Reviewed: June 29, 1999
Reviewed by: Mark Smith

Square Electronic Arts

Dream Factory

Released: May 5, 1999
Genre: Fighting
Players: 2
ESRB: Teen


Supported Features:

  • Analog Support
  • Vibration Function
  • Memory Card

  • So what do you get when you combine more than 15 warriors, 12 arenas, 3 unique game modes, more hidden secrets than Area 51, and incredible 3D graphics using the rarely seen hi-res mode of the PlayStation - EHRGEIZ. Brought to us by Dream Factory (Tobal 2) and SquareSoft (Final Fantasy 7, Parasite Eve), the fighting genre may never be the same after you play this game.

    I'll be the first to admit that I am not a big fighting game fan. I've played most of the fighting games that are currently available, but they hold my attention for only a few days at best. EHRGEIZ has changed all that. This is without a doubt the best 3D fighting game I have ever had the privilege to play.

    You will know you are in for something special when the opening movie begins to play. The opening FMV is simply stunning, and draws from great anime styles such as Ghost in the Shell. When the movie is over you will be brought to the main menu where you can pick your Game Mode.

    EHRGEIZ features three unique game modes, which I will cover in detail in a moment, but first let's talk about everything that is common to all of these modes. First of all is graphics, and I can't really say enough about how incredible these are. EHRGEIZ uses the hi-res mode of the Playstation. This is the same mode that you use to view Grand Turismo replays and fight a few of the battles in Metal Gear Solid. In addition to the incredible detail of the hi-res mode, the animation is presented in a smooth 60fps giving you unprecedented control over your characters.

    And how about those characters; 11 primary characters, 2 guest characters and 5 hidden characters offer plenty of selection and almost unlimited gameplay. The number of techniques and combat moves for each character is mind boggling. For instance, there are 9 techniques including; Interrupts, Dizzies, Throws, Counters, Just Techniques, Special Attacks, Rolling, Evading and Blocking, Step, and Fighting with Boxes (optional).

    Each character has dozens of attacks divided among these techniques. A good example is Godhand; probably the first character most of you will play since he shows up first on the menu. He has 38 Special Techniques, 6 Throw Attacks, 8 Special Attacks, and 4 Just Techniques.

    I highly recommend that if you get this game and plan on playing it seriously that you get the "Official EHRGEIZ Fighters Guide" from BradyGames. It is 142 pages of the most useful information you will ever find for this game, and it will certainly increase your enjoyment of the title. There are so many hidden characters, extra costumes, bonus battles and strategy tips for the RPG game that you will almost certainly never find them all without this guide. In fact, I have the guide and even knowing what I must do terrifies me. Just to unlock the third set of costumes for the characters you must perform 8 objectives, which are spread out across all three game modes.

    So let's get back to those game modes and start off with the Ring Mode. This will be familiar to most of you since it resembles most of the other fighting games out there. Of course the stunning graphic detail, rich lighting, and special effects truly make this game stand out above all those others. EHRGEIZ can easily compete with any 3D accelerated PC game for sheer visual quality.

    Ring Mode is pretty straightforward. Choose Arcade, VS, or Practice and start fighting. Arcade mode is where you will start to unlock the FMV ending movies for each character and the extra battles, which feature characters from Final Fantasy. Ring Mode offers a full 360-degree range of motion and a very intelligent camera system so you always have the best view of the action. Here is a brief description for each of the levels and maybe a few combat tips.

    Arena 1 - Dome

    This is the first combat area and is a standard wrestling ring where you will encounter Dasher Inoba. He is big and slow and easy to beat as long as he doesn't catch you and smash you into the floor. The boxes shown in this image are optional and can be turned off/on in the options menu. When they are on you can throw these boxes at your opponent. They will smash open and reveal various power-ups.

    Arena 2 - Roof

    You will fight Jo on this level. She has the ability to morph into a wolf and do some real damage if she gets too close. Watch out when her special power meter is depleted, as her un-powered special attack is a 5 Hit combo where she will try and scratch your eyes out. The level itself is fairly constrained but you can jump to the roof of the stairwell or to the top of the water tank.

    Arena 3 - Airship

    This is probably the best looking level in the game. The lighting effects are stunning, but don't let them distract you from Godhand. He will chase you up and down this 3-level combat area and drop remote mines and shoot at you with his pistol. Try and bait him into walking over his own mines and you can kill him even quicker.

    Arena 4 - Hong Kong

    This level has some real atmosphere. There are sirens in the background and an oriental version of the theme from "Cops" is playing while you do battle with Lee Shuwen. Lee carries a nasty spear, so use that narrow ledge to jump to safety if he starts to power it up.

    Arena 5 - Train

    This battle is confined to the flatbed car on this moving train. It was a shame that the designers didn't allow you to jump to other cars on the train. Yoyo Yoko is your opponent on this level, and she will use her yo-yo to yank you back into the action if you try and run away.

    Arena 6 - Colliseum

    The detail and textures on this level are incredible. So is the power of your opponent, Prince Doza. Use the columns and the lower wooden catwalk to avoid his deadly fireballs. Making use of all the platforms and ledges on these types of arenas is critical in winning many of the battles.

    Arena 7 - Dig Site

    When I first saw this level I immediately thought to myself, "This is what the next Tomb Raider had better look like". The detailed textures, lighting and animated water are stunning. You will need every inch of the bi-level floor and high, narrow ledge to dodge the deadly rockets that Han Daehan can fire from his mechanical leg.

    Arena 8 - Shelter

    More incredible lighting effects brighten up this level. A shallow pit in the front corner allows you to dodge some of the throwing stars that Sasuke will be throwing at you during this battle. This level is also a branching point. If you have managed to win all previous battles including this one in less than 3:20 you will get to go through the right door and participate in two extra battles featuring Final Fantasy characters.

    Extra Arena 1 - Elevator

    More glowing light effects illuminate this moving elevator. Cloud is your opponent and he wields a big sword. Make good use of that lower ledge to the left to dodge his blade. The battle area is fairly small so pinning your opponent to the rails and pummeling him until victory is always a quick way to win.

    Extra Arena 2 - Underground

    This is a really cool level with nice animation of liquid/plasma under the glass in the center of this ring. Make a note of the roof on the structure to the rear. You will almost certainly need it while fighting Tina Lockhart. This girl can fight! She will block most of your multi-hit combos before you ever get to finish them and counter with devastating attacks of her own. On many occasions I would try to damage her early then run around for 30-40 seconds and wait for the timer to expire. Good luck!

    Arena 9 - Computer Room

    This level features more incredible lighting and animated computer screens. There are plenty of distracting graphics in the background as well. This is your final battle and you are fighting Django, a deadly wolf-like creature with vicious claw and tail attacks. Use the shallow pit in the foreground and the computer console ledges to avoid his attacks. Since Django is so low to the ground you will have to rely on kick attacks and low punches to win this battle.

    Final Battle

    This level will take many by surprise because it takes place without any visible stats at the top of the screen and the credits are scrolling by while you fight. In fact, the credits are your timer for this battle, as you must defeat a mutated form of Django before the final credits scroll by. Defeating Django will get you the EHRGEIZ weapon and is part of unlocking some of the hidden features in the game. I won't tell you exactly how to beat him, but those crates on the columns aren't there for decoration.

    So now that you've conquered the Ring Mode and have mastered the hundreds of moves for all the characters you will probably want to test those skills in some sort of quest. It just so happens that EHRGEIZ features a full RPG adventure game much like the Final Fantasy style of play although on a smaller scale.

    Forsaken Dungeon Adventure/RPG

    The Forsaken Dungeon is a mini-RPG game that features 21 levels of monsters, treasure, and intense combat action using all the moves and weapons you learned in the Ring Mode. Each time you restart a new quest, all 21 levels are randomly generated with new monsters and treasure being dynamically located.

    The adventure starts in a small city with an Inn, Merchant, Grocery, Blacksmith, Restaurant and Magic Shop. Make full use of all these resources before and during your adventures in the dungeon. When you are ready you can enter the dungeon through one of three entrances. The top entrance starts you at the top of the mountain and offers the lightest challenge. The middle entrance drops you in around Level 7 and is a quick way to re-enter the dungeon after you have built-up your character.

    Of course if you are looking for the ultimate action then you can always jump into the village well to go to the final levels of the dungeon. A giant squid guards the entrance to these final levels and he will kill all but the strongest of adventures in just a few swipes of his tentacles. When you are able to kill him then you are ready for the final levels.

    The monsters you encounter are unique and plentiful. Monsters will respawn if you stay in one location long enough. This is a good way to build-up your experience and gain levels fast. There are plenty of magic items and other inventory collectibles. Materia is back and plays an important role in spells and enhancing certain weapons.

    The levels aren't that complex but some of the rooms are graphically amazing. An overlaid map will chart your progress through the rooms of each level as your explore all of the 21 levels of the Forsaken Dungeon.

    The music and sound in EHRGEIZ are just as good as the outstanding graphics. Sound effects are dynamic and unique and the music is perfectly matched to the action. Ambient sound effects during the dungeon adventure are just as good as any stand-alone adventure game.

    Whew! So you've beaten the Ring Mode and played the RPG mode until you can't stand it anymore. What's left? How about four mini-games to challenge you and your friends. These are short arcade-style games that are great for parties or just to play by your self.

    Some of you may remember a game called Track and Field that was in the arcades back in the 80's. This game had you furiously pounding a pair of buttons to make your character run. He ran as fast as you pounded, and you usually had an action key to make him do something like jump or throw a javelin, etc.

    These mini-games are very similar to that game, although you may find it hard to get a good rhythm when trying to rapidly press the buttons on the smaller PlayStation controller.

    Infinity Battles

    Infinity Battles are basically a marathon to see how far you can get in a series of fights where your health is not replenished between battles. You do have a pair of Health Modules below your regular health bar and those can be filled during the course of regular fights by obtaining a Perfect or Flawless victory. All fights are on a 45-second timer and if you don't win in that amount of time you get nothing for your efforts.

    Battle Runner

    Battle Runner consists of running several laps around a track. During this race you will acquire a variety of power-ups and you will also have the ability to attack (or be attacked by) your opponent and slow him down. Of course mastering the use of power-ups is the deciding factor in this game.

    These power-ups include SP which fills your special attack meter, HP EXC which swaps your current health with your opponent's, and the particularly devastating RVS. The RVS power-up will immediately swap the remaining laps with your opponent and cause you (or him) to have to run in the opposite direction. This can be especially useful (or harmful) depending on who gets it and your current lap status.

    Battle Beach

    Battle Beach consists of 3 events; Battle Dash, Battle Flag, and Battle Hurdle. The first event is strictly a sprint race where you must pound the controller to run as fast as you can and beat your opponent. Battle Flag has you starting off lying in the prone position facing away from the flag. You must get up, turn and sprint for the line and hit the action key to do a diving grab for the flag. Dive too early and you grab only sand. The final event is similar to the dash only there are several logs scattered along your path that you must jump over. Miss a jump and you will stumble and lose precious seconds.

    This is by far one of my favorite mini-games and is great competitive fun when you have several people over to play games. All 3 events take less than a minute to play so everyone gets a turn without having to wait.

    Battle Panel

    Battle Panel is basically a fast-paced Othello game where you race around a floor and try to activate panels to switch other panels over to your color. Your objective is to activate your color at opposite ends of a row of your opponent's color and switch them all to yours. Of course he is doing the same so you may have to tackle him during the course of the game to stun him and gain a few seconds to make your move. Capturing the corners and perimeter squares is a major strategy for winning. Grey squares will also randomly appear. These cannot be directly changed to any player's color but if they are in-between colors they will be changed along with the rest.

    This is one of those games that is best played with a human opponent. The computer thinks just a little to fast to be competitive - at least for me. Strategy games are best when they aren't rushed.

    So that sums up EHRGEIZ and all its wide variety of game modes. You are probably wondering why I didn't give this game a perfect score after writing such a glowing review. Well there are a few minor glitches that keep this title from earning a perfect score.

    Perhaps the most annoying glitch is the inability to control your character in certain situations. This mainly occurs when your character is rolling around and you are trying to get him/her to stand up. Often it is very difficult to get your character back on their feet and while you are trying you will be taking a beating from your opponent.

    Another control glitch is when your character will get stuck facing the opposite direction of your enemy and no matter what you do you cannot turn around. These glitches are few and far between but still annoying when they do happen.

    Another minor issue is an imbalance in gameplay. Some characters are way too powerful and in single player arcade mode you can walk through the entire lineup of opponents without having to learn more than the basic moves. This problem could be more of an AI issue with the opponents since the two-player mode seems to make this problem go away.

    Overall EHRGEIZ is a challenging game which will offer you hundreds of hours of intense gameplay. I've already logged more than 70 hours on this game and have only finished the Ring Mode with the 11 main characters, completed 12 dungeon levels and set a few records in each of the mini-games. There is still plenty more to see and do not to mention the dozens of hidden secrets just waiting to be discovered and unlocked. Just completing the tasks to unlock the third set of costumes will easily take me another 20 hours, so I'd better get back to work.

    Ehrgeiz Main Menu

    Just a few of the 18 fighters

    Jo's special wolf-morph attack

    Arena 1 - The Dome

    Arena 2 - The Roof

    Arena 3 - Airship

    Arena 4 - Hong Kong

    Arena 5 - Train

    Arena 6 - Colliseum

    Arena 7 - Dig Site

    Arena 8 - Shelter

    Extra Arena 1 - Elevator

    Extra Arena 2 - Underground

    Arena 9 - Computer Room

    Final Battle

    Stock-up on supplies before entering the dungeon

    This well takes you to Level 13 and total chaos

    Amazing lighting, detail, and animation

    Infinity Battles

    Battle Runner

    Battle Beach - Battle Flag

    Battle Panel