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12 Open Source Games that Don't Suck

Open source rocks. A year or two ago I had no idea what was available out there for free…well, except for the torrent sites, not that I ever visited any of those. ๐Ÿ˜‰ From entire operating systems to just about any sort of application under the sun, you can find open source and/or free software. Not to mention other free fun stuff (like pr0n :p). Just finding www.openoffice.org was amazing for me, and 7-zip, and of course Firefox, and Thunderbird.. the list goes on, and I’m not including all the fun stuff I have found since I started using Linux.

This even includes games. I know what you’re thinking – “Nixie, free games usually suck!” Well, sometimes they do suck (No, that isn’t another porn reference), but sometimes they don’t. Here are some of the best open source/free games out there today:

(Note: Most of these games are available for all of Windows, Mac, and Linux, with very few exceptions)

Pingus – I admit it, I was addicted to Lemmings. I couldn’t help but get attached to the little guys, and I was really sad every time they kept dying (Like those poor little goo balls in World of Goo!). Now I can feed that addiction anew with Pingus – an open source Lemmings-like game where you have to save cute little penguins. I am sure that this was made by a Tux the penguin lover on Linux first, but it is also available for Windows.

SuperTuxKart – I was also addicted to Mario Kart, Mario Kart DS has contributed to my recent finger/wrist problems, and I even gush over Mario Kart love songs. SuperTuxKart isn’t Mario Kart, but it does have similar elements and is pretty good for an open source game. SuperTuxKart is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.

SuperTux – I don’t have to tell you that I was addicted to Super Mario Bros. I mention SuperTux here because of its inspiration from that game, but nothing will ever be like it…Except SMB 2, and SMB 3 of course. SuperTux also stars Tux the penguin and is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.


Freeciv and Freecol – These are open source clones of two of the best strategy games ever created, Civilization and Colonization by Sid Meier. Both are still under development but both have playable versions already released for Linux, Mac, and Windows.

Battle for Wesnoth – This is a turn-based fantasy war game. Unlike some of the great fantasy wargames of the past such as Sword of Aragon, in this game units are single, upgradeable creatures (rather than squads or battalions of creatures). Its gameplay is slightly like Heroes of Might & Magic, but it is a unique game and well worth playing if you enjoy turn-based strategy and have Linux, Mac, or Windows.


UFO: Alien Invasion – This is very much like the old turn-based strategy classic X-COM: UFO Defense. Players fend off alien attacks through a combination of strategic (research, economics) and tactical (squad-based fighting) gameplay. While not perfect, this game can rival some of its commercial contemporaries, all seeking the title of worthy successor to X-COM. It is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.

LinCity-NG – Like the classic city building game SimCity but with a twist.. you have to either create a sustainable economy or evacuate your citizens by spaceship. The game recently received a facelift and looks great. It is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.

FlightGear – This is a full-featured, open source flight simulator. It currently has about 15 fully implemented aircraft, with various others in different states of completion available for download. It has a detailed world and over 20,000 airports to explore, and is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.

MegaMek – This one is a little different from the others on the list, as it is a faithful computer version of a boardgame, BattleTech. All of the basic rules are implemented as well as much of the advanced rules, and multi-player is supported over TCP/IP. There is a meta-campaign available called MekWars where players take on the role of unit commanders. It is written entirely in Java so is platform-indepented (Linux, Mac, Windows).

Jagged Alliance 2 v1.13 – This real-time strategy, turn-based tactical combat hybrid defied attempts to assign it a genre, as it also incorporates RPG elements.. Its unique blend of strategic real-time gameplay, squad-level turn-based firefights and improvement of character level and skill over time made it an instant classic. One real key to its popularity has been the individual personalities of each hireable mercenary in the far-off land of Arulco as you attempt to save the native population from its oppressor, the tyrant Diedrianna. While not open-source, the game can be acquired for free on the internet, but I should warn you that there are legal battles underway to determine the course of the so-called abandonware games. In addition, a true open-source project called JA2 v1.13 (which considers itself a “modification of Jagged Alliance 2”) is actually a full-featured platform for allowing modification of the original game, and several great efforts have been released to both address bug still present in the system as well as tons of extra new features (each of which may be turned off and off). JA2 is available for Linux and Windows.

The Ur-Quan Masters – This is a direct port of the Star Control II space exploration game. The original game is available as well as several fan mixes and other art and contributions. You can check out the Linux, MAC, and Windows versions here.

There’s a good list to get you started, and remember children.. just because it is open source doesn’t mean it has to suck! Enjoy! ๐Ÿ˜›

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  • jayk1993

    UFO AI is a good game
    the soundtrack is just awsome

  • thanks.Great post.

  • Itโ€™s a racing game with several tracks and cars to choose from. The cars are all configured in xml files, so itโ€™s easy to go in and make tweaks to the various parameters of the cars. I like it very much. Thanks for sharing your article with us.

  • dabble

    JA2 is not open source, it is abandonware-with-published-source, thus any derivative works will have the same unclear license status. An another example is Homeworld.