I just finished watching season 2 of the Netflix Castlevania series, which got me interested in playing more of the games in the series! Similar to other games in the series, Castlevania III takes a Belmont through Dracula’s castle, but adds a ton more to the series – making it the best iteration on the NES!
In terms of story, the game loosely follows the Netflix show! The game is set in Europe in the 1400’s. The church has asked the Belmonts to leave Europe because of their super-human strength. However, once Dracula shows up, the Church calls on Trevor Belmont for assistance! You take control of him as you fight back against Dracula as he tries to take over and destroy Europe! As always – the game primary takes place in and around Dracula’s Castle – and your job is to get through it and destroy him!
In terms of gameplay, the game initially presented itself quite similar to other NES incarnations – you walk, jump, and whip your way through stages, defeating monsters as they come. The controls are tight, but still suffer from the knock-back effects like similar games when you get hit. As you defeat enemies, you collect hearts, which in Castlevania-like-fashion act as ammo for the numerous weapons Trevor can obtain. All the favourites are including the dagger, holly water, and axe!
As players get further into the game, they will notice that there is much more to explore, with branching pathways and hidden secrets! This led to one of the biggest surprises – you can take control of multiple characters! You can find a mage, pirate, and even Alucard – and all have unique powers to them! I was particularly blown away by the pirate who was able to climb on walls and moved much more freely than Trevor.
With the press of the select button, you can switch between Trevor and whomever is following. Unfortunately, you cannot take more than one partner along with you. In the long run however, this adds to the replayability of the game because it encourages multiple run-throughs and has multiple endings depending on which character you beat the game with.
The levels also offer a lot of diversity – with many callbacks to the first game like the clocktower! At the end of each stage is a boss – ranging from a giant skeleton to Dracula himself! I enjoyed the bosses and did not find them overly challenging. However, a real surprise awaits after players after they complete a level – they are presented with branching paths!The addition of this concept makes this game one of the most repayable Castlevania games compared to the rest!
In terms of graphics, this game – by NES standards – looks great! They game employs lots of colours and has more diverse areas than the previous iterations in the series ranging from outdoor environments, to dungeons and towers! The sprites also look great, and some of the bosses are very large! While the game still suffers from flickering, I never found that it got in the way of enjoying the game. The music and sound effects are also exceptional. They were so good in-fact that my brother bought my the vinyl for Christmas last year! For importers, the Famicon version has even better music (because they added an extra chip into the game cartridge).
In summary, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse is an awesome action/platform game that is challenging, fun, replayable, and offers possibly the best soundtrack of any Castlevania game! This is one of the best NES games on the system and is a must-own for fans of the series! Overall, I give this game a top pick tag and a final score of 9/10!
Final Score: 9/10