Not anymore, but I vividly remember, at least in my school and area, Ninja Gaiden was at least as popular as Castlevania when comparing the series. People really like the cutscenes, it was pretty novel. And as hard as they are, I always thought Castlevania 3 was harder than any of the NG games. I beat all 3 NGs back then but I never finished Castlevania 3 until much much later. So I bet plenty of people were able to beat at least the first NG, I mean the series survived for a reason.