Game Review

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Blood relative

After the success of the original Castlevania title on the NES system, Konami decided to change things up quite a bit for Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. Gone was the straight-ahead platforming action of the original, replaced with a much more rpg-flavored approach that placed more emphasis on item collection and exploration. While Simon's Quest was a great game in and of itself, many fans felt betrayed by the direction Konami took the popular series in. Thankfully, Konami decided to abandon their experiment and return the Castlevania series to its roots. Not only did they bring back the magic of the original game, but they also managed to add in a wealth of new game play twists, not to mention a much lengthier quest to form what many diehard fans of the series consider the best Castlevania title of them all.

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse brings back the standard action-platforming of the original, only this time there are a few new twists. While you still control your main character, you'll also encounter allies along the way that you can take on as your partner. There are three additional characters, each with their own unique powers. Grant the pirate is extremely effective at climbing, Syfa the Magician is adept at casting powerful magic spells, and Alucard, Dracula's son, can turn into a bat and fly around freely until your supply of hearts run out. The trick is you can only have one of these additional characters in your party at once, so it's up to you to decide which character will be most effective as your partner given your current situation.

Another new twist is the multiple paths you'll encounter. There's no longer only one way to Dracula's Castle. At the end of certain levels you'll be given a choice of two different paths to take, each featuring a different level. This means you don't have to play through every single level in the game in order to reach the finale, but it also means you can go back and play through the game again taking different paths which adds quite a bit of replay value to the overall experience.

All the traditional Castlevania game play is all still intact. Your character still uses his trusty whip which can be powered up several times in both length and power. He can also pick up the standard Castlevania special items such as the Holy Cross and the Magic Potion. Even the level designs and platforming action will feel immediately familiar to fans of the original Castlevania game. One thing fans might notice is that the levels are quite a bit longer than in previous games, so you'll be happy to have your new partner to help you make it through them alive — as well as those all-important Wii U save states, of course. The boss fights are also a bit more challenging this time around as you can't rely so much of your special items any more. There's also a lot more diversity in the many areas of the game; you'll travel through a haunted forest, a ghost ship, and even a fully functioning clock tower in your efforts to reach the Prince of Darkness.

As impressive as the visuals in the first two Castlevania titles were, Konami was somehow able to eclipse even them in this third release. You'll see the NES execute visuals that are absolutely mind-blowing at times. Dracula's Curse might only be an 8-bit title, but you certainly wouldn't know it from looking at it. The enemies and bosses might resemble those of old, but the backgrounds in the many areas are quite a ways above those found in the previous NES releases, some by a very significant margin. Playing this on the Wii U GamePad only serves to enrich the already impressive visuals; on the smaller screen, those lovely 8-bit pixel-based graphic are given even more sharpness and clarity.

The music is pretty much a mix of old and new. The old tracks will sound familiar to fans of the series and the new titles are every bit as good, if not better. There's not a bad musical track in the entire game and some of the newer music found during the last few levels of the game are absolutely amazing by 8-bit standards. It's clear that Konami wanted to push the envelope of what the NES sound hardware was capable of and the end result is easily one of the best sounding NES titles ever crafted.


If you're a Castlevania fan, there's absolutely no reason you shouldn't own this game. It's everything the original title was and so much more. While some Simon's Quest fans might be a bit disappointed with the return to the standard Castlevania platforming experience, there's no denying how amazing Dracula's Curse truly is and just how well it carries on the tradition set by the original title. It's easy to see why so many Castlevania fans consider this to be the pinnacle of the series as Dracula's Curse is truly an amazing game from start to finish and a worthy addition to the Wii U eShop library.

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User Comments (40)



TwilightAngel said:

I miss the old Castlevania games those were good,not like Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2 damn that game is horrible.



Zeldalover said:

Sure, you gotta love the variety of this game by introducing branching paths, multiple characters to play with, manageable bosses and overall a great length for a NES game, but you can't deny the murderous difficulty that goes along with it. This international release slightly increased the hit damage, changed some parts of the individual art design in the levels. Some enemies had a sprite replacement or a change in behavior (I know that the "Mummies" boss attack pattern was altered to be wavy, so it could hit more easily). And no three-channel VRC6 audio. 8/10.



ricklongo said:

Good game, great memories, but the pre-Metroidvania titles in the series haven't aged terribly well in my opinion. This is an 8/10 in my book.



Drac_Mazoku said:

I'm glad I can abuse save state now with this version. Even as a child, this seem to be a little bit too hard in the later level. 4 health in one hit is kinda insane, you don't have room for much errors...



KikReask said:

The first three titles were fun if difficult, but I really loved Castlevania IV, Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night the most. I only wish Bloodlines was made available on the virtual console, even if it ends up being the censored European version.



Grimlock_King said:

I'm still trying to get all the playable characters. Man they sure don't make game like this anymore except for certain indies.



bofis said:

So is the music and audio using the extra channels that it had on the Japanese release, or is it using the US audio, which had fewer voices?



sdelfin said:

It really is a shame that Bloodlines isn't available digitally, as someone pointed out. It's an excellent entry in the series with some improvements in how it controls. I wonder why Konami has held that one back, as it's a great game.

I recently went back and played Castlevania 3. Konami had some great ideas for this game, such as the branching paths. Too bad your worst enemy in the game often turns out to be the stairs. It would take a couple of years more before they fixed that. Still, Dracula's Curse is a quality game. I think risking the disappointment of fans of Simon's Quest was the right course to take.



soma said:

This one is a lot more difficult than the first. I didn't find the first one too difficult except for that corridor where you fight Death.

I already have this on Wii, it'd be great to have it on 3DS for the save points, but I'm having some trouble playing Nes games on 3DS tiny buttons. I think I'll wait to get the WiiU, not only a better control but better price too. This is one of the games that having save points really helps.



bezerker99 said:

This game is just another reason why the NES is the best console to ever grace planet Earth!!!



SetupDisk said:

I used to beat this all the time as a kid. Got it on the plain wii vc(Wii U upgrade as well) and get my ass kicked all over the place. I hate how all the "hardcore" games since the introduction of 3D games and those awesome polygons have ruined the skills I had as a kid.

If I keep with it I will get good at it again. Same with Punch Out. I used to pound the crap out of Mik..... Mr. Dream but I haven't even gotten to him yet on the vc. My refresh rate is fine on my TV so it's not that.



Mr-X9000 said:

on the 3DS eshop version the sound effects are very quiet for some reason, anyone know why?



xxAcesHighxx said:

Okay, sure we want N64 and GC to fiiiiiiinally come to the Wii U Virtual Console party, but in the meantime, I for one am more than happy with timeless NES greats like Dracula's Curse... At least I would be if it was on the EU store!

Oh and by the way, for those that've not yet got round to it — and are up for a pretty stiff challenge! — Kid Icarus is another fantastic NES classic.



16bitdave said:

If I didn't already own this for the NES I'd totally be buying it! One of my favorite NES games of all time!



SIM_CTC said:

This game has the best music on the NES! and easily one of the best NES games.
I know it's not going to happen, but really wants to see Solar Jetman on VC...



duo1 said:

@Zeldalover hey bud! thanks for using my art. I'm not hating. I think it's actually cool.
that I worked on. it's called Leo's squirtle.
I have a lucario using aura ball too and a charmander I did too.
Keep using it, I'm happy that you like my drawing.



ZenTurtle said:

You mean the crap ones. Most of the NES games on vc are obscure and are showing their age. Just a few GC games or n64 games would be appreciated...



Zeldalover said:

@duo1 Wow, a response from the artist himself! I'm grateful for what you did by making my favorite starting Pokemon to look so cool. I'll look up your other drawings too!



Tasuki said:

This was the first Castlevania game I ever played. One of the best around.



reali-tglitch said:

It is a spectacular game. The fact that the WiiU has the save states make it truly worth it (without them, you will be frustrated, particularly by bosses). I love using me some Grant for that controllable jump and wallclimbing.

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