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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 C. Belmondo 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 Castlevania II: 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.
Castlevania series producer Koji Igarashi said that Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse was his favorite Castlevania game.
- Advancing Wall of Doom: Several, in the forms of a collapsing tower, a rising water line and a plain ol Auto-Scrolling Level in the last stage of the game.
- And I Must Scream: Trevor rescues Sypha from this fate.
- Awesome but Impractical: Many fans consider Alucard the weakest partner in this game.
- Badass Normal: Grant.
- Bowdlerized: Adramalech was renamed to Leviathan.
- 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 been pretty cool.
- Can't Drop the Belmont: The player can only use two characters in a level, whom he can switch between freely, but one of them must be Trevor.
- Check Point Starvation: In the International versions of Castlevania III, dying against Dracula sends you back to the beginning of A-2 instead of A-3.
- 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.
- 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 Da Nasty 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?
- Difficulty by Region: In the Japanese version, enemy attacks never increase in damage with successive stages unlike in other versions, but each enemy does varying damage.
- Dub Name Change: Ralph C. Belmondo to Trevor C. Belmont.
- Eternal Engine: The second castle, where Trevor has to jump on pendulums and giant gears to get around.
- Fire, Ice, Lightning: Sypha's three special attacks.
- Fragile Speedster: Grant Danasty.
- 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.
- Godzilla Threshold: The Belmont Clan was banished from Wallachia long ago out of fear of their "super human" strength. Who better to take on ol' Drac than a Badass Belmont?
- I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Alucard.
- Jack of All Stats: Trevor. He has the same abilities as Simon Belmont in the original game.
- Jump Physics: Grant is the only character that can control his jump.
- Kill It with Ice: One of Sypha's subweapon freeze the opponent which then allow you to defeat them in a single hit while they are in this state.
- Let's Play: One for the Japanese version of the game can be seen here with this. It is played by people like you and me which means that they'll die. A lot. But eventually, they manage to beat the game. While they talk in Japanese, it's easy to relate to them by their emotions as holes, crows, bats, Medusa heads and stairs screw with them.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Grant is all of these sans the Robot part.
- Nintendo Hard: It's a NES Castlevania game. Anything else 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.
- Progressively Prettier: This is the only game where Alucard isn't a Bishonen.
- Put on a Bus: Grant and the DaNasty family, besides brief mentions and doppelgangers and his drastically (unneeded and unexplained) redesigned appearance in Castlevania Judgment. The DaNasty family has never appeared in the proper games since Dracula's Curse. Hell, even Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow has a mode where you can play Alucard and descendants of Trevor and Sypha.
- Samus Is a Girl/Sweet Polly Oliver: Sypha.
- Sequence Breaking: Grant and Alucard provide opportunities for this.
- Sequential Boss: You fight an evil spirit that can bring to life up to three monsters: A cyclops, A pair of mummies and a Leviathan.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: Grant, at least in-game (see Walking Shirtless Scene below...).
- Spell My Name with an "S": The names of the main characters are spelled differently in the manual (Grant DaNasty, Sypha Belnades) than they are in the ending (Grant DaNusty, Syfa Velnumdes). Wallachia is also misspelled "Warakiya" in the manual
- Squishy Wizard: Sypha Belnades. She has equal, if not lower, constitution than Grant, but her spells are damn powerful!
- Taken for Granite: Sypha before you rescue her. In the Japanese version of the game, she was aware of being petrified this whole time. How long she's been stuck there is anyone's guess.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Grant is usually depicted as one in artwork (both Japanese and American), even though he's clearly wearing a vest and/or undershirt in-game (more accurate artwork here).
- Wall Crawl: Grant can climb walls and ceilings, making him useful for grabbing out of reach One Ups or effortlessly outrunning advancing walls of doom.