I hate to say it, but I think I have mixed feelings about Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. I mean, I always look forward to playing it. After all, it’s a return to the straightforward action of the original Castlevania while adding in branching paths and multiple playable characters. It sounds great, but the problem is that I come away from it feeling more frustrated than satisfied.
At its worst, Dracula’s Curse suffers from poor design decisions that are even more irritating than anything in Simon’s Quest. Granted, most of this is because the game came out at a time when videogame rentals were becoming popular, and some publishers decided they had to increase the difficulty of their games for the North American release to make sure players couldn’t easily finish it in a day or two. In the case of Castlevania III, it affected the amount of damage you took from enemies and where you re-spawned after losing a life. Couple this with some really aggravating stage gimmicks, like having to wait for blocks to fall from the top of the screen in order to reach a high platform, and you end up having to replay the same tedious sequences over and over. It really tries my patience, and it’s just not fun.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good challenge, but this isn’t the good kind. I sorta wish Konami would go back and re-translate the Japanese version of the game and release it as a kind of “director’s cut.” I imagine it’s a more balanced experience, not to mention it would have the extra sound channels for the music and a few better special effects. But oh well.
At it’s best, Dracula’s Curse has some really cool bits in it. It is fun playing as the different characters, and the branching paths add a lot of replayability.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish Dracula’s Curse before the end of October. I’m not sure if I’ll continue to pick away at it until I do, but as it is, I managed to play at least a little bit of Castlevania every day of the month. That included beating Dawn of Sorrow, Dracula X, the original NES game, and Simon’s Quest. So, I’d say it’s been a successful Castlevania-thon.
And now we return to your regularly scheduled blog posts.