I beat Castlevania 3 Dracula's Curse for the first time! The game is hard as nails, and pulls no punches. So what do I think of it? Let's find out. This is going to be a rough review. When I do this sort of format, I do tend to spoil things such as plot. Just a heads up, there will be spoilers for say a 30 year old game. I can't add spoiler tags on mobile device, so I do apologize for the gargantuan post.
The story is very simplistic like most games in that era were. Being at the beginning of the Castlevania timeline (At the time of release), Konami had a bit more liberty to do something different. The Belmonts were banished from the country by the church, until Dracula causes problems. Armed with the mighty Vampire Killer, it's up to Trevor (Ralph in the Japanese version) to put the boots to vampire glutes. That's pretty much it. Actually, now that I think about it... That's the basic idea of thefirst game, too.
What I like about 3 over the original title is, that the game doesn't take place exclusively in the castle. The first half of the game is just the build up and the trek to the castle were Dracula awaits. Along the journey, you encounter the three partners you can play through the game with to make it a slightly less frustrating experience. Grant, who can climb walls and is the fastest of the bunch. Syfa, with her trusty stick and magic spells has the easiest time. Finally; Alucard, making his debut. Alucard can turn into a bat at the cost of 1 heart per second, and has his trusty "Balls of Destruction". Yes that is the name.
The trek to Castlevania is the real meat and potatoes of the game, with its branching pathways. The only 'real' branch is going either to graveyard or the swamp. This is were you can encounter either Syfa or Alucard. But, the real fun is in the castle itself. When you reach the castle, things get pretty familiar. Familiar as in it's Castlevania 1 all over again, minus the majority of the castle.
While in the castle, the stages get pretty short, but get much harder to compensate for the shorter stages. Enemy placement gets pretty obnoxious, including an absolute ton of stairs. And I mean a TON of stairs. I hate the stairs in old school Castlevania. Why? You can't jump on, or really defend yourself in general while your on the stairs, leading to a bunch of pot shots. That's design I don't like, and really wish they changed.
Most of the bosses on the adventure, are really underwhelming and go down pretty quickly with Syfa and the lightning orbs (One of the three spells Syfa can use, the others being fire and ice). Trevor does have a fairly difficult time with the bosses because of the rather short range of the Vampire Killer, so he has to more so use the sub weapons to deal with bigger problems.
Castlevania 3 comes packed with everything from the first game and improves. It's all present and accounted for, from whip upgrades, to sub weapons, to wall meat. While Castlevania 3 improves on what made the original great, it also improves the difficulty. Meaning, cranked the difficulty to 80 on a 10 setting knob. This game is HAAAARRRRD.
When you get passed the Doppelganger in the third stage of the castle, it's on to the last quarter of the castle, and the home stretch of the game. In traditional Castlevania fashion, you haveto travel through the clock tower to reach the Grand Staircase. Unlike the original Castlevania, if you die to Dracula amd get a game over to Dracula, instead of spawning at the bottom of the Staircase, you have toplay through the whole stage again. That's draining, especially if you aren't that good at Classic-Vania. I.e... Me.
Dracula himself, is really easy with Syfa and the fire spell. The fire spell does 3 hit points on Dracula. Dracula can only be damged by bopping him on the noggin. Even though the Count is really easy, his damage output can catch you off gaurd. Dracula only raises three fire pillars. The third homes in on your location, while the other two, are completley up to RNG. After defeating the first form of Dracula, the Count transforms into his second form which is a group of five floating heads that spit something. What? I don't know. The second form is also really easy with Syfa and the fire spell, as the fire spell can hit multiple times on Dracula, draing his health rather quick.
Normally, there's only to forms of the Prince of Darkness, but... surprise! After beating Dracula's second form, he has a third form! The third form, lools like a giant bird. Dracula's third form is also really easy. Even as Trevor. The easiest time I had against Bird Dracula, was with Trevor and the axe sub weapon.
Dracula's third form shoots lasers. That's it. Nothing else. Avoid the lasers, and with a final attack, Dracula goes down in a firey glory. Trevor escapes the crumbling castle, and whoever you beat the game with, affects the ending. Alucard sort of stands there. Grant jumps into the air. Syfa, just leans against Trevor.
The credits roll, marking the end of Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse.
The game is hard, but not entirely unfair. There are times I did call unfair, but that was few and far between. The enemy placement at times can be cheap, but that's par for the course with Classic-Vania. Swinging the whip does feel really good, even though there is a tiny delay. If t wasn't for the soundtrack, I would have gone insane with all the deaths I suffered. You can take a litle bit of the difficulty off by using some of the special codes that are in game (The most famous being the "Help Me!" code).
Trevor's control is also very reminiscent of the Castlevania 1 control. Stiff, and you can't control your jump in mid air. If the game was tweaked just a bit, I think it would be a little more playable to causal gamers. The difficulty is fine for a Castlevania game, but it's that reasoning that I can also say the game is not beginner friendly. If you're looking for a hard game to play, give this game a try if you're interested in this particular genre. It's not for everyone and I can't recommend it to just anyone, because of it's difficulty and the control.
I loved it personally, and got great enjoyment out of it. A fantastic game from a fantastic franchise. I can easily rate Castlevania 3: Dracula's Cure... 7.5/10. It's not my favorite, but I don't hate it. It is better than Castlevania 1, so it has that going for it.