Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring is a 3D fighting game developed by Dream Factory, released first in the arcades and then later on the PlayStation. It was notable for including the characters of Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockhart as hidden unlockables in the arcade, whereas on the PlayStation release they were available from the start along with fellow Final Fantasy VII alumni Sephiroth, with Zack Fair, Vincent Valentine and Yuffie Kisaragi as unlockables. Their inclusion was a major factor in the promotion of the game and would lead it to be commonly referred to as, "the Final Fantasy fighting game", at least until the release of Final Fantasy: Dissidia, an official Final Fantasy fighting game featuring only characters from that franchise.
Evolving from the free roaming combat of Tobal 2, Ehrgeiz places additional emphasis on allowing characters to more fully explore and exploit the environments. Among other options, it's possible for characters to pick up weapons, throw crates, attack from elevated positions and trap opponents against pieces of the scenery in order to subdue them.
While other fighting games tend to have some form of dash function (normally via double tapping in a direction), characters within Ehrgeiz will sprint by default in any of the eight directions. Blocking is similar to that of Tekken, where normal attacks will be blocked if the stick is left in the neutral position (no direction is being pressed). Special attacks are executed by pressing the "special" button, though usage is governed by a gauge which, when depleted offers an alternate special attack. Other tactical options available are quick recoveries, interrupts, counters and wall attacks.
Ten playable characters were contained in the original arcade release, including two hidden characters. An additional six characters were made available in the later home release on PlayStation.
The stages in Ehrgeiz are compact, enclosed areas, frequently with multiple elevation tiers on which the combat could take place. Within the game, these stages are known as, "fields", a shorthand form of, "battlefields". There were 11 of these fields included in the game.
Fields with a single tier
Fields with multiple tiers
- Hong Kong
- Dig Site
- Computer Room
Interactivity with the fields was basic and reminiscent to that of an earlier version of the later released
Power Stone. While weaponry and simple objects were strewn about the area, no field-altering actions could take place and actions were limited to primarily throwing said objects at each other.
Quest Mode is an evolution of the rogue-like, randomly generated dungeon crawling RPG mode from
Tobal 2. You select between either Koji Masuda or Clair Andrews and explore the 21 floors of the Forsaken Dungeon in search of artifacts and treasure.
Outside of the dungeon is a town where the player can buy additional items, armor and weapons, talk with townsfolk, and repair your gear. The inactive character is left at the inn and once the player dies, they assume control of them. Once the player finds their corpse and regains their lost items and "spirit", they can once again switch back to the previous character (if desired).
Weapons and armor throughout the quest will sometimes be protected by a certain guardian force. When one of these pieces of gear are equipped, they provide the player with bonuses to traits and skills specific to each guardian. For example, Zeus would give a bonus to Max Hit Points and Defense while Gaia gives bonuses to everything with the exception of Max Hit Points.
A common complaint of the Quest Mode is that while it's possible to save anywhere, it costs the player money to save their game. Initially the cost is low, but it gradually increases in price calculated as the highest character's level multiplied by ten.
received generally above average reviews for when it was released on the PlayStation. Enthusiast website Absolute PlayStation published an overwhelmingly positive review (link) concluding with:
"The graphics will totally blow you away, the sound effects and music are top notch and the gameplay is really second to none. While the game does have a few minor flaws, it is easily right up there with the best the Playstation has to offer in fighting games…and that company includes Tekken 3."
Mainstream websites weren't nearly as forgiving of the game's flaws, leading IGN reviewer Doug Perry to conclude that the game was, "solid but shallow" (link) while Gamespot concluded their critical review (link) with:
"Despite the graphical accomplishment behind Ehrgeiz, there's just not much of a game here. Bouts usually end in a flurry of button mashing, and the awkward guarding scheme will drive most hard-core fighting fans away screaming with frustration and heartbreak."