Written by  :  Multimedia Mike (19813)
Written on  :  Aug 05, 2005
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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The last and best Castlevania installment for the NES

The Good

Dracula's Curse is the last installment of the heavyweight Castlevania franchise on the NES and it went out fighting. Konami looked at every feature about the first two games and managed to improve every concept substantially. This is evident from the time you power on the cartridge. Rather than the same side-scrolling filmstrip title screen as seen in the first two episodes, #3 grabs you with a vertical-scrolling filmstrip animation introducing you to the story. Fantastic!

Say a prayer at the ruins of a church and then jump right into the action, whipping those monsters into shape and teaching them to stay dead. Let your eyes feast on the gorgeous graphics every step of the way, from the stained glass windows of the ruined church at the start, to the meticulous inner workings of the clock tower, to the eye-popping landscape below as you are climbing the castle walls. The music, as always, does not disappoint, and remains some of my favorite melodies of any NES game produced.

The lead character's play control is still as slow and awkward as ever. However, that is addressed somewhat by the fact that Trevor can enlist the help of various allies: Grant, the pirate, is nimble and can climb anywhere; Sypha, can attack with powerful spells; and Dracula's own flesh and blood son (wait, do vampires has flesh?) is every bit as slow as Trevor but makes up for it by his capacity to transform into a bat.

I am glad that the creators scaled back on the adventure approach in this game. Trevor still has some say in which path he takes to reach his ultimate goal-- Dracula. But it is not a total adventure as seen in the previous installment.

The Bad

One thing about this game that still sticks out in my mind is the ultra-tedious brick-climbing you had to go through in order to reach Dracula's castle. At one point in the game, these mysterious bricks fall from the sky in a predictable manner. You have to figure out the pattern by trial and error and keep on top of the bricks in order to reach the castle. That is painful. And time-consuming. During this time, you get a good view of the landscape below. However, as more advanced console and arcade systems were gaining ground at the same time this game was released, the slow scene only gave me time to contemplate how neat it would be if the game could perform parallax scrolling to give a real sense of depth and vertigo.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I was very impressed with this game, particularly with the fact that Konami managed to keep the series from getting stale. Excellent! Many series get stale on the 3rd installment since they continually follow the same formula.