Taito - 1993 - Japan
Auleria is a side scrolling action RPG set in a victorian era/medieval fantasy world. You'll control multiple characters, explore many different lands, and watch some pretty cool cinema screens as you go through the quest. Fans of the Wonder Boy games, Castlevania II, Zelda II, etc, are the people I would say will enjoy this game the most (and also people with the best taste in games). I'm a huge action RPG fan, especially side-scrollers, so I really dug Auleria.
You start the game as a warrior who comes home to his village to find everything burned and destroyed and his woman (I presume) dead. All this is revealed in a cool opening cinema-- when you actually take control of your guy you'll be kneeling at the woman's grave. I couldn't really decipher much anything else from the story except that there's your usual purple and green demon boss guys, chicks with horns, and other 80s anime crap like that.
Action screens vary from countryside roads, swamps, forests, snow covered mountains and deserts to name a few, while dungeons are generally of the underground cave variety. There are also a few instances where you'll have to fight your way through a castle or mountain side to get to a boss.
There aren't any real levels (except dungeons)-- each chapter of the game is instead comprised of many different screens and is walled off from the previous chapter in some way so that you never have to backtrack to locations from earlier chapters. Each screen will scroll right to left, or left to right (there are a few where you go up and down, but they're only in dungeons or castles), and generally end with an option to go to 2-4 other screens. Screens will be either action stages or towns. You'll have to remember which options lead where, which isn't too hard once you get the layout of each chapter down. At first it's pretty confusing since everything is in Japanese, but what I did was just make a mental note of what the first japanese character of each screens name was, and then it was easy to get around. This is important because you'll be doing lots of backtracking and talking to people in towns during each chapter. Don't worry though, there's only about 5-8 people in each town and only like 2 towns per chapter so talking to everyone is SUPER quick.
The controls are a high point because everything is DEAD on-- movement is fast and responsive, although the collision detection is a little annoying sometimes. Button 1 makes you jump, and button 2 is attack. Holding button 2 will charge up your magic attack, which is different for each character (except the spear guy, he doesn't get any magic). Each of the characters have unique abilities, and switching between them is quick and easy. For example; the spear guy has really good range but is slower and can't jump worth crap, your main character is average with a cool fireball magic, and the girl you get is weak but has the best magic, so you have to decide which one is best for each part.
One of the coolest features, or possibly the coolest feature, of this game is leveling up. Two things are sweet about this; first of all your magic gets more powerful as you go up-- you'll start out with a puny fireball but by the time you're a pretty high level your fireball will dominate the screen. The second and COOLEST feature ever in an action RPG is that as you go up in levels, weaker enemies stop appearing! This makes all the backtracking between screens painless since you don't have to waste time fighting enemies that give you 1 experience point. Every time you level up enemies will give you less experience, until finally they just stop appearing. This makes it so you can't immediately max your characters out (like in Ys), and takes away the pointlessness of fighting for no reward. Seriously this one stroke of genius puts this game in top tier in my opinion. I can't believe this ingenius system hasn't been used in more games since it's so simple and obvious.
The graphics are pretty average at best. There are a couple really cool looking spots in the game, but for the most part you won't be impressed. Your characters and the enemies are fairly large, but the animation is choppy. The backgrounds don't feature any parallax scrolling and the color palatte seems rather limited, which is ridiculous on a system known for pumping out both sweet parallax and the best & most vibrant colors of the 16bit generation. These shortcomings don't detract from the game, but still I would have liked graphics that pushed the Duo a little harder since it was released in 1993 alongside other games that graphically destroyed anything the SNES had on offer.
I also started writing a walkthrough for the game back in the day to save people some needless backtracking but I never finished it because my Duo's memory got corrupted. I was probably 3/4 of the way through the game so someone might find it useful. Get the walkthrough here, mah jiggaz.
Genesis game that is better than this game rating- Wonder Boy V