for you to enjoy, and are actually a sweet addition to the game with their own level of challenge.
The RPG Quest mode is certainly different from the rest of Ehrgeiz. It works like a dungeon-explorer yet still retains the Ehrgeiz feel which keeps it fresh at first, but eventually you'll discover the monstrous difficulty if you fail to adapt to its other in depth rpg elements. It may take a bit of learning for some, but others may feel right at home. For those familiar with Tobal, you'll remember the hunger gauge you have to tend to in order to recover health or for that matter stay alive.
In Ehrgeiz's quest mode, this remains true except hunger no longer heals since there is no sleep option. Money is also takes space in your inventory unfortunately, so along with all the food, items, equipment, magic stones, and materia, is your money which stacks into handfuls of money. It's best to make sure to take a look around the town to find out about all the shops before actually entering the dungeon.
Another thing that keeps this RPG interesting yet frustrating is your food balance...Yes...a food balance. If you balance your meals in what you eat, you'll have a steady even growth of all your stats. If you eat plenty of protein, you'll gain more strength than other stats and so on. Unfortunately, because the dungeons are randomized every play through, there's no knowing what food you will find depending on your encounters. Whatever you do, always make sure to keep a dragon wing handy to make your escape, you can always go back to the same point by doing that, rather than having your partner go through multiple floors to save you...and your equipment.
Overall, there's many ways to have fun in Ehrgeiz, but of all things, the RPG mode might be the least accessible of the modes, as some players will flat out give up, but others may strive for victory (tested different kinds of players.) The quest mode in Ehrgeiz was certainly different from Tobal which allowed the player the full battle system, where as Ehrgeiz has the player rely on a more simple rpg hack n' slash based combat (with a zelda spin attack.) The core of Ehrgeiz really lies in the original game. Keep in mind, there are unlockable characters also.
At first sight, Ehrgeiz looks like a really simple game, until you see a professional or two computers play the game. Ehrgeiz is indeed a very difficult game, perhaps just as difficult as Tobal, if not, more due to the full 3D combat (meaning more chances for your attack to miss possibly.)
Back then, professional play in fighting games wasn't as exposed to plenty of people, but with youtube and more popularization of video games as with Street Fighter, King of Fighters, Tekken, and so on; a larger audience has immersed themselves in the pro fighting game world and many who want to see a match hosted on youtube discover how to really push a fighting game to its limits...or for that matter how it should be played.
Ehrgeiz is actually a technical game, meaning you have to rely on knowing your character's best strategies, certain moves that work well against others, zoning, advanced techniques, frames...yeah, it gets pretty bad. This is one of the reasons the game received bad reviews, not because the reviewer at first knew it was technical, but because the larger audience back then didn't know about new gaming strategies popularized in Street Fighter III and what not. Though, the game being technical does indeed make it difficult to access for many even now.
The computers can provide really extreme challenges on higher levels of difficulty of course, and amazingly can provide an interesting match if you have two computers duke it out in training mode against each other. What makes this game hard is the fact that it's difficult to even do what the computers can do, such as the "just frame" technique, in which one taps a button at an extremely precise timing for an action to occur, in this case, throw escaping which is extremely difficult.
The controls are both very easy, and very difficult depending on how far you want to learn into the DreamFactory world. Just pressing buttons is very simple, then learning how to use more advanced techniques with lock on is once again, simple...but learning just frame attacks, that's going to take lots and lots of practice depending on the character you use (Look up the move list for Godhand and try his large just frame combo, then you'll see what I mean.)
The best part about the overall learning curve of Ehrgeiz is, it gets as difficult as you want it to. Unfortunately, getting to that higher level of game play is what really makes the game shine, thus being harder to access for those who aren't fighting game fans, though, they'll still enjoy it, just not as much as some others would...and one of the reasons I "accidentally" traded Ehrgeiz for something else, boy did I regret it.
How addicting is Ehrgeiz? Well, if it floats your boat, you might come back to play the game every so often. For me, even as much as I love the game, it doesn't control how much I play or view it. This is a game you might play an hour to a few hours before putting it down, coming back to it the next day or few days. Though, those who don't enjoy it as much, might hardly come back to it (I can never get my friend to play it as much.)
The RPG mode is a completely different story on the other hand. It's really 50/50 with the quest mode simply because it can frustrate you enough to stop playing, or keep you playing for hours and hours.
I'll just start of saying, Ehrgeiz's graphics are actually nice compared to some other games, even with its downgrade from the Arcade version. It rivals or perhaps even surpasses Tekken in some way, but it's hard to say considering the different overall graphic design of the game...though there are actually a handful of moves from Tekken in this game, like Kazuya's Wind God Fist.
The overall original character design (not including the final fantasy characters) is okay. You have Ken "Godhand" Mishima who is a mix between Kazuya Mishima, Jin Kazama, and Bryan Fury from Tekken, not to mention he has black-colored Kazuya Gloves, hence the name Mishima. Then you have Koji Masuda, the previous champ of Ehrgeiz who just wears a red shirt, tan over shirt with a ripped sleeve, and brown pants. Ironically, the outfit fits his slightly boring down to earth MMA fighting style, yet he is also the best and cheapest character in the game. Alternate outfits are also included, some looking entirely different from the other as with Sasuke's unique ninja costume to a more traditional ninja costume.
The overall graphical design of the game is as I mentioned, very good and blows away a lot of the competition. The stages on the other hand are nothing too special, but at least the location design of the stages are pretty cool looking.
As for the Quest mode's overall design...It's just too basic and simple. The town houses all look simple like how it was in Tobal, and since it's a dungeon-crawler type, the dungeon floors only feature a few different rooms with the same wall in every one of them.
The FMV sequences are at the top of their game. Because squaresoft also worked on the game around the time of Final Fantasy 8, but released it before in Japan and after in America, the FMV graphics could possibly be a beta to Final Fantasy 8 probably.
There are two music options in Ehrgeiz. There is the original arcade music, and the arranged Playstation music. What's the difference? Well, the arranged version is most likely live performance judging from the Hong Kong Reggae sound featuring a guitar soloist the entire song, where this is not present in the original arcade version. It's pretty much like the difference between listening to the old Super Mario theme, and listening to a concert band perform it. These two options are a great addition to the game, and keep the music in Ehrgeiz fresh.
The overall music of the game is pretty cool and even features remixes two themes from Final Fantasy VII, the battle theme and prelude theme. Some songs sound pretty intense and epic to keep the players engaged in the battle. In short, the music does the game justice.
The voice acting is actually good, considering it's mostly just grunts and shouts of pain. Though, there actually is a whole scene of dialogue between Koji Masuda and Clair Andrews when you start the quest mode. The Japanese voice acting was kept so there's one little surprise for some people out there who only enjoy Japanese dubs.
The sound effects on the other hand are a little questionable. Not the punching and kicking, but the counter hit effect and wall hitting effect. I might be nitpicking but, it honestly sounds a little over done and somehow sounds annoying in the strangest way. This is also something you'll hear a lot of also.
Yes, this game actually has a story in its quest mode. It's not really THAT big of a story, but it's there in the beginning of the game and sets your reason to your quest throughout. Basically, two archaeologists, Koji Masuda and Clair Andrews, discuss a legendary artifact that holds "the mystery of immortality" and they decide they'll check out an ancient ruins to find the legendary artifact.
As for the story behind the original Ehrgeiz if you are curious, the fighters in the game are either curious of the mystery that surrounds Ehrgeiz, know of the legendary Materia Blade that holds amazing power, or are just looking to prove their place in the tournament...or in Han Daehan's case, looking to get "his mysteriously vanished away" leg back.
Overall: 7.9 out of 10
Why not a perfect 8? I can't recommend this game to everyone as it still falls a little short of being accessible on the long run when a player might want to push themselves to a limit over their own as it takes fighting game knowledge of game like street fighter and what not to understand advanced techniques in Ehrgeiz. However, it still remains fun even without such tactics and has plenty of fun games that may just reach more than just fighting game lovers. I still feel it's a must play game due to its unique gameplay values, not to mention, the graphics are pretty good.