Of all the games Squaresoft made, the with the most ignominious history must surely be Ehrgeiz, an arcade fighting game that made its way onto PSOne with the addition of a dungeon quest and some mini-games. It had different game modes and cameos from Final Fantasy VII characters, but the one thing it didn’t have was much in the way of quality.
To be fair, even though I don’t particularly crave it when I’m not playing, despite its flaws, the arcade beat-‘em-up aspect of the game is the best part, and I do occasionally have bouts of trying my luck at it. Even so, this isn’t to say that it is particularly good- because if it was, why would I even be ranting about it?
Like most beat-‘em-ups, Ehrgeiz can be played in one of two ways; if you happen to be a multi-limbed creature with incredible reflexes and a photographic, you can pull off a number of advanced button combinations designed to generate special attacks, or, if you are merely human, you can just button bash and chain basic combos- an approach which admits serves well about 90% of the time anyway. In this way, you can battle your way through around eight consecutive battles in back alleys and other fascinating locales, before facing Red Scorpion during the credits in the hopes of winning and getting the game’s good ending. Then, when you’re done, you can battle through identical story modes for all the other characters, each of them uglier and less appealing than the last. What fun, eh?
Had enough of one-on-one battle? Fancy something a little more ambitious? Well, if you’re feeling particularly masochistic, you can always indulge in Ehrgeiz’s dungeon crawler section, a quest which sees generic looking characters Koji and Claire attempt to penetrate to the lowest level of a poorly designed dungeon. Armed with swords and axes, you must hack and slash through hordes of ugly enemies, in a game that is as tedious as it is uninspiring. Even saving is a hassle- in principle, you can save any time, but each time you do so, it costs an increasing amount of money to do so, forcing to play long after you want to quit just so that you have the funds to save.
As if to add insult to injury, not only does the game treat the player badly, it shows so little regard for the characters that one of the healing items is a bowl of dog food. There is something rather soul destroying about having to feed your character dog food, even if it is to replenish their HP.
Mini-Games: why, God, why?
Thought it couldn’t get any worse? Sadly, some bright spark over at the then Squaresoft thought it would be a great idea to include a mini-game section for people to while away their hours on. I’ve yet to meet anyone who thinks running endless laps around a track whilst trying to beat a computer controlled character is fun, but if you happen to be that person, you may have just found the game for you. You’ll be even more ecstatic to learn that your reward for getting an impossible record on these games is nothing less than…an extra outfit for some of the characters! Knock yourself out.
Whilst it has value as a collector’s item, Ehrgeiz is the sort of game that tries to do everything, and ends up not doing any of it very well. If you want beat-’em-up, try Soul Calibur; if you fancy some dungeon crawling, go for Diablo- just don’t expect this game to deliver in any way.