(Konami, January 1999)

Usually thinking about whips either reminds of some kinky S&M movies or one of the best NES games ever made. Since this is a family site I'll talk about that awesome game instead: Castlevania III Dracula's Curse. Part III of this popular action series now plays a lot like the original Castlevania instead of the previous Simon's Quest so you can forget about all the day to night bullcrap. The big difference now is it features 4 different playable characters, much improved graphics, and branching paths to help make it one of the deepest 8-bit carts you can find out there.

In the story a evil man named Dracula has created his own powerful cult and enslaved Europe with his army of the undead.
In the game you play the role of Trevor Belmont (the Grandfather of Simon Belmont) and you're the only person with enough strengh, skill, magical power, and balls to kill the new terror that rains over a once peaceful land of Transavania. The question is what price is he willing to pay to free all of Europe from the mad Count Dracula's hold?

You have to play as Trevor throughout the entire game but depending on which path you take he can find friends that also hate the Count and each come as their strenghts and weaknesses. Grant the Thief maybe funny looking and has short range but is good at jumping and climbing walls. Syhia the Magician has weak physical attacks but has very powerful spells. Last but not least is the mysterious Alucard the Vampire (yes, that's Dracula's own son from the famous 32-bit game: Castlevania Symphony of the Night) doesn't have too many weapons, but he can shot fireballs and tranform into a bat. The crappy thing is you can only travel with one parther at a time and this is no easy game thanks to the 17 huge and difficult levels to explore.

As much as I like the game, the graphics were sure out dated. There were a large amount of flickers and the sometimes boring dark looks just didn't impress me especially compared to their 16-bit counter parts. To be fair Konami did a lot of cool special effects like in the clock tower with the moving gears and the mist in the final stage. The sound effects were great but the music in the game was laughable after you listened to the stuff in Super Castlevania 4. It's still pretty good for a NES game though and the dark feel of the environments fits the horror theme perfectly here.

Castlevania 1 and 2 were both solid games but they were wimpy Happy Meals to this Grand Slam Breakfest here. Not only are the graphics and sounds very creepy but the game is loaded with an awesome combo of cool heroes to play as and tough villians to battle against. Yeah, the game is hard as hell but you'll be hard pressed to find a better action game on the NES and is easily one of the Top 10 best titles for the system period!

CastleVania III
overall rating: 97/100

For 1 player only
graphics: 8/10
sound: 8/10
gameplay: 9/10
replay: 9/10

(Ryan Genno) 2009