Released In: 1990
In this prequel to the original Castlevania, you control Simon Belmont's great grandfather Trevor on his quest to rid the land of the vile Count Dracula. Castlevania III sees the series abandon the RPG style of Simon's Quest and return to the more action-oriented of the original game. Not only that, but the game improves upon the Castlevania engine in every way imaginable. In addition to crisper graphics and more ambitious level design, the game also has a Choose Your Adventure quality to it: the game offers both branching level paths and three potential allies who can join Trevor in his quest, though only one at a time.
Syd Lexia: I never really much cared for Grant DaNasty... he just wasn't as good as Sypha or Alucard. His climbing ability was kinda cool, but his basic dagger attack had such limited range that it was almost useless. Incidentally, this was one of the many ways that America has been screwed during localization: in the Japanese version of Dracula's Curse, Grant's basic weapon is a projectile dagger. Apparently Konami agrees with me, since neither he nor any of his descendants have appeared in a single Castlevania game since this. Well, unless you count the Grant doppelganger in Symphony of the Night. I don't, and neither should you.
Rycona: My favorite Castlevania game as a kid... mainly because it was the only one I ever owned. The characters you get later in the game are fun to play with and they change up the dynamics of play nicely.
greeneyedzeke: While less influential than either of its predecessors, Castlevania III let you play as different characters at different times and it seriously upped the ante in the graphics department. In that sense, this deserves to crack the top ten merely because of its status as one of the most polished and accessible NES games ever produced.
Dr. Jeebus: My favorite games in classic franchises tend to be the third game for some reason, and Castlevania is no different. This is the first game I remember playing where you could switch characters in the middle of a level in order to utilize drastically different abilities. Sorry TMNT, you gave it your best.