The Pi Store was added to Raspbian at the end of 2012, and it serves as a portal for developers to share their games, applications, tools and tutorials with the rest of the Pi community. One of the popular categories in the store is Games, and at launch, the Pi store included classic games like Freeciv and OpenTTD. These games are still very popular as are Open Arena and The Little Crane That Could.
To install a game from the Pi Store, double-click on the “Pi Store” icon on the Raspbian desktop. Click the Games tab and find the game you want to install. To see the most popular games, use the “Sort by” drop down list and select “Most Played.” Click “Free Download” to start the installation process. You will need a Pi Store account to download the game. If you haven’t previously logged in, you will need to enter your username and password before you can continue.
Here is a quick review of the top games that are available for the Raspberry Pi:
OpenTTD is a simulation game based on the popular Microprose game “Transport Tycoon Deluxe.” It sticks as close as it can to the original game, but at the same time OpenTTD has some new features including bigger maps (up to 64 times in size) and a multiplayer mode for up to 255 players. There are new things you can build in the game including canals, shiplifts and aqueducts, plus there are some interesting new innovations like the ability to bribe the town authority!
As with many simulation games, there is a learning curve, and to get the most from the game, you need to master the essentials and then invest lots of hours to build up your world.
The Little Crane That Could
In this game, you control a little crane and need to perform certain tasks before you progress to the next level. The 3D graphics are simple but more than sufficient. You can control the viewpoint by using the mouse, and the crane is controlled with the cursor keys. The first task is to parallel park the crane in a space. Then you need to learn how to manipulate the crane by picking up a ball and dropping it into a basketball hoop. At each level you are given progressively harder tasks to perform as you learn what this little crane can do.
Freeciv is a turn-based multiplayer empire-building strategy game. The idea is to build a space faring high tech civilization from the humble origins of a stone age tribe! The game is loosely based on Civilization I and II from Microprose. Like OpenTTD, there is a learning curve, and newcomers need to learn quite a bit before they can make any progress in the game.
Once you have mastered the basics, you can then start the game for real and start to build your new civilization. The game play is involved, and you shouldn’t turn to Freeciv if you are looking for a quick bit of gaming while you are waiting for the tea to brew.
Open Arena is a first-person multiplayer shooter based on the 3D engine from Id Software’s Quake 3. The game is based around the deathmatch concept where you fight other players (human or AI controlled), and there is no story or levels to follow per se. The question is, how well does the little ARM processor in the Raspberry Pi handle all that 3D? The answer is, surprisingly well! OK, it isn’t going to win any speed records, but the game is quite playable considering the hardware. Like Iridium Rising, Open Arena isn’t a desktop game, it actually runs from the command line and takes full control of the screen allowing the game to get the most from the CPU and GPU. If you are in the desktop when you launch the game, your Pi will actually reboot and then automatically start the game. Once you exit, you are back to the normal command line.
The Raspberry Pi isn’t a gaming powerhouse, and compared to other platforms, even to smartphones and tablets, the Pi does lack in performance. However if you have a Pi, then using it to play games is very possible and can be fun.
If you have any recommendations for other Raspberry Pi games, then please tell us about it via the comments section below.