One of the major disadvantages of Linux is that it won’t let you play most Windows games. On the other hand, lots of great free Linux games have been developed over the last couple of years. Here’s a list of some entertaining Linux games I’ve come across so far. And remember, you can enlarge any of these screenshots by clicking on them.

Nexuiz is definitely not my cup of tea, but this game goes to show that “free” does not necessarily mean “bad graphics”. I don’t know about your computer, but my computer was not powerful enough to make the game run smoothly. (The game requires a GeForce 2 or an equivalent, an 800 MHz processor and 512MB RAM.) You can play the game in single player mode as well as multiplayer mode. Before downloading, check if your system meets the requirements as the download (273MB) may take a while to finish. And for all you Windows users out there: Nexuiz is available for all three of the major operating systems. If this is the sort of games you like, I suggest that you also check out Sauerbraten.
Genre: first-person shooter | Website | More screenshots

Once you’ve seen a screenshot of this game, it’s pretty obvious that this is a Super Mario clone. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth playing. In addition to ice cubes – obviously representing Super Mario turtles – and walking snow balls, there are also some new enemies such as a creature that resembles a bird (see screenshot). There are two versions of the game. There’s a stable version (0.1.3) and there’s an unstable version (0.30). Version 0.30 introduces the new island shown in the screenshot. I’ve spent hours playing SuperTux 0.30 and the game never crashed, so you might want to download the unstable version instead of the stable version. A version for Windows and Mac is also available.
Genre: platform | Website | More screenshots

I’m not a big fan of racing games, but this one’s different. This game doesn’t involve cars competing to finish first. Instead, you have to race your way to the bottom of the hill while collecting as many fish as possible. If you’re too slow or if you fail to bring x amount of fish to the finish line, you lose a life. Not that entertaining, but still worth mentioning because of its nice graphics. I think it’ll keep you busy for maybe ten minutes but then again, as I said, I’m not too keen about racing games. If you go look for this game in Ubuntu’s software library, you have to search for PlanetPenguin Racer instead of TuxRacer. I won’t get into details, but that’s because there has been a lot of mess surrounding the name of the game.
Genre: racing | Website | More screenshots

Frozen BubbleFrozen
You don’t know it, but you’ve probably played this game before. Does Dynomite or Snood ring a bell perhaps? All these games are based on Puzzle Bobble, a game that was developed by Taito way back in 1994. Anyway, version 2 introduces a new game mode that will let you play against people all over the world. However, there were no players online to test this mode while I was writing this article. Pengupop does a better job when it comes to playing Puzzle Bobble over the internet. While the graphics are not that bad, I liked the graphics in version 1 better. This game will help you kill some time, but it gets boring after a while. Version 1 was also available for Windows and Mac OS X, but it looks like they’re currently unavailable.
Genre: puzzle | Website

Blob Wars: Metal Blob SolidBlob
They say looks are deceiving. In this case, it certainly is. Although Blob Wars looks like it was developed during the Windows 95 era, it sure is fun. You have to make your way through the game as you kill enemies (with optional blood and gore!), collect keys and, most importantly, save your friends. The levels are challenging and near the end of each level, I always realize that I still need to rescue a couple of blobs to complete the level. Here’s the challenging part: nearly every level is built in a way so that there are more blobs than you need to rescue, but you can’t rescue some of these blobs. This makes it hard to figure out which blobs you have to rescue to complete the level. Blob Wars is available for a huge number of platforms, including Linux, Mac OS X, Amiga, Xbox, BeOS and Dreamcast but… there is no Windows version.
Genre: platform/action | Website | More screenshots

Pathological is a weird game. You have to fill all the wheels on your screen at least once each. To fill them, you have to group four balls of the same color in the one wheel. You can move balls to other wheels using the pipes. Does that sound complicated? Well, it isn’t. Once you get the hang of it, the rules will make sense. Nearly every level introduces a new element, such as one-way pipes or color-specific pipes (see screenshot). Most people will probably get bored after a few levels but if you’re into this kind of stuff, it can be very addicting. The game comes with a set of fifty levels, although the chance of you making it to the 50th level is very small as things get very difficult around level 30.
Genre: puzzle | Website | More screenshots

For Ubuntu users
If you’re using Ubuntu, you’ll be happy to know that all of these games can be installed using the Add/Remove tool in the Applications menu. This means that you won’t have to compile the game manually. Note: SuperTux unstable (0.3) is not available from the Add/Remove menu, but you can install it from the command line if you wish. SuperTux stable (0.1.3) can be installed using the installer tool as usual. And for you command line junkies out there, here’s a list of commands you can use to install these games using the terminal:

Game Command
Nexuiz sudo apt-get install nexuiz
SuperTux (stable) sudo apt-get install supertux-stable
SuperTux (unstable) sudo apt-get install supertux
Tux Racer sudo apt-get install planetpenguin-racer
Frozen Bubble sudo apt-get install frozen-bubble
Blob Wars: Metal Blob Solid sudo apt-get install blobwars
Pathological sudo apt-get install pathological