Man, Square sure diversified after leaving Nintendo….oh wait, I said that last week didn’t I? Anyway, this fighting game (and collaboration with Namco and Dreamfactory) was as far away from the company’s RPG roots as it gets. It was also a departure from other fighting games around the time as well. Characters are allowed full 3-d movement, and don’t even have to face each other, not unlike Capcom’s Power Stone. The arenas contained interactive elements such as destructible crates that can be used as weapons. However the arenas are a bit on the small side, and the camera doesn’t track as well as it should sometimes. Even so, it’s still a fresh and fast-paced approach to the fighting game genre. The story (as with a good majority of other fighters) is that some mysterious conglomerate is holding a fighting tournament, and fighters from all around the world arrive to compete. Okay, so the story isn’t that original, but the characters are. On the surface, they look like your usual Tekken/Virtua Fighter archetypes, but their physical features and backstories make them something else. For instance, Ken ‘Godhand’ Mishima may look like your average fighting game main character, but he was a former assassin whose arm was replaced with a canon. Lee Shuwen may look like your typical old man kung-fu master, but he is suffering from a reverse aging disease. Not only do you get to play as these guys, several characters from a little known game called Final Fantasy 7 are also among the cast! Why would you want to play as any of the original yahoos, when you can play as Sephiroth?

Beside the main game, there are several minigames that can be played as well. There is a racing game and a board game, but the one you will be spending the most time with is the dungeon mode. Here, you take control of an archelogist as they explore a seemingly endless dungeon. Not unlike Diablo 2, you go through the dungeon building stats and gaining items and weapons to help you on your journey. The dungeons are even randomly generated, making the experience different each time.

Ehrgeiz may not have been be Street Fighter, but it introduced several unique concepts that were further refined in other games. The original disc has gone out of print, and was never re-released as part of SOny’s ‘Greatest Hits’ line. Thankfully, Japanese PS3 owners can purchase it at the PSN store, so hopefully this game will be available in the US PSN store as well. Gamers deserve a second chance to experience this classic, if for no other reason than the fact that gamers can control Sephiroth and his planet-destroying awesomeness.