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“There are no commercial games for Linux.” “OBJECTION!” [Objection!]
Aug 18th, 2009 by Eric

OBJECTION!

Hi, I’m Eric and I’m a guest contributor to Dan’s blog. I plan on starting a column on Dan’s blog called “Objection” where I debunk rumors. I’m not sure how often this column will appear, but I’m sure we’ll get it figured out with time.

Today I wanted to debunk the rumor that there are no commercial games for Linux. First off, a really insanely quick primer. Linux (aka GNU/Linux to some) is a kernel (brains of an operating system) that is paired with a bunch of programs to make a fully-functional operating system. A Linux operating system package is called a distribution and a distribution can be compared to Microsoft’s Windows or Apple’s OSX. Linux is free software, but that’s not the same as freeware as in that video game you downloaded off the ‘net last night that was fun, but over quickly. Although Linux is often given away for free, the free in free software refers to the freedom to do whatever you want with it. You can take all the code and change it and get new functionality. The duality of these attributes leads most people to make the following generalizations about Linux users: they are cheap and they are hackers.

Therefore, some major game publishers have written off Linux because they assume no one using Linux would actually pay for a game. This turns out to be very wrong, as we will see. Still, it is true that most major games are not developed for Linux. You won’t see a Linux version of The Sims 3, Red Alert 3, or Starcraft 2. Well, you won’t see Starcraft 2 for any computer system at this point. These can be run on Linux with some massaging, but that’s a topic for another post. So does that mean you’re left running clones of games from the 80s/90s?

Man, this game feels really, really familiar.  I feel like humming a russian song, but I don't know why...

Man, this game feels really, really familiar. I feel like humming a russian song, but I don't know why...

OK, I guess penguins make about as much sense as bubble-blowing dinosaurs, right?

OK, I guess penguins make about as much sense as bubble-blowing dinosaurs, right?

No! There are some independent games producers that have chosen to create native Linux games with great success. First of all, there’s 2d Boy’s “Word of Goo“. Now these guys are over-achievers because they have created versions of this game for Windows, Linux, Macintosh, and the Nintendo Wii.

The World of Goo

The World of Goo

World of Goo is an awesome and unique game whose closest comparison is Lemmings. And it’s really only like Lemmings in the sense that you have creatures you have to get into an exit pipe (in Lemmings it was a house). Whereas the major challenge in Lemmings is that the little guys keep walking non-stop, the major challenge in World of Goo is physics. Basically you have goo balls which can be arranged in a lattice structure (as seen in the above screenshot). You have to create a structure that will get you from the beginning of the map to the pipe at the other end. While this may sound simple at first, it’s made hard by the fact that the bonds between the goo balls have a jello-like consistency to them. If you build out to the right, the structure will start bending over to the right. It also sways in the wind. The amazing playability from this game comes in the fact that each level is unique (although your skills build up) and every few levels you’re introduced to a new type of goo ball. Maybe this one can be detached or that one only needs one bond between balls. And the environment has all sorts of hazards to kill your little goo balls. It’s a very fun game, it only costs $20 and it works perfectly on Linux. I played it on my old Fedora (Linux) computer which had the AMD equivalent of a Pentium 4 and a 128 MB graphics card. With only a few audio glitches (and they BARELY happened), the game worked perfectly. I’ve also run it on my laptop with Crunch Bang Linux and whatever crap graphics card the laptop has and it worked perfectly with only a slight slowdown in one scene with hundreds of goo balls.

One important thing to mention, the developers had the following to say on their blog: “More copies of the game were sold via our website on the day the Linux version released than any other day. This day beat the previous record by 40%. There is a market for Linux games after all :)”

The other major indie game I know of that’s produced with a native Linux binary is On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, the Penny-Arcade game.

A game with an insanely long title, but just as much fun:  On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness

A game with an insanely long title, but just as much fun: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness

I’ve played games like this one before, but I can’t quite remember them, so I don’t know what to compare them to.  It’s basically an RPG (NOT a jRPG, but not too far from that concept).  It has all of the awesome hilarity of Penny Arcade.  So if you like PA, you’ll like this game.  If you hate PA, you’ll hate this game.  It’s a testament to the fact that the guys behind PA know their audience that there are binaries for Linux, Mac, and Windows.  Try out the free demo and see if you don’t end up paying for the full game.

So, you see, there are commercial games available for Linux.  Even games like Unreal Tournament usually have a Linux binary.  These games are amazing and worth checking out.  Let me end by saying once again that there the commercial games that don’t work natively on Linux are legion.  But the fact is that more independent game publishers (which is where all the cool stuff is nowadays) are starting to recognize Linux as a good potential games-buying space  Especially now that the market is so sparse, Linux users will buy almost anything you put out there.  So having a Linux computer doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing on ALL games.  And, although it’s a topic for another day, there’s Wine for running some of the other games.

I hope you enjoyed, and until next time, this is Eric stealing the catchphrase, “OBJECTION!”

Bubble Bobble Plus [Big N]
May 28th, 2009 by Dan

Bubble Bobble is back

Remember back when I wrote about my favorite 8-bit era games? Well the next day I wrote about a runner-up, the classic Bubble Bobble. Astute readers may remember me stating:

“If there were ever a game that needed a DS or XBL update, this would undoubtedly be in the top ten list”

It’s like I’m Nostradamus or something, because there will also be an XBL remake called Bubble Bobble Neo! coming out sometime this year.

The WiiWare version is what I’m focusing on right now, so here’s a quick feature breakdown:

– 4-player mode
– 100 classic stages
– 100 new stages
– Updated, harder versions of some of the classic stages
– Two DLC packs containing 50 very hard stages in each

I’ve gotta say, this is a pretty huge remake and I hope it does well this week. Bubble Bobble was one of the best old games out there with its simple gameplay, even though I never saw the ending, good or bad. Here’s to transmuting monsters into food!

Embedded Reporter: Rockman 9
Nov 3rd, 2008 by Dan

Deep from the trenches, it’s time for your Monday video feature: Embedded Reporter.

Why this? I can’t resist Rockman music!

Enjoy.

Embedded Reporter: Retro-Hard
Oct 6th, 2008 by Dan

Deep from the trenches, it’s time for your Monday video feature: Embedded Reporter.

Mega Man 9 is HARD.

People say, “That’s the idea. It’s supposed to be Retro like the days when games were tough.” Let me tell you a secret about the old Mega Man games: they were NOT this hard. Aside from Quick Man (the magma plumes were mad cheap), I could more or less reliably kill almost all of the Mega Man 2 bosses. At this point, I’ve still only killed Galaxy Man and Concrete Man. Funny thing about that is that both of those Robot Masters are more or less the easiest in the game. As hard as maybe this video looks, this is an easy stage.

The real point I’m trying to make here is that while MM has always been hard, it was never as insidiously hard as this game is. There are enemies who jump up specifically over gaps, as you see, enemies who pop out of nowhere to grab you and drag you into spikes, and tough enemies with hard pattern recognition required to defeat them. It’s abuse to play, but it’s so fun.

Game Overview E3: Now That’s Dedication
Jul 18th, 2008 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

I’ve talked about how dedicated Capcom is to the old-school aesthetic of Mega Man 9, but just how dedicated are they? Below is the “boxart” for the DLC game:

Mega Man 9 Box ArtSee More Mega Man 9 Box Art at IGN.com

If you remember back to my 8-Bit All-Stars post, you might remember me talking about the Mega Man 2 boxart as being nonsensical for the anime-cutesy style of the game. This is such a return to the old school that it makes me kind of pumped for this game.

I know I said I’d have E3 updates as exciting things happened, but I’ve failed to see much that excited me in this show. That being said, I will close off with a particular trailer that does pique my interest:

Big N, M$, Sony: Mega Man 9
Jul 12th, 2008 by Dan

If you read my 8-bit All-Stars feature you know I love me some Mega Man 2. There was just something sublimely perfect about that game with its polished level design and great boss battles.

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a real sequel to a Mega Man game. The last canonical MM game was MM 8 for the PSX in 1997, with the X series taking over with about eight installments that have also stopped coming out.

Imagine the world’s surprise when Mega Man 9 all of a sudden showed up on an ESRB classification website. Could the beloved franchise be making a return in all of the splendor of the current generation’s technological advances? And then we saw the first screenshots and trailer…

Cue some controversy. I’d say that a large number of dedicated MM fanatics were happy with this new direction, but many were perplexed by Capcom’s choice to go way old school with this new installment. Personally, I’m a fan of the new direction. When you look at the disappointments that have been the more recent MM games, it seems clear that a conscious effort to get back to the roots is just what the series NEEDS. Not to mention the fact that old school, 8-bit Mega Man music is great.

It’s not exactly a straight NES-style game though, it does have some technological advances. If you look closely you’ll see that the game does have some fancy-pants effects that weren’t possible on the NES. Personally, I’ll be happy if the game manages to not drop framerate when a bunch of enemies appear onscreen.

Another neat little change in the Mega Man conventions is that MM 9 will feature the first female robot. Splash Woman is the first non Man robot in series history. Some purists are very anti-Splash Woman, but I’m pro-female evil robot rights.

If I’m not mistaken, Mega Man 9 is slated for a Fall release on WiiWare, Xbox Live, and PSN.

Game Overview: WiiWare, MLB Power Pros 2008
May 16th, 2008 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

WiiWare

In a move that is still very confounding to me, Nintendo launched the WiiWare service this week with not even as much as a message in our collective Wii inboxes to tell us about the new game service. Of course, most game enthusiasts knew about it right away, but you’ve got to wonder if maybe publicizing the event a bit might have increased sales, right? Anyway, the WiiWare launch brought a bunch of games in the Xbox Live! Arcade and PSN fashion to the system including Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King.

That being the only WiiWare game I’ve downloaded so far (where’s Dr. Mario Online Rx?), it’s gonna be the only one I talk about. I’m about 75% of the way through the game, having played about 115 days of the kingdom simulator and I’d probably give it a thumbs-up to anyone who enjoys sims and enjoys the Final Fantasy universe. From the get go, understand that My Life as a King is not your typical FF game at all. You don’t actually fight monsters or control your adventurers. Instead, you build up your kingdom’s infrastructure and commission adventurers to go out and conquer the realm’s dungeons and monsters. At the end of each day you’ll receive a budget report and a report of everything that your adventurers did so that you can live the good, adventuring life vicariously. It definitely works as a game, but is a bit shallow as a sim. Then again, it’s a $15 game (with a whopping $25 in add-on DLC available) and looks quite nice on the system, albeit with a few framerate hitches. Unfortunately, you can’t preview WiiWare games, so be sure to read up on the game before you make a purchase.

MLB Power Pros 2008

So I’ve gone on and on about the new edition of MLB PP, but that’s not gonna stop me from talking about it a bit more today. IGN Wii posted about a hundred screenshots of the game in action, so we’re gonna take a look at a few.

New to this year’s edition of the MLB PP series is MyLife mode. Last year we had only the success mode, where you brought a college player through three seasons hoping to be drafted at some point. MyLife mode instead makes you a professional player as you go through his 20 year major league career. You’re not just limited to baseball, as you can see below:

MLB Power Pros 2008 ScreenshotSee More MLB Power Pros 2008 Screenshot at IGN.com

I suppose you also have to manage your player’s moods to stay in high spirits as well as train your player to keep him fit and improving in stats and abilities.

MLB Power Pros 2008 ScreenshotSee More MLB Power Pros 2008 Screenshot at IGN.com

You can even conduct interviews with sports reporters:

MLB Power Pros 2008 ScreenshotSee More MLB Power Pros 2008 Screenshot at IGN.com

Season mode appears to be back with a VERY similar interface to last year’s game:

MLB Power Pros 2008 ScreenshotSee More MLB Power Pros 2008 Screenshot at IGN.com

But it also seems to include a very neat “Expansion Team” mode that allows you to create two new teams to insert into the MLB lineup which seems really cool:

MLB Power Pros 2008 ScreenshotSee More MLB Power Pros 2008 Screenshot at IGN.com

Success mode is back with a AA team instead of a college team. I assume the goal is still to reach the Majors while wooing the ladies among other goals.

MLB Power Pros 2008 ScreenshotSee More MLB Power Pros 2008 Screenshot at IGN.com

MLB Power Pros 2008 ScreenshotSee More MLB Power Pros 2008 Screenshot at IGN.com

Hopefully we’ll be able to transfer old created players from last year’s game, but if not I’ll at least get a chance to make my created Dan not suck quite so much this time.

July can’t come soon enough, I honestly cannot wait

MLB Power Pros 2008 ScreenshotSee More MLB Power Pros 2008 Screenshot at IGN.com

MLB Power Pros 2008 ScreenshotSee More MLB Power Pros 2008 Screenshot at IGN.com

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