5 Linux Games For Low-Powered Computers

One of the great things about Linux is that you can run it on older hardware.  After a hard day of programming and configuration, it’s always good to cut loose and have a little fun. Although there are plenty of games available that use 3D graphics, if you’re on an older or low-spec computer, you can still play some great games if you’re willing to forgo some graphical flair.

linux-games-nethack

One of the oldest games currently in development, this RPG has been around since the ’80s. Its heritage goes back even farther to Rogue, which was developed in the late ’70s. This style of game has been known as “Roguelike,” and has a strong cult following to this day.

This style of gameplay is distinctive for its use of ASCII graphics, though tile-based graphics are available.

You can install it with this command:

sudo apt-get install nethack-x11

linux-games-mud

If you prefer role-playing with other people, but you don’t have a lot of computing power, then you might want to check out the original MMORPGs – MUDs. The website Mud Connector lists hundreds of listings. You can telnet into them but a better option is to use a client. They can do things like remember usernames and passwords for you. A good one to start with on Linux is KildClient:

sudo apt-get install kildclient

linux-games-if

Yes, interactive fiction and text adventure games are still around. And they’re even better than you might remember from back in the ’80s. Although no professional developers are creating them, there’s an enthusiastic amateur community of interactive fiction authors on the Web, and even an annual competition. There are a number of games listed on the Interactive Fiction Database, in a variety of formats. One of the most popular is Z-Machine, which was the format used by Infocom’s classic text adventures of the ’80s.

A popular Z-machine client is Frotz, which runs in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install frotz

One of the most intriguing IF games is Emily Short’s “Galatea“, where you have conversation with a living statue.

linux-games-bsd

It seems that where computers go, games follow. This was true even in the ’70s and ’80s. Games have had a long tradition in Unix culture. Unix was even created to play a game, known as Space Travel. At UC Berkeley. The programmers working on BSD, or the Berkeley Software Distribution, when they weren’t working on the implementation of TCP/IP that’s used almost everywhere, created a bunch of fun games. Some of them include “Robots“, where you try to out-maneuver robots trying to kill you, “Adventure“, one of the original text adventure games, and various board and card games. Some of these inspired the modern graphical counterparts included with modern distros.

You can install it in Ubuntu using this command:

sudo apt-get install bsdgames

Stella Berzerk screenshot

Although emulators require more horsepower than the original hardware, most recent computers can run them easily. They’re available for just about any game console or computer ever made. Some of the previous ones we’ve covered include Stella and DOSBox. If you’re a fan of graphical adventure games, you should check out ScummVM.

You can install it in Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install scummvm

This article should give you a taste of what’s available, but it’s only scratching the surface. You might want to explore your package manager and see what you can find. And if you found one, do share with us in the comments.