A shoot-'em-up developed for the System 16 arcade board by Sega and WestOne in 1990. For most of the game, the action is viewed from the traditional top-down perspective. You control a futuristic tank-like vehicle, and have one button to shoot, and another to convert energy (collected from fallen enemies) into shields. Each shield you create can withstand one hit, and when you are hit with no shields, you lose a life.

Gameplay is markedly different from your average vertically-scrolling shooter. For one thing, there is no forced scrolling - the best strategy is to edge forward, dealing with each wave of enemies individually, instead of charging up the screen and triggering dozens of enemies at once. In the early stages, it is possible to simply evade most of the enemies and dash for the exit, although this will of course provide you with less energy. Once your vehicle reaches a building, the view switches to a featureless, pre-rendered tunnel viewed in the first person. You have to negotiate through a sort of minefield by shooting or avoiding the 'mines'. If you manage to hit one, a bunch of security robots are sent into the tunnel to get you. The level alternates between mine avoidance and robot killing until you reach the end of the tunnel, at which point you return to the top-down view.

Aurail is a pretty good game, and tries to bring some much-needed variety to an old genre. However it is marred slightly by fiddly controls and unintuitive gameplay (especially in the bizarro tunnel sequences). The graphics are extremely good for the time. The game further enhances my opinion of the little-known developers WestOne, who were later responsible for the excellent Monster World IV (as well as most of the other Wonderboy games).

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