NES – #8 – Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse

History:

While I have plenty of history with Castlevania, I missed out on the NES generation, this one included.

Expectations:

For better or worse, I’m really excited about this one. The first game was a blast and this one’s supposed to be even better, never mind that Alucard makes his debut here. I hope it’s as good as I hope it is.


Day 1: wpid-20150429_221854.jpgSo… This is a hard game. First things first though, it looks and sounds incredible. I mean it’s basically identical to Castlevania, same engine and all, but they managed to make it look closer to Castlevania IV than anything else. That said, the same issues that were in Castlevania are still in this game, particularly iffy jump mechanics and the ever annoying accidentally picking up a new sub-weapon replacing your old one. But anyway, this game is hard! wpid-20150429_223007.jpg I a little on the fence about the branching paths. I guess they’re fine, but I never know if I’m taking the wrong path or not. It doesn’t look like I’ll be doing any backtracking, so there probably isn’t a wrong path, but still. I do like how the levels themselves offer branching routes, like the melting blocks in Stage 4. I may have to do some reading to have any success with this one, it’s definitely much more daunting than than the first one. Unfortunately, it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.


Day 2: wpid-20150430_223210.jpg Took a different route and got a little further this time, picking up Syfa along the way. I had to look up her name because I knew it sounded familiar, and sure enough you fight zombie versions of her, Grant and Trevor in Symphony of the Night, the only Castlevania game I can actually beat! The game is still relentless, and I wasn’t able to get past the next stage’s boss before getting game over. wpid-20150430_223831.jpg Still, I continue to be impressed with this game visually. The ship level in particular was able to create a completely different environment from earlier stages.


Day 3:

wpid-20150501_205856.jpg

So since this was my last night of play I decided to deviate a bit from my usual route and go try to pick up Grant. The clock tower stage was really impressive visually and mechanically compared to the first game, but ultimately I was unable to reach to the top.

After a couple resets I was able to again recruit Syfa and progress through most of the ship stage, where I once again hit a stopping point.


Conclusion:

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to beat a proper Castlevania game, by which I mean anything that came out before Symphony of the Night. Even still, I had a ton of fun working my way through what I could of this one, and equally enjoyed noting all of its improvements over the original. The gameplay’s as tight as ever and even though this game uses the same engine as the first, it manages to do new and amazing things with it.

While I initially had mixed feelings towards the branching paths, I came to appreciate them. The never detracted from the game, and it gave me reason to reset and explore different routes. Additionally, having multiple character to switch between was a nice touch. I was only able to spend a bit of time with Syfa, but she handled notably differently than Trevor, and her magic spells were fun to use in lieu of traditional Castlevania weaponry. All in all it was a great time, and surprisingly reminiscent of Super Castlevania IV.

Liked:

– Great graphics and stage design.
– Good music, though not as memorable as other entries’.
– Familiar, tight gameplay made conquering challenges feel fun and rewarding.
– Branching paths and multiple characters add a good amount of replay value to the game.

Disliked:

– Same issues as Castlevania, including iffy jump mechanics and accidental sub-weapon swapping.
– When the challenges were fair they were great, but occasionally you’d experience some really cheap deaths.

Castlevania III

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