First of all let me get it out in the open that I think the Castlevania series is the single greatest line of videogames out there. There's nothing I like better than a good game of CV, just about any version. When I got Castlevania 3 I had high hopes for it, it being one of the only CV games I hadn't beaten, let alone played, and I'd heard good things. The first noticeable thing about the game is that it reverts back to the more straight-forward style of the original Castlevania, and it is very action-oriented. Expanding upon the original, though, the hero Trevor can choose his own path through the game, plus he can team up with one of 3 spirits, each with very different abilities, whom he can transform into at any point in the game. This sounds a lot cooler than it actually is, since there are a very limited set of circumstances that require you to transform, Trevor is more often than not the best man for the job.
The best part about this game is the variety of the levels. There's a whole plethora of them, and many are top-quality, and fun for any budding Castlevania master to play through. On a whole, each level is longer than the average CV1 level, and about the same as in CV4. There are some great boss battles scattered thoughout (like most Castlevania games) and the standard fare in power-ups.
Now for the bad parts (somewhat personal bias, you can just skip this if you want), there is one very important feature to any good Castlevania game that this game lacks. The trademark of the series IMO. Atmosphere. There is no moody yet kicking music, the enemies are either left-overs from the previous 2 games or look much too out of character for CV, and while the level design is advanced, the surroundings don't offer much in the way of setting the CV mood. Thinking back to Castlevania 2, the wolf-men, fish-guys, floating skulls, knights, just about every enemy scared the poop out of the 5 year old kid I was. The day time music, mansion music, and Bloody Tears gave off the aura that only Castlevania music can. CV1 had the same effect to a lesser extent. Konami took a step backwards in this area when they made Castlevania 3. Almost all of the new enemies look too 'cartoony'. They redesigned the medusa heads to resemble a female version of Sam Kennison. After the Thriller-esque swamp area in CV2, the swamp level in part 3 is a much brighter place filled with... DEADLY OWLS AND KILLER TOADS! I'm really scared. Worst of all, this game marks the point where the series goes awry and doesn't feature the great, underappreciated Simon Belmont. If I had it my way he would star in every CV game, how am I supposed to care about what happens to this one-off newbie Trevor, or Alucard. Oh well, at least it's not Richter (cringe).
All of this aside, Castlevania III is still a great game. Of course it is, look at what series it's in. It's just that it lacks one of the things that makes the series so El33t. It is Diet Castlevania, not unlike the new Skynyrd, similar taste, less filling, a weaksauce Castlevania game. You may (probably) disagree with me, but dammit, these are my reviews.
Konami tries for a lot of big things in this game
The character designs should be better
:D Vampire Killer remix
May be pretty good for its own merits, but considering this is CV the less than stellar music is inexcusable
Choose your own path, spirit partners..
Reverts back to the original format instead of expanding on the breakthrough Castlevania II
Great, long levels
It's Castlevania, what can I say?
Replay Value 8
3 spirit partners, many path variations, and challenging