Treasure of the Rudras
  • Genre:
    • RPG
  • Platform:
    • Super Famicom
  • Developer:
    • Square
  • Publisher:
    • Square
  • Released:
    • JP 04/05/1996
Score: 90%

This review was published on 05/28/2014.

Treasure of the Rudras is a role-playing game developed and published by Square for the Super Famicom. It was released in Japan on April 5, 1996, and has never been released anywhere else. Some know the game as Rudra's Treasure. For a long time, a translation of the game was thought to be impossible. This is because of the game's unique magic system, which allows you to create spells by typing in a word or a combination of words. Most of these word combinations wouldn't make any sense when translated into English, plus there are some things that simply have no equivalent translation. That's not even counting the differences in Japanese and English grammar. Somehow, the game was one day successfully translated into French by some dedicated fans, and then an English fan translation eventually followed. Thanks to the valiant effort of fan translator Aeon Genesis, an unofficial English translation is now available for Treasure of the Rudras. That is a most stupendous thing, because this game is incredible.

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Every four thousand years, the world is destroyed and recreated by a being known as a Rudra. Several races came and went, such as giants, mermaids, and reptiles. After many of these ancient races fell to destruction, the human race began populating the world. However, after a time of prosperity, humans were then placed under the same threat of destructions as the ones that came before them. With only sixteen days left to live, humanity now has to find a way to break the cycle of destruction. This is the story of Treasures of the Rudras. Like Final Fantasy VI, the game has no set protagonist and instead follows the stories of different characters. The three main characters are Sion, Surlent, and Riza. Sion is an arrogant soldier obsessed with power, Surlent is a sorcerer researching the world's past, and Riza wishes to purify the polluted world. The story chronicles the last sixteen days of these characters' lives. All the stories are pretty separate from each other, though they do intersect at times. It's almost as if there are three stories in one game. Not only will you experience the unique tales of each character's personal circumstances, but the more of each story you play, the more you'll learn about the game's world and overall plot. Treasure of the Rudras has a long, engrossing plot that will take you through a wonderful world of wonders. Three stories in one game is not a bad deal.

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The graphics and music are pretty similar to Final Fantasy VI, but the game itself is a little different. While still a standard Japanese RPG, this game does a lot of unique things, one of which is its multiple scenarios. Similar to that one bit in Final Fantasy VI, there are multiple scenarios that can be played in any order. Each scenario centers on a different character in a different part of the world, and it all eventually culminates in a final scenario that connects everything together. This not only allows you to experience the plot in a flexible order, but it has a great impact on game play, as well. The game starts off with three scenarios to pick from. Progress of each scenario is measured in days; all scenarios start on day zero and progress one day at a time. This allows you to see how each character spent their sixteen days without missing anything. Days thankfully aren't measured in real time. You can switch scenarios at any time by returning to the scenario select screen, so you can momentarily postpone one scenario to check out another. Another thing about this system that's interesting is how the events of one scenario will impact other ones. For instance, picking up an item from ancient ruins in one scenario means that the item likely won't be available in another scenario. Knowledge gleaned from one scenario can also help out in the other scenarios, like finding out that someone is a traitor. The amount of freedom allowed in the scenario system is truly exhilarating.

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A world of infinite possibilities awaits you in Treasure of the Rudras. Okay, well, more like finite possibilities, but there are a lot of them. Some of those possibilities include sky islands connected via flying locomotive, underwater cities inhabited by mermaids, and a zombie filled town. Rescuing children from insane cultists, restoring the environment, and winning battle tournaments, there is no shortage of things to do in this game. There's even a point where you visit the netherworld, both as a living soul and as a dead man. During all of this, you'll be learning more and more about the origins of the game's world. One problem with the world in this game is that it's a little on the linear side. Even though the multiple scenarios can be experienced in any order, the scenarios themselves tend to be extremely linear. Treasure of the Rudras is like Mega Man in that respect. Instead of picking Robot Masters, though, you're picking scenarios. The scenarios do open up a tad later on, but are still exceedingly linear. It's a shame the game rarely lets you explore, because Treasure of the Rudras has a cool world. Also, you'll be revisiting a lot of the same areas in multiple scenarios. It's interesting to see the same locations from a different character's perspective, but it does get repetitive at times. Really, it's tough to peg this as either a linear or nonlinear game, since it's technically both. You could say it's nonlinear in its linearity.

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As mentioned before, the most interesting aspect of Treasure of the Rudras is its magic system. The game refers to magic as "Mantras," but they're really not that different from spells in any other RPG. What makes them different is in how you acquire them. Whenever you're not inside of a battle, you can pop into the menu screen and create your very own Mantra spell by typing in words. Characters don't learn spells by leveling up, finding items, or any of those other game play gimmicks. It's as simple as knowing the name of the spell and inputting it in a menu. Once a Mantra name has been typed in, it can then be saved into your spell list, allowing you to use it in battle. Technically, this system gives you access to every spell in the game right at the beginning, provided you know the proper spell names. You're not meant to know them all right away, though. The intended method of gaining new spells is to search for hints. People in town will sometimes tell you spell names and you can see the names of spells that enemies use in battle. In addition to utilizing those methods to learn new spells, you can also try to figure out the syntax the game uses for spell names. Certain suffixes and prefixes alter a spell's effects, like increase its power or give it the ability to target all enemies or allies. You can even type in complete gibberish and still get a working spell out of it, but this often produces undesirable results. In a way, you're doing a bit of actual role playing, because you're learning spells yourself, as opposed to your in game characters learning them. It's a brilliant system that relies on player knowledge instead of senseless grinding.

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What good would all that magic be if there weren't any battles to use them in? Battles in Treasure of the Rudras are pretty standard in that they're turn-based and randomly encountered in dungeons or on the world map. Graphics and animations in battle are good, though they're far from mind blowing for 1996. Unlike most of Square's RPGs around the time, this game does not feature the Active Time Bar battle system. Instead, turn order is determined by the speed stat of all battle participants. That's typical of most RPGs, but what's not typical is that this game lets you change the turn order of your characters during battle. So say you want your healer to go last, like after a boss' massive attack, then you can make that happen. The catch is that if you make a slow character go first, then all faster characters will slow themselves down to compensate, meaning the enemy will probably attack first. It's a strategic mechanic that can come in handy in some situations. Anything that adds strategy to battles is a welcome feature. The other thing worth mentioning is that the battles in this game are much tougher than your average Final Fantasy. This difficulty is more comparable to a Dragon Quest game. Unfortunately, this means that you'll probably have to grind a lot, especially when it comes to affording new equipment, something that is almost essential to survival. The random encounter rate is also quite high, which gets annoying quickly. Treasure of the Rudras doesn't do anything too extraordinary with its battles, but they do look and sound good.

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The Dragon Quest caliber difficulty becomes abundantly apparent during boss fights. Bosses in this game are tough, very tough. Don't be surprised if your whole party is wiped out every now and then, because these bosses pack a powerful punch. Exploiting elemental weaknesses becomes top priority, but even more important than that is focusing on your own elemental resistances. The best offense is a good defense, as they say. The toughest bosses have no weaknesses, though, and this is where buff spells become important. Later in the game, many of the battles come down to raising your own stats and reducing the stats of the boss via magic, otherwise you won't be doing any real damage. Sure, grinding will make bosses easier, but not by as much as you'd expect. Even when over leveled, bosses can still give you a run for your money. It's rare when you meet a boss in this game that doesn't require some sort of strategy. The issue is that forming a strategy often requires you to see what the boss does first. That means you'll probably have to die at least once to a lot of the bosses to figure them out, unless you're using a guide. This is an issue you're bound to encounter in any game with tough bosses, though. It's a worthy price to pay for challenging bosses. Treasure of the Rudras isn't afraid to make you think, and that's admirable.

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Equipment is very important in Treasure of the Rudras, even more so than most other RPGs. The primary reason for this is that your characters don't gain many stats from leveling up. This is especially true in the defense department, where characters see very little improvement when gaining a level. Particularly notable is that many pieces of equipment later in the game have elemental affinities. Normally, your characters don't have any elemental affinities of their own, but that changes when they wear certain gear. Weapons and armor can both carry elements on them, and this comes into play during battle. Opposing elements are weak to each other, so fire beats water and vice versa. Elements of the same type resist each other, meaning wind will resist wind. That means elemental armor will not only grant you resistances, but also open you up for weaknesses, as well. The general idea is that you want to wear armor with elements that match your foe's, and use weapons of elements opposite to your foe. This can mean the difference between life and death during fights, because if a boss uses thunder magic and you're wearing wind elemental armor, then you're probably going to die. The game really enforces this system later on with its cutthroat attitude. It's an equipment system that inspires strategic thinking, which is a good thing.

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Treasure of the Rudras is easily one of the best turn-based RPGs on the SNES, with its innovative magic system and multiple scenario selection. It's up there with Square's other SNES greats like Final Fantasy VI. The graphics, music, art style, and plot are all top notch. There is a fairly interesting twist ending, too. As if all that weren't enough, the game is long with a capital L, and it's also quite challenging. Issue wise, the game requires a lot more grinding than the typical Final Fantasy, and while the scenario selection does allow for some nonlinearity, the individual scenarios themselves are linear. None of those things ruin the game's brilliance, however. Treasure of the Rudras is indeed a treasure worth plundering.

Word Count: 2,099

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