4 Linux Games You Probably Have Not Played

It is no secret that Linux is not a popular gaming platform. Despite that stigma, however, the open nature of Linux makes it easy, even for relatively inexperienced developers, to produce quality games. Therefore, while the number of high-rated Linux game titles may be small in comparison to Windows or gaming consoles, there are a number of quality free and commercial games out there.

Most of the Linux sites that list games tend to highlight the same bunch; however, there are a few hidden gems that you may have missed but are still worth playing. In no particular order, here are four you might want to try.

1. Osmos

Publisher: Hemisphere Games
OS: Linux, Mac, and Windows
Price: $10

Osmos screenshot - absorbing another cell

As IGN described it, Osmos is “a beautiful, absorbing experience”. In this case, the absorbing part is literal. In Osmos, the player controls a single-celled organism that absorbs others to grow, but danger lurks in every corner, since larger cells can also swallow yours.

To make matters more complicated, movement causes your cell to lose mass. The game will test your patience, as you eventually learn to sometimes let momentum to carry you to supremacy, which is achieved by becoming the biggest.

The game’s website includes a free demo in .deb, .rpm, and tar.gz packages, which gives you a taste of the action and strategy, while undoubtedly leaving you with the desire to absorb some more.

2. Hotei’s Jewels: Relax

Publisher: Branovets / ‘WE’ Group
OS: Linux, Mac, and Windows
Price: Free/$9.95

Hotei's Jewels screenshot

There is no shortage of jewel-matching games on any operating system, Linux included, but there is something about Hotei’s Jewels: Relax that makes it entertaining and challenging. Hotei is the happy god of abundance and good health, who guides you through your quest to collect every Magic Island Coin.

Each island’s coin is broken into four parts, and by matching jewels, you slowly move the parts down to the bottom, where they are then placed on the side and assembled. Once you assemble all four pieces, you move on to the next level.

Compared to some of the other jewel-matching games on Linux, Hotei’s Jewels: Relax is visually stunning, from the statues of Hotei, to the colorful jewels and coins. Best of all, the Linux version appears to be free of charge.

3. Tile Racer

Publisher: model-view.com
OS: Linux and Windows
Price: Free

Tile Racer stunt track racing

There are a few good racing games for Linux. Some are more arcade style, while others are serious simulations. Tile Racer, however, is a thrill ride. Although the website will tell you all about their use of Nvidia Physx to create some type of scientifically accurate car movement and so on, what you really need to know is that it is exciting.

By default, there are no other cars on the track, making the game somewhat incomplete, but even taking on the wild tracks by themselves is exhilarating , as each track is filled with ramps, impossibly wide bridge jumps, upside down loops, and more.

After you have raced a track once, you can then race against your ghost car for better lap times. The website indicates that splits creen multiplayer and AI cars for singleplayer are planned, but I have not seen any activity or updates for quite some time. The project may be dead, but the game they have left behind is quite fun and aesthetically pleasing, even in its unfinished state.

4. Pink Pony

Publisher: ginquo
OS: Linux and Windows
Price: Free

Pink pony screenshot

The music, the sparkles, the pink, and the ponies themselves will drive you mad. If you live alone and do not have children, move along. Do not stop, pass go, or download this game. It is a clone of Tron, but even if you are a die-hard Tron fan, do not download this game…that is, unless you have children, particularly girls.

Like Tron, the cute little pink ponies will run around in whichever direction you send them, all the while leaving a trail of sparkling hearts and impenetrable colored walls behind them. If one of those adorable ponies should happen to run into the colorful wall of doom, whether her own or her opponent’s, she will explode into, you guessed it, sparkling hearts.

Not only will this game annoy you, but it could potentially aggravate your daughter to no end, just as Tron probably aggravated you. Nevertheless, she will, more than likely, keep playing, if for no other reason, the ponies are pink. You have been warned.

Other Games

I have my eye on a few other Linux games, Unreal Tournament 3 not included, so there will probably be a sequel to this rather short list. For now, you have plenty of cells to absorb, jewels of happiness to collect, cars to crash, and pink ponies to burst. Enjoy!