Welcome to Powet’s first $20 GOTW and Lost Classics of the new decade. We got two classic games that will help you get the new year started off right. Without any further ado, click below and lets get started.

$20 Game of the Week: Syphon Filter – Logan’s Shadow
logansshadowLogan’s Shadow is the follow up to 2006’s Dark Mirror, the game that reintroduced the Syphon Filter franchise to gamers and also one of the PSP’s must-have titles. Logan’s Shadow continues the espionage fun with an all new plotline. Once again stepping into the role of agent Gabe Logan, players have to once again unravel a conspiracy. This time however, longtime partner Lian Xing has been suspected of being a traitor and is missing in action, while Gabe Logan’s agency has been disbanded by a corrupt U.S. senator, so the stakes are higher than ever before. If you played Dark Mirror, then Logan’s Shadow will be easy to get into. In fact, the tutorial missions are the same as in Dark Mirror, with the exception of an added tutorial for underwater combat. The only major gameplay change is that the medkit system has been dropped in favor of a Halo-style auto-refilling health bar. You can now chose weather to have the L button use a free-aiming mechanic or the series’ trademark lock-on system. Just like Dark Mirror, Logan’s Shadow features a ton of unlockables, including weapons and missions.

Like it’s predecessor, Logan’s Shadow should be in the library of every PSP owner, and fans of the series will find another round of the action that the series is known for, although the ending leaves the future of the series up in the air. I won’t spoil it for you, you’ll just have to play the game.

Lost Classics: Super Castlevania 4 (SNES, Wii Virtual Console)
Okay, so this game really doesn’t really fit the criteria for a proper Lost Classic. With today being a holiday and this being perhaps one of the games of all time however, I hope all you Poweteers will let me slide.

In my personal humble opinion, SCIV is the best Castlevania game in the series. Yes, there are better games in the series than SCIV, and there are games in the series that I have enjoyed more than SCIV, but no other game in the series has left the impression on me that SCIV did.

In the early days of the SNES, the games that were released for it were basically 16-bit sequels/upgrades of classic 8-bit games. Super Mario World improved upon the overworld design of Super Mario Brothers 3 while adding battery backup. Final Fantasy II (or IV as it was known as in Japan) took the basic gameplay of FF1 (and the Japan only 2 and 3) and added in Mode 7 graphics and orchestra sound. So it was with Super Castlevania IV, which in terms of the series’ chronology, had the same storyline as the original Castlevania: Simon Belmont set out to defeat Dracula, who was risen from the dead once again. Only this time, the game didn’t start right at the entrance. That wasn’t until level 6. While the game started out with the familiar whip-cracking-outside-the-gate sequence, you had to travel through the stables, the marsh, a cave, and more before you even got to the front door. With a front yard like that, you wouldn’t even need ADT security. It would be so much trouble getting to the front door that any would-be burglar would simply give up. Simon thankfully had a new trick up his sleeve to take on the danger: an 8-way directional whip, possibly inspired by Contra. This trick helped a long way towards alleviating some of the frustrations which were common in platform gaming, such as enemies overhead and small flying objects which cause pitfalls. By holding down the Y button, Simon can even dangle the whip, providing a shield of sorts against smaller enemies and projectiles.

It being a SNES game, the first thing gamers noticed was the improved visuals, particularly Simon Belmont’s sprite. it was huge and well detailed. There were also parallel backgrounds, and the first level of the game in particular took advantage of the new technology. You traversed inside and outside of a gate to make your way through part of the level. Then there was the second stage and its swamp, where after you beat the level’s boss, the level still didn’t end, as you went down a sludge covered ramp. One of my favorite moments in the game takes place in level four. You traverse your way through a tower with rotating platforms, and midway through the level you fight a giant ghost skull. After destroying the skull, you then move on to the level’s second half, which started with a room full of spikes which rotated as you had to hang on for dear life then swing across to avoid getting impaled. Next, you’re in the inside of a rotating barrel full of enemies which come out the background to attack you. The last part of the level took place in a hall which put a whole new spin on the ‘moving blocks’ segment of the platforming genre. At the end, you faced yet another boss: a rock monster which grew LARGER as you damaged him. The next level was a bit of a rest of sorts, as you went up a stairway towards Dracula’s castle. When you finally entered Drac’s castle in level 6, it was a brand-new experience entirely. While level 6 started off with the old-school Castlevania zombie entrance way and underground water lagoon, things soon got hectic as you jumped across chandeliers, battled ghost dancers, and took on possessed suits of armor. The final level was another awesome moment which really put gamers’ fingers to the test, as they outran a giant wheel, descended a tower, and took on THREE SEPARATE BOSSES before meeting Dracula himself. SCIV’s levels were chock full of cool stuff, and the graphics and sound capabilities of the Super Nintendo made everything even more surrealistic.

The music was another huge part of the SCIV experience. While this was right before CD gaming became the norm, the SNES sound processors could give more advance sound systems a run for their money, and SCIV demonstrated this. The game’s first level featured a tune that would go on to become a classic Castlevania anthem, and you’d even hum along to it like you did songs like Vampire Killer and Bloody Tears. The second level’s BGM featured slapping congo drums and an ominous but upbeat melody which went perfectly with the marsh setting. The first part of level three featured a hauntingly beautiful harp-plucking/flute melody which gave way to a strong piano loop when you reached the waterfall in the second part. The final part of the level featured a weird smooth-jazz sounding number which sounded surreal with the area’s Sunken-Atlantis backdrop. The second part of level 4 was an awesome melody which started out almost like a modern R&B piece, but transferred into a more traditional Castlevania-style tune, although it got increasingly frantic as it went on. The R&B ends abruptly with some organs, then the horns and drums come in, and they get louder and more frantic, which was perfect, because the level itself became crazier and frantic towards the end. Level 7’s library featured a quieter string/wood piece, which helped players catch their breaths a bit after level 6’s insanity. It also helped get them ready for 8, which had some foreboding piano keys accentuated with some even more sinister sounding African drums. This was especially perfect, as the level took place in a prison full of traps. The game’s final levels featured remixes of some classic Castlevania tunes as well.

It has been almost 20 years since that Christmas morning that I got my SNES and played SCIV for the first time. However, it still remains one of my favorite games to this day. It demonstrated how an action game should be done, and it was an excellent showcase of the SNES’s capabilities. It was also one of the first games I downloaded to my Wii Virtual Console, and playing it with my Gamecube controller gives me so many flashbacks. No other game in the series has as many water-cooler moments as SCIV, not even Symphony of the Night’s upside-down castle, Dracula X’s burning village, or even Portrait of Ruin’s tag team final boss battle against Dracula and Death. If you haven’t played it yet, you owe it to yourself to do so as soon as you can. It’s an excellent entry in an excellent gaming franchise.