In 2014 and 2015, Linux became home to a list of popular commercial titles such as the popular Borderlands, Witcher, Dead Island, and Counter Strike series of games. While this is exciting news, what of the gamer on a budget? Commercial titles are good, but even better are free-to-play alternatives made by developers who know what players like.
Some time ago, I came across a three year old YouTube video with the ever optimistic title 5 Open Source Games that Don’t Suck. Although the video praises some open source games, I’d prefer to approach the subject with a bit more enthusiasm, at least as far as the title goes. So, here’s my list of five super cool open source games.
Tux Racer is the first game on this list because I’ve had plenty of experience with it. On a recent trip to Mexico that my brother and I took with Kids on Computers, Tux Racer was one of the games that kids and teachers alike enjoyed. In this game, players use the Linux mascot, the penguin Tux, to race on downhill ski slopes in time trials in which players challenge their own personal bests. Currently there’s no multiplayer version available, but that could be subject to change. Available for Linux, OS X, Windows, and Android.
The Warsow website explains: “Set in a futuristic cartoonish world, Warsow is a completely free fast-paced first-person shooter (FPS) for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Warsow is the Art of Respect and Sportsmanship Over the Web.” I was reluctant to include games from the FPS genre on this list, because many have played games in this genre, but I was amused by Warsow. It prioritizes lots of movement and the game is fast paced with a set of eight weapons to start with. The cartoonish style makes playing feel less serious and more casual, something for friends and family to play together. However, it boasts competitive play, and when I experienced the game I found there were, indeed, some expert players around. Available for Linux, Windows and OS X.
M.A.R.S – A ridiculous shooter
M.A.R.S – A ridiculous shooter is appealing because of it’s vibrant coloring and style. There is support for two players on the same keyboard, but an online multiplayer version is currently in the works — meaning plans to play with friends have to wait for now. Regardless, it’s an entertaining space shooter with a few different ships and weapons to play as. There are different shaped ships, ranging from shotguns, lasers, scattered shots and more (one of the random ships shot bubbles at my opponents, which was funny amid the chaotic gameplay). There are a few modes of play, such as the standard death match against opponents to score a certain limit or score high, along with other modes called Spaceball, Grave-itation Pit and Cannon Keep. Available for Linux, Windows and OS X.
Valyria Tear resembles many fan favorite role-playing games (RPGs) spanning the years. The story is set in the usual era of fantasy games, full of knights, kingdoms and wizardry, and follows the main character Bronann. The design team did great work in designing the world and gives players everything expected from the genre: hidden chests, random monster encounters, non-player character (NPC) interaction, and something no RPG would be complete without: grinding for experience on lower level slime monsters until you’re ready for the big bosses. When I gave it a try, time didn’t permit me to play too far into the campaign, but for those interested there is a ‘Let’s Play‘ series by YouTube user Yohann Ferriera. Available for Linux, Windows and OS X.
Last but not least is SuperTuxKart, a clone of Mario Kart that is every bit as fun as the original. It started development around 2000-2004 as Tux Kart, but there were errors in its production which led to a cease in development for a few years. Since development picked up again in 2006, it’s been improving, with version 0.9 debuting four months ago. In the game, our old friend Tux starts in the role of Mario and a few other open source mascots. One recognizable face among them is Suzanne, the monkey mascot for Blender. The graphics are solid and gameplay is fluent. While online play is in the planning stages, split screen multiplayer action is available, with up to four players supported on a single computer. Available for Linux, Windows, OS X, AmigaOS 4, AROS and MorphOS.
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Hunter Banks has been a part of the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) Family for the past 13 years. When not writing about open source gaming, he’s working on creating his own games. Follow him on Twitter @SilvrChariot