Ascii Sector

21 Peerless ASCII Games

Linux has a raft of open source games. The vast majority of these games are atheistically pleasing. Popular games often have full motion video, vector graphics, 3D graphics, realistic 3D rendering, animation, texturing, a physics engine, and much more. Computer graphics have been advancing at a staggering pace. At the current rate of progress, in the next 10 years it may not be possible to distinguish computer graphics from reality.

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 forgotten and neglected. However, there are many ASCII gems out there waiting to be explored which are immensely addictive and great fun to play. The developers’ works featured in this article focus on content and fun gameplay.

The idiom ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ can be extended to ‘don’t judge a computer game by its graphics’. While 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 21 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
Curse of WarFast-paced action strategy game
Ascii SectorRoguelike variant of Wing Commander: Privateer
Cataclysm DDAPost-apocalyptic roguelike
Goblin HackThink NetHack, but faster and with fewer keys
ImperiumIntergalactic exploration, warfare, and economics
IntricacyGame of competitive puzzle-design
ASCIIpOrtalEnter the test chambers for a non-euclidean good time
DoomRLFast and furious coffee-break Roguelike game
BrogueDirect descendant of Rogue
Dwarf FortressExtremely addictive rogue-like ASCII game
DiabloRL"Unmake" of the popular Blizzard game Diablo 1
XorCursesRemake of XOR by Astral Software
NetHackClassic dungeon crawling
UnNetHackQuality variant of NetHack 3.4.3
0verkillBloody 2D action deathmatch-like game in ASCII-art
AngbandSingle-player dungeon exploration game
VMS EmpireSimulation of a full-scale war
EmpireMulti-player, client/server Internet based war game
nudokuSudoku on the terminal
MyManInspired by Namco's Pac-Man
vitetrisTetris clone

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Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, alternatives to Google, fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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