My nickname in high school was Vampire Killer Whip because of my family’s lineage of facing off against the undead. My great, great, great, great grandfather Simon was a revolutionary in the field of slaying the damned and corrupted. This is all factual information, by the way, I read it on Ancestry.com. Trevor taught me everything I know.
As a child, well, for my entire life, I’ve never really been one for friends. Deep, meaningful friendships or a lot of friends was never in the cards for my life. I think that’s why I shy away from multiplayer games and tend to play story-driven experiences instead. I’m also sort of competitive and that has caused me to really fall in love with fighting games and difficult games. When it came to the NES, there were several difficult games but one that sticks out fondly in my mind is the Castlevania series. My favorite being Dracula’s Curse.
When I got my sister’s NES and was going through the games I received, I found Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. The subtitle, mainly the name Dracula, caught my eye because that week I had just seen what is hands down the best Dracula movie: Bram Stoker’s Dracula. What can I say, I’m really into horror movies and fascinated by these beings that have existed through the years in many tales and folklore. What I didn’t expect was to find a game as wonderful, as fun, like this one. It was also difficult, extremely, if I remember correctly.
Taking place before the events of the first Castlevania, you take on the role of Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades, Grant Danasty, and Alucard. Each character has their own abilities and playstyle that changes the gameplay and offers more options for you. It’s predecessor, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, was different as it used more action adventure and role-playing elements as opposed to being a platformer like the first one. This entry returns to the platforming roots and is an example of perfecting a formula that was introduced beforehand. What was really cool, and unique at the time, was that each of these characters gave you a unique ability, magic from Hogwarts school of wizardry, wall climbing like Vega from Street Fighter, bat transformations and the ability to shoot flaming Kamehameha waves. The game also isn’t linear and offers branching paths and alternate endings, in other words, it’s EA’s worst nightmare because it’s loaded with content. *Mic drops*.
The story was pretty straight forward. Dracula is running wild like he’s Hulk Hogan in the prime of Hulkamania and he’s got an army of destruction with him. The Church is completely terrified and is like “Hey, let’s call that Belmont fella because he’s got that Vampire Killer Whip thing and he can murder vampires like a pro.” So, they call him and he’s all like “Yo, me and my band will stop playing music and help you out even though you hate my family because we backyard wrestle.” That is actual dialogue from the game. Ok, it’s not. Jeez, live a little.
I played this game so much as a child that I would run around my house with my belt, hitting pillows, and calling myself Kyle Belmont. I would pretend to climb walls, I would literally do the Hadoken motion for fireballs, and it was some of the great moments of my childhood. It also calmed me down when I wanted to destroy my console because of how hard the game was. It didn’t help me in school either because I pretty much did the same when I was in recess, just without the belt. Damn, I was a weird kid now that I think about it. No wonder I had no friends. This may be sad, or funny, depending on who you are but to cope with the lack of any relationships, I used to tell myself they were the forces of Dracula watching my every move to report back to their overlord. This wasn’t restricted to Castlevania, I used it for other games as well. Welp, now I feel pathetic.
There was a time when difficult games were beloved and cherished, which has been making a comeback as of late, and Konami was on top at this point in time. The Castlevania games were fantastic and this third entry is arguably one of the best in the franchise. I used to play it for hours, days, trying to figure out everything. We didn’t have the internet, which is a mistake if we’re being honest, so everything was pretty much figured out by talking to your friends who played the game or through magazines. I had neither but the game was so great that I didn’t mind working for the discoveries.
Everyone should play Castlevania, all of them and even those last ones to come out for the Xbox 360 and PS3, but you should definitely play the ones on the NES and SNES. They hold up great even now and are a testament that great game design and fun, challenging gameplay holds up over time.
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