Now that the Thanksgiving turkey is digested, and your Black Friday shopping is finished, it’s time for a special 3-in-one edition of $20 GOTW, Lost Classics, and Maximum Letdown! Our first two games on the list are available either at or below the $20 mark anywhere you buy video games, so you don’t need to wait until after any holiday, camp out in front of the store, stand in line at Best Buy, or fight through the parking lot to cash in on these savings. The third game, not so much, but it’s a Maximum Letdown, so chances are, you aren’t gonna want it anyway. Anyway, click below and lets get started!

$20 Game of the week: Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 (PC, Xbox 360)
PS3 version also available, but not for $20.
When the original Red Alert was released, it was hinted at being a prelude to the Command and Conquer series. However, the second entry established the Red Alert games as being set in a separate universe, and ever since then, the Red Alert series earned a reputation for being the more lighthearted entries of the C&C series. With hilariously bad acting, units that include dolphins and bears, and awesomely absurd villains, it’s not hard to see why. This recent entry in the Red Alert series, powered by the same engine that ran C&C 3, seeks to continue that tradition.

As Red Alert 3 begins, the Soviets are on the receiving end of an Allied ass-kicking. The Soviet leaders hatch a desperate scheme: go back in time and assassinate Albert Einstein, as they believe that it was Einstein’s research that gave the edge. As fans know, the Red Alert universe was created when Einstein traveled back in time to kill Adolf Hitler before the holocaust can take place. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so while the Third Reich never came about, the threat came from the Soviet Union. The Soviets have learned nothing from this example, so naturally, thier idea does not go as planned. Not only are the Allies still around and are as much of a threat as ever, but a new enemy has emerged: Japan, and the Empire of the Rising Sun. Naturally, war, destruction, and other crazy hi-jinks ensue.

The gameplay doesn’t stray too far away from the classic C&C formula, although there are several changes to the formula. First of all, all of the missions can be played co-op. If you don’t have a buddy available, then an AI teammate will step in. You can’t order thier units, although you can request certain actions from them. Also, every unit in the game has two different modes of attack, which changes up the strategy. The Soviet Bullfrog vehicles can change from a ground unit to an amphibious unit, infantry units can dig in to blast enemies, and submarines can submerge at will. Speaking of submarines, water combat plays a greater role in this game than other C&C games. You can even construct bases and structures on the water.

The three sides are all balanced and unique and have thier own quirks. The new units from the Empire of the Rising Sun are inspired by anime, ninja, and samurai. The live action cinemas are as zany as ever, with acting talent by George Takei, Tim Curry, Kelly Hu, and Jenny McCarthy. The game is much more light-hearted than C&C 3’s post-apocalyptic nightmare, although it remains serious enough to avoid becoming a complete parody.

While the Command and Conquer series isn’t as sophisticated as other RTS games, it still remains an important part of the genre’s history, and Red Alert 3 is another top notch entry in the series. If you have another $20, you can pick up the Uprising expansion pack, adding new campaign missions among other things.

Lost Classics: Constructor (PC)

It figures that one of Acclaim’s few good games was created by an outside developer. Constructor was created by European developer System 3, and can best be described as Sim City lite. You play as a less-than-scrupulous city developer, and your task is to build buildings and bring in tenants while trying to drive your opponent out of business. You’ll build everything from crumbling shacks to mansions, attracting all sorts of residents, from semi-honest laborers to pot-smoking hippies and weird guys in leather masks. Be prepared to deal with any and all issues that pop up, including your tennants’ constant complaining.

The learning curve is a bit high, and new players will be overwhelmed by the amount of icons. However, once things get rolling, the game becomes satisfying and addictive. The graphics are hilarious, and you’ll be occupied figuring out strategies to bring in the cash and run out your opponents. The rights to the game were bought out by Kalypso Media Digital and re-released on, so check it out. There is also a sequel, Mob Rule, and it too is available on

Maximum Letdown: Survival Arts (Arcade)

I said it once and I’ll say it again; gaaaadamn, the fighting game genre sucked back in the day. Now don’t get me wrong. Street Fighter 2 (along with all its updates), Fatal Fury, and Mortal Kombat were nothing short of classics. However, for every one of those we were blessed with, we ended up with a thousand more Doomsday Warriors, Street Combats, and Time Killers. Things got even worse after Mortal Kombat, because then all the ‘me too’ fighters had added blood, guts, and digitized ‘actors’. By the way, notice how I use the term actors loosely, because most of these guys couldn’t even make it in a b-grade straight to video softcore porn/horror movie. Survival Arts, this week’s Maximum Letdown, is no different.

Survival Arts was developed by Scarab and published by Sammy. Basically, the guys at Scarab, like other game developers in the mid 90s, basically sat around playing Mortal Kombat, when one jumped up and said, “hey guys, we should totally make this!”, and then another one said “Fuck yeah! We’ll get a bunch of our friends to cosplay, and we’ll have blood, guts, and everything! It’s gonna be more awesome than Blood Storm vs Way of the Warrior!”. Spurred on by thier compelling surge of ideas, the team then consulted the lead developer’s 5 year old sister, and asked her to come up with character concepts and a plotline. After dressing thier pals up in epically designed costumes made from bits of Styrofoam, aluminum foil, and body paint, the plucky developers then had them jump around in front of a blue bed sheet as they snapped photos with a Polaroid (see, they couldn’t afford a real blue-screen and motion capture equipment). After some time cutting and pasting in ClarisWorks, they put it all together, and Survival Arts was born. Okay, so maybe this isn’t so much how the game was made rather more so what I think happened.

Anyway, the tournament revolves around a form of martial arts called the Survival Arts. Actually I don’t feel like explaining it, so basically some guy named Dantel is holding a tournament to determine the world’s strongest fighter so he can challenge them and consume thier flesh. Among the tournament’s participants are your typical ninjas, femme fatales, and martial artists. There is also some military looking guy who has a special move where he jumps over you while pooping out missiles, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘explosive diarrhea’. And there is a big guy with gray skin who looks like a zombiefied version of Kid from the popular late 80s/early 90s rap group Kid and Play (or was it Play? Which was the one with the box haircut again?). If you have a passing familiarity with games of this type, you know what to expect from Survival Arts: choppy animation, poor character designs, cheesy gore, unresponsive attacks, and nonexistent strategy and combos.

Thankfully, there was no home release for this game, although a Genesis version of the game was planned, but scrapped. Just wanted to add in that the name Survival Arts conjures up images of a fighting game based on the CBS reality series, Survivor. Watching those castaways beat the shit out of each other…well on second thought that idea doesn’t sound much better. Anyhoo, Survival Arts is another reason that it’s better to be a leader rather than a follower. Because while everyone everyone loves Mortal Kombat, no one gives a shit about any of its rip offs, least of all Survival Arts.