The gameplay, highly reminiscent of Square's Final Fantasy series, is divided into three main areas: the overworld map, the towns and dungeons, and battles. When in the overworld map, the player directs his characters to different locations in the game. Towns contain the prerequisite shops and villagers who offer information, while dungeons are mazelike affairs where random enemy encounters may occur. These battles may also strike on the overworld map and follow a typical RPG pattern: the player makes choices for his characters (such as whether to fight, cast a magic spell, or run away), and then the enemy takes a turn. This pattern repeats until the characters on one side all run out of hit points and die.
The game's most innovative feature is its magic system. Whereas most console RPGs give the player access to a limited number of precreated spells, Rudra allows the player nearly total creative freedom. The player can enter various words (called "mantras" in the English translation) into his grimoire, and every one will have some effect. There is an underlying framework to the system, however, which is based on the gameworld's elements. Certain spells that use the rootword tou for example, will produce lightning-based attacks, while those containing aqu will create water-based effects.
Rudora no Hihou is set in a world on the brink of cataclysm. Every 4,000 years, the dominant race on the planet is destroyed by the god Rudra to make way for a new form of life. As such, the Danans, Mermaids, Reptiless, and Giants have all met their doom. The Humans are the current rulers of the world, but their race has a mere 15 days of providence left. The story is divided into three major scenarios, each with a different main character: the soldier Sion, the priestess Riza, and the sorceror Surlent. As the player enters new areas and accomplishes different tasks, the human race's final 15 days slowly ebb away in a predetermined day/night cycle. The player is free to play the scenarios in any order, and may even leave one storyline to follow that of another character for a time. The actions of the characters in one location and time may have an effect on the others, as well, both in the general story and in gameplay. For example, if one group of characters leaves a sacred relic somewhere, another character may come and find it on a later day in his own part of the game. After successfully completing all three scenarios, players must take on a fourth, featuring the roving thief Dune and the heroes from the previous three chapters in their final confrontation with the game's major villains.
Rudora was never released in the United States; it came out late in the life of the Super Famicom, and American video game developers were already gearing up for newer systems such as the Sony PlayStation. The game had a second chance at trans-Pacific life with the growth of the fan translation community on the internet in the late 1990s. Some early members of the community claimed to have played the game in Japanese and ridiculed its storyline, however; a rumor even surfaced that the directer, Keita Amamiya, was fired from Squaresoft for creating such a "bad game". Added to that was the difficuly in hacking the game's magic system to be usable to an English-speaking audience. The one translation group that decided to tackle the game, J2e Translations, fizzled and failed. The game seemed like a lost cause.
However, in 2002, a French translation group called Terminus Traduction put out a French-language translation patch for the game. Later in 2003, the prolific ROM hacker Gidon Zhi of Aeon Genesis Translations announced that he had successfully hacked the game's magic system to work with English words. Aeon Genesis then translated the French script into English, and in July 2003 they released an English-language translation patch entitled Treasure of the Rudras.