Japanese Castlevania III: The Music is Worth it

March 10th, 2006 by Benj Edwards

C3 JapanWelcome back to RedWolf’s New Adventures in Famicom Land. Our latest trip takes us to an exciting island called “Akumajou Densetsu,” which promises to shower us with interesting music unlike any we’ve ever heard before on the Famicom or NES. That’s because Akumajou Densetsu, or the Japanese version of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, uses the VRC6 chip, which provides for three extra sound channels (in addition to the Famicom’s original five). And Akumajou Densetsu utilizes those three extra channels brilliantly. Unfortunately, due to some hardware setup in the NES that I don’t understand, the US games could not utilize these extra sound channels. As a result, the music for Castlevania III had to be rewritten and simplified for the US release.

C3 JapanI had heard tales of how cool the music is, but I always wanted to hear for myself. So I bought a copy of Akumajou Densetsu recently and plugged it into my new AV Famicom. I was confronted with a flurry of new low bass notes and more complicated percussion. Sure, the music is nowhere near up to SNES snuff, but it’s an incredible experience nonetheless — Castlevania III’s music is some of the best on the NES. The rest of the game is the same as far as I can tell (except that, for some reason, the jumping “Igors” in the US version were changed from jumping demonic frog-like things in the Famicom one), so if you’re serious about Castlevania III, then it’s worth it to pick up this cart and a real Famicom to experience the music as originally intended. FCEU seems to emulate the music pretty well, but I highly recommend getting the real thing.

Jake, if you don’t have a copy of this, you should definitely get it. 🙂

13 Responses to “Japanese Castlevania III: The Music is Worth it”

  1. MegaKitsune Says:

    If you like Castlevania soundtracks, you can download them (and a WHOLE lot more) here:


  2. RedWolf Says:

    Sweet. Thanks for the link!

  3. Jake of 8bitjoystick.com Says:

    My friend BBQ has one and an import adaptor for his NES.

  4. RedWolf Says:

    Your friend BBQ? You should invite him over for dinner. 🙂

    Anyway, that’s cool. Play it!

  5. Danny Says:

    I heard even playing on a NES with a adaptor the the sound won’t sound right..

  6. john Says:

    I’m working on modifying an NES, and a 60 – 72 pin converter to allow for the extra sound channels of a Japanese Famicom cart. You can’t hear the extra sound channels because the pins responsible for transfering the sound signal to the NES were moved to the expansion port and are absent in the cartridge connector.

  7. RedWolf Says:


    That sounds like an awesome project. Let us know how it goes!

  8. johney Says:

    he why not create a addon wich will plug undermeat the nes with a input for nes and famicom catride,s and experience better sound from supported famicom games like castlevania3, and maybe even some nes games, cuzz some of them also have a vrc6/mmc5 chip but sound,s doesn,t be better, so may it will be better this way.
    maybe it,s even possible to output snes sound (nor in mono) trough the extra pins into the nes.
    but i dit also read that some konami nes games include the lsi chip for better graphics & sound on the nes!!??
    i believe manny arcade port,s nes games does use it .
    and it,s true the turtles sound,s and graphics kick,s
    alltrough i like the musis of cv3 onthe nes voices suffered but steel impressive and sometime i wiil experience echo in level 3 forest it does,nt allway,s do .but IT,S AMEZING. maybe it,s indempendent from the nes or game situation or maybe the lack translated music I DON,T KNOW!!!

  9. johney Says:

    he, if it is true that the konami lsi chip can provide better sound on the nes, without the need of extra sound pins? than maybe it is possible to mod a famicom to pal/ntsc converter by using 2 extra pins, wich will capute the sound from supported famicom games, and then rotine them to the lsi chip, wich will mix it together before it go,s into the nes (using special sound tricks) and let the hardware thinking that it are just 5 channels will it in reality more , oke maybe it will not be cristal clear as surposed but it would be steel impressive.
    check nintendoland.com thay said some konami nes games use the lsi chip for better graphics and sound.
    also nintendoweb.nl does claim that.

  10. johney Says:

    i,ve heart the music from akamadjou densitu on youtube.com.
    ,m excited it,s so beautyfull that i never wanne listen ennymore to the music,s of the pal/ntsc version from castlevania3.
    and from my description above it would be great so solve all sound limitation from the pal/ntsc nes, but untill then you better of buying a famicom and a cope of akamadjou densitu, it,s a must hear to experience`the sound,s come very close in quality to the snes.

  11. johney Says:

    the nes can provide(in theory cd)quality trough the 2 external sound input via the expension port cuzz the dac fm converters in the nes are only used for there 5 channels and not for the ext sound input ,cuzz the external soundchips in the famicom games has ther own dac converters.
    and yes i must admit akamadjou densitsu has great sound unlike the west versions,it looks like 16bit sound.

  12. johannes Says:

    dit i mention vew reviews back that it would be a good idea to create a addon wich fits undermeat the nes?
    well,22 years back nintendo dit had big plans such a addon wich fits undermeat the nes, ollowing nes games to support both the external sound input ,that,s why nintendo has chosen to use the external sound pins bellow instead, and that,s also why they has chosen the 72 pins cartride instead of 60pins, cuzz the extra pins were required for the lockout chip and the expension port,but it ended up! duo economic reasons, nintendo has cancled the hole project as a followed result, games as castlevania 3 were never made for the addon, instead it has to be rewrited and simplefied for the us/uk,now steel the external soundinput are there bellow but are useless duo nintendo,s fatal dissision unfortunely!

  13. johannes Says:

    i have the japanese version of castlevania3 including the a/v famicom.
    i don,t want to point this as negative but, when i listen to the music of it, i do notice that the quality of it is a bit infirior then in average on the emulater.
    will the vrc6 does have a hich volume level sound, the nes sound however is much more softer ,for example digital drums,bass,voices and sound effect,s are difficle to hear,will on the emulater the digital drums,bass,voices,soundeffect,s etc,, has the same volume as the vrc6 chip,also there,s a lot of noise in the sound on the nes, and the colors are also incorrect, as a followed result the real thing feels outdated unlike on the emulater,cuzz the on the emulater, the bitrates and khz are much hicher and it,s all digital proccesed,and the volume from anny soundchannel from the nes and chipsets are changeble, wich result,s in a much clearer deeper and better sound, you will hear soundeffect,s you|| never dit imagined before,
    so i recommand, if you wanne get quality? get a emulater but if you have the money and want the real thing? get the famicom.
    and despites the us,uk version is a bit infirior to akumadjou densitsu,the music is absoluteley good recomposed for a standard nes there,s nothing wrong and it feels so classic, also there,s for 90% no difference in the graphics.

Leave a Reply