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CONSOLE: PlayStation DEVELOPER: DreamFactory PUBLISHER: Squaresoft
RELEASE DATE (NA): April 30, 1999 GENRE: Fighter/Action-RPG
// review by SoyBomb

Ehrgeizer: It keeps going and going and going and going...



I think what you meant to say was "Gesundheit", but I'll take what I can get.

Ehrgeiz is a German word that literally means "ambition". And, to put it lightly, this game is chock FULL of ambition. At its core, Ehrgeiz is a fighting game like Street Fighter or Tekken, but looking only at that alone would be an empty gaze. This game encompasses multiple styles of gameplay; pretty much any game player will find a genre they enjoy in Ehrgeiz, whether it be a tournament fighter, a dungeon crawler, a puzzler, or a racing game. It's all here, if you can believe that.

The main menu gives you multiple options, but the one automatically selected first is the Battle Mode, the meat and potatoes if you will. Ehrgeiz's battle mode is a full 3D one-on-one brawler. Movement isn't limited to one plane, so feel free to move around and make use of the complete space you've been given. Some arenas even have multiple levels, implementing height as a factor during your spar. The camera doesn't wriggle around too much, keeping the action squarely in front of you. The action is quick, and if you decide to loaf for too long, you'll get your butt handed to you in a resealable baggie. Unless you play under Very Easy difficulty, in which you can basically spam the kick button and see the ending in a relatively short period of time.

For fancypantsers of the ring who tire from the usual high, low, and mid attacks, each character also possesses a special attack performed by pressing the Circle button. "Wolf Girl" Jo can turn into a voracious canine of doom, Prince Doza has a Rocket Punch, Godhand literally has a gun for an arm, etc. In addition, there are advanced attacks that involve pressing a series of buttons in just the right order, including jump attacks and grasping. And if THAT'S not enough for you, why not throw a Just Frame Technique at someone, basically pressing a button at juuuuuust the right moment to keep an already successful combo going. And why not perform a fancy side-step softshoe while you're at it? Believe me: you won't run out of moves very quickly.

There is quite the array of fighters available I have to admit, such as "Yoyo" Yoko Kishibojin, the jujitsu student who is also a yo-yo enthusiast; Dasher Inoba, the wrestler with the Moe Howard hairstyle; and "Wolf Girl" Jo, a plane crash survivor raised by wolves. Each one of them has a detailed backstory, although the game doesn't shove it in our faces at any time. Now, keeping in mind that Ehrgeiz was originally an arcade game, be aware that character selection in the arcade version was fairly limited, so the PlayStation port (published by Squaresoft) threw in a few extra characters. They wouldn't be too notable... except they're all from Final Fantasy VII, a rather popular little game at the time. Being able to brawl as Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart, and Sephiroth, among others, must have been an alluring proposition at the time. (Cloud and Tifa had been indeed featured in the arcade version, but unlocked only after a certain amount of time had passed.) Their portraits are definitely more in line with the rest of the character artwork, with more defined black outlines and a more anime-style appearance.

Whether you're taking a sword to the leg or battling dinosaurs underground, you have to admit that life isn't easy.

I should also mention the story to this part of the game, because it's a tad bizarre. Going back half a century, the actual "Ehrgeiz" itself, a weapon with unknown origins, was found inside a German castle. Naturally, instead of studying or disarming it, the Ehrgeiz was given as a prize to whoever won the world's largest fighting tournament. (After all, who needs a trophy when they can have a weapon of mass destruction on their mantle?) Meanwhile, over in the Middle East, folks are digging through some ancient ruins to see if they can find the key to obtaining human immortality, but it is locked behind one unassailable door. Where's the key, you ask? Well, I'll bet they didn't look under the doormat in the ruins, so they assume it's inside... yep, the Ehrgeiz. With this news hitting the airwaves (pushing a story about the Backstreet Boys visiting the United Kingdom for a massive tour of Liverpool, Kidneypool, and Spleenpool), the formerly secret fighting tournament has now become public knowledge. And so, everyone's going to try and get the magical stone buried deep in the Ehrgeiz, and that's pretty much everyone's motive. Not sure why the Final Fantasy VII characters are here. The manual simply states that they have "been mysteriously summoned from the Final Fantasy VII world". Yep, it wasn't called Earth. It was Final Fantasy VII World.

Come to think of it, that would make for a fun theme park. Well, at least the non-tragic parts.

But wait! Don't leave just yet! There's more to Ehrgeiz than just beating someone up with a rifle arm! We haven't even talked about the other modes yet! If you thought Ehrgeiz was just your run-of-the-mill fighting game, you have another thing coming to you! Remember that Ehrgeiz was developed by Squaresoft, a company primarily known for their RPGs (and the occasional racist game — thanks, Square's Tom Sawyer). This long-running dabble in the field of RPGs gave them enough expertise to give us the almighty Quest Mode... and some other mini-games that... uhhh... yeah...

The Quest Mode is basically Square's answer to the age-old question, "How can we make anything an RPG?" Using the full title of "Brand New Quest: The Forsaken Dungeon" (from the people who brought you "Stanky Old Quest: The Easily Accessible Abandoned Pool Down The Street"), this is a dungeon-crawling action RPG in the same vein as Diablo or its lesser-known-but-just-as-good counterpart Torchlight. Upon awakening in a mysterious and distant motel, a pair of archaeologists get to dive deeper into a nearby dungeon in hopes that wonderful treasure is buried there. Of course — surprise, surprise! — the dungeon is infested with demons and blobby critters the likes of which are usually no match for a fritter-kneed archaeologist. But fear not! Equipped with some free gear courtesy of the innkeeper, you'll get to jab and stab your way to (presumed) riches.

Although you have two characters (one male, one female), only one can leave the inn at a time. After perusing the town and chatting it up with the local villagers, you'll head into the dungeon below. The floors are randomly generated, so each excursion downward will be a new adventure... nay, a brand new quest! You'll spend much of your time fending off whatever lurks below by either stabbing with your sword or expelling magic. Should you perish, you'll be switched to the other character (who was waiting conveniently at the inn while you braved danger for an enchanted ruby-encrusted codpiece) who can ressurrect you if they find your lifeless, loveless corpse faceplanted in the dust.

One important aspect that separates Brand New Quest from the other quests out there is the fact that your character very easily gets hungry. Dude's gotta eat. Whether you gulp down protein, minerals, or those ever-so-doughy carbohydrates, they will affect how your character's stats increase, based on what you eat more. Eating too much of one thing will slow down increases in other areas. Yeah... leveling up in Brand New Quest is... well, it's a thing. It's a thing that not even the game manual could be bothered to explain. Luckily, there's a knowledgeable bibliophile/dietician in the solitary town to give you a rundown of pretty much everything you need to know about the game, just so Squaresoft could save a few precious slices of paper in their cadaverous manual.

And if fighting for your life and seeking unspoken treasure didn't tickle your femur, there are also [collective sigh] mini-games. There are five, although one is conveniently hidden because "why not make them work for this mini-game" said game director Seiichi Ishii, while also ordering extra Is for his name. First off is Infinity Battle, where you basically keep on fighting until your character's heart gives out or your OWN heart gives out. Doing particularly well unlocks an outfit. I'm not kidding.

Battle Runner is a combination of racer/beat'em'up where you race against an opponent on three different tracks while still being able to give the other guy a good beatdown. Plus, there are even powerups on the tracks! You might not like these ones, though, as they're very cruel: a blue star switches your health meter with that of your competitor; a yellow star increases your speed (well, that one's okay); and a red star swaps the number of laps you've already completed with the number of laps you have remaining, and for whatever reason, you're running backwards. I'm not kidding.

Battle Beach has you performing track-and-field events... on the beach! If you can outrun and outjump-over-stuff your competitor to beat their time, you win the grand prize: poiiiiiiiints (and possibly an outfiiiiiiiit)! This one's downright ridiculous-looking but wouldn't be out of place in, say, a Dead Or Alive Volleyball game. Lastly in Battle Panel, a futuristic take on the game Othello (or "Reversi", if you will), with you and an opponent scooting around a gigantic board trying to claim squares for your colour. Plus, you can punch your challenger. Do so. Successfully winning at Battle Panel will unlock a harder version, called Evil Panel. It is evil.

I must admit, this game is... something else, but it looks decent for a mid-generation PlayStation game. The 3D graphics aren't half-bad and look much more polished than many of the first-year college projects the PlayStation had to offer back in the day. The audio, on the other hand, is rather forgettable, but it does have a certain energy to it that kept me focused and awake. At least the game's announcer has plenty of enthusiasm for everything going on, even the exhilarating game of Othello I just played. "GO!" he says. As in, "Go! Leave! Find something more interesting to do! I hear lilacs are in season!"

Ehrgeiz is many genres in one, and although it performs no particular task outstandingly, it's a fun enough way to whittle away a rainy afternoon instead of reorganizing your knick-knacks or polishing a large tuba. A competent fighter, a fairly involved dungeon crawler, and... and... AND HURDLES ON THE BEACH WHAT IN THE NAME OF SWEET BABY JOEY IS GOING ON I DON'T

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