A virtual gaming buffet.
The Japanese have a penchant for weird game titles. Recent mysteries include such translating atrocities as Pen-Pen Tri-Icelon, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, Elemental Gearbolt, Let's and Go and Eternal Wing, and my personal favorite, Irritating Stick (which could use some ointment). So it really came as no shock that EHRGEIZ (pronounced 'air guys') was born in Japan.
As it turns out, EHRGEIZ is a German word meaning "Ambition." This is actually a perfect title for a game which manages to defy being pigeonholed. EHRGEIZ is a fighting game, a role-playing game, an adventure game, a racing game, and a few other games all rolled into one. Reminiscent of earlier combo games like Die Hard Trilogy, this game is the money-minded consumer's dream. Ambitious indeed.
Developed by game gurus Squaresoft, EHRGEIZ contains several completely separate games. There's a full-fledged fighting game, a multi-layered action/RPG game, and several mini-games to keep you occupied.
The primary focus of EHRGEIZ is the 3D fighting game. This game features 16 characters, a mix of original fighters and some familiar faces from that 'other' Square game, Final Fantasy 7. You'll find multi-level arenas, which leads to some pretty cool fight sequences. Whack 'em in the face, then jump on top of a building and hurl fire at them from above.
This part of EHRGEIZ easily competes with other fighting games on the market. The framerate is blazing (up around 60 fps), the graphics are crisp, and the movements are realistic. The fighting system itself is very intuitive - combos are easy to pull off, missile attacks are effective but limited by an energy bar, and there are a ton of moves per character.
But there's more to EHRGEIZ than brawling. Much more.
If you tire of fighting, you can always check out the adventure game. Taking on the role of two different characters, EHRGEIZ 's Quest mode throws you into a dungeon exploration action/RPG. It's pretty much a hack and slash thing, though you can also use limited magic.
Graphically, this part of EHRGEIZ is on par with the fighting game - smooth movements, high framerate, and a wide color palette make for a pretty game. Additionally, the dungeon levels are randomly generated (remember M.U.L.E., anyone?), so no two adventures will be the same.
Like any good Square game, the RPG has a plethora of items and weapons to collect. Food is also introduced as both a necessity and an experience modifier. Over time, your hunger bar depletes. You have to keep eating to stay alive, and the type of food you eat affects which skill area (strength, magic use, dexterity, etc.) you enhance. This is a cool new addition to the genre.
However, the RPG isn't very complex. Most of the game involves you whacking away at monsters while descending further and further into the dungeon. That's it. There isn't really any plot or character development, so you fans of FF7 shouldn't get too excited.
As if these two games weren't enough, EHRGEIZ also contains 4 'Mini-Games' to keep you busy. Battle Beach is a poor attempt at a Track and Field style game, Battle Runner is a poor racing game, and Infinity Battle is basically the Endurance mode of the fighting game. Then there's Battle Panel, which is sort of a 3D action version of Othello.
In all, these games offer little more than a diversion. None are particularly engaging, but taken together they add just that much more depth to this game.
To be frank, I'm just stunned by the sheer amount of game in this game. I usually think that products attempting to combine different games come off as half-assed attempts to turn a quick buck. EHRGEIZ, however, is a class act all the way.
While none of the various game types in EHRGEIZ are groundbreaking, they're all included at no extra cost. This is a great title for those of you looking for a multi-layered gaming experience. Fans of Square games will enjoy the familiar characters, while the rest of you will dig the variety.