Developer(s) – Konami
Publisher(s) – Konami & Palcom
Director – Hitoshi Akamatsu
Designer – I. Urata
Rating – N/A
Essentially a carbon copy of the first game, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse took the majority of the principal mechanics of the game, and gave it multiple passages, taking away much of the linearity of the first, as well as having a fresh coat of paint in terms of visuals. Though it is indeed fractionally more enjoyable than the first game, in my opinion, it still had its flaws.
Graphics – 8/10
Though the limited color palette of the NES is still relatively evident in this game, the visuals are a dramatic improvement on the first game, featuring more detailed scenery and characters. Though many elements of the first have been recycled for use in the third, it still made for one of the better-looking games on the system in my opinion. The soundtrack is also as epic as ever; something that the series would come to be known for as the years passed.
Gameplay – 6/10
The basic gameplay premise of the original Castlevania title was bought back for use in the third game, with players having to use their wicked cunning to overcome any and all obstacles or enemies thrown at them. Aside from giving players more to play for, certain paths are also not as unforgiving as the first game, and it’s ultimately a lot more accessible because of it. The series would go on to accommodate for a greater range of players as it would progress, but to me, this was the ideal turning point, since it would have also geared potential fans up for the different directions the series would be taken throughout future generations of video gaming.
Controls – 9/10
A lot of the same issues that cropped up in the first game also, unfortunately, cropped up in the third too, with a good few glitches that cause players to fall beneath disappearing platforms. The issue isn’t as big a problem in the first game, however, and on top of that, there aren’t any others to address thankfully.
Lifespan – 7/10
Designed to played multiple times, the third game actually lasted much longer than what was the average lifespan of a video game for the time, totaling to about three and a half hours for experienced players. But taking into account the time it can take to master each facet of the game, since whilst not unforgiving, does still provide a fairly stern challenge, it can be made to last even longer.
Storyline – 6/10
The story of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse was actually made to be an origin narrative to the entire series. Set in 1476, it features Trevor Belmont, as opposed to the more familiar Simon Belmont, in what was at that time, the first struggle between Dracula and the Belmont clan. This time, Trevor can also be accompanied by one of two different characters, dependent on what path the player takes; either a sorceress called Sypha Belnades, or Dracula’s son, Alucard. It added a little bit more than the average story in gaming, but it didn’t really break any new ground in this respect at the time, since games of the day were pretty light on the story in any case, and didn’t feature many of the story elements found in video games today.
Originality – 8/10
Although the game didn’t introduce many new story elements to the gaming industry, and largely stuck to the same principles as most games on the NES, it still perpetuated the same ideas as Simon’s Quest did, Games didn’t have to follow a linear path; they could go in several different directions and play out differently from one another. That ideal may have been toned down somewhat with this game, but it still made for an experience unlike many other 2D side scrollers on the NES.
Overall, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse is my personal favorite out of the original three Castlevania games. Though things would get even better for the series as it progresses in my opinion, it was still a very positive departure from the shaky start that it had gotten to.