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Video Game / Treasure of the Rudra

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Long ago... When the world was yet wreathed in chaos... It is said that the heaven bestowed great power upon the earth and brought it unto prosperity. Life on Earth was born... Those with great intelligence, The Holy race of Danans. Controlling the seas, The Mermaids. Proud but arrogant... The Reptiles. And possessing incredible strength, The Giants. However, They did not have the Heavens' favor, and in time, they disappeared. Then... The Heavens gave birth once again. Life, 'tis said, flourished anew.
Opening narration

Released by Squaresoft in 1996, Rudra no Hihou (Treasure of the Rudra) is one of the last RPGs written for the Super Famicom, and Square's last game for the system. The game's major drawing point is its magic system: the player can literally write their own spells, by combining syllables with prefixes and suffixes or by plain trial and error.

Every 4000 years, the earth's dominant race (first danaans, then mermaids, giants, reptilians, and currently humans) is mostly destroyed by a creature known as the Rudra, to make way for the next species. At the start of Rudra no Hihou, humanity has only 16 days left, and the Rudra is about to be born. Four suspiciously stereotypical heroes (a fighter, a wizard, a priestess and a thief) are chosen by fate to save the earth... and all get a Power Crystal violently lodged into their heads. Each with their own friends and their own separate goals, they set out to save their planet and to discover who is behind the oncoming destruction, lampshading and subverting an impressive number of tropes along the way.

The four main characters are:

  • Sion, a young knight who wants to be the world's strongest,
  • Surlent, a sorcerer/scholar who tends to fall for absolutely every con trick ever,
  • Riza, a gentle young priestess on a quest to heal the earth, and
  • Dune, a cocky thief who keeps popping up in the other three scenarios.

Rudra no Hihou is very similar to the Final Fantasy series in terms of atmosphere, game play and complexity. Many of the common references to Final Fantasy are also present: there's a Cid with an airship, an Aegis shield, four magical stones, and so on. The game was released in the same stylistic era of SquareSoft as Bahamut Lagoon and Live A Live.

The folks over at Aeon Genesis made a very, very nice English translation patch right here.

A warning for those about to play it using an emulator: the game relies very heavily on in-game save states. It's vital to use the ROM's actual memory slots, and the emulator's save slots after saving in-game because the final part of the game opens up after the first three storylines are completed. You'll also need to reload from the title screen each time you want to switch characters. (And, to be on the safe side, be sure to read up on the game's one Game-Breaking Bug.note )

Provides examples of:

  • Actually, I Am Him: Done quite a number of times by Surlent, due to his body being stolen and having to possess the bodies of two deceased people.
  • Already Done for You: Lampshaded both ways by Dune: he often beats the three main heroes to a MacGuffin, but near the end he's surprised to hear he still has to save the world - he assumed the heroes would have already done it for him.
  • Arbitrarily Serialized Simultaneous Adventures: You have to play through the scenarios of three main characters (Sion, Surlent and Riza) before they all converge into Dune's scenario, you could switch between their stories at any time from the loading screen.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Justified in the credits scene. A recently-destroyed moon would likely crumble into a swarm of rocks.
  • Back from the Dead: Several examples, but notably, Surlent. A few times over. ...Quite a few times over, thanks to the help of Gomorrah.
  • Bag of Sharing: Only happens after clearing the last scenario of the 3 available.
  • Bishōnen Line: Mitra, the final boss. First he is a statue-like creature, then a large monster, then finally a humanoid being
  • Body Horror: Solon and Muench are both gruesomely murdered, after which Muench gets possessed and forced to fight Sion. After that, both Solon and Muench are trapped in the body of one single two-headed bird, and beg Surlent to end their undeath.
  • Body Snatcher: Most of Surlent's plot is a long series of body snatchings.
  • Bold Inflation: Giants get the caps-lock equivilant in the most recent English translation.
    Surt: You WEEDY little MAN!
  • Boss Remix: Each of the main characters have a unique boss theme that is a remix of their Overworld theme.
  • Broken Bridge:
    • Game-Breaking Bug: it's possible to get stuck if you do a certain sidequest too early, and again later, if you take the wrong portal out of the Netherworld. Both are due to a literal broken bridge.
    • Seeing as no FAQ seems to list it... on day 8 with Surlent, after the bridge breaks, only use the left portal at Thor Mountain after seeing the events at Avdol's lab. Trust us. You won't get back otherwise.
  • Butt-Monkey: Surlent does not have the best luck in his campaign. His bad luck starts with him being killed by the impact of his Jade flying into his body (a rather dubious honor that he alone bears) and only goes downhill from there.
  • The Chosen One: Riza. And everyone with a Jade, but Riza had hers from birth and is widely recognized as this.
  • Cool Airship: Brasnir (It can also travel underwater and in space). You never get to actually control it, though.
  • Cool Train: The Sky train FAXI on the Sky Islands, which seems to based on ancient Danan technology.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Culgan. He becomes a Body Snatcher in Surlent's Scenario
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Jades and the 6 Divine Treasures
  • Dirty Old Man: Dr. Muench. Even when he's dead and just a wandering shade, he still is at it.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Zora, she also classifies as the Cynical Mentor. (She's additionally an Expy of Unne from Final Fantasy III.)
  • Eldritch Abomination: The unnamed destroyers that the Four Heroes defeated long ago; they later developed the Rudra cycle of destruction to accelerate evolution in order to create a species strong enough to resist the cosmic destroyers.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Fire<->Water, Wind<->Lightning, and Light<->Dark
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Hausen, Gomorrah, and Mitra cooked up the whole Rudra scheme to accelerate the evolution of life on Earth in hopes of eventually creating a race strong enough to break the cycle and defend itself against the destroyers from beyond The Breach of Heaven.
  • Evolutionary Levels: And the one who controls the rate of it as an added twist, because he is just a pawn to The Man Behind the Man
  • Expy: While you may not notice it right away, every single party will always be exactly the same: one heavy-hitter, one magician with poor attack and lots of MP, another magician with slightly less MP but better attack, and one jack of all trades. The four POV characters are divided up likewise.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Sion has this after getting the jade in his right eye
  • Foreshadowing: During the opening, when the narration explains how Humanity came into existence after the previous 4 races died off, we see the faces of 4 distinct characters. Right after starting, you get to name those four characters. Yet after doing so, you can only choose between three of them. The fourth character at first appears to just be a plucky thief side character who shows up from time to time. But given the equal focus he has with the 3 playable protagonists at the start, it's not a huge surprise that he eventually is of major importance himself. Specifically as the fourth and final protagonist of the final campaign.
  • Four Is Death: Squaresoft really did a number with this: 4 Jades, 4 Heroes, 4 Greats, 4 Rudras, 4 Divine Danans, 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 4 characters per party, etc... also inevitably leading to a large cast.
  • Floating Continent: The sky islands. Until Sion causes them to fall.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Subverted. Rostam and Huey, Sion's best friends, are killed off on day one. They're immediately forgotten and never mentioned again... or so it seems. Not only do they get a gorgeous optional cutscene all the way at the end of the story in which they give Sion one of his best weapons, they also get used by Surlent as his temporary host bodies for a huge chunk of the plot.
  • From Bad to Worse: Surlent's plot. First, he dies. Then his body is stolen. Then he gets to use someone else's body instead. ... which dies. So he uses someone else's body instead until he can get his own back. Which works for a while, until - wait for it - he dies and his body is stolen. And then, depending on the final actions you take during the end game, a main villain can subsequently kill and and steal his body.
    • Not only that, Surlent can be fused with the Rudra that SURLENT HIMSELF CREATED through the Lago Stones if you do not give Sion the Apocalypse Blade (It's Thunder Element, which makes the final battle against Hausen easier but can change the Rudra's properties in Sion's scenario so that the Sigmund Sword does not effect it as much normally)
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The storyline is on a deadline of 15 days, something the game frequently will remind you as the story progresses. Despite this, there is nothing stopping you from sleeping at the Inn as much as you want. Time won't pass until the story itself progresses.
  • Genius Bruiser: Sion is arguably the brightest character in the game.
  • Green Aesop: Sort of. The world being polluted to the point where all water is tainted is a major theme of the game, but the focus is on the pollution being a side effect of the evil rather than the evil stemming from pollution. This is arguably Truth in Television, to be fair, since pollution in the real world is caused by reckless disregard for the well-being of nature rather than the other way around.
  • Humongous Mecha: Meifa is a statue that doubles as a rocket to the Moon.
  • Interface Spoiler: You can name four characters before start the game. You have four people in your party. There are three characters in the story-selection screen, but there's room for a fourth. Put those together and you see why Dune being playable isn't in spoiler-text.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: The Tower of the Giants and the Garal Clock Tower.
  • Leitmotif: Each character has their own unique theme, which is remixed for overworld, boss battles, and flashbacks.
  • Lizard Folk: One of the four races in the game that was doomed to near extinction during the end of their cycle. They mostly live in the Sky Islands and the Netherworld, but they have very small numbers on the surface. Pipin is a playable Lizard Boy.
  • Loveable Rogue:
    • Dune and Cid, due to how foolish-sounding their characters are, such as the Mythology Gag in which they call themselves Treasure Hunters. However the Final Scenario in which he is now bound into saving the world also plays into this
  • Mana Drain: "PULMORA". It drains so little that it's practically useless, though. Except when the enemies use it, that is.
  • The Man Behind the Man: A new one gets revealed approximately every hour. Of course, it all makes sense in the end.
  • Multiple Endings: Played with; there's only one final ending, but Surlent's scenario can conclude—depending on whether you decide to give away the Sword of Plot Advancement as Sion or not—either with a traditional boss fight, or with Surlent dying. Again. But he gets better in time for the final chapter.
  • Mythology Gag: Multiple involving Dune and Cid.
    • First off: Don't call them thieves; they're TREASURE HUNTERS. It's even in the flavor text for Dune's best dagger, Freedom. "Call me a treasure hunter or..."
    • Secondly, their names. Cid's is obvious to any fan of Final Fantasy, as the name shared by that series' ever-growing roster of middle-aged, mechanically-inclined men. Dune's might not be as obvious to English-speaking players: It's the same as the Japanese name of Arthur, the main protagonist of Final Fantasy Legend III / SaGa 3: Jikuu no Hasha, the first turn-based JRPG the development staff of Treasure of the Rudras made at Squaresoft.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Often. Very often. Probably most notably when Surlent manages to unleash the Rudra of Humans using his Jade and undo the seal on the Apocalypse Blade which he himself gets trapped in because of a safeguard. Thanks for speeding up the death of all humans, dude.
    • Sion and Riza have their moments as well, the former being manipulated by Surt (who he had fought before and knew had betrayed his former comrade Ture) into making the Sky Islands fall back on Earth and causing the ocean levels to rise; the latter accidentally freeing a group of ghosts who intend to reactivate the bio-tanks that caused most of the world's pollution in first place.
  • One-Winged Angel: Hausen and Saizou are fought later on but in transformed states.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Avdol was hit hard when Hausen broke through a netherworld gate, flooding the entire town with Netherworld spirits turning everyone who lived there into the walking dead save the innkeeper. You could talk to them safely as Surlent when he is in Huey or Rostam's Body though.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: At the beginning of Surlent's scenario, you have access to Sakkara Desert, which has powerful monsters which give about 50 times as much EXP and money, and also randomly drop a weapon which is much stronger than anything you could get for a while. You can also go there as Riza as the sandstorm disperses later on.
  • Permanently Missable Content: One of Riza's sidequests can be permanently missed if you don't pray at a certain statue that's difficult to find at the very beginning of the game.
  • Point of No Return: Used many times over.
    • In Sion's, he cannot return to the previous islands during the Sky Islands Plot Tunnel once he takes the Faxi. Additionally, once pulling the Sword from Sigmund Glacier, he must go wherever the Heg goes. Once he has to get rid of the Heg Ocarina, he must boat from one location to the next, and the boats don't offer return trips...
    • Riza is lucky, as she has most of the world open to her after obtaining the Heg Ocarina, but once she leaves Babel, she cannot return to Babel nor the Forest of Rem.
    • Surlent cannot return to the Netherworld from Thor Volcano, teleport to the Vairocana from the Netherworld, or use the Red Teleporter after the scene with Gomorrah on Day 13.
    • By Day 15, most of the scenarios are locked into doing the last dungeons of the scenario. In Sion's, he is warped to the Netherworld and must infiltrate the Cultists' base, and then defeat Gomorrah. In Riza's, she is stranded on the moon, and Meifa is not willing to fly her back. In Surlent's, he cannot boat back from Ompross, and must go down to the Netherworld.
    • Once you start the final scenario, you cannot return to the Earth, as you have no control over Meifa or Brasnir. Additionally, this means once you fly from one of the final dungeons to the next, you cannot go back. In fact, once you exit the Airship for The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, you cannot even return to the airship, rendering the last shop in the game unusable
  • Public Domain Artifact: The 6 Divine Treasures; but the 3 most known are the Holy Grail, The Sigmund Sword, and the Holy Robe.
  • Railroading: An odd example. You're generally free (and even encouraged) to visit places you're not supposed to go yet, but only once in the game do you get a choice of doing things in a slightly different order. You never get to control any of the game's vehicles, either. Of course, it's all because of destiny (and because the three concurrent scenarios have to match up, of course.)
    • For Example, in Surlent's Scenario, if you play that first, you can choose between Huey's and Rostam's Corpses, but if you play Riza's story and reach Sodom Castle before choosing the first corpse in Surlent's. You will only be able to choose Rostam's Corpse first, and Huey's second.
    • Exploring too far can result in several Game Breaking Bugs.
  • Rare Candy: Magic Leaves and Life Leaves, which increase your maximum MP and maximum HP, respectively. And if you play it right, you can find an infinite amount of them in the final dungeon. Yay!
  • Recurring Boss: Culgan remains a persistent nuisance in all three storylines, despite - and sometimes, because of - dying repeatedly.
  • Reincarnation: All living things are born from the same spring of life (Gafu), and return to it after their death.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Surlent and his master Solon.
  • Sacrificial Revival Spell: The Mantra "EXPIA" not only revives all other unconscious fighters, but greatly heals those who are alive. At the cost of the user's life, obviously.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Grail, the Lago Stone of Humanity... actually, all of the Lago stones qualify.
  • Shout-Out: In the fan translation, you can enscribe "PIKACHU" as a mantra and it'll be lightning-elemental. It also lets you enscribe many of the spells from the Shin Megami Tensei series and get a mantra that's roughly equivalent in effect.
  • Spell Crafting: The Mantra system lets the player turn any combination of letters they can think of into a spell for use by the party.
  • Spiritual Successor: Although the two games are very different, much of Final Fantasy V's dungeon/castle layout system is seen in Rudra no Hihou.
  • Status Effects:
    • Fire Mantras: Burn
    • Water Mantras: Freeze
    • Wind Mantras: Float
    • Lightning Mantras: Confusion
    • Light Mantras: Regeneration
    • Dark Mantras: Pollution (Silence)
    • Void Mantras: Madness (Berserk)
  • Status Buff: You can enscribe multiple different mantras that enable this:
    • Attack: BRACKEEM (One) or POWERUP (All)
    • Defense: CORBOLIS
    • Magic Damage: ESPIRI
    • Magic Defense: PATEIE (One) or PROTECT (All)
    • Speed: PHEMEL
    • Agility: KOWTOW
  • Status-Buff Dispel: The mantra "MOONLIGHT" dispels all effects from both sides of the battlefield.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: A few days after the other heroes have already received their jades, Surlent is still lacking his. Being a scholar, he finds it inside an ancient artifact he's set out to research. Said artifact, the Lago Stone of the Lizards, comes to life with intent to kill. A reminder that Lago Stones contain Rudras (which might as well be gods), while Surlent is an ordinary human. Surlent gets his Jade alright... By way of Lazm, the Rudra of the Reptiles, killing him in a single strike. Lazm is a giant, powerful lizard that had already slaughtered the rest of the lab his Lago Stone was kept in, what’s one more person to him?
  • Sword of Plot Advancement:
    • Gram, which is detrimental to Sion causing the Sky Islands to falling back to earth.
    • Sigmund Sword, one of the Holy Receptacles and responsible for the glacier to melt.
    • Apocalypse Sword, in which the seal is broken, creating a gate to the Netherworld in Avdol.
  • Take Your Time: 15 days left before the end of the world. How many times can you stay in an inn? Infinite times, apparently.
  • Underwater Ruins: Also where the Lago Stone of the Mermaids is kept.
  • Used Future: Some elements do invoke this despite its mostly traditional fantasy setting. Most importantly, Babel has a somewhat run-down, open feel to it despite using advanced technology to keep its air clean, and that's not even getting into the slums. Garal Clock Tower, among others, has a Blade-Runner-esque feel to them, mixed with Steampunk. The Tower in Danelf in Sion's scenario has a rustic feel to it despite having elevators. Dune's gun in the boxart wouldn't feel off in Star Wars's Tatooine or Jakku.
  • Verbal Tic: Each race has one. Mermaids say "glub," the Reptiles have Sssssnaketalk, the Danans have a tendency to say "Hmmm hmmm hmmm," and the GIANTS talk SOMEWHAT like BRIAN BLESSED.
  • Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: The magic system is set up so that you can actually create spells with words ("FIRE" becomes a fireball, "HEAL" becomes a healing spell, etc.). However, if you create a spell with a word that isn't in the game's magic dictionary, you'll instead attack your enemy with the word you created.
  • Weird Moon: The main characters can breathe on it despite no visible plant life. Riza can look DOWN from the moon onto the Earth when confronting Sodom. This is also inconsistent with the Final Scenario, as from the point of view of the Global Airship, the surface is downward as it should be.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Captain Taurus, Gomorrah, and Mitra. It turns out the Great Cycle was a way of making life strong enough to survive on its own: a race that could prevent its own destruction, and prevent being replaced by a new race, is strong enough not to need the cycle. Of course, breaking the cycle involves killing the ones who made the cycle in the first place, who happen to be the very beings who wanted the races to become strong enough to break it - essentially making every villain death a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Riza calls Dune out when he wants to take over Mitra's evolution scheme.
  • Womb Level: The dungeon inside of the Heg in Sion's scenario.
  • World Sundering: Sion accidentally causes this by causing the Sky Islands to fall back to earth, returning them to where they were millenia ago.

Alternative Title(s): Rudra No Hihou