Take Me out to the Arcade

Ah, the video arcade. I'm sure I spent far too much of my youth popping quarters into video game machines (yes, kids, it used to cost a mere 25 cents to play a game). Nevertheless, there was a real flavor associated with the kind of games you found there. In the heyday of the arcade (sorry kids, it is over), games tended to be fast but easy to learn. You didn't need to spend a small fortune just to get used to what it was the game did. Things came at you, you zapped them. Or you got out of the way.

With your Linux system, the arcade experience is alive and well. Let's take a look at the sorts of things you have at your disposal.

Cubes and Things that Drop

One of the most enduring games of that period was something called Tetris. The concept was simple. Colored geometric patterns would fall from above, and as they fell, you would rotate the pieces so that they fit (like a jigsaw puzzle) into the bottom row. Fill a row, and the pieces disappear. Miss too many of the pieces, and the top crushes the bottom?you lose. As simple as it sounds, this is an amazingly addictive game idea, and your Linux distribution probably came with several games of this type. KSirtet (command name ksirtet) is just one such game and an excellent clone of the original. KSirtet (Figure 18-4) can be played with more than one player or against the computer. If you loved Tetris, you will love KSirtet.

Figure 18-4. KSirtet, a Tetris-like game.


Variations included with the kdegames package are KSmileTris (command name ksmiletris) and KFoulEggs (command name kfouleggs). Both follow similar concepts (dropping pieces that you rotate), but each provides interesting variations on the game.

One of my favorite games from the arcade days also had a very simple concept?blast big rocks heading in your direction into smaller and smaller rocks. Did I mention that you are in command of a spaceship and the rocks are asteroids? KAsteroids (command name kasteroids) is a wonderful update of the classic arcade game (Figure 18-5). Your spaceship and the oncoming asteroids are nicely rendered in 3D instead of the old vector graphics. Watch your fuel, your shields, and your back.

Figure 18-5. KAsteroids?break big rocks into smaller rocks.


Perhaps my favorite arcade-style game under Linux also happens to be one of the most addictive games I have ever run across. It is called Frozen-Bubble. This is a bright, beautiful, and colorful game with dozens of levels featuring a great musical soundtrack, cool sound effects, and at least one penguin. You'll just have to trust me on this one?this game is a must have, and no, age doesn't enter into it. Still with me? Here's the premise.

Frozen, colored bubbles are arranged in various patterns against a wall at the top of your screen. Some kind of hydraulic press behind the wall slowly pushes the bubbles toward you (Figure 18-6). Your job is to guide your cute little penguin gunner (so to speak) to aim the bubble launcher at the oncoming wall of bubbles. If three of more bubbles of the same color are together, fire a similarly colored bubble at that group, and the arrangement collapses. Destroy all the bubble groups, and you win that level. If any of the bubbles at the wall touch you, everything freezes over, and your penguin cries a river of tears. It's silly. It's fun. You are going to love it.

Figure 18-6. The incredibly addictive Frozen-Bubble.


Some Linux distributions do include Frozen-Bubble as part of the install, most notably Mandrake. If you don't find a copy on those CDs, head straight over to the main site at http://www.frozen-bubble.org/ and pick yourself up a copy. You will be happy you did.