Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse[a] is the third Castlevania video game produced for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was published by Konami in Japan in 1989, and in North America in 1990, and in Europe by Palcom in 1992. It was later released on the Wii Virtual Console. It is notorious for its difficulty, and like its predecessors is also notable for its highly regarded sound track.
|Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse|
North American box art
|Platform(s)||Nintendo Entertainment System, Microsoft Windows, Virtual Console|
The plot of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse is a prequel to the original Castlevania (much like the earlier Game Boy game Castlevania: The Adventure) set a few centuries before the events of the original game. The game's protagonist is Trevor C. Belmont, an ancestor of the original hero Simon Belmont.
Castlevania III abandons the action-adventure game and role playing game elements of its immediate predecessor Castlevania II: Simon's Quest and returns to the platform game roots of the first Castlevania title. Unlike Castlevania, however, Castlevania III is non-linear: Trevor, the main character, can be assisted by one of three possible assistant characters, and after completing the first level, and at several other points throughout the game, the player is given a choice of two branching paths to follow. The player can obtain multiple endings depending on the choices they make throughout the game.
There are two main routes through the game's sixteen stages, which are referred to as blocks - and broken down into several sections. The second stage is an optional excursion for picking up one of the three partner characters, and the main branch occurs part way through the third stage. Each route contains total of nine stages (ten if the player takes the optional second stage). The upper route takes the player across the lake to the main bridge, entering Dracula's castle through the front gate, and is generally regarded as the easier of the two routes. The lower route takes the player through a series of underground tunnels and cavernous areas, eventually scaling the cliff side below the castle, and is generally considered more difficult than the upper route. The lower route also features one short branching section of its own at stage 6. The two paths converge in the main hall of the castle.
The year is 1476, and Count Dracula has started to ravage Europe with an army of monsters. The Belmont family of vampire hunters, once exiled from Wallachia, are called into action by the Church. They feared the Belmonts' "super-human" power, but with Dracula menacing to swallow Europe in darkness, they are left with no choice but to call Trevor Belmont, current wielder of the Vampire Killer Whip.
Joining Trevor Belmont in his mission to defeat Dracula are three new playable characters: Sypha Belnades, a young sorceress with poor physical attack power but powerful elemental magic spells at her disposal; Grant Danasty, a pirate with the ability to climb on walls and change direction in mid-jump (a rare ability in earlier games of the series); and Alucard, Dracula's son, a dhampir with the ability to shoot fireballs and transform into a bat. Trevor can be accompanied by only one companion at a time. If he chooses to take on another he must abandon his current companion. The player can "spiritually transform" between Trevor and his ally with the "select" button. Both Trevor and whoever is accompanying him share the same health meter. The ending of the game differs depending on which companion Trevor has with him at the time, or if he does not take another character with him at all.
Development and releaseEdit
Besides just the different title, Akumajō Densetsu, the Japanese version has several other differences. Most notably, the original Japanese version contained a specialized "VRC6" coprocessor chip. The game's audio programmer, Hidenori Maezawa, assisted in the chip's creation. This chip added two extra pulse-wave channels and a saw-wave channel to the system's initial set of five sound channels. The majority of the music combines the channels to imitate the sound of a synthesized string section. Western versions of the NES did not have the ability to support external sound chips, so the North American release replaced the VRC6 with Nintendo's Memory Management Controller 5 (MMC5). The MMC5 chip's sound channels cannot be used with the NES, and the game's music had to be downgraded by Yoshinori Sasaki to comply with the NES's standard five channels. Akumajō Dracula Famicom Best was a soundtrack album that included the Famicom version of the game's original music.
Other changes differed in the gameplay or graphics. Instead of using a stabbing dagger, Grant throws daggers as his main attack. Some enemies do less damage in the Japanese version, and had their sprites changed for the Western releases. Some instances of nudity on the enemies were also censored, and religious iconography was pared down. The Japanese version had slightly different backgrounds in many stages, and had special effects not seen in the North American and European releases.
The North American and PAL versions have several hidden features that can be accessed by entering a certain name for the player, which include starting the game with 10 lives (by entering the name "HELP ME"), the option to start the game with any of the three spirit partners, and to access the second, more difficult quest. These features are not present in the Japanese version.
Castlevania III was the first game in the series to have different packaging artwork outside Japan, designed by Tom Dubois using alkyd. It was inspired by Ray Harryhausen. Dubois would also go on to design the North American packaging for Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge and Castlevania Bloodlines.
It was released in Japan on December 22, 1989, in North America on September 1, 1990, and in Europe on December 10, 1992. The game also received a Windows release on November 16, 2002.
It was later released again as part of the Castlevania Collection for Xbox one, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch on May 16, 2019. The Famicom version was made officially available to western audiences for the first time as a bonus update to this collection a month later.
Japanese game magazine Famitsu gave it a 30 out of 40 score. Nintendo Power listed it as the ninth best Nintendo Entertainment System video game, praising it for its strong improvements over previous entries in the series. Game Informer's Tim Turi felt that it was a return to form after Castlevania II. He discussed characters such as Alucard (whom he called iconic) and Grant (whom he praised for his wall cling ability). GamesRadar ranked it the eighth best NES game ever made. The staff felt that it returned to Castlevania's roots after Castlevania II yet "took the series to new heights." GameZone ranked it as the third best Castlevania title. The staff preferred III the most as it felt like the original game the most; they felt its price on the Virtual Console was worthwhile.
2005's Castlevania: Curse of Darkness featured Trevor Belmont as a playable character.
Former Castlevania Producer and developer Koji Igarashi cites Castlevania III as his favorite game in the series, noting the sound, and setting as the reasons. Shutaro Iida, who was a programmer for the GBA and NDS games, and director of Castlevania: Harmony of Despair also said it as his favorite in the series, and cited the special sound chip in the Japanese version as the reason why.
In other mediaEdit
An animated Dracula's Curse movie had been in development since 2007 with writer Warren Ellis, Frederator Studios, and James Jean attached to the project. In August 2015, film producer Adi Shankar teased that the project, now an animated mini series, was finally in production. Titled simply Castlevania, it was revealed in February 2017 that the first season of the series will premiere on Netflix on July 7, 2017. After the 4-episode first season premiere, it was later renewed for an 8-episode second series which premiered on October 26, 2018. A ten-episode third season has been greenlit by Netflix.
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Japanese: 歴代の「悪魔城ドラキュラ」シリーズから選ばれた登場キャラクターを操作して、仲間たちと悪魔城に乗り込み、宿敵ドラキュラ伯爵に立ち向かおう。 English translation: Take control of past protagonists from the Castlevania series to brave the Demon Castle alongside friends and defeat the ancient enemy Count Dracula.
- Gidney, Adam. "Tom Dubois interview". BOX=ART. Archived from the original on August 30, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
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- Williams, Mike (February 8, 2017). "Castlevania Headed To Netflix in 2017, From Warren Ellis and Adi Shankar". US Gamer. Archived from the original on February 11, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
- Pedersen, Erik (2018-10-31). "'Castlevania' Renewed For Season 3 On Netflix". Deadline. Archived from the original on 2018-10-31. Retrieved 2018-11-02.