Highly Addictive Puzzle/Arcade Games for Linux

When I have a few spare time or just want to loosen up a bit, I always indulge myself into playing some computer games. Since most of my extra time is very limited, I usually pick those that are less stressful and less time consuming. I go for the old-fashioned and graphics card-friendly puzzle and arcade games. Call me boring, but these stuff are really addictive and highly entertaining. So, what are these games?

If you are using Linux, some of these games are probably included out-of-the box with your distro. If you are using Windows, better tell your boss to switch to Linux if you don't want to be stuck to playing Solitaire and Minesweeper your entire office life. Now let's cut to the chase already, here are the games that I'm talking about:

Rocks'n'Diamonds is a scrolling tile-based computer puzzle game that can be described as a combined Boulder Dash, Supaplex, Emerald Mine, and Sokoban clone. It is a freeware and open source video game created by Artsoft Entertainment and designed by Holger Schemel. It is one of the earliest games available for Linux, and it also runs on MS-DOS, Windows, Unix, and Mac OS X systems. There are currently more than 50 000 levels available on Rocks'n'Diamonds-related pages. Rocks'n'Diamonds can also read native Emerald Mine levels, and later on it will also be able to read other native level formats.

Crack Attack!
Crack Attack! is a free OpenGL game created by Daniel Nelson based on Tetris Attack for the Super Nintendo. It is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X licensed under the GNU General Public License. The Mac OS X version of the game was ported by Jeff Disher, but another port of the game for Mac was done by Daniel Aarno, who has named his version Mac Crack Attack!. Aarno's Mac Crack Attack! includes features such as sound and full screen mode, while Disher's port does not. It is included in all major Linux distributions.

Since version 1.1.10, the project has been adopted by Andrew Sayman, who has released the latest version of the game (1.1.14) for Linux and Windows. The latest version includes sound by Miguel Ángel Vilela, extremely low graphics mode, VS computer modes and other various bug fixes.

The name was chosen to indicate the game's addictive nature, referring to the drug crack cocaine. This is borne out by the experience of users.

Enigma is a computer game based on Oxyd, and is released under the GPL. Its predecessor, Oxyd, was a very popular video game when it was commercially available. Enigma continues to be very popular as an open source multi-platform derivative of Oxyd now that Oxyd is no longer maintained. The open source Enigma has been widely praised in reviews.

Landscapes usually take the form of logic puzzles, although frequently, dexterity with the pointing device (the only form of input) is also required. The landscapes are generated by scripts in the Lua programming language, making the creation of complicated landscapes relatively easy. A level editor exists, but it is currently not used very much.

As well as the 563 standard landscapes designed for it, Enigma also includes 20 tutorial landscapes, 149 landscapes adapted from various Sokoban games, 151 landscapes adapted from the Oxyd games, and 91 landscapes adapted from Oxyd's predecessor, Esprit. This makes a total of 974 landscapes.

The difficulty of solving all the levels in the game in both modes is as difficult as the most difficult level in the game. Due to this, a few levels become major obstacles for players wishing to solve all levels. As of now, only one person has managed to do so.

Frozen Bubble
Frozen Bubble is a free software Puzzle Bobble style computer game which is available on several operating systems including Linux, Windows, Mac OS X and the Symbian Series 60 line of smartphones. There is also a single player Java applet version.

The original Frozen Bubble was written in Perl by Guillaume Cottenceau, and uses the Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) library. The game features 100 levels and includes a level editor. Like many popular free software/open source games, it features penguins a la Tux, who in this game shoot the coloured frozen bubbles to form groups of the same colour. Such groups disappear and the object is to clear the whole screen in this way before a bubble passes a line at the bottom.

Version 2.0 offers multiplayer play via LAN and Internet. Two players can also play on the same computer. This version is presently for Linux only. The chain reaction mode (where fallen bubbles will zoom back up to complete triplets, possibly falling more bubbles and thus creating more combos) is also available in network mode as of Version 2.0, and greatly changes the mechanics of the game.

Pingus is a free computer game inspired by Lemmings and created by Ingo Ruhnke. It features penguins instead of lemmings.,, Unix Review and other publications have reviewed it favorably.

Work on the game began in 1998. This game is the first Game of the Month by The Linux Game Tome, which has revamped such games as SuperTux, Super TuxKart, and Lincity. The first post-GotM version 0.6 was released in 2003 for Linux featuring new levels and a level editor.

Pingus has only 22 tutorial levels accessible from the GUI, all with a winter theme. However there are many more levels included with the game not accessible from its GUI, some with entirely different graphics. To play a certain levels the location of the filename has to be given as commandline parameter. Example:
pingus /usr/share/games/pingus/data/levels/playable/cages.pingus

SolarWolf is an updated clone of the 1983 action/arcade game Solar Fox for the Atari 2600 produced by CBS Electronics which was itself adapted from the 1981 arcade game of the same name.

SolarWolf has been described by GameSpy as a "strange hybrid of games. It's part Pac-Man, part Q-Bert, and part Dodgeball."

The object of the game is to pilot your ship with the arrow keys across a rectangular play area to collect all of the cubes in the level. However, while doing this, four enemy fighters (one of each side of the screen), will launch fireball-like rockets at you; if hit, you will lose a ship. If all your ships are lost, you will lose the game. Each level has a timer on the right side; should the player complete the level before the timer runs out, they can skip the next level entirely.

As the game goes on, more challenges emerge. The enemies fire more rapidly, obstacles such as asteroids and spike mines appear (colliding with either costs the player a ship), as well as the introduction of yellow blocks (which require two passes to collect) and red blocks (requiring three passes). Later in the game, a hidden spike mine may emerge from any yellow or red block.

Biniax is a mixture of puzzle game and arcade game. The game concept does not copy existing gameplay even if it inherits somehow Domino concept of pairs. In 2007 Biniax-2 sequel of the game was released with more polished look and feel and different game modes - arcade, tactic and multiplayer.

The gaming field is 5x7 pairs of elements. Every pair consists of two elements out of four possible types (colors). Player is a single element, which can move on empty fields or can take a pair, if the player's element is present in the pair. If a pair is taken, the player's element is swapped to the other element of the pair. The field is scrolling down on time event or after certain moves are spend (depending on the game mode). Game over is when there is no move for the player.


  1. AnonymousMay 02, 2008

    I love these games especially Crack Attack! and Enigma. By the way, the download link for Crack Attack is:

  2. AnonymousMay 04, 2008

    Nice article. I'll be trying some of these. Thanks. Frozen Bubble looks very similar to the old shareware game Snood.
    You should add "Fish Fillets NG" to your list. It is a really great open source puzzle game.

  3. AnonymousMay 05, 2008

    Please include the incredible Balazar Brother on that lot. Who would have thought you could have a brilliant game using only TWO keys to control two characters?

  4. Empire (PC XT) -> Civilization (i386) -> FreeCiv - 10+ years of experience!

    Sopwith (PC XT) -> Sopwith (Linux) - 10+ years of experience!

    Rogue (RT11) -> NetHack(Linux) - 20 years of experience!