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Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)

90
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  ETJB (447)
Written on  :  May 28, 2014
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars
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Summary

Castlevania III: Action-Packed! Non-Linear! Dracula's Son!

The Good

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (Dracula's Curse) for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is the third and final Castlevania game to be released for the original NES system. In addition to some totally incredible, 8-bit animation, graphics, music and sound effects, Dracula's Curse does retain once nice feature from its predecessor; non-linear game play.

It should be noted that this game is a return to the basic game play mechanics seen in the original Castlevania game. It departures from most of the changes seen in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, which is probably a good thing for the franchise, although I do not agree with much of the negativity that surrounds Simon's Quest.

Gone are the adventure role-playing game elements found in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. Instead, Dracula's Curse is entirely a side-scrolling, arcade-action platform game, in the tradition of the first Castlevania game.

Dracula's Curse stars not Simon, but one of his ancestors, by a few centuries. Setting the game before the events in the first Castlevania game is an interesting story choice which could have fallen apart in less skilled hands.

Trevor C. Belmont is just as skilled as Simon in using his whip and other violent weapons to make sure that the undead stay dead. In the “olden days” it would seem that the Belmont had some pretty cool magical powers at their disposal.

In addition to Belmont, the player is able to gain control of three additional characters – each with their own special abilities. The new playable characters breath life in to the series and also help to make the game less linear then the first Castlevania game.

Sypha Belnades is a sorceress who has strong magical spells, but weak physical attack capabilities.

Later on you can control a private named Grant Danasty (who can climb walls and change direction in mid-jump). If you are really good at this game, the you can unlock Dracula's son!

Yeah! That's right! Alcuard, is a dhampir with the special talent of shooting fireballs and transforming himself into a bat. This is probably one of the first (perhaps only) NES games that allow you to take control of a vampire, let alone the son of the game's main villian.

The game play – most notably the ending – will change depending on which character you use or bring along with you on a level. Each of the three allies are helpful in different parts of the game and the ability to switch characters (and backtrack through previous levels) are great, non-linear elements.

Certain points in the game allow you to pick the path that you will take, which also will impact the game play. The game takes place inside a huge Gothic Castle – I count fifteen stages in total – and it is nice to be able to choice an upper or a lower route to your final destination (which is the main hall in the Castle)

The Castle in Dracula's Curse looks amazing, especially the attention to detail paid to the game's backgrounds. The music and sound effects are also impressive. It is about as scary as the Big N would allow a Nintendo game be—outside of Japan.

Combined the incredible visual and audio effects in the game are probably the closest to the survival horror genre. If you want to see a game that pushes the NES hardware to the max, then check out

The Bad

Critics had attacked Castlevania II: Simon's Quest for being too easy as well as for its adventure role-playing game structure. Again, while I do not agree with the critics, the developers of Dracula's Curse clearly listened to what the people disliked about Simon's Quest.

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse is is not an adventure role-playing game. It is also harder then the previous two games in the original Castlevania game trilogy.

Dracula's Curse does have a password feature, to help stem the tide of total frustration.

Oddly enough, some of the biggest complaints with Dracula's Curse is that failed to fix some of the pesky, game play problems seen in the first Castlevania game.

Whenever your character is hit, he (or she) has the nasty habit of actually moving backwards a bit. This was a trait seen in (too) many NES games.

When dealing with a large enemy or projectile, I can appreciate the rationale behind the "impact" backwards movement.

However, it is just frustratingly silly when every single enemy or projectile in the game has the ability to knock you off a platform, just by touching you.

"Silly" because it does not make much sense, and "frustrating" because, yeah, it can make some of the aspects in the game seem so difficult you shout just about every single profane and bad word you know. You might even invent a few.

Likewise, the control mechanics for climbing up and down stairs can cause some needless frustration. You send quite a bit of time going up and down stairs, it would be nice if didn't feel quite so defenseless while climbing.

The Bottom Line

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse for the Nintendo Entertainment System features awesome graphics, animation, music and sound effects. It is top-notch, side-scrolling, arcade-action game with some new playable characters and non-lineal elements. Victory against Dracula's Curse will only come to those gamers able and willing to survive the many tricky platforms and vicious supernatural monsters that await you in the Castle's many rooms.