Linux has a huge library of free games many of which are released under an open source license. The vast majority of these games are athestically pleasing. Popular games often have full motion video, vector graphics, 3D graphics, realistic 3D rendering, animation, texturing, a physics engine, and much more. Early computer games did not have these graphic techniques. The earliest video games were text games or text-based games that used text characters rather than vector or bitmapped graphics.
Text-based games are often forgotted and neglected in the Linux press. However, there are some real ASCII gems out there waiting to be explored which are immensely addictive and great fun to play.
The idiom ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ can be extended to ‘don’t judge a computer game by its graphics’. Whilst the games featured in this article have extremely basic graphics, they have many redeeming qualities beyond evoking fond memories of the early days of computer gaming.
The purpose of this article is to identify our favourite ASCII based games. There are no fancy graphics here, just great gameplay coupled with the urge of always having just one more play.
Now let’s scrutinize the 8 games at hand. For each game we have compiled its own portal page, providing screenshots of the game in action, a full description of the game, with an in-depth analysis of the features of the game, together with links to relevant resources and reviews.
ASCII Linux Games
Ascii Sector Roguelike variant of Wing Commander: Privateer
ASCIIpOrtal Enter the test chambers for a non-euclidean good time
DoomRL Fast and furious coffee-break Roguelike game
Dwarf Fortress Extremely addictive rogue-like ASCII game
NetHack Classic dungeon crawling
0verkill Bloody 2D action deathmatch-like game in ASCII-art
Angband Single-player dungeon exploration game
Empire Multi-player, client/server Internet based war game