Monday, August 11, 2014

Nerdicus NES Review #122: Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse

Title : Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse

Publisher : Konami

Developer : Konami

Genre : Action Platformer

Players : 1 Player

Release Date : 1990

Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $20-$25

Tis a sad day, as we are finally reviewing the last of the Castlevania games to grace the NES console. The first one set the stage and really proved how epic the NES action games could be, while the second one attempted to put a twist on the already successful formula, but just fell a bit short. Nonetheless, they were both fantastic games, and are widely considered some of the greatest to be released for the NES.

It should come as no surprise then, that Castlevania III continues to carry the torch for the Castlevania series. 

This time, instead of being a sequel, this game is actually a prequel of the original Nintendo game. You play as Trevor Belmont, who has been called upon by the Church to defeat Dracula. Wielding is powerful Vampire Killer Whip (appropriate name, no?), he is joined by three allies to aid him on his journey to Transylvania.

Sypha Belnades, the young priestess while weak with attacks is capable of casting some powerful spells.

Grant Danasty, the pirate rebel who can climb and double jump off walls.

Alucard, the son of Dracula with the valuable ability of being able transform into a vampire bat. And also the preview of the famed Symphony of the Night protagonist.

With four characters at your disposal, the game is wide open for an entirely new set of gameplay actions, and draws you even deeper into the Castlevania universe. I don't know about you, but I'm stoked to be playing this game. (Stay tuned also for my live twitch stream session where I play through each of the NES Castlevania games!)

Bring it on, Dracula. Time to get staked. Stake? Steak? mmm...steak...didn't eat breakfast yet.

Check out those lightning bolts in the intro. It's dramatic. It's tense. IT'S HORRIFYING. It's freaking Castlevania, baby! That's what I want to see! Give me goosebumps before I even start the game!

Since we've already discussed the introduction of the three other playable characters that are available, let me just quickly explain how the mechanics work. You can only have one ally by your side at any given time, but you can switch off whenever you want by pressing the select button. So when you're sick of using the Belmont fellow, just switch out. Just like tag team wrestling, except you share the same health meter. Experiment with who you like best, and determine who you want to beat the game with because who you finish the game with determines your ending.

That's right, folks. MULTIPLE ENDINGS! What you hear, is me squealing with glee.

Also, while Castlevania III is a bit more like the first game, it follows the non-linear format that the second game introduced. Beat a level, and you're taking to a map screen which you can choose which path you want to take. Definitely allows for some insane replay values as you can switch out characters, choose paths, and basically determine your own fate. *sigh* I love you, Castlevania.

The great part about the different paths you can take in this game, is that it really determines the amount of difficulty. The upper path is usually considered to be the easier one, with a bit less platforming involved and somewhat "friendlier" enemies, while the lower catacombs crawl will end up pissing you off most of the time. Annoying medusa heads anyone!?

Despite the addition of the various characters, and the non-linear level selection, the gameplay remains ultimately the same. Collect hearts, find special items (the good 'ol holy water remains the best as usual), and kill all enemies in your path. The difference is, the gameplay and controls feel a lot more solid than they did in the previous games. Jumping doesn't seem to be as stiff (although it still is....), and attacking is more fluid. Maybe it's all in my head, but the game in general feels like a smoother ride. It felt like THIS game was the true beginning for what Symphony of the Night had to offer.

Not only that, but the story in this game is a bit deeper. The characters are more fleshed out, and while the captions and narratives are a tad static, they at least try to provide more of a story rather than just "Kill Dracula."

And, music...muah...perfection.

Seeing how this is the last Castlevania game for the NES, it's only appropriate to take a moment of silence for the fact that I'm going to be faced with a lot more crappy reviews here on out. This series was the first real break I've had in being able to review ACTUALLY good games, so I'm quite upset. 

So upset, in fact that as I said earlier I will be REVISITING this entire series on a RETRO TWITCH STREAM this week. I was practicing earlier, just to make sure everything is set up, and now I'm good to go. Stay tuned on my twitter feed for more updates (@CopernicusNerd)

Oh...side note..the only thing that annoyed me about this game? Last boss was too easy....Come on, Dracula. A bunch of heads and a statue isn't that challenging...especially when you've got Alucard on your team.

Final Score (out of 5) :

Until next time. Keep on gaming!



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