Anatomy of a Game: Castlevania Trilogy Afterthoughts

The NES Castlevania remains a high point in my entirely too lengthy history of gaming, and I know many others feel that way. With luck, this series has provided some small amount of clarity on the qualities that have made this trio of titles so enduring. On a macro scale, the NES Castlevania titles feature […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 9-01 to 9-04

After having worked your way up through the castle entrance and the adjacent dungeon, you reach the second of three blocks of Castlevania only to find yourself… outside? With a forest in the background? Block 9 of Dracula’s Curse is a strange one in terms of aesthetics. Although the level design corresponds neatly to the […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 8-01 to 8-03

Regardless of which route you selected to take through the core of Castlevania III, all roads eventually converge at the beginning of Block 8: Castlevania itself. And the scenery should look very familiar indeed.      Yes, it’s Stage 1 of the original game, reproduced in wonderfully faithful form — all the way down to the […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 7-01 to 7-07

Here we are at last, at the end of Alucard’s route — and, by tragic happenstance, the worst stage in the game. Block 7 on the “main” route has the unfortunate distinction of being a genuinely poor piece of game design, entirely reliant on tedious waiting, extended pattern memorization, and flawless traversal of gimmicky stage […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 6-01 to 6-05 ~ Ruins Route

If you elected to take the lower route after recruiting (or not) Alucard, you’ll skip entirely over Block 5-07 and the castle foundations, instead traveling a roundabout course that takes you through a series of partially submerged Roman-era ruins at the outskirts of the castle. The idea of crumbling ruins outside of and predating Dracula’s […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 6-01 to 6-02 ~ Castle Route

Beyond the upgraded Skeleton Knight on the upper spur of the catacombs route, Trevor and pal enter Castlevania proper: The lowest foundations of the castle, a cavernous space over a subterranean lake. Since this is the path that sends you through the greatest amount of castle territory possible, we can consider this the “prime” route […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: The Gang’s All Here

Now that we’ve collected the whole Pokémon assortment of companion characters in Dracula’s Curse, we can take a moment to look at them — compare strengths, weaknesses, flaws, that sort of thing. Some of have more or one or the other than the rest.        Trevor Belmont: Not surprisingly, Trevor is ultimately the best and best-rounded […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 5-07

Let’s assume Alucard (or Grant) and Trevor take the upper road after completing Block 5-06. Where does it lead? Turns out your destination is Block 5-07. That’s twice now that Block 5 on the main route probably should have ended, but didn’t. This is why I’ve referred to this route as the longest in the […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 6-0A to 6-0D

The alternate route’s sixth Block stands out as one of the most memorable stages in a game crammed with them, because of a neat throwaway gimmick. Sure, it basically boils down to a case of stunt programming, but damn if it didn’t impress back in 1990 — and it’s one of the reasons I became […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 5-0A to 5-0C

Every game eventually reaches a point at which it stops teaches and expects you to function on your own steam: To take the lessons you’ve learned and apply them, or fail. Even games like Final Fantasy XIII and modern Zeldas do this, although in those cases it may not come until the very end. Castlevania […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 4-0A to 4-0E

Dracula’s Curse splits midway through Block 3, giving you two completely different paths through the game. We’ll be following the path we saw a portion of yesterday to its conclusion before exploring the alternate route. This puts us in Sypha territory, which (based on the stage numeration) represents the alternate path to the castle. I […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 3-00 to 3-04

Ambitious as Block 1 of Castlevania III was, Block 3 might actually top it. At the very least, it demonstrates the fact that the designers didn’t tip their hands at the very start. You know how you play a lot of games these days with a crazy, amazing, introductory set piece… and then the rest […]