The third NES entry of the epically long 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 Super Castlevania IV or Castlevania: Rondo of Blood as the best old-school Castlevania. Following the overambitious 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' Myth Arc. 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.Current Castlevania series producer Koji Igarashi said that Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse was his favorite Castlevania game.
Broad Strokes: 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 together as a team during this story. Which actually would've beenpretty cool.
Check Point Starvation: 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.
Crippling Overspecialization: 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.
Defeat Means Friendship: Alucard. Grant is this to an extent, though he was turned into a monster before the events of this game.
Demoted to Extra: Dawn of Sorrow 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 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.
Difficulty By Region: 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 based on the U.S. version but made slightly easier: enemies do less damage in early levels and the Stopwatch lasts longer.
Every 10000 Points: 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.
Glass Cannon: 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.
Nintendo Hard: It's a NES Castlevania game. Anything else that needs to be said?
Nostalgia Level: The entrance to Dracula's castle is very similar to the first stage from the first game, complete with an updated version of Vampire Killer, titled "Deja Vu".
Power Up Letdown: 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.
Put on a Bus: 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.
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").
Sypha Belnades' full name is spelled "Syfa Velnumdes" in-game.note Later games would call her clan "Fernandez.")
Wallachia is also misspelled "Warakiya" in the manualnote Which is actually a literal transliteration of the Japanese pronunciation.
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.
Squishy Wizard: Sypha Belnades. She has equal, if not lower, constitution than Grant, but her spells are damn powerful!