Castlevania III – Dracula’s Curse

aCastlevania III Draculas Curse aUSA 188x266 Castlevania III   Draculas Curse NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDeveloper: Konami
Publisher: Konami

Released: September 1990
US Cartridge ID: NES-VN-USA

Players: 1
Genre: Action Platform
Supported Peripherals: Controller

ROM Size: 3 megabit
Mapper: MMC5 (256k PRG, 128k CHR)

Requires Flash10

Konami’s final chapter of their classic NES trilogy, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse is a true 8-bit technological tour de force, constantly pushing the hardware to (and occasionally beyond) its limits. Staged as a prequel to the first two Castlevania games, the player Castlevania III Draculas Curse USA 001 256x224 Castlevania III   Draculas Curse NES Nintendo Review Screenshotassumes the role of Simon’s ancestor, Trevor Belmont. As humanity’s last hope, Trevor battles the terrible army of Count Dracula that threatens to consume the world if left unopposed.

Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse eschews the RPG-lite trappings of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest in favor of a highly polished evolution of the original game. The third game returns the series to its traditional platforming roots,  though with some significant improvements over its predecessors. The branching level structure is brand new, allowing players to carve their own path through the Transylvanian countryside. Trevor will also meet up with several other characters that can be teamed up with (switchable on the fly with a press of the Select button), each possessing an ability that drastically changes the flow of the gameplay from the traditional Castlevania style.

In addition to the game’s multiple endings, these new features serve to extend the game’s replayability: there is no way to see all of the game’s fifteen stages in one play through, and
the new characters (Grant Danusty, a ghost pirate who can scale walls; Adrian “Alucard” Castlevania III Draculas Curse USA 122 256x224 Castlevania III   Draculas Curse NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotTepes, Dracula’s shape shifting son; and Syfa Velnumdes, a spell-casting priestess and vampire hunter) keep the experience fresh, with each offering an entirely new way to experience the stages. This entry also marks the addition of vertical auto-scrolling stages, which add an unexpected layer of tension to the proceedings. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse offers up a challenge on par with the original, though it feels a lot more modern because of its improvements.

The sound composition is as impeccable as ever, though the sound quality is notably worse than that of Simon’s Quest’s. The Japanese Famicom version utilized one of Konami’s custom memory management chips, the VRC6, designed to improve the base system’s graphic and sound capabilities. Akumajou Densetsu, Castlevania III‘s Japanese counterpart, sounds absolutely incredible, with several additional sound channels that
allowed for a more complex layering of instrumentation, but the NES version’s tunes sound weak and flat by comparison. Though the music is still extremely catchy, the sacrifices made in the down-mixing required to make the music playable without the additional hardware really hurt the game. The graphics are fantastic: the enemy sprites are Castlevania III Draculas Curse USA 193 256x224 Castlevania III   Draculas Curse NES Nintendo Review Screenshotwell detailed and colorful, and the backdrops are extremely atmospheric, offering impressive sights by NES standards (the clock tower’s whirring gears, the stained glass windows, and some of the larger bosses come to mind). The US cartridge has been subjected to a few graphical downgrades due to  the lack of the VRC6 chip, and Nintendo’s famous censorship policies are responsible for even further alterations, but the changes are so discrete as to go unnoticed by the majority of gamers.

The host of innovative improvements make this a must play for any fan of the series. Despite the fact that the game isn’t quite up to par with its Japanese brother, spot-on controls, challenging gameplay, and impressive graphics cement Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse‘s place as one of the true classics of the 8-bit era.

screenshot icon w text Castlevania III   Draculas Curse NES Nintendo Review Screenshot50 Castlevania III   Draculas Curse NES Nintendo Review Screenshot

flag us Castlevania III   Draculas Curse NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotCasltevania III – Dracula’s Curse
Konami, 9/1990
flag uk Castlevania III   Draculas Curse NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotCastlevania III – Dracula’s Curse
Palcom, 12/1992
悪魔城伝説  (Akumajou Densetsu)flag jpn Castlevania III   Draculas Curse NES Nintendo Review Screenshot
The Legend of the Demon Castle
Konami, 12/1989

Comments

  1. David says:

    One of my all time favorites for sure!

    1. Alex says:

      Seriously, the game is about as amazing as anybody could ever hope for in a videogame 🙂