Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse

Game Overview

As a follow up to Castlevania II: Simon's QuestThe first true sequel in the franchise, and one of the few direct sequels ever released. It was the first game in the series to introduce players to the concepts that would eventually become the Metroidvania genre., Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (Akumajou Densetsu in Japan, translated as "Legend of the Demon Castle") takes a more "back-to-basic" approach. Featuring a new hero for the series -- Simon BelmontThe first hero of the Castlevania series (by release date), he's been featured in more games, and referenced more times, than almost any other character in the series.'s many-times-removed ancestor Trevor BelmontThe third Belmont revealed in the release history of the franchise, Trevor's clout among fans has grown. Between love for his first game, and his starring role in the Castlevania anime, Trevor is perhaps even more popular now than even Simon. -- Castlevania III forsakes the innovations of the previous NES entry, returning us to a (more-or-less) linear adventure to destroy DraculaThe lead antagonist of the Castlevania series and most famous vampire character in all media, all thanks to Bram Stoker. in his castle. No searching for body parts, no upgrades to purchase, no RPG elements.

And yet, despite what it removes, Castlevania III is not a step back for the series. The game features a drastically expanded adventure, with most of the game happening outside of Dracula's castle grounds. The adventure begins in Warakyia Village, and Trevor has to venture from there through the lands of Romania, over multiple different potential paths, to get to the castle. It's a substantial quest, with plenty of areas to explore especially if the player wants to see everything the game has to offer.

Along the way, Trevor will encounter three other heroes -- Grant DaNastyOne of three heroes recruited by Trevor Belmont on his quest to defeat Dracula, Grant is a former thief from Wallachia who was captured by Dracula's minions and placed within the bounds of the demon castle, at least until Trevor rescued him. (a rogue), Sypha BelnadesOne of three heroes recruited by Trevor Belmont on his quest to defeat Dracula, Sypha is a powerful sorceress, and one of the most famous members of her clan. (a sorceress, although the English translation of the game made her male), and AlucardOne of three heroes recruited by Trevor Belmont on his quest to defeat Dracula, Alucard was the son of Dracula who turned from his fathers evil, battling against his cursed family line again and again. (Dracula's son) -- all willing to aid Trevor in the defeat of Dracula. Only one of them can adventure with the Belmont at a time, leading the player to strategize about which character would work best for their play style.

On top of the substantial quest and options, Castlevania III featured improved graphics and sound (especially if you have the Japanese edition which featured an additional sound chip built into the cartridge to substantially boost the music of the game, a chip that didn't work in the American version of the NES console). No one is going to claim the NES was a powerhouse, but for its time Castlevania III made the best of the little system, creating one of the best capstones for any trilogy on that console.

What is interesting is that, for this third NES adventure, the Castlevania series took inspiration not from the MetroidvaniaAt the intersection of Metroid and Castlevania lies the exploration platforming genre, the game style with heroes wandering expansive worlds, looking for items to expand their quest, know as Metroidvania. titles Konami was cranking out but from another game within the company: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Yes, that game, which gives you four heroes to choose from, and switch between on the fly, along with a large, interconnected, but linear world, served as the bar to beat when developing Castlevania III. The goal was to create a game that not only played better than the Shellheads' first NES adventure (which this game easily does) but also outsold that title as well (of note, from Konami's own numbers, the first TMNT was their most successful NES title). On that latter count, the game sadly did not manage to beat the Green Wonder's numbers.

In every regard, Castlevania III is an improvement over the original CastlevaniaThe game that started the series, the original Castlevania was hailed for its combination of action and platforming, all wrapped in Gothic style, to create one of Konami's earliest Million Sellers.. While it takes a more familiar path than Castlevania II, it does so with great skill and aplomb, learning and improving from all the Konami games that came before. As the last of the Castlevania series for the NES, Castlevania III is a fitting finish to an era of gaming.

Unfortunately, as far as sales were concerned, this game underperformed in comparison to even the 800,000 copies sold of the original NES title (although those numbers have gone up with re-releases and the beloved legacy of the game). This led Konami to break up the original Castlevania team, spreading its members to various other groups within the company (with some of the leaders of the group, such as series creator Hitoshi Akamatsu, leaving the company entirely). From this point forward, even as the company continued to explore the series, Castlevania would end up feeling different as it passed among very different hands within the company. That makes Castlevania III a conclusion to the series in a number of ways, leaving it as a bit of a bittersweet grace note for the end of the NES saga.