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Rudra no Hihou (SNES) artwork

Rudra no Hihou (SNES) review


"It's time to let Square Enix know there are better things they could be doing with their time than that easily-mocked iOS version of Final Fantasy VI."



Dear Square Enix:

As a long-time gamer who has played a very large number of your games, both as separate entities and after you merged, it's easy to notice that nostalgia plays a large role in your business practice. It doesn't take much effort to find remakes of several Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest titles for many reasonably modern systems. Even better, some of these games had never seen the light of day on American shores until you decided their name had enough value to make bringing them over worthwhile.

And so, in the name of nostalgia, I am requesting that you do us Western gamers a valuable service by giving us access to a modernized version of Rudra no Hihou. It was only one of the best things your Square half created during the Super Famicom area, after all, but it's fallen by the wayside so you apparently can oversaturate the market with games bearing your biggest names.

If done right and properly promoted, Rudra no Hihou could be a money-making machine for you. In 1995, that game had to have been adored by all those who purchased it. The graphics are easily comparable to Final Fantasy VI…except for how the character and enemy sprites were all animated. The soundtrack includes some of the best 16-bit music I've heard. I'm not a video game music fan like a lot of writers seem to be, so I think it means something to tell you that after beating this game again, the first thing I did was search online to see exactly what that song playing during the post-game character roll call and credits sequence was. "Beyond the Rising Moon" will now and forever hold a special spot in my heart as a tune that actually reached my heart. Kudos on that!

But none of that would mean much if you also hadn't created a role-playing game worth playing more than once. Once again, that's no small praise coming from me. It's rare I go through one of those games a second time, as they take a good amount of time and there's just so many of them out there I haven't yet experienced. But there I was over the past few months, taking a bit of time here and there to relive the experiences of Sion, Surlent and Riza as they attempted to use their world's final 15 days to find a way to save it from impending doom.

That's a pretty neat theme to base a game around. Sion, Surlent and Riza all have separate 15-day scenarios where each day counts as a chapter. It's not realistically-devised, as no matter how many times you sleep off your wounds at the local inn, one day will not turn to the next until you've properly advanced the plot, but this is a game, after all. Fun trumps realism and the fun I had is what matters!

And it was fun to watch how the scenarios interacted. All three characters meet up with each other throughout the course of the game and also are alternatively helped and hindered by a treasure hunter named Dune, who becomes more and more important to the plot as things proceed. A minor villain from early in Riza's scenario creates a major roadblock for Surlent, while a mysterious figure who helps guide him through those issues winds up as Sion's greatest opponent.

I haven't even mentioned some of the neatest aspects of Rudra, such as its magic system, which might be the best you've ever devised. Players can input any word or combination of letters imaginable to create a spell. If it doesn't register as one of the game's official spells, the word will scroll onto the screen and cause a small amount of damage to foes. The actual spells can be discovered in a couple of ways. Throughout the game's towns, there are people who will hand out mantras (spells), as well as some prefixes and suffixes to enhance them.

Or a player can simply get into fights, see what monsters are casting and inscribe those mantras into their collection. That is just brilliant! I can't even count how many times I've played a game, gotten utterly blasted by some high-powered spell and then found out, to my chagrin, that it's only available to certain enemies. Here, if an enemy can cast it, I could learn it and the more mantras I learned, the more well-rounded my parties got. On my second trip through the game, I focused more on obtaining mantras and it paid off by making things a bit easier. In particular, the "POWERUP" mantra was a lifesaver. Casting it gave my entire party a nice boost in physical strength for a few turns, which made a number of bosses a lot easier to hack through.

And with this game, players will appreciate any "shortcut" they can take. A lot of those bosses, which are numerous enough to compare to the number of major foes in Final Fantasy V, hit hard with their spells and can obliterate an unprepared party. While this game's battle system is comparable to the average RPG of its time with its random encounters and turn-based fights, the resistance system is worth noting. Most elements have an opposite and equipment that strengthens one will weaken the other. So, if a party is going up against a boss with fire spells and Riza is wearing water-resistant clothing, that adversary will destroy her.

This game is just great, with only a few minor flaws that need to be mentioned, but the main one could be easily rectified if you follow my advice and give us a remake. There are a lot of names and groups in this game and it just gets cumbersome to figure out what's going on at times. There are a total of 13 playable characters, many of whom are generic folk with no development or significance beyond making sure that the heroes have three allies for at least a good bit of their adventures. There's also a group known as the Majestic Four, a number of Rudras posing as the ultimate example of their race, a giant destructive robot on the moon, a group of four demons released from the netherworld, an antagonistic giant, the aforementioned corrupt mayor and a handful of mentors and guides.

With all the people and beings that have some sort of impact on the game's plot, combined with the limited memory available on a Super Famicom cart, it could be tough to keep track of everyone and what their purpose was. On a modern system, the dialogue could be fleshed out and an in-game encyclopedia could be included to both give character descriptions and a mantra database. The latter would be really useful, as when one party learns a new one, odds are that a player will want to give it to the others. Having all the ones you've learned on file would make that a much simpler process than scribbling them down on a piece of paper and then re-inputting them letter-by-letter with the other parties. That could get tedious -- especially when I learned a more powerful prefix or suffix and had to edit a dozen mantras to make them better.

Other than that, the only other real complaint I could muster is simply that the difficulty can feel uneven at times. I'd find myself going for long periods of time without being challenged, but then get utterly slaughtered by something. Of course, part of that has to do with the way resistances are handled, as I likely was just weak to their greatest strength. However, it does say something when the final boss can withstand four or five times as much damage as any other important opponent in the game. In a game that's mainly hard-hitting and fun, it was a bit jarring for the final encounter to be more of a tedious battle of endurance where my victory was determined by me having enough magic-restoring items to outlast it.

Still, you have to admit -- if those are the worst flaws I can think of, this game must be something special. Something that deserves to be introduced to the Western market. If it flops, rest assured…I'll no longer attempt to give you business advice. But I'd buy it and, as long as you didn't botch the conversion, I'd exuberantly endorse it. Judging from the number of old Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games that you've brought back time and time again, there definitely is a market for retro RPGs, so I'd think one that favorably compares with the best those series have to offer definitely deserves a chance. I hope you agree.

Your friend,
Rob

Rating: 9/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (January 16, 2014)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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yamishuryou posted January 22, 2014:

The neatest thing I remember about this game is thinking about the amount of hacking work that had to go into the fan-translation for the spell system to work for English players.
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overdrive posted January 23, 2014:

Yeah. Gideon deserves a lot of credit for figuring out a way to make that all work out so well, as this was the sort of game that after reading about it initially, I figured would just lay in limbo forever until people realized they'd never get a high-quality patch.

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