SuperTuKart, the Linux native MarioKart-esque racing game has seen a major overhaul in its newest release, version 0.9, giving it a major visual and under-the-hood update, which makes the best Linux racer worthy of its fame once again.
Naturally, SuperTuxKart will not offer the high-end gaming experience you might find on consoles or gaming PCs, but for a Linux-only game, the new OpenGL Shader based rendering engine, named “Antarctica,” will deliver many a pleasant surprise. The new look is so successful that lead artist Samuncle has created a YoutTube trailer for the game:
Besides the better graphics, the game includes two brand new, high-quality tracks that make full use of the new engine, and the old ones have also been significantly improved.
Of course the better visuals come at a cost. The system requirements are significantly higher than that of the previous version, and if you set all effects to maximum, the game play will feel choppy even on the higher end of middle grade video cards. The minimum requirements are OpenGl 3.1, and one of the following:
- ATI/AMD Radeon HD 3650
- Intel HD 3000
- NVIDIA GeForce 8600
However, these will allow you to play the game at minimum settings only.
The new version now features an online login system, which allows you to save your scores and compare it with those of friends and other contestants. According to the developers’ blog, this is only a first step towards a full on-line racing experience which is certainly something to look forward to in later releases of the 0.9 series.
To access online accounts, you must first enable Internet access. In “Options -> User Interface,” click the check box next to “Connect to the Internet.”
Then you can set up your online account.
Installing SupertuxKart is easy. Distro-specific download packages can be found at the official download page. If you run a newer version of Ubuntu, the full game static binary download from the top of that page will run without problems. Once you have downloaded it, you need to unpack it and run the starter script:
It is probably a good idea to set up a desktop or tray launcher icon pointing to this file.
You will have the usual game modes: Story mode, Single player and Multi-Player.
In story mode, your hero’s mission will be to save Gnu from becoming dinner by defeating his captor in a series of races and challenges. You will have to choose your missions (Greek columns in pink-purple bubbles) using your racing vehicle. As you complete missions, more and more will become unlocked and available for playing until you finally face off against your main opponent and get a chance to rescue Gnu.
In single player mode, you can play a normal race where all bumps, weapons, traps, and speed-ups can be used (these you would pick up as you go); “Time Trial”, where there’s only you and your driving skills against time, no power ups or traps available; “Follow the Leader”, where you are challenged to stay behind the leading cart at all times; and “Easter egg hunt” mode, where you can roam and explore tracks to pick up all Easter eggs hidden in it.
Other than that, it is exactly what you’d expect: You race against other carts or time in single tracks or one of the many Grand-Prix settings while using all sorts of power-ups to your advantage, including exploding cupcakes and giant bowling balls, as you try to dodge banana skins and anything your opponents might throw at you. Literally.
SuperTuxKart is easily one of the best native Linux racers ever, which has just gotten better. With so many planned improvements in future releases, such as online racing, the one thing we can hope for is that the developers and designers will take the time and upgrade the race cart sound FX as well so that it will not sound like you are playing on a Commodore 64 in 1991.
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