How Metroidvania is it? Not a Metroidvania. It's a Classic-vania from before the Symphony of the Night team changed the direction of the series.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~4 hours
Review Info: This review is part of a broader review of the Castlevania Anniversary Collection on Steam. See the link at the beginning of the review for the main thread.
Buy Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse if you like…
- Multiple Game Paths
- Character Switching
- Castlevania Lore
- Hard-but-Fair platforming
- 8 Bit Music
▼ Review continues below ▼
Dracula is back once again – or is “back” the right term? Because technically this game is a prequel to the first Castlevania. Castlevania III is essentially more of the same but with more of everything, including more playable characters.
At various points in the game you’re given a choice on which area you want to explore next, and depending on your choices you may be given the option to take one of three companions with you. This essentially meant that you could have two subweapons and some movement options in your toolbelt, though character switching is a little slow making it rather tedious to switch too often. In my playthrough I ended up with Syfa the sorceress (called a vampire hunter in the game.) Her primary advantage is a fire spell that does more damage to bosses than Trevor could do with his whip, and since I generally try to kill quickly her services were most welcome to me. Though, spray and pray strategies don’t really work with her since she takes extra damage from attacks.
The game is constructed in a way you can meet multiple companion options on a single playthrough, but you can only ever take one at a time. After you beat the game you can play the game on Expert Mode with the companion you had at the ending, but you’re basically stuck with that companion for the entire game again – forcing you to reset if you want to play with someone else. These rules are the best argument for why you would want more than one Save State, since it hurts to erase your progress just because you want to see what Alucard was like in his first incarnation.
Alucard is indeed one of the companion options, but he’s a lot different than the bishonen swordsman from Symphony of the Night. He instead has ranged fireball attacks – which is actually a quite useful change up from Trevor’s whips. Interestingly another power he has is to turn into a bat and fly at the cost of draining your heart supply while you’re in that form. This makes Alucard very useful for platforming sections where you don’t have a ton of risk of being hit. Grant is the third character option, but probably the first you’ll run into. Attack-wise he doesn’t offer a ton, but he does bring the ability to crawl on ceilings which is occasionally useful.
All of these features add a ton of replay value to Castlevania III, and it’s regarded by many as the best classic-vania of all probably for that reason. At the very least, it’s my favorite of the whole bunch, but Castlevania IV and Bloodlines still make a very fair argument for that standing.
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