Not as dark or eerie as the second one, but it remains a worthy successor of the Castlevania franchise.
You start outside of Castlevania fighting your way through monsters and bosses, so nothing out of the ordinary. What’s new about this game, for its time, was that after finishing certain stages, you get to choose which path you want to take to enter Castlevania. Do you want to take the short way, via ship, or the long way around the waters? Your choice. You also encounter “spirits” that you would either have to do battle or rescue. The three spirits are Grant DaNasty, Sypha Belnades, and Alucard. You can either choose them to come with you or you choose to go at it alone. Each of the three spirits have their own abilites, strengths and weaknesses. Grant DaNasty is a pirate whose family was murdered by Dracula. He is very quick and has the ability to climb walls and upside down. His physical attack (knife) and defense are weak, however, so be careful with him. Sypha Belnades is a witch with poor physical attack and defense like Grant, but she has the ability to collect magic spells instead of weapons, so those give her the definite edge. Alucard is Dracula’s teenage son that has turned on him. He has the ability to turn into a bat, but only for a limited time since each second as a bat costs a heart. His physical attack depends on how you do it since you start out with one fireball, which eventually turns to three by collecting power-ups. Fortunately, his defense is strong like Trevor’s. You may only have one spirit at a time. If you have a spirit and decide to go with a new one, your old partner would leave you. Like Castlevania I, you start out with a leather whip, which turns into a morning star by collecting power ups. No new weapons from the previous games other than Sypha’s magic. You also collect hearts to use your special weapons. Gameplay is basically the same: A to jump, B to attack, and up + B for special attack. For Alucard to turn into a bat, you would have to press down + B. As mentioned, be careful, for each second as a bat costs one heart. The password system has symbols instead of letters, probably to avoid confusion. You also must place the name that corresponds to the password, or else it won’t work. You enter your name for every new game you play. I strongly recommend the name “HELP ME” for you start out with 11 lives instead of 3. My belief is that this game has used the NES’s full hardware strength since some of the sound and graphics have been compromised to expand the game’s bottom line. Yet the graphics are very colorful (for it’s time), and the game’s use of Old English text gives a more authentic feel of 15th century Europe (words such as “thou” and “art” weren’t included, but that would be asking too much).
The atmosphere and music are not as menacing as Simon’s Quest, but it still does give an eerie Castlevania feel. Press B + A simultaneously on the title screen for the sound test. “Déjà vu” sounds very familiar. Castlevania III is a worthy successor of its franchise. Not as dark and eerie as Castlevania II but if you like a lot of action with some adventure, then this game is for you.