Eight affordable games from Ubuntu Software Center

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© Rafael Torres Castaño - 123RF.com

© Rafael Torres Castaño - 123RF.com

Exclusive Fun

Although distribution systems such as Steam are poised to attract more game developers to Linux, some commercial games are already only available from Software Center. We browsed through the offerings to present you with the eight most interesting and recommended ones.

Are you a puzzle fan, a button-masher, or an action freak? If so, you should definitely take a look at the commercial games in the Software Center. Unlike their free counterparts, they often provide professional looking graphics and more unusual game concepts. Purchasing them through Software Center has the advantage that all dependencies are resolved for you. Some games are even exclusive to Software Center, which currently applies to all the ones presented here: Broken Sword: Director's Cut, Capsized, Dear Esther, Edge, Gravi, Hotline Miami, Motorbike, and RC Mini Racers. These games cover a variety of genres and cost no more than US$ 10 apiece.

Expensive Losers

Just a year ago, Software Center had almost exclusively high-grade games for sale. Meanwhile, paid titles have shown up that you wouldn't even consider in their free, open source versions. With the purchasing platforms Desura [3] and Steam [4], Software Center has run into some powerful competition. Many games, such as the famous Portal [5], are distributed exclusively through Steam. Software Center seems to have lost the chance to book some big titles in that respect.

Before buying a games, peruse the developer's website first to get information, pictures, and videos. Also check the price carefully. Makers of the strategy game Eufloria HD, for example, ask for a whopping US$ 50 that you could spend with a few unthinking clicks [6]. Omni Systems seems to have set the price on purpose to deter buyers; supposedly, the game's development still has some way to go. It remains unclear why Omni Systems has the game in Software Center at all.

Broken Sword: Director's Cut

George Stobbart is enjoying his vacation in Paris at a quaint cafe when a clown darts in and out, and a massive bomb blast suddenly bursts the place apart. The result is a completely devastated cafe and one dead man. Because the police subsequently goes about their work incompetently, George takes matters into his own hands, with help from journalist Nicole Collard, who senses a big scoop (Figure 1).

Figure 1: At the beginning of Broken Sword: Director's Cut, protagonists Nico and George are reacting to the bomb blast in the Paris cafe. During conversations, the player chooses the appropriate topic by clicking an icon.

Why the clown stormed into the cafe and what role the Knights Templar play is revealed during the course of Broken Sword gameplay. The first version was released in 1996 for Windows. In the Software Center, the Revolution company is selling an overhauled Director's Cut that includes additional scenes. Among other changes, the player can now confer with Nico to find out just what happened before the explosion (Figure 2).

Figure 2: The Director's Cut version starts before the explosion in the cafe with Nico's coverage of a murder. Here Nico is investigating a broken window pane.

You can easily manipulate the two heroes with the mouse pointer through a lovingly drawn scene. Clicking an object provides or removes it from the character. The player has to solve numerous puzzles which, in turn, gradually drive the background story.

Broken Sword is one of the best known and most popular adventure games of all times. The Director's Cut graphics are still attractive, albeit extremely small or badly fuzzy on current monitors depending on the window size. The consistently logical puzzles and extremely suspenseful background story easily make up for it. By the way, if you already have the old Windows version, you can use ScummVM [1] to bring it to life and save yourself the US$ 5 for the Director's Cut version.


In the game Capsized, a spaceship is about to crash land; but, at the last second, some of the crew eject through escape capsules onto a densely forested planet. From there, the player takes control of the astronaut of Rescue Capsule 3. In the search for the other crew members, the player can have characters jumping and running through wonderfully drawn two-dimensional landscapes.

Many hostile creatures confront the crew. The astronaut initially can defend himself only with a simple pistol, albeit it with an unlimited supply of ammunition. Later, a kind of plasma rope can be used to swing across chasms (Figure 3) or pull boulders from cave entrances (Figure 4). Speaking of caves, some are illuminated only by the hero's flashlight, which can make orientation difficult. Throughout the game, the astronaut can pick up numerous other weapons, including a plasma cannon and a machine gun. Unlike standard weapons, however, they need constant ammunition changes, which the hero has to find and laboriously collect. Other useful items accompany the weapons, such as shields and jet packs, which the hero can use to fly through the air, provided the fuel for it was previously found.

Figure 3: Capsized: To get across the chasm …
Figure 4: … simply pull the boulder over with the plasma rope.

In the course of the game, special arcade modes appear. In these modes, you have to get along without weapons or fight approaching opponents. A multiplayer mode lets two players on the same screen try to eliminate one another.

Capsized is an action-packed jump-and-run game with huge, intricate levels, which are, however, often borrowed from other games. Developers Jesse McGibney and Lee Vermeulen create extremely detailed landscapes (Figure 5). Because of some particularly difficult to master sections, the US$ 10 game is aimed more at experienced or unflappable platform acrobats who enjoy exploring alien planets.

Figure 5: Capsize impresses with it huge, detailed landscapes, where enemies often lurk unseen. Can you distinguish the heroes from the natives?

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