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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, '17, 4:32 pm 
So, I just finished one of my bugbears from way back when I first really knew about this thing called "fan translation".

Treasure of the Rudras, or: Why do we even have Apocalypses anyway?

So, this may require some background.

Treasure of the Rudras, like Bahamut Lagoon, was an RPG released by Squaresoft late in the life of the SNES. It was, in fact, the last RPG released by Square for the SNES, put out in the middle of 1996, and put together by a very eclectic mix of employees- it was made by everyone who wasn't slated to work on Final Fantasy 7, basically, which meant that the project was headed up by the guy who was behind the SaGa games along with some of his staff, plus a bunch of the guys who worked on Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (Ryuji Sasai did the soundtrack for this game, too), and the art guy for this game would much later do the creature design for Shin Megami Tensei 4. It was basically Square taking all the leftovers out of their development fridge and throwing them together in the hopes that they would make a good game.

There was never really any hope of Treasure of the Rudras being localized for two reasons. The first is that it came out in the middle of 1996, and any localization of the game would take long enough that it would be overshadowed by the Nintendo 64. The second is that it used a peculiar magic system that relied heavily on writing, and translating that to English was a lift so heavy that no one back then would be willing to attempt it. In fact, it was considered impossible by even fan-translators until Gideon Zhi of Aeon Genesis managed to figure out a way to make it work, and even then it took him years to do so. As a result of his labors, however, there is a fan-translation out there for anyone who wants to give this dang ol' thing a go.

The structure of the game is somewhat unusual, but hey, creator of SaGa series. The game uses a scenario system where the player goes through three concurrent storylines, and after all three of these are completed, all of the main characters meet up in the final scenario which is unlocked after fulfilling those conditions. The system works exceedingly well, because the writers did take the time to plot out who is where and at what times in the story, so characters never meet each other in places they're not supposed to be, and all characters experience global events exactly when they're supposed to. The only thing that it doesn't do is record who has taken what treasures and when, but that may have been beyond the capabilities of the hardware at the time. Whenever you save the game, it actually saves the state of all of the scenarios, so whenever you load the game, you can freely pick which scenario you'd like to continue.

The part of the game that people were unable to make heads or tails of was the fact that the game has an unusual magic system that is unlike anything seen in any other Square RPG, and doesn't really have much equivalent in other places except maybe the Ultima series. In each scenario, your entire party shares one spell list, but you actually write spells into the list. As in, there's a prompt and letters and everything, and there are various base words, prefixes, and suffixes that the game officially recognizes that you can use to build spells and just freely experiment with the magic system however you like. Some spells can be found in chests (usually buffs, which don't use the magic grammar), and whenever you come to a new area, enemies will use new spells that you can copy into your book and use yourself whenever you want so long as you were paying attention to what they game showed during the fight. It's a system that Square never used again, as far as I know.

Unlike the usual course of the SaGa series, this has sensible gameplay, like a fully turn-based Final Fantasy that has all the moving parts you might expect from a Square RPG. It might even have more moving parts, considering that there are actual battle animations for monsters in this game.

So, how hard is the game? Well, you're probably going to be taking a dirt nap fairly often, because the game really expects you to learn all of the ins and outs of both the spell system and the game's combat system- there's a boss in this game that's practically impossible to defeat if you don't put all of your characters in the back row to take advantage of the reduced physical damage to back row characters. It's that kind of game. Oh, and there are also very few overlapping bosses, either, so each scenario has almost entirely unique content in that arena.

By the way? Soundtrack: Awesome. People always line up to sing Umeatsu's praises, but Square had a bunch of other guys who were at least as good, like Ryuji Sasai, who did this game, Mystic Quest, and SaGa 3/FF Legends 3, Kenji Ito, who did most of the other SaGa games, and Yoko Shimomura, who did a huge pile of stuff for Square, along with the soundtrack for Street Fighter II. It's also quite varied, as each character has their own two overworld themes (one for day, one for night) and their own unique boss music- the only boss music that's shared is the one for end-of-scenario bosses.

The story that the game sets you up with is like this: History works in a great cycle, unchanging from one era to the next. Before humanity, the world was ruled by four previous peoples- the Danan, the Merfolk, the lizardmen, and the Giants. Each ruled the world for 4,000 years, but at the end of their appointed span, they were challenged by a Rudra, a great destroyer. Unable to prevail, their civilizations were found wanting and snuffed out, and the Rudra would become the herald of the race that replaced them.

In 16 days, humanity will have ruled the world for 4,000 years...

And there are three +1 plots to follow about how we all get out of this mess, so forgive me if I leave certain bits out/get the order wrong a bit.

Sion's Scenario

Sion would be the main character if this were any other JRPG, but this is Treasure of the Rudras, so that's not really gonna happen. He's a young, brash, underpaid knight who wants to prove himself and take after his mentor, Captain Taurus and become the strongest warrior, but on his first mission, it appears that destiny has something else in store for him. It's basically JRPG hero story 1, but things are a bit more complicated in this game, because Sion has to deal with one of the most aggressive macguffins in JRPG history, the Jades. All of the main characters have one, and they always end up in their chosen hosts in a somewhat shady way. Sion and his two NPC buddies end up chasing a giant to the Tower of the Giants, and there's a fight where both NPCs are killed and Sion takes one of the giant's arms in the tussle over the Jade. However, the Jade makes it known that it has chosen Sion as its master through jamming itself in one of Sion's eye sockets- Sion actually has two sprite sets, one where he has his eyepatch and one where he doesn't.

Sion is fairly bad-tempered for the rest of his scenario.

Sion soon acquires some new friends to replace the NPCs that got jacked in the first ten minutes- Foxy, a warrior-woman from across the western sea and the heiress of a wealthy family, Ture, one of the lost race of Giants who, against all expectations, is a caster (though of the D&D Cleric variety), and Sage Ramyleth, the ruler of the surviving Danan peoples. The lattermost tells Sion that there's an apocalypse coming down the pipe, and there are going to be some pretty big signs of that pretty soon, and he's here to help because maybe the humans can deal with that. The even get to see an eclipse, because the planet's layer of perma-smog gets removed. Sion agrees, but first he has to do his tournament arc. You see, the thing about Sion's scenario is that, apart from the beginning and maybe one other spot, Sion's scenario is a boss a minute, basically. Part of this is caused by things other people do in their scenarios, too, and others are because Sion is just an ill-tempered sort of guy.

So they go to the sky islands to talk to the Divine Danans (who Sion has to fight first, too) and learn about the prophecies which speak of an end to the Great Cycle and the Majestic Four who created the world, Mitra, Saizou, Hausen, and Meifa. Along the way also having to fight a horseman of the apocalypse who got freed from the netherworld after someone blew the thing wide open, as well as the giant he beat in the first day. They also get a bird's eye view of the toxic northern continent being suddenly purified. However, in order to act on what he knows and what he has, Sion has to make it back to the surface, and the only airship got stole by a couple of thieves, Dune and Cid. So he goes to Mayura, who will tell him if he goes do a fetch quest for an appropriate offering, but Sion is bad-tempered, lost his eye about a week ago, severely underpaid, and knows exactly what kind of time crunch he's under so he initiates a boss fight and she and the party go at it until they beat on her enough to make her cough up the info they need.

So they land the islands back in the ocean, restoring the world back to the way it was before the islands were raised, which means that Sion is finally able to go back and claim his winnings from the tournament, following thrashing the other horsemen of the apocalypse, and also learn something quite valuable- Captain Taurus has discovered the location of the Rudra Cult's base, and is heading there post-haste, so Sion opts to follow. And after a fightventure, he winds up in the netherworld, because apparently it isn't just for the dead these days- some of the remaining lizardmen found it a convenient hiding spot from armageddon. He catches up with the Rudra cult and Captain Taurus, who, no surprise, is actually the head of the Rudra Cult and demands that Sion give up his jade to help build the next apocalypse monster.

Sion has had a rough two weeks, so he and his party are the only ones who come out of that room alive.

After dealing with that, he is greeted by the apparition of a warrior named Saizou, who tells him that the guy he's really looking for is in the Netherworld fortress of Shumisen, and sends Sion on his way. Along the way, he meets up with Surlent, who has two of the items required to enter Shumisen, and offers to trade for Captain Taurus's Shield so that Sion can have one of the items and get in too- the result of this trade will actually affect Surlent's fate in his scenario, so take the sword unless you want Surlent to get screwed over again- and the trade you choose to make is binding on the other character's scenario.

Sion being aggressive and bad-tempered has meant that his party actually has arrived in time to make a preemptive strike against the apocalypse. Sion's team breaches Shumisen and destroys the next Rudra while it's under construction and confront Gomorrah, the Guardian of Evolution. Gomorrah is a pretty interesting guy because he's the guy who actually turns the crank on the apocalypse every four thousand years, and he's pretty open about what he does. He doesn't know why he's doing it, but his job is to clean up the old to make way for the new- those decisions are above his pay grade. However, his role means that Sion concludes this is the guy who needs to get beat.

Now, before I talk about the fight with Gomorrah, I should talk about the game's combat system a little more. You see, there are two things this game's combat system really cares about. First are buffs and debuffs, and the second are resistances and weaknesses, in ways that aren't usual. You see, as far as equipment goes, it's impossible to have a resistance without having a corresponding weakness to an opposing element, so if you are strong against fire, you're weak to water, and so on. So there are some bosses where you may want to downgrade or remove equipment altogether because sometimes having even an empty slot is better than having a bad weakness. I'm mentioning this now because Sion's ultimate armor is a nefarious trap as it provides Light resistance. Now, you're already taking your sanity in your own hands if you go into the fight with Gomorrah without Dark resistance, but if you go into it with a Dark weakness, you may as well forget about Sion contributing anything ever.

However, the fight? Pretty dope. It's so awesome that they made the Fake Rydia fight in Final Fantasy 4: Interlude works pretty much the exact same way, only it was more lame because direct sequels to FF games tend to have problems, and it didn't have the battle animations that give the enemies in Treasure of the Rudras so much of their character.

Vs. Gomorrah

After the fight, Gomorrah congratulates the heroes on their victory, remarking that Saizou was right to trust in humans. They find out that Saizou is one of the members of the Majestic Four, the ones who created the world and put the apocalypse plan into action, but they don't get much more out of Gomorrah before he dies, aside from the fact that while they may have forestalled the apocalypse for now, they haven't actually dealt with the root of the problem- Gomorrah, as powerful as he is, is just the guy who turns the crank, when the guys they're really after are the planning board, who are out of reach, and Sion has no way of knowing how to get to them because he jumped the gun and killed the only guy who might've been able to tell him- so it's going to be up to someone else to handle that little detail.

The thing about Sion's route is that while he is helped by an ancient sage, and his aggressive nature does allow him to postpone armageddon until further notice, he's such a meathead about things (and surrounded by meathead enablers) that he doesn't actually get much new information about why the Great Cycle is going on, who else is behind it, and what steps need to be taken to actually bring an end to the cycle of destruction and rebirth. So while he does destroy many powerful and important enemies, he learns almost nothing about how to stop this nonsense from happening again. Considering how truthful and forward Gomorrah was with answering his questions, he might've taken the time to ask him some more before jumping right into the boss fight. I have no doubt that if Sion was involved in FFVI we'd only need one world map, but in Treasure of the Rudras, stopping the apocalypse is only really half the story.

Oh well, at least there are other characters around who are willing to ask those kinds of questions.

Riza's Scenario

The first thing that the game wants you to know about Riza is the Chosen One. She is full-blown Chosen, she's the one spoken of in the ancient Danan Prophecies, she was even born with her Jade, and she is the one who will Save the World.

Things turn out to be a bit more complicated than that, though.

But Riza's story, for some fair chunks, is about playing Captain Planet in a world that's polluted pretty much everywhere, and Riza has both the tools and talent to do it. In fact, the first thing she does is literally clear the air. She meets up with a resistance leader from the City of Babel, where the mayor, Culgan, found and used an ancient air-purifier to keep the air clean around his city, but, he is charging an arm and a leg for people to breathe his air, and has a big ol' squad of legbreakers to enforce the Clean Air Freedom Act. Thankfully, Riza is pretty good at most sorts of fighting, so she's just the muscle they need to take on Big Air. They find that the machine is full of trapped magical butterflies which do the air cleaning, so they go up and find the mayor, who sics a guard robot on them. The thing about this boss is that it exists to teach players to use the back row. Not using the back row means not winning, because the boss hits too hard for you to win otherwise.

It's one of those games where you have to use every part of the combat system.

So, you blow the machine, kill the mayor along with his guard bot, and free the butterflies, which clean up the permasmog that had covered the planet. With that done, Liza and Garlyle seek adventure elsewhere, because there's just a whole lot more for a chosen one to do. Such as rescuing another party member, a lizardman named Pippin, who insists he's the prince of all lizards despite the fact that he's the first lizardman that anyone has seen on the surface in thousands of years. They end up moving on, and encounter Surlent and his party, who are on their own travels.

Riza heads to Cyruune to talk to the king continues following the course of her mother, who went to Mantra Peak and beyond, and the team must first pass through the Mantra school to learn anything. And this is the part of the game where you really start learning about how the spell system works, as there are a bunch of hilarious books that talk about how the game's spell grammar functions that are written as a set of transcripts of exchanges between a professor and a failing student (said dropout is a boss a little ways down the road). Along the way back you encounter a pair of thieves, Dune and Cid, and Riza convinces them to cough up a couple of important artifacts that they stole in another scenario (there's also an optional encounter with them where you can shake them down for a fairly substantial amount of cash).

They do eventually find her mother, but after passing the test of Mantra Peak and speaking with mistress Zora about how to clean up the pollution contaminating the world, the Netherworld blows open and Riza's mother gets possessed by an evil spirit, so they have to beat Riza's mom in order to move on. From there, they have to go into the underworld to get the seed of the great tree, which they need to purify the northern continent, and down there they pick up Marina, one of the surviving merfolk, who has an egg of one of the guardian Hegs, protectors of the ocean. However, there's no clean water to hatch it in. After they leave the underworld, they have a misunderstanding boss fight with someone whose job it is to watch for things coming out of the netherworld, but that's all cleared up, and Riza leaves the Holy Grail behind in case someone else needs it.

After they get back to the surface, they plant the seed of the great tree, which grows instantly and purifies the toxic northern continent, and the tree has a message for Riza: While she may clean up the planet, the destruction of the world will come down from the heavens and is set to occur in nine days. However, the Jadebearers may yet be able to save humanity from destruction at the hands of the next Rudra, as it is not yet perfect. While exploring the continent, they meet Surlent, who is in someone else's body, and he has need of the Holy Grail, so they tell him where they left it and send him and his party on their way. Oh yeah, and the sky islands fall to restore the landmasses as they once were, which opens up a big pile of travel options. They come to a town of Merfolk, and since that place still has pure water due to being in the sky for thousands of years, Marina sets the egg to hatching- and this means that Riza and the others have to purify the ocean before its pollution spreads to the water that's still clean.

It's a two step process. The first thing they do is go into the ruins to close off the source of the pollution, which was let loose by an ancient ruler as a tool against his enemies. While down there they find out that the person they really need to talk to about all this nonsense that's going on is the goddess Meifa. The second step is going deep underwater to the ruins of the Abyss, where they kill a couple of bosses created by the pollution and then activate a Danan purification defice which cleans up the water, and allows the Hegs to swim freely out. With the water once again clean, they had back to the surface, and hitch a ride to the statue of Meifa.

The statue of Meifa is a giant tower, and when they reach Meifa herself, it's time to TEST YOUR MIGHT, as usual. After winning, Meifa tells Riza that the source of destruction comes from the Moon, so the statue actually launches out of the atmosphere to deliver the party to a moonbase which is the source of the destruction that comes from the heavens by way of a giant space laser. After navigating the base, Riza and her party challenge Sodom, the great machine that controls the Moonlight system. One of the things about Riza's scenario is that bosses tend to be marathons, not sprints, and Sodom is the biggest expression of that as he has high defenses and very few weaknesses. He is quite beatable, however.

vs. Sodom

Once he's reduced to a pile of junk, they return to Meifa, who tells them that the humans' capacity for extreme violence has allowed them to do more than any people who have preceded them, and she also spills the beans. The cycle of destruction and rebirth was started by the Majestic Four- Mitra, Saizou, Hausen, and herself, and the only way to ensure that it is brought to an end is to defeat Mitra. Garlyle asks her why she hasn't done anything to defeat Mitra herself, and she responds that Mitra has grown too powerful for her to defeat, and now only the jadebearers stand a chance of overcoming Mitra's immense power. Meifa has even prepared escape pods for all non-Riza party members to use to get back to the surface, as they would only be instantly obliterated if they tried to face Mitra.

After saying their goodbyes, Riza waits for the other Jadebearers to arrive on the Moon.

the thing about Riza's quest as opposed to Sion's, is that Riza's team really is the A-Team of the story. Because they're willing to jump through all of the usual protagonist hoops, like listening to prophecies and generally not going tl;dr to the setting, they're able to learn a great deal more about what's going on and actually end up exactly where they need to be a full day ahead of pretty much every other protagonist on hand.

Of course, Surlent has his own, unique difficulties.

(Cont. Next post)

PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, '17, 4:36 pm 
(cont. From above)

Surlent's Scenario

If Sion's party can be described as "Heroes of Courage" and Riza's party can be described as "Saviors of the Planet", Surlent's party could be described as "Not Ready for Prime-Time"

It's basically a scenario where all of the usual bungling of JRPG protagonists basically gets played to it's absurd conclusion, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was perceived as being played for laughs, because Surlent and his closer buddies are basically a team of archaeologists that get in way over their head and very plainly have no business doing this kind of adventuring, at least at the start. He and his best pal, Legin, work for a scientist who's investigating the kind of ancient ruins which are always a bad idea to investigate, where they unearth the Lago stone monolith that contains the Rudra of the Lizardmen. However, the doctor doesn't want to examine something like this without protection so he sends Surlent off to nab the Holy Grail from a local rich guy. While the rich guy is a patron of the sciences, the grail is stolen by a couple of thieves, Dune and Cid, which means that they have to go find something else that will ward off the bad Mojo of the Lago Stone.

So, after meeting with Riza and her group who are on their own travels, they go after the Holy Robe in Horn cave after the smog clears, but Surlent gets duped out of that by Dune and Cid (hint: When known thieves ask you to show them something, don't.), so Surlent has to go back to the lab empty-handed, but there are other problems, as the Rudra cult has begun abducting children, which Surlent has to go and sort out before anything else can get done. Among the hostages is an amnesiac child named Lolo. Once he gets back to check on the lab, however, something has gone wrong- Dr. Meunch has been mortally wounded, and the Rudra of the Lizards frees itself from the Lago Stone, and gives Surlent his Jade by punching Surlent so hard with it that it kills him instantly.

It turns out, however, that getting killed is only the beginning of Surlent's problems.

Surlent ends up in the netherworld in a town controlled by the Lizardmen, where he meets up with Culgan, the mayor who got killed near the beginning of Riza's scenario, and they find out that there might just be a way to escape in the Museum of Magic. Surlent heads there, and finds another Lago Stone, whose occupant breaks free and introduces himself as Hausen, the Rudra of Humans. There is a way out, but they needs something from the museum called the apocalypse blade. This is easily found, and Hausen tells Surlent to take it, which sucks his soul into the sword. Hausen and Culgan use the sword to blow a hole through the roof of the netherworld, letting out a few more bosses for Sion to fight, and once they're out, Culgan steals Surlent's original body, and Hausen goes off to take care of other business- and leaves the sword behind, where Surlent's souls is banished to the netherworld when daylight strikes the blade.

This shunts his soul back to Gomorrah's room, the same one with the reincarnation engine, Gafu. Surlent explains what happened to him, and Gomorrah tells him a few things. First, he has the Jade of Resurrection, which means the rules about death around here tend to get bent for him, that Hausen escaping is bad news because first, Rudras shouldn't be able to get out of their Lago Stones, and second, whatever Hausen has planned, it isn't good for humanity, so Gomorrah decides to help out by giving Surlent one of two loaner bodies, which used to belong to Sion's buddies who got killed at the start of his scenario. Hint: Take the warrior body first. Surlent is a caster type, but I'll explain why this is important. Of course, if you've already done Riza's scenario, this order is forced on you anyway.

So, you make, it out, and Surlent has to very quickly explain to Sork that he's not a demon from the netherworld, just Surlent in a different body, so they plus Legin and Lolo chase after Hausen. They do find him and defeat the Rudra of Lizards, but Surlent gets kicked back to the Netherworld after accidentally standing in daylight, where Gomorrah wonders why he's back so soon. Gomorrah rolls his eyes and gives Surlent the other loaner body, telling him to be more careful this time, and also tells him to educate himself a bit on the Rudras and Hausen. However, on his way out the second time, he does get to see the revival of the great tree and the purification of the northern continent, just from the underside.

So Surlent goes and does that, talking to Garm, where he learns about the Majestic Four, who created the world, and powerful entities called the Cosmic Destroyers, but he isn't able to get too much information about the latter, only that they arrived in our universe through the Breach of Heaven. After reuniting with his party, Surlent comes across the Rudra of the Danaan, who tell him that understanding Hausen's plot is going to require fetching a few things- namely, a piece of all of the currently existing Lago Stones, which Lolo is able to read. Along the way, they find Culgan and beat him out of Surlent's body, then soul trap him with the Holy Grail that they found thanks to Riza so he can't pull off something like that again. Once back in his body, things start looking up for Surlent, and they're able to get all of the Lago Stone fragments, ending with the one from Hausen's Lago Stone in the underworld. They even manage to hitch a ride with Dune on his airship, the Ark of the Danan, during which they see a statue rocket off into the atmosphere. The thing that helps them read the Lago stones is that Lolo turns out to be one of the Danan, and so can read the ancient writing.

Stumped as for what to do next, they talk to Gomorrah, Surlent asks him a couple of fairly important questions. The first is that if Hausen was a Rudra, why couldn't Gomorrah do anything to rein him in? Gomorrah tells them that while Hausen is the Rudra of Humanity, he is also a member of the Majestic Four, the ones who started this entire plan in the first place, so Hausen actually outranks him. The second question he asks is if a Rudra can be built for things that aren't an apocalypse, such as, say, build a Rudra as a protector? Gomorrah says that such a thing is theoretically possible, but first they'd need to deal with Hausen because he has started work on his own Rudra-related plans, and that they need to come back to the Netherworld by another road because Hausen's allies are gathering in some ruins that lead to the Netherworld.

Surlent's route gets really boss-heavy towards the back end, as said dungeon has five bosses, including open right at the front door. And the last one of the five bosses is Saizou, who challenges Surlent to prove that he's not a total loser. He's not that hard, since he only does single-target stuff, but after beating him, he explains he wasn't all that interested in stopping you anyway. After all, he explains this isn't even his real body, which fits because his false form looks like the most generic JRPG hero warrior ever. He knows you're going after Hausen, so he hands over two items which can allow one to enter Shumisen from the front door- the Apocalypse Blade and the Psycho Shield. He then gives way to allow Surlent back into the Netherworld, where he meets Sion and his party in a town, and makes the trade that will determine his fate.

After busting through Shumisen, Surlent takes a different path than Sion, and eventually confronts Hausen, forcing him into battle. If you gave up the Apocalypse Blade to Sion, you are eventually able to defeat Hausen, but after you kill him he reveals that the body you destroyed was a false one, and he invites you to face his true self, which resides on the Moon. Though Hausen's plan to dominate the next Rudra has been foiled, there is still work to be done, but Surlent has a pretty good idea of what needs doing.

vs. Hausen

...Of course, if you didn't give up the Apocalypse Blade, things are a little different, because Hausen actually wins the fight due to having already subverted the sword previously, and then Hausen carries of Surlent to install him in the new Rudra. This actually affects Sion's scenario, as it means that the Rudra no longer has its elemental weakness. Beating the Rudra frees Surlent, however, so the final scenario can continue.

Dune's Scenario

Dune's Scenario is actually the last scenario of the game, and you proceed to this scenario right from the end of the last scenario you finished- so if the last scenario you finished was Sion, you'd proceed to the final scenario from Sion's perspective, and you'd also start the final scenario with the spell list you created for Sion's party. Also, there's evidence that this scenario was meant to be bigger, as dune has two overworld themes which are unused in the game itself.

A small note- if you're playing this game on an emulator, DO NOT use save states prior to the final scenario, because the game uses a complicated internal checklist to track what has and hasn't been completed, and using save states can actually interfere with that and make you replay entire scenarios at best.

So, anyway, Riza is already where she needs to be, but the other two characters hear voices in their heads telling them that they need to head to the moon. They meet up with Dune, and the only way for them to get to the Moon is if more than one Jadebearer is on board the Ark of the Danan, so he lets them on board. Surlent and Sion leave their parties behind, as only Jadebearers will be able to finish the fight. Ramyleth tags along to help out. So you pick up Liza and begin the assault on the Moon fortress of the Majestic Four, but the engine controller of the Ark rebels, so you have to put it down, and Ramyleth installs himself as the new engine controller of the Ark so that Done, Sion, Surlent, and Riza can finish the fight. Dune's buddy, Cid, acts as the final item shop of the game, and the reason he's even charging? Well, this might not even work, so he'd better get his money's worth for his secret stash, right?

So what follows is the fight with the non-Meifa members of the Majestic Four. Hausen, for all that he was a smug jerk, isn't actually any more difficult in his real body than his fake one, and he becomes full of regrets after you fill him with sword, and gives one piece of advice- Mitra has powerful wind spells, so protect yourself from wind. Saizou, however, becomes a whole new ballgame. While his false body was the most generic RPG warrior type you could think of, his real body is basically Devil Trigger Saizou and can do all of the nasty boss things that his previous body couldn't. And when you beat him, he tells you that you're not strong enough to beat Mitra unless you can defend against her powerful wind magic.

(Also, Saizou's dungeon has a room where you can farm infinite Magic Leaves to increase the max MP of your characters, and you may want to exploit this- the max is 255, and you're not gonna beat the next few bosses without a plan anyway.)

After all of that, you make it to the actual final dungeon, the temple on the Moon where Mitra herself lives. There are a couple of bosses here, including one which is there to remind you once again that Sion's ultimate armor is a nefarious trap, because while it has a number of powerful Light spells, it also has a really powerful Dark spell.

So, you make it to Mitra, and Sion tries to intimidate her by telling her that they've killed Hausen and Saizou, but she practically invites the party to challenge her, where something every interesting happens. You see, all the emphasis they placed on defending against Wind magic? That only applies to the first form. which is actually a very small part of the fight. Her three forms have a total of 65,000 HP in a game where even the highest-end bosses top out at 14,000, and the first form takes up about 10,000 HP of her total, and that 10,000 goes away kinda fast if you have strong thunder spells. The other two forms?

Good luck, buddy, you're on your own.

So, is Mitra actually tough? She's not too terrible, actually, so long as you know exactly what you need to be doing and execute it perfectly, but Mitra has ways of throwing wrenches into your plans that no other enemies in the entire game are capable of. Mitra's final form can do things no other monster in the game can, which are 1.) Cancel all of the all-important buffs and debuffs on your party and herself, and 2.) Decide that one or two of your party members need to die instantly. And even with the correct Scrabble words, that latter one can be hard to come back from, especially since there's no equivalent to Life2 in this game. So the first time I fought Mitra I got my head handed to me in a way that hasn't happened to me since Trails in the Sky SC.

I wasn't mad, though, 'cause I was also pretty hype to fight Mitra in ways I haven't been hype to fight a JRPG final boss since Weissman. And I'll tell you why.

The thing about vague apocalyptic pasts in JRPGs is that the destroying force was either temporarily defeated (Phantasy Star, FFV), or burned itself out (FF VI). But Mitra is neither of these things, because everyone who has fought the apocalypse in the past has lost, and the system has continued. And the entire apparatus of controlled armageddon was created to not only destroy civilizations, but also do its damnedest to try to wipe away any trace that they ever existed with things like the moon-mounted death laser. And while a few pockets of the old races survived, they have resigned themselves to scratching out a living in the darkest, deepest, and furthest corners of the world and have given up on rebuilding or aspiring to anything they had lost, because they know that the next armageddon will take it all away. But this time, there might just be a chance to pay her back for all of that.

vs. Mitra

So, after you defeat Mitra, she adds the last piece to the puzzle that your parties have been trying to figure out all this time. Mitra was the leader of what was effectively a party of immortal, cosmic-level JRPG protagonists, who created this world to have a home of their own. However, there is a great war at the Breach of Heaven, a gate used by beings from beyond space and time to invade our universe and attempt to return it to the Void that existed before creation. Mitra and her party members, Saizou, Hausen, and Meifa, managed to defeat the Cosmic Destroyers after a long, hard battle and save their portion of the cosmos, but Mitra could not rest easy knowing that the Destroyers might one day return, and that they might not be there to save their world for one reason or another.

Mitra then hit upon a plan- the only way to ensure that the world they loved would be safe would be if it was populated by a people who were capable of defeating apocalyptic threats on their own, so they set about creating the conditions of their experiment- the Moonlight system, the Rudras, Gomorrah, Sodom, and at the center of it all, Gafu, the Eternal Engine of death and reincarnation. They'd use the Rudras to kickstart a new race, let it develop for 4,000 years, and then put them through the practicals of an apocalypse scenario. If they succeed, the work is a success, but if they failed, they scrub the world and start over from scratch, using Gafu to collect the souls of the fallen and reincarnate them as members of the next, hopefully stronger race. Mitra then goes on to explain that while humans have proven themselves strong enough to prevent their own destruction, they are still far from perfect, so she gives Dune the knowledge on how to use the Eternal Engine before she passes on.

Of course, there's no time to talk about this, because Mitra was a load-bearing boss. So everyone piles onto the Ark, and try to get out of there as fast as possible, because it's not just Mitra's dungeon that's about to go up- When Mitra goes, the Moon explodes with her. The quartet awaken in the middle of a ruined city in a desert wasteland, surrounded by bodies. They eventually find a single survivor, who only lives long enough to tell them that the sky opened up and that they came under attack, and that they fought until the end but that it wasn't enough. They began to wonder if all they did was for nothing, and then....

They wake up on the Ark. They managed to escape the explosion of the Moon, and Surlent surmises that the vision they had received was a last warning from Mitra, and Sion agrees. the four understand that while the four of them were able to defeat Mitra, humanity overall is not yet ready to take on the Cosmic Destroyers, and if the Majestic Four had fought against them together, they would've had no chance. So Dune makes a proposal- that they use Gafu, the Eternal Engine, to hyper-evolve and supercharge humanity over the next few generations to the point that they can take on the Destroyers much sooner rather than later, but Riza is having none of it, because taking over the plan of the Majestic Four might well cause monstrous things to happen to humanity and the world, even if they didn't intend it. This time, they should just let nature handle things rather than try to force the future. Dune, duly chastened, backs off his plan.

Surlent does ask what happens if the Cosmic Destroyers should return sooner rather than later, and Sion has an answer: Get stronger and beat the hell out of 'em!

It really is that simple to him.

So, while the future remains in question, the guaranteed doom which has plagued the world for many thousands of years has been brought to an end, and so the peoples of the world are free to chart their own course, free of the meddling of their creators.

So that's Treasure of the Rudras. It was Square's last RPG for the system, and it will probably never reach the same classic status as FFVI or Chrono Trigger, but it's still a pretty high note to go out on. It probably turned out how it did due to the mishmash of talent that was assigned to participate, especially since they were able to moderate the excesses of the creator of the SaGa series. The villains of the game actually combine a couple of the concepts that were used for villains in previous SaGa games- that of the creator who made humans with ulterior motives (SaGa 1), and a band of fallen heroes (Romancing SaGa 2). However, Mitra and her companions form a JRPG party so stereotypical that it might be something out of Dragon Quest: Mitra was the overpowered protagonist, Saizou was the battle-obsessed backup warrior, Hausen was the wizard, and Meifa was the divine caster.

And really, Mitra does actually deserve a fair chunk of villain cred in the JRPG sphere, as she's a female JRPG villain who has neither hotness nor hagness as part of her portfolio- her true appearance is basically an androgynous Warframe- and she has no obsession with the hero, either. Her plans are monstrous not because she's crazy or even especially power-hungry, but rather because she acts from an entirely different frame of reference than the heroes. After all, what's a few civilizations on the cosmic scale, when the fate of the entire universe is currently at stake?

It's really quite an unusual and even unique game, more's the pity.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, '17, 12:15 pm 
R90 : thyank you about this long and beautiful text about Treasure of the Rudras ! I've never played it but it seems to be great ! Congratulations ! :clap:

PostPosted: Thu Sep 7, '17, 7:59 am 
Reading this whole essay on the game definitely piques my curiosity a lot. I enjoyed reading it!

The scenario system reminds me a lot of Shining Force III, which I've been playing myself.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 7, '17, 11:18 am 
Me too I've played and finished the first secnario of Shining Force 3 ! What a great game it was.. unfortunately, the second and third scenarios were never released in Europe ! :( What a shame and what a lost...Was it the same in the US ? I think so ! And it's so hard to emulate the Saturn and his Bios... :(

PostPosted: Thu Sep 7, '17, 4:27 pm 
It was the same in the US; we only got Shining Force III's first scenario.

Also, R90 isn't kidding about Rudra's magic system; anything you type into the spell creator can be used as a spell with very little chance of a dud spell.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 7, '17, 9:23 pm 
Yeah, we only got Scenario 1, but a fan translation for scenarios 2 and 3 exist. I've been using Psuedo Saturn to play the thing so I can finally play the full Shining Force III trilogy.

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, '17, 11:34 am 
I was quasi certain that it was the case in the US too ! :( No luck at all !
Maybe one day I'll try to test these fan translation ! Is it hard to play ? Saturn emulation is a bit hard to bear, I've watched and read....

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