Tecmo Super Bowl is BACK

…on Xbox Live Arcade and PSN this spring according to Tecmo, and will be called Tecmo Bowl Throwback.

It will be based off of the SNES release, Tecmo Super Bowl, and will feature “old school” and “new school” graphics. On top of being a visual remake of the game, it will also come with a number of newfangled features such as online leaderboards and online multiplayer.

In addition to Mega Man and Sonic going retro, it’s just as fitting for this classic to hit the pixels in the same way. It’ll be interesting, though, to see whether the AI has also undergone a few tweaks.

Here are a few screens showing both modes that the game will have to help show off your HD TV

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The Cold War Lives – World in Conflict

The Cold War, aside from hanging the threat of nuclear annihilation over everyone’s heads, had also given birth to James bond, chilling thrills for Tom Clancy’s fans, Tetris, and plenty of tactical fodder for armchair generals to duke it out in the Fulda Gap between the former East and West halves of Germany.

During that time, a wealth of PC titles dedicated to military scenarios built around WW3 filled store shelves from shops such as SSI with their “When Superpowers Collide” series to shoot ‘em ups such as Access Software’s “Raid Over Moscow“. Although it’s no longer around, its indelible presence on history continues to provide developers ideas on where to take their own stories and answer several “what-ifs” of their own, even if it means fighting Russian ultranationalists as the new bad guys with Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare.

One particular title had asked the question of what would have happened if the Soviet Union hadn’t fallen, if the Kremlin had decided that war was the only way to survive inevitable collapse. Massive Entertainment’s “World in Conflict” was an incredible RTS released in ’07 focusing on an invasion of the United States in 1989 and which had an expanded re-release in ’09 which included the Soviet perspective. It’s an RTS with a good story, too, focusing on the soldiers and even the letters written to their families.

It was slated to come out for consoles, but the plans were scrapped last year. It could have made a great compliment to other RTS-type titles on the Xbox 360 alongside Halo Wars or the PS3 but whether Ubisoft, the new owners of Massive Entertainment, will ever revisit the IP is hard to say. I wish they would, though. The game ends on something of a cliffhanger.

Trailer: World in Conflict – Soviet Assault (WARNING: Some graphic violence)

Xbox Live’s LGBT policies get changed

According to this, one can now express their sexual orientation via their gamertag or Xbox Live profile. Stephen Toulouse, the director of Live’s policy and enforcement, announced the changes. The new regs state you can use the words lesbian, gay, bi, transgender or straight in your profile or gamertag.

On one hand, it would be easy to see this as a progressive and commendable step for the Xbox Live community — a chance for people to know more about you and, as a friend of mine put it, a chance for someone to at least stick his or her toes out of the closet.

However, while there are certainly regular, level-headed people on Live, there’s also a staggering amount of duncery coupled with idiotic, racist and sexist drivel that populates a lot of online gaming sessions. I’m not sure what the incentive would be for some to post that kind of information and give the dregs of the online community more bullets in the chamber. A femaIe co-worker of mine can’t get through one Modern Warfare session without some spoiled, brain-damaged 12-year-old telling her to go make a sandwich.

At the same time, there’s no progress without pain. We’ll see how this unfolds.

Activision Shuts Down Eight Years of Fanmade Game

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Whenever gaming fans decide to create something off of a popular property, the odds are usually good that the company that actually owns it might want them to stop. Even if the game is being made for free, it doesn’t matter as it “might dilute” the brand or whatever else that company may have planned…even if they sit on the name forever.

When several fans got together to create their own King’s Quest tribute game, The Silver Lining, they opened themselves up to this kind of request. Vivendi Universal had owned the rights to the King’s Quest series at the time and at first, sent a cease and desist letter to the makers after they had already put in four years of hard work.

But an outpouring of incredible support from fans eventually managed to impress upon Vivendi to change their request and allow them to continue making the game, which they did, by granting the makers a “Fan License”. The only requirement was the removal of the name “King’s Quest”, but the rest of the game remained intact. It was a surprisingly positive gesture on the part of a company like Vivendi when several others, such as Square or Fox, had simply chosen to shut down similar projects with threats of litigation.

However, as time went on, the IP (intellectual property) of the King’s Quest series changed hands…this time ending up in Activision’s who sent another cease and desist letter which ultimately killed the project. By that time, eight years had already passed, a demo had been released, and the game was on the verge of completion. The details of the request even go so far as to include shutting down the forums that they use to keep in contact with fans and team members around the world.

Why did this game take eight years to make? This was largely a volunteer operation by a group of dedicated fans sharing their time on a project that they loved, but to keep it going for eight years also says a lot about their professionalism. As an unofficial close to the King’s Quest series written and created by many of those that found themselves whisked away by Roberta Willliams’ world, it could have been great. I was looking forward to playing it being a fan of the series and having watched this project grow in recent years. It’s the fan story that would have stepped in as an ending that only they could write for their favorite series.

And now, we’ll probably never know.

Hands-on: God of War 3

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Revenge is a dish best served cold, and there are few chefs better at preparing it than Kratos, the protagonist of the God of War series. Roughly a year ago, I talked about how his blend of bravado, skill-tempered power and pure rage helped him stand alone as Sony’s Computer Entertainment’s alpha dog and helped craft a franchise that aimed to reshape the concept of scale in game design. With the full power of the PS3 behind God of War 3, Kratos’ debut (and possibly lone appearance) on the system needed to be something special.

A few days ago, Sony gave us and others a big taste of Kratos’ vengeance … and it was good. WARNING: I talk a lot about the first 30 minutes of the game, especially some but not all highlights of what I saw … if you find that to be spoiler-worthy, be careful if you choose to read on.
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No Gaming for many PS3 Players Worldwide

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Waking up this morning, I was surprised to see my PS3 tell me that I could party as if it were 1999, but apparently its version of the millennium bug has been going on since Sunday. According to updates on Kotaku and Slashdot, there’s some kind of calendar issue that’s affecting PS3s worldwide. Many of those, they say, are the original phat units. Even developers are being affected by this with debug consoles caught in reboot loops.

On my end (I have a launch 60GB PS3), I couldn’t even sign onto the PSN network and the date on my unit was already set to 12/31/1999. I couldn’t even update the time from the internet, but it allowed me to download patches for games such as MW2…which I couldn’t play anyway. See the screen above? That’s all I get from MW2. At least it’s patched to 1.90, though, not that it helps.

Funny thing is that it doesn’t seem that every game is affected in the same way. I started up Valkyria Chronicles and was able to play the game, albeit it’s a single-player only title but it does have trophies. With MW2, it didn’t matter whether or not I wanted to just play the campaign. It booted me out regardless of what I wanted to do and it isn’t the only game affected. Manually changing the date doesn’t do much except make it look correct, but whenever MW2 checks back with PSN for trophy info, I’m sent right back into the Black Void of Error.

The ‘net is filled with plenty of speculation at this point on what the cause might be, running from it being a problem with leap year interpretation (it’s not due yet) to a possibility that it stems from upgrades to the PSN (which doesn’t explain why offline systems like mine were affected, or why it was able to download patches for titles).

Sony has acknowledged that they are working on the problem. Hopefully we’ll get some kind of fix sooner than later, but it’s more than a little disconcerting to see something like this cripple so many systems at once.

UPDATE(1) 3.1.2010: Some PS3 owners in Europe have even gone so far as to try and trade in their affected units for the slims at retailer GAME. GAME, however, is reportedly refusing to do so at this time.

UPDATE(2) 3.1.2010: Kotaku reports that Sony has contacted them with news that it has narrowed the problem to the clock the PS3 uses. They go on to say that a fix should be on the way in 24 hours, but “if you have a fat PS3, do not use it for 24 hours”. Aside from coming off as if it should be quarantined, I’m surprised that they actually had to say that.

It defies belief that something like this actually slipped past Sony’s Q&A. The PS3, for me at least, has performed flawlessly until now and I have no doubt that it will again after this fix. But still, it’s incredibly eerie to see Sony with this much egg on their face over what seems like such an innocuous feature.

UPDATE(3) 3.1.2010: Kotaku has good news that it looks like the problem with the internal clock for fat PS3s has been fixed and no patch was even needed. I was able to sync my PS3′s clock with the ‘net and start up MW2 without any problems. It looks like today’s craziness might be over.