[[caption-width-right:300:''[[PutOnABus Guess which one of these four has never appeared in a canon sequel. Hint: you can barely see him at first glance]].'']]

->''"Castlevania III's most treacherous enemy: ''[[DepthDeception The Stairs]]''!"''
-->-- '''{{WebVideo/Jon|Tron}}''', ''WebVideo/GameGrumps''

''Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse'' (''Akumajō Densetsu'' or "Legend of the Devil's Castle" in Japan) is the third NES entry of the epically long Franchise/{{Castlevania}} series, and a prequel to the original. This game chronicles the exploits of Trevor C. Belmont (Ralph Belmond in Japan), grandfather of the original game's Simon Belmont. In 1476, Trevor, who has "a long history of fighting the forces of evil", is called forth by the citizens of Wallachia to defeat Dracula. The game chronicles his journey across the land to the titular Castlevania, and his subsequent infiltration of the castle and battle with Dracula.

Generally considered the best NES Castlevania, and rivaled only by ''VideoGame/SuperCastlevaniaIV'' or ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaRondoOfBlood'' as the best [[PlatformHell old-school]] Castlevania. Following the overambitious ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaIISimonsQuest Simon's Quest]]'', Konami took a back-to-basics approach with this game, sticking to traditional platforming while improving the graphics and music. The result plays almost identically to the original ''Castlevania''.

Nevertheless, there were some important innovations. The path to Dracula's castle frequently branches, and the player will wind up following one of three paths to the final levels, plus an early side-route that is entirely optional. Along the way, Trevor may also pick up one of three companions: Grant [=DaNasty=], a wall-climbing pirate; Sypha Belnades, a sorceress with elemental powers; and Alucard, Dracula's rebellious son. In addition to deepening the gameplay, the latter two would become very important in the series' MythArc. Ironically, Grant is rarely seen or heard of today unless in a group-cameo with the other three.

In a technical sense, this was one of the most advanced NES games ever produced. It had a unique memory mapper as well as a special chip which offloaded some of the sound processing from the console. To this day, it remains one of the most technically difficult NES games to emulate due to these factors.

Former ''Castlevania'' series producer Koji Igarashi said that ''Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse'' was his favorite ''Castlevania'' game.

!! ''Dracula's Curse'' contains examples of:
* AdvancingWallOfDoom: Several, in the forms of a collapsing tower, a rising water line, and a plain ol AutoScrollingLevel in the last stage of the game.
* AllTheWorldsAreAStage: It's subtle, but the second to last level is like this, of the Final Exam variety. It's an insanely hard gauntlet of many of the challenges from throughout the game on both paths, including a stream full of mermen, Harpies dropping Hunchbacks, spiked crushers, a tower that scolls upwards in jolts, and THE STAIRS.
* AwesomeButImpractical: Many fans consider Alucard the weakest partner in this game, with his ability to turn into a bat his only saving grace.
* BadassNormal: Grant
* {{Bowdlerise}}: Lesser Demon was renamed to Leviathan and Medusa was turned into a male so its bare chest wouldn't bother the censors.
* BrainwashedAndCrazy: Grant
* BroadStrokes: Trevor can only be accompanied by one partner at a time, and it is impossible for him to meet both Sypha and Alucard in the same run. Despite this, future games imply that all four characters faced Dracula [[FourTemperamentEnsemble together as a team]] during this story. Which actually [[VideoGame/CastlevaniaDawnOfSorrow would've been]] [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome pretty cool]].
* [[CantDropTheHero Can't Drop the Belmont]]
* CheckPointStarvation: In the NES version, dying against Dracula sends you back to the beginning of A-2 (instead of A-3 like in the Famicom version). While this seems bad, A-2's a very short section (the hardest part is the pendulums, which can be skipped if you have Alucard and enough hearts) and has a greater selection of subweapons (Axe and Holy Water as opposed to Knife). The only problem is the enemies can cut down your health before you even reach Dracula.
* ClockworksArea: This game has two of them. The first is the optional Stage 2, which is required if you want to rescue Grant. The second is the final stage, being a hybrid of the Clock Tower and Castle Keep areas of Dracula's castle similarly to the first game. It was also this game that associated the Clock Tower areas with the infamous [[GoddamnBats Medusa Heads]], which became a staple of the series.
* CripplingOverspecialization: Alucard can turn into a bat. He also lacks strength or speed, is the largest target of all the playable characters, has no subweapons, and ''can't attack while on stairs.''
* CompletelyDifferentTitle: The Japanese title, ''Akumajō Densetsu'', means "Legend of the Devil's Castle".
* DeathMountain: The Stage 7 you get on the Alucard route. It's [[MarathonLevel notoriously long]].
* DefeatMeansFriendship: Alucard. Grant is this to an extent, though he was turned into a monster before the events of this game.
* DemotedToExtra: ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaDawnOfSorrow'' has an unlockable game mode where you control Alucard and descendants of Sypha and Trevor who play like their ancestors. Grant is nowhere to be seen, and nobody fills his gameplay role.
** According to a script buried within the game data, Hammer was originally intended to be playable. Though Hammer and Grant [=DaNasty=] look similar, there is little to no indication Hammer would have played like him or is even related to him.
--> '''Julius''': ''You. Why are you here?''
--> '''Hammer''': ''Why? I'm here for Soma! My man's in trouble, I tell ya!''
--> '''Julius''': ''But it's of no concern to you.''
--> '''Hammer''': ''Heck yeah, it is! Soma's my pal, after all. Laying his life on the line for a pal... That's what a man does.''
--> '''Julius''': ''Wrong. An ordinary human is no match for a foe like this. Being a man has nothing to do with it.''
--> '''Hammer''': ''Hey, bud, I served in the military! I know weapons a whole lot better than you! And I'd like to think I've got enough sense to retreat if it gets too crazy.''
--> '''Julius''': ''Fine, then. But if you ever fear for your life, get out immediately, understood?''
--> '''Hammer''': ''Loud and clear. You have my word.''
* DifficultyByRegion: In the Famicom version, the strength of enemy attacks remain constant throughout the entire game, unlike the NES version (where damage increases with each successive stage), but each enemy does varying damage. Additionally, Grant is considerably more powerful in the Famicom version, as instead of a short range stabbing attack, his primary attack is ''throwing'' his knife, similar to his knife sub-weapon in the NES release, but without the need for hearts.
** The European version is slightly easier than the American version, but still harder than the Japanese ones: enemies do less damage in early levels and the stopwatch lasts longer.
* DualBoss: As in [[VideoGame/CastlevaniaI the first game]], two mummies. As part of a SequentialBoss, no less.
* DubNameChange: Ralph [[SpellMyNameWithAnS Belmond]] to Trevor C. Belmont.
* EveryTenThousandPoints: The extend system from the original game returns. Your first extra life is given at 20,000 points, which is 10,000 points earlier than in the original. However, the game is less generous with bonus points than the original, giving the player less opportunities to milk his score.
* EvilLaugh: Present in the theme [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu7JweAVvbY "Epigraph"]]. Death also lets out a few of these in his second form.
* FragileSpeedster: Grant. He can climb up walls and along ceilings, allowing him to avoid enemies and skip a few level segments. He also moves the fastest, jumps the highest, and is the only character to actually have control of his jump in mid-air. However, he doesn't take hits well, and his default attack doesn't do much damage to enemies or bosses.
* GangplankGalleon: Stage 4 on the Sypha route.
* GlassCannon: Sypha. Her spells can dish out tremendous damage, and much faster than Trevor can, depending on the situation. However, she also takes more damage than Trevor.
* GodzillaThreshold: The [[BadassFamily Belmont Clan]] was banished from Wallachia long ago [[AllOfTheOtherReindeer out of fear of their "superhuman" strength]]. Who better to take on ol' Drac than a {{badass}} Belmont?
* IHateYouVampireDad: Alucard.
* JackOfAllStats: Trevor. He has the same abilities as Simon Belmont in the original game.
* JumpPhysics: Grant is the only character that can control his jump.
* KillItWithIce: One of Sypha's subweapon freeze the opponent which then allow you [[LiterallyShatteredLives to defeat them in a single hit while they are in this state]].
* MutuallyExclusivePartyMembers: Besides the limit of only taking one at a time, you have to choose between Sypha and Alucard's routes.
* NinjaPirateZombieRobot: The first two apply to Grant.
* NintendoHard: The stairs are worse than the first game. You used to be able to hold right/left plus up/down to walk smoothly onto stairs. Here, you have to stop and hold up/down. DamnYouMuscleMemory makes this EVIL if you played the first game. It's also harder to use powerups on the stairs, being almost random whether pressing B while holding up (to go up the stairs) will use your subweapon. Also, lurching screen vertical [[AutoScrollingLevel Auto-Scrolling Levels]] where enemies appear out of thin air after part of the space necessary to see them is already visible, levels where you have to go upstairs with a dozen turrets and [[GoddamnedBats Gargoyles]], not starting on the stairs before Dracula when you die (you go back to BLK A-02) like in most other Castlevania games, at least one ridiculously stretched jump, etc. Oh, and there's two levels where you must fight 2 and 3 bosses in a row, respectively, and that's not counting Dracula, who has 3 forms. You have to beat BLK A-02 and '''three forms''' of Dracula ''on the same health bar and time limit.'' It's much harder than the [[VideoGame/CastlevaniaI first game]] in many ways.
* NostalgiaLevel: The entrance to Dracula's castle is very similar to the first stage from the first game, complete with an updated version of [[SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic Vampire Killer]], titled "Deja Vu".
* PowerUpLetdown: Alucard's fireballs do about as much damage as a throwing dagger. Granted, they can go diagonally, and getting all three in on an enemy does 50% more damage than a swing of Trevor's whip, but you need to be close to an enemy to do that and the attack is pretty slow, meaning you're sure to take a hit in the process.
* ProgressivelyPrettier: This is the ''only'' game where Alucard isn't a {{Bishonen}}.
* PutOnABus: Grant and the [=DaNasty=] family, besides brief mentions and doppelgangers and his drastically (unneeded and unexplained) redesigned appearance in ''Judgment''. The [=DaNasty=] family has never appeared in the proper games since Dracula's Curse. Hell, even ''Dawn of Sorrow'' has a mode where you can play Alucard and descendants of Trevor and Sypha.
** Since Grant's motivation is that Dracula killed his family, not being mentioned ever again [[FridgeHorror might be a sign that there isn't a [=DaNasty=] family anymore]].
** There is an obscure novel that took place after ''Dawn of Sorrow'' which features a girl coming from the [=DaNasty=] clan, thus Grant managed to settle down and have descendants.
* SamusIsAGirl / SweetPollyOliver: Sypha.
* SequelDifficultySpike: Oh yes. See NintendoHard above.
* SequenceBreaking: Grant and Alucard provide opportunities for this.
* SequentialBoss: You fight an evil spirit that can bring to life up to three monsters: A cyclops, a pair of mummies and a Leviathan.
* SharedLifeMeter: Both Trevor and whoever he's traveling share a life bar.
* SleevesAreForWimps: Grant, at least in-game (see WalkingShirtlessScene below...)
* SpellMyNameWithAnS
** Grant's last name is spelled different depending on the source ([=DaNasty=] in the manual and [=DaNusty=] in the ending)[[note]]Apparently based on the historical Dănești family, distant relatives of the historical Dracula. (The singular of the name is "Danescu").[[/note]]
** Sypha Belnades' full name is spelled "Syfa Velnumdes" in-game.[[note]]Later games would call her clan "Fernandez."[[/note]])
** Wallachia is also misspelled "Warakiya" in the manual[[note]]Which is actually a literal transliteration of the Japanese pronunciation.[[/note]]
** In the Famicom version, the name of the Belmont clan is spelled "Belmond" instead of the standardized spelling of "Belmondo" used in the more recent Japanese games.
* SquishyWizard: Sypha Belnades. She has equal, if not lower, constitution than Grant, but her spells are damn powerful!
* TakenForGranite: Sypha before you rescue her. In the backstory for the Famicom version, [[AndIMustScream she was aware of being petrified this whole time.]] How long she's been stuck there is anyone's guess.
* UndergroundLevel: Most of the Alucard routes. Half of Stage 4, all of Stage 5, all of Stage 6 (one of them, anyway, considering you could opt to play the Sunken Ruins instead), and several sections of Stage 7.
* WallCrawl: Grant can climb walls and ceilings, making him useful for grabbing out of reach [[OneUp 1-Ups]] or effortlessly outrunning [[AdvancingWallOfDoom advancing walls of doom.]]
* WalkingShirtlessScene: Grant is usually [[http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090621171438/castlevania/images/1/1e/Grant_Japan_CV3_Manual_Clip.JPG depicted]] [[http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090321074912/castlevania/images/3/3f/CV3_Ad_Grant.JPG as]] [[http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20060422222139/castlevania/images/c/ca/Cv3_grant.jpg one]] [[http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090221053524/castlevania/images/3/36/Grant_Dracula%27s_Curse_Cover.JPG in]] [[http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090221053525/castlevania/images/f/fd/Grant_Dracula%27s_Curse_Japanese.JPG artwork]] (both Japanese and American), even though he's clearly wearing a vest and/or undershirt in-game (more accurate artwork [[http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090321074808/castlevania/images/0/00/CV3_Guide_Grant.JPG here]]).