Not much is known about Rugal Bernstein prior to his appearance as an extremely wealthy, international black arms dealer. Rugal has been admired and feared throughout the world, by crime leaders and politicians alike, due to his influence, wealth and power in his illegal deals. He operates out of his personal nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the BlackNoah, accompanied by servants and his pet panther, Rodem. Many nations knew of his illegal arms dealing, but could not act directly against him for fear of a nuclear retaliatory strike. Rugal is not only feared in the higher social circles and international politics, but he is also notoriously known in the fighting world as a vicious combatant who never allows his defeated opponents to live. Not only that, but Rugal takes his defeated opponents, and covers them in liquid metal, creating life-size trophies to commemorate his victories. On a few occasions, certain governments have tried to send covert operatives on raids against Rugal, but he managed to wipe out every single one. One such individual was
mercenary leader Heidern
, who had been trying to infiltrate Rugal's operation for some time. This prompted Rugal to kidnap Heidern's wife and daughter, daring him to try and mount a rescue. When Heidern brought an entire unit of his best men to the BlackNoah, Rugal just by himself, was able to wipe out the entire team. He would have killed Heidern as well, if not for the intervention of his family. Instead, Rugal killed his wife and child and tore out his eye, leaving him with grievous injuries. At some point in his life, Rugal fathered two children, Adelheid and Rose.
Although he was already an expert martial artist, having an amalgam of various martial arts, including the style and techniques of Geese Howard
and Wolfgang Krauser
, he desired even more power. One day, Rugal sensed a great power calling out to him. Intrigued, he steered his aircraft carrier towards the source, which turned out to be a small, uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. Rugal discovered the power of an ancient, legendary Japanese 8-headed serpent, the Orochi
. Rugal's eyes gleamed with ambition and he tried to reach out in order to control it. Suddenly, a strange menacing man named Goenitz
appeared and Rugal immediately sensed a huge power emanating from the new arrival. Rugal tells the man to stand aside, but Goenitz states that the Orochi power will be of no use to a simple mortal. Rugal decides to teach the man not to be so impudent, but before he can act, Goenitz swoops his hand down and gouges Rugal's right eye out, causing Rugal to reel back in pain. Seeing this, Goenitz praises him for surviving the attack then decides to imbue Rugal with a small portion of the Orochi power. Rugal's body begins to tremble with extreme pain, but Rugal laughs maniacally. He now feels the Orochi power coursing through his veins. Goenitz informs him that if he were to ever overuse this power, the result would be fatal. Rugal then goes back to the Black Noah and upon his return, he implants a cybernetic orb in place of the right eye which was torn off. Goenitz decides to send Mature
to gain Rugal's trust and observe him carefully. Shortly thereafter, Rugal receives a visit from the two mysterious women, both offering their services. He accepts and makes them his personal secretaries.
King of Fighters 1994
Time passed, and due to boredom with his usual pursuits, Rugal decided to host the 1994 King of Fighters tournament. He would change the layout of the tournament, making it no longer an individual battle, but a three-man team competition. Contestants would fight one-on-one until they were defeated then the next member of that team would join the battle until only one is left standing. The fights would continue until only one team was left. The arrogant Rugal reasoned that fighting the three winners of the tournament at once would give him the challenge he so desperately craved. He sent out several invitations to famed and well-known fighters from around the world, like Terry Bogard
and Ryo Sakazaki
. As the new tournament began, Rugal is confronted by Saisyu Kusanagi
aboard the BlackNoah and attempts to stop his plans as well as using the Orochi power, but Saisyu is beaten after a short but furious fight and left for dead. The matches preceded smoothly and the champions, the Japan Team, consisting of Kyo Kusanagi
, Benimaru Nikaido
and Goro Daimon
, find themselves confronting Rugal inside the control tower of his aircraft carrier. Due to his arrogance, Rugal chooses not to fight Benimaru and Daimon at his full potential and they manage to put him in serious jeopardy. After being entertained long enough, Rugal finally decides to fight with his full strength. He manages to swiftly wipe the floor with the two combatants, using sheer brute force and power. Kyo then steps forward to face
Rugal. Having to fight another Kusanagi again, Rugal almost reads Kyo's mind, countering every move that the young Kusanagi makes. Rugal uses his superior skills and power to easily knock Kyo around with little effort. Just as Kyo is at the end of his rope, he notices his father lying in a corner of the room. He gets extremely infuriated and attacks Rugal with all his power. Rugal is unable to stop or counter the unrelenting onslaught from Kyo, getting constantly burned and hit by Kyo's blows. Near the edge of defeat, Rugal sneers, taking out a remote control detonator and activating the Black Noah's self-destruct system. A count-down ensues, giving the Japan Team enough time to escape. The Black Noah explodes in an enormous fireball then sinks, sending Rugal to the bottom of the ocean.
But that wasn't the end of Rugal Bernstein.
King of Fighters 1995
Using the Orochi power for first time, Rugal managed to survive the explosion, but did not escape it unscathed as parts of his body were greatly damaged and had to be replaced with cybernetic implants, including his entire right forearm. Hungry for revenge, Rugal sends Vice to capture and brainwash Saisyu. He then sends out invitations for the 1995 King of Fighters tournament, under the guise of "R". A new team appeared in place of the USA team, consisting of Billy Kane
, Eiji Kisaragi
and Iori Yagami
(a descendent of the Yamagi family and sworn rival of the Kusanagis). The tournament went on, containing fearsome fights. The Japan Team, now known as the Hero Team, worked their way through the tournament once again, but before the final battle, Rugal decides to use sleeping gas on them and takes them to his new underground base (a military missile silo). When the Hero Team finally awakens, Rugal makes his introduction, laughing maniaclly. He then introduces them to the man that they must fight first, Saisyu Kusanagi. After a furious battle, Benimaru and Daimon are badly beaten by the older Kusanagi, forcing Kyo to step in. During the fight, Kyo tries to talk some sense into his father, but to no avail. In the end, Kyo is triumphant causing Saisyu to snap out of his brainwashing. He makes Kyo promise that' he'll finish off Rugal before passing out. In a fit of rage, Kyo vows to put an end to Rugal's evil schemes then stands to face him. With an evil smirk, Rugal gets up from his chair and begins laughing like a madman posessed. The Orochi power starts to awaken inside Rugal, transforming him into the god-like being, Omega Rugal. Continuing the fight, Rugal makes very short work of Benimaru and Daimon once again, leaving only Kyo to face him. Overcome with rage and promising his father that he'll defeat Rugal, the two began to fight furiously accross the missile platform, but the huge power Rugal displays seems to be too much for Kusanagi to handle. However, thanks to the help of the other fighters such as Terry, Ryo, and Athena
, Rugal has to go all out and access more of the Orochi power. Although becoming more powerful, Rugal began to lose control of the immense power building up within him. Kyo, nearly at his limit, recognized an opening and uses the situation to his advantage. He relentlessly attacks Rugal, not giving him the time or opportunity to retaliate and eventually forcing the Orochi power to overwhelm Rugal. Unable to continue, Rugal begins to scream as his body shakes and trembles, white, crackling light begins bursting forth through his cuts and injuries. At that moment, Iori approached Rugal, stating, “Only those of the bloodline can control such power!" In a bright flash of light, Rugal is completely engulfed by a large pillar of light, within it, the shape of a skull. Before being totally disintegrated by the uncontrollable energy, Rugal swears to return and says, "I'll be back....You jerks!"
It's interesting to note that during the following King of Fighters Tournament, its new host, Chizuru Kagura
, states to the winning team (Japan/Hero Team) that their victory over "the Mighty Rugal" in the previous tournament was mostly due to their team being more lucky than strong. The only reason why Kyo was able to defeat Rugal, was because Rugal's body could not handle overusage of the Orochi power which flowed through him, ultimately leading to his own destruction.
On another note, there's some speculation that Rugal might not have died in '95 or at least have some high probability of being resurrected. To the left is an "official" picture from SNK showing several clones of him in some type of stasis tubes. The other two individuals shown in the pic have yet to be identified. Although the meaning of this picture hasn't been expanded on by SNK as of yet.
There are also subtle clues hinting that he had a possible romantic relationship with his former secretary, Mature
. Some state that she is most likely the Mother of Adel and Rose, but this has yet to be officially verified or confirmed. Due to the childern's ages however, that hypothesis is highly unlikely.
Profile (Official SNK)
6'5" (197 cm)
227 lbs (103kg)
His evil heart
He has no likes or dislikes
Justice. People who perform selfish evil
Adelheid Bernstein (son), Rose Bernstein (daughter).
A Gesamtkunst composite with mastery of all fighting styles, including Hakkyokuseiken and the House of Stroheilm
Genocide Cutter, Dark Barrier, God Press
Gravity Smash, Banishing Rush, Beads Destruction, Divine Arrow, Kaiser Wave, Reppuken
Gigantic Pressure, Genocide Heaven, Rugal Execution, Destruction Omega, Kaiser Phoenix, Dead-End Screamer
Reppuken, Kaiser Wave, Dark Barrier
God Press, Gigantic Pressure
Gravity Smash/Force Field
Banishing Rush, Beads Destruction, Divine Arrow