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Tux Games: Super Tux Review

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Lumpy Space Princess OHMYGLOB

Currently Listening: Donkey Kong Country Cartoon

Maybe it's just because I've been spending a lot of time on the fediverse lately, which is usually embraced by folks who like open source alternatives to things, but it seems like Linux gaming has really been taking off recently. The Steam Deck, of course, has helped with some of this, due to the fact that it's Linux-based, but we're all becoming more mobile and remote these days, and making software that's OS-independent is more important now than ever.

But in the past, when it came to gaming, Linux users didn't have access to nearly the same array of options that the rest of us folks have. Because of that, many game makers created Linux-friendly clones of popular types of games, which has led to a fun collection of what I'd like to call "Tux Games."

Tux, the Linux mascotEach of these PC games features the adorable little penguin mascot, named Tux, who was created in 1996 by artist Larry Ewing as an entry to a logo contest for the open-source operating system. Surprisingly, he didn't actually win the contest, though clearly he won hearts, since he was remembered and named shortly after by the Linux community, and has been used unofficially as a brand mascot ever since.

As a result, he's been used as the main character in a number of games for the system, and I'm going to be looking over and reviewing them here. There are a quite a few of them, so I'm going to break them up into separate posts, and today's entry is for a 2D platforming game called Super Tux.

Screenshot from one of the first levels of Super Tux, in an ice world with he fireball upgrade

Click below to read the whole thing!
Super Tux is a 2D platformer in the style of Super Mario and has been in development since 2004. It's completely free and open source, and comes with a level editor and a ton of user levels that can be downloaded right within the program. I've had a lot of fun on this one, because who doesn't love Mario? It's a proven formula that happens to be a lot of fun. I downloaded and ran this game on my 14-year old development laptop, and it runs great without any issues. Really impressive!

Screenshot taken from World 1 map, after I had gotten to the 2nd level

There's both a story and user level mode, and they'll both take you to their own overworld that links all the sub-levels together, a la Super Mario World on the SNES. Tux can get the same types of upgrades as Mario, but also has access to a few other things, like levers, buttons, and trampolines, that can serve to make the levels more interesting.

Here's an example of a new mechanic: an elevator on the right side of the screen is toggled by a switch offscreen

Level Design

I feel like this one is difficult to get wrong, due to the simplicity of the genre, but I have nothing bad to say about the level design. It's not overly difficult, but ramps up slowly as you play through the worlds, and I've really enjoyed going through them. The game uses checkpoints in keeping with the style, so there is some replaying through sections when you die, but the levels are all short enough that it didn't grate on my nerves like some other games do. Some sections I had to replay several times, but not to the point that it became annoying. In fact, if you visit the official website, there's a Level Guide that advises against making levels too frustrating, so this clearly isn't aimed at the kaizo group. And kaizo games are great, of course, but I like that this one is aimed at general audiences.

User made level in the shape of a pirate ship

This of course only pertains to the officially added levels, not the user made ones.


There are several different world tile sets included with the game, and they are all bright, colorful, and easy to distinguish between. To me, it seems a little reminiscent of RPGMaker artwork and/or old flash games, only higher in quality, and to be honest I find that kind of artwork really charming and cute.

A level from the Christmas level pack. There's a giant Christmas tree in the background!


You'll be pretty comfortable with this if you're used to playing old platformers, but I will say that the controls can be a bit "slidey" at times. At first I thought this was because most of the game takes place in snowy ice biomes, but there are a few others as well, and the slidey mechanics stayed, making it difficult for me to land on small platforms at times. Still, I managed to get used to it and I've found it bothers me less the more I play.

I will say that my old laptop doesn't work too well with controllers in general, so I've not tested the game with anything besides my keyboard, unfortunately. If I ever get around troubleshooting my old drivers, I may give a go at that point in time.

An example of an info box in the game describing how switches work


The sound and music aren't awful, but they are a bit kitschy, and won't be loved by some. My teenaged son turned his nose up at the sound effects and said they were corny and cartoonish, but I kind of like them. The music isn't my favorite—it's a little repetitive, and the instrumentation leaves a bit to be desired. This is clearly a personal project, though, so I have no complaints. Personally, I listen to a lot of podcasts while I'm playing games, so music and sound don't really break the experience for me.


The level editor means you can have fun with this one for a long time. There are a ton of levels that come with the game by default, but by clicking the "Add ons" option in the menu, you can download 23 different level packs, each with their own overworld to play through. I downloaded a few of these in my game, and although they're not officially made by the devs, they're still really fun and well made.

A level from the extra Halloween levels, with spooky trees and fog

Overall Impression: I really like this game, and plan on keeping it installed so that I can play through all the levels. I'll probably even dive into the level editor at some point and see how creative I can get with it. I'm looking forward to seeing how development goes and what types of things they'll add, but to be honest I'm pretty happy with where it stands now and feel it's a fully featured game the way it currently stands.
Time to Complete: I'm not great at 2D platformers, so I'd say several weeks of playtime for me. Since I don't play every hour of the day, it will take me quite a while to beat all the levels that come in the basic game, let alone the user-made levels.
You'll Like This If You Like: Super Mario World, Super Mario Maker, 2D Platformers and the like

Download the game here


The Frugal Blog on : A look at my old laptop

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I've mentioned that I have an old laptop that I do most of my web development on in various places, but I thought it'd be nice if I went over its specs and why I use it. I think it's pretty important to minimize the amount e-waste I generate for a lot


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Bekah on :

This is a test comment--I'm trying out some new antispam measures since I've really been hit with spam lately. None of them get through moderation, but I'm getting tired of having to delete them all.

Anyway, I just want to make sure it doesn't mess up the commenting experience for actual users :-)

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