Times are tough, especially in the midst of this economic recession. That’s why we here at powet are proud to help bail gamers out of the hell of playing the same things over and over again. For the past 5 years, we have helped gamers like yourself find cheap ways to increase your gaming library. TO celebrate, we have formed this special stimulus package featuring 10 games that are available for $20 or less. Some of them are even available for free. So click after the jump, and check out some cheap gaming.

1. Plants vs Zombies (PC, coming soon to PS3, Xbox Live Arcade, and Nintendo DS)
plants-vs-zombiesPopcap is to casual gaming what Square is to role playing games, no doubt about it. While hardcore gamers were busy shooting things up in Halo and Grand Theft Auto, Popcap went after more casual audiences with games such as Zuma and Bejeweled. Even when they were released to Xbox Live, gamers could have cared less about them. However, this tower defense game was so awesome, that even the hardcore gaming audience took notice of it. Your garden is your only defense against a horde of zombies. However, these aren’t any ordinary plants, nope, these are sentient plants capable of attack and defense capabilities. Figuring out the right strategy to ward off the zombie invaders is challenging, and unlocking new things is rewarding.

2. Marathon Trilogy (PC, Mac)
marathontrilogyBefore Bungie put on its Halo, it ran the Marathon. Even though it was released in 1994, it introduced many concepts that many of today’s shooters take for granted. Dual Wielding, mouse aiming, and AI controlled teammates were just a few of the many innovations that Marathon bought to the table. Now that Bungie is done with the Halo series, perhaps they will revisit the Marathon universe. For now, you can download the trilogy from here.

3. Rise of Nations: Gold Edition (PC)
rongoldThis is easily one of my all time favorite PC Real time strategy games. Developer Big Huge Games has managed to use Civilization-style nation building gameplay to disguise traditional RTS 4X game play. Conquer the world as the nation of your choice, rewrite the cold war, take control of Alexander the great’s army, or design a scenario of your own using the game’s rich editing tools.

4. Lumines 2 (PSP)
Lumines is this console generation’s version of Tetris. Lumines 2 blends thumping music tracks with block matching gameplay and the result is something never before seen in the puzzle genre. The music is a mix of top 40 hits and more alternative tunes. With so many game modes, a sequence editor, and multiplayer, this is a title you’ll be keeping in your collection for months.

5. Knights in the Nightmare (Nintendo DS)
kitnKITN may very well be 2009’s Nintendo DS sleeper hit. In fact, I’d go as far to say that it’s 2009’s sleeper hit on any system. The mash-up of different playing styles, fantasy-meets-noir storytelling, multiple endings, and deep strategy make this a can’t miss for Nintendo DS owners everywhere.

6. Dead Space (Xbox 360, PS3)
EA’s survival horror game brings in the fear that games such as Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil have lacked in their recent entries. The game’s atmosphere is disturbing, and the necromorphs are formidable villains. EA has built a franchise around this game, with comics, and animated film, and a Wii prequel. With the sequel arriving next year, survival horror fans, especially those who have been put off by Resident Evil 5, should check this out.

7. Blast Works (Wii)
blast-worksBlast Works is almost the Wii equivalent to the PS3’s LittleBigPlanet. You have the freedom to design your own side scrolling shooter, complete with your own ship, enemies, and backdrops. Although there is a steep learning curve, the content creation is complex, and will extend the life of the game for months to come. The game’s Katamari Damacy-meets-Gradius gameplay isn’t bad either, and you can even unlock hidden games on the disc. Blast Works is one of the few games available for Wii that caters to the hardcore audience.

8. Saint’s Row 2 (PS3, Xbox 360)
saintsrow2While it may not be one of the most original games on the list, THQ’s Saint’s Row 2 manages to expand upon and in some aspects even improve what makes the open-world genre great. There are even more zany activities to do to earn respect, the customization options are even deeper this time around, and there are even more vehicles to steal/wreck/customize/pilot/drive, including helicopters. Saint’s Row’s parody on gangbanging is a great way to pass the time until the next Grand Theft Auto is released.

9. MadWorld (Wii)
MadWorldI’m still wondering how a game like this got the green light from Nintendo, and how the people who made the cult classic Okami managed to come up with something like this. The Sin City-style graphics and the multitude of ways to bring death to your opponents make this game a must for people who crave M-rated action on the Wii.

10. Crackdown (Xbox 360)
As one poweteer stated, Crackdown was unfairly judged as “the free game that cane with the $60 Halo 3 demo”. Even so, Crackdown game players the chance to wreak a path of mindless destruction with a variety of weapons. Even if the game was light on plot, using your agent’s abilities to cause chaos kept players entertained for hours, and packaging the Halo 3 beta invite was nothing short of genius.

11. The Orange Box (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
orangeboxThis collection of 5 games; Half-Life 2, HL2 Episode 1, HL2 Episode 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal, represented the finest of what the FPS genre had to offer. Half-Life 2 and its two episodes had a story that was seamlessly told without use of cutscenes, Team Fortress 2 was a fun class-based multiplayer game, and Portal was a puzzle game disguised as an FPS that had players think their way through a facility while being taunted by a malevolent artificial intelligence. These games show Valve’s Source engine at its best, and gave console players a taste of what their PC counterparts have been enjoying for years.

12. The SimCity Box (PC)
SimcityboxThis collection of Maxis SimCity titles includes the awesome Simcity 4 and the Rush Hour expansion, the not-so-well received SimCity Societies and the Destinations expansion, and the quirky puzzle game SnapCity. While some people will enjoy Societies’s unique take on Sim City, Sim City 4 alone makes this worth the price of admission for players who don’t already own the city-building classic. It’s deep urban planning shows why Maxis is among the best in the Sim genre.

Except where otherwise noted, all of these games can be found at almost anywhere that sells video games for $20 or less.