by Joseph Leray

After what seems like years of complete radio silence, The Behemoth have been on a hype-blitz for “Battleblock Theater,” detailing its modes, its closed beta, its PAX East tournament, and its built-in level editor. As of yesterday, and thanks to this spiffy trailer, “Battleblock Theater” (finally) has a hard release date: the arena-based multiplayer action-platformer will be available on Xbox Live Arcade on April 3, for 1600 Microsoft points.

Normally, release dates aren’t a particularly big deal: a developer announces a new game, and it comes out a year later, give or take. If it’s a big game, you can expect it in October, November, or March. But “Battleblock Theater” has been in development for so long, it almost seems like an elaborate practical joke, like someone moved April Fool’s Day back two days this year.

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We all want to know more about "Brutal Legend," and March's Game Developers Conference could shed some new details. Double Fine is hosting a panel on the game's art and in the description, the studio re-confirmed it would include a multiplayer mode, something we haven't heard about since 2007. Read More...

Most of the attention on Ubisoft's ambitious African-based shooter "Far Cry 2" has been on its tech. underpinnings and open-ended single-player campaign.

Earlier this week, however, I sat down to play an hour of the game's multiplayer.

This was my first time playing any of "Far Cry 2." It's obvious Ubisoft's team has poured time into multiplayer, but I'm not sure it's a game that needed multiplayer.

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LucasArts' new shooter "Fracture" tries admirably to be different.

"Red Faction" and "Battlefield: Bad Company" have introduced ways for players to change the environment in battle, but not on the same level as "Fracture." The geometry can change every step you make.

I recently spent about an hour playing the multiplayer side of a near-finished "Fracture." As I'd never played "Fracture" before, my time was spent playing catch-up, but the dynamics of the ground play were immediately apparent.

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Readers, I've been lying to you. I just didn't know it.

I've reported that extensive online multiplayer on the iPhone couldn't happen because Apple hasn't released the tools, leaving creators to only offer multiplayer over a single shared Wi-Fi access point. That's true. But it doesn't mean full-featured multiplayer isn't possible.

iPhone developer Ian Gordon and his team at 3against2 pulled it off more than a month ago with official application "Versus Chess," which is capable of multiplayer over EDGE, 3G and Wi-Fi. It even has skill-based matchmaking!

"There are no proper online multiplayer development libraries in place," Gordon told me. "We actually ended up writing our own. No trickery, just a lot of coding and a somewhat excessive caffeine habit."

The makers of EA's "Scrabble" appears to be relying on Apple eventually providing a backend. "I'm not sure why Apple and EA haven't rolled out there own online multiplayer capabilities," continued Gordon. "But I would guess because of the infrastructure requirements (servers, hosting, bandwidth) and complexity."

I haven't had a chance to try "Versus Chess" myself, but the iTunes reviews are solid. Will more developers step up to the challenge?

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I haven't touched "Boom Blox" that much lately. For a few weeks there, it was easily one of my favorite Wii games yet, certainly the most fun to control.

But that's stalled recently. No, I haven't mastered all of the available challenges on the single-player side, but that's not where "Boom Blox" really shined to begin with.

It was the multiplayer. Despite the game's robust edit mode, "Boom Blox" doesn't offer a particularly easy solution to download new puzzles. They have to be passed from person to person via friend codes, rather than retrieved from a central online destination.

Majesco's "Blast Works" has found a way to sidestep the frustrations of Nintendo's friend codes system to create a user generated content portal. "Boom Blox" doesn't have that and desperately needs it -- or Electronic Arts-sponsored downloadable content -- but it sounds like a feature for a sequel.

Am I the only one who wants to play more "Boom Blox," but has run out of content?

Last week I re-reported my findings that "Grand Theft Auto IV" does not have split-screen multiplayer. While the game has more than a dozen multiplayer modes, those modes are made to be played over Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.

Readers of my post asked if the game supported multi-system LAN play, or if it had any single-screen multiplayer gameplay that two friends could play with one system and one TV. The answer to each of those questions is "No." I've checked and double-checked this with Rockstar Games.

"GTA IV" multiplayer is all online or bust.

Grand Theft Auto IV Multiplayer(What follows is an excerpt of my coverage of my hands-on with "Grand Theft Auto IV" multiplayer mode, originally filed at MTVNews.com)

...Our two hours at Rockstar showed that the secret of "GTA IV" multiplayer is the same as the secret of single-player: Whatever the rules are in "GTA," the most fun may be attained by not following them.

For example, [Rockstar's Jeronimo] Barrera and another Rockstar rep seemed to have a jolly time avoiding the actual point of a "GTA" multiplayer race set in the Liberty City airport. In theory, this race was set up to pit four players on motorcycles and mopeds on a three-lap race across and around an active airport runway. While Monsters [Totilo] was busy finding a fueling truck to race instead and Shoplifting [a guy from Yahoo] ditched his bike to putter along in a luggage-cart cab, Undead CJ [Barrera] was ignoring his lap count to focus on creating a multi-vehicle roadblock. Then he stood there with a pistol, daring people to complete their laps.

....

The full scope of "GTA IV" multiplayer hasn't been revealed. Even just a few weeks before release, the game isn't spilling all its secrets, and that includes the other multiplayer modes. "We put in as many options as we can," Barrera said. "We think this is totally fun."

And how would he distinguish the "GTA" multiplayer mode from that of other games? "Not tacked on," he said. "It fits seamlessly into the game — the variety and ultimately the freedom that players are going to enjoy for a very long time."

For the rest of this piece, go to MTVNews.com

KirbyReaders, I need advice.

My girlfriend is wiping the floor with me at "Super Smash Bros. Brawl."

I've been able to convert my girlfriend into digging most of my nerdy habits, be it "X-Files," "Lost," or comic books (she just finished Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns") -- but not games. Yet she has an obsession with the "Super Smash Bros." series. I had no idea this passion existed, but she counts the brawlers among her favorite games of all-time, right next to "Tetris."

When I was in middle school, none of my friends were much into "Smash Bros." "GoldenEye 007" always dominated our time, so the N64 and GameCube "Smash" games mostly passed me by. Thanks to my girlfriend's surprise interest, that's changed with the Wii's "Brawl."

My girlfriend is a formidable opponent with the pink puffball of doom, also known as Kirby. Most of the time it seems like she doesn't know what she's actually doing, but there's a method to her button smashing madness.

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Pikmin Alone In BrawlIf you are playing "Super Smash Brothers: Brawl" alone -- you are not alone.

I'm with you.

If you have ever bought a multiplayer game of any kind before without the intention of playing it against other people, I've been there too.

Are you like me? Are you playing "Smash" as a solo gamer? I've played the coin launcher, looked at the trophies, played a few brawls against the computer. I did a couple of the target levels, whacked the punching bag and am a whole 2% into the side-scrolling mode, the Subspace Emissary (which could be played by two people, but not when I'm involved). I'm playing this game solo, because, well, that's how I play games.

It's not that I hate playing games against other people (spot the telling denial!). And I know I edit a blog called Multiplayer. But I just don't game against other people that much. Back in the old days I didn't because I liked to settle in with adventure-driven games, games with a table that seated only one. These days, I also don't, because my Internet connection is slow. "Halo 3"'s matchmaking service will only match my Level 4 skills to a Level 30-something, because it can't find a closer match suited to my inferior Internet connection. So, solo-play it is.

Did you just say I should have people over and play games with them? Not happening.

Yes, my friends, I have played more "Halo 3" single-player than I have played "Halo 3" multiplayer. Swap in "Call of Duty 4" and the same holds true. I suspect it will for "Brawl" as well. Like I said, it's not just my Internet connection that's to blame. I bought "Mario Kart 64" years ago, unlocked every track, but I don't know if I ever played it against anyone. Yes, my friends, I have friends. I just don’t play games with them.

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