Top 5 best (free) open source games

Why waste your money on expensive commercial games when you can play for free and if you’re so inclined dive into the code and modify the game to suit your exacting requirements? presents its selection of the most addictive fun and refined Open Source games for January 2008.

#1 Secret Maryo Chronicles

Taking inspiration from a certain classic sidescroller of yesteryear Secret Maryo Chronicles (SMC) is a captivating 2 dimensional platformer. Gorgeous graphics and interesting levels make for a refreshing take on Super Mario. Yes physics feel a little different to Super Mario but one gets used to it fairly quickly. SMC comes with an in-game editor – hit F8 to insert a graphic a sprite or change player starting position – and a large number of different levels and worlds. SMC is a highly polished game and is a blast to play especially for younger players.

There are some very cool powerups available to the player. The classic red mushroom makes Maryo bigger a fireplant grants fireball shooting ability blue mushroom lets Maryo shoot iceballs and ghost mushroom makes Maryo hidden to enemies. There are other powerups and secrets for you to discover.


#2 UFO: Alien Invasion

This is a real-time turn-based strategy game based on the classic X-COM series and in particular X-COM: UFO Defense. The game has two modes of playing: Geoscape and Tactical. In Geoscape mode the user conducts research collects intelligence build bases and buys weapons and technology needed to gain an upper hand against alien scum. In tactical mode the player commands a team of soldiers in a fight for their life. The game is built on a modified Quake II engine.

UFO: Alien Invasion can be played via LAN or Internet. Up to six players can face off against each other playing as humans or aliens.


#3 FreeCiv

Say goodbye to your social life weekends and sleep. This is the remake of one of the most addictive and critically acclaimed series. Freeciv supports three rulesets (default Freeciv Civilization 1 and Civilization 2) and a mind boggling array of different features tweaks and options. If that’s not enough you can download mudpacks or create your own nationsets rulesets tilesets and so on. A map and scenario editor called Civworld is also available as a download. Freeciv supports up to 30 players and LAN/Internet play. This is one game we will still be playing in 20 years time.

Freeciv has been translated into an astounding 29 different languages including: Arabic Chinese (Simplified) Chech Danish French German Hebrew Hungarian Italian Korean Japanese Russian Spanish and so on. Grab a copy in your language today!


#4 Alien Arena

Alien Arena is an excellent first person shooter that feels like an illegitimate child of Unreal Tournament and Quake III. The action is appropriately frantic fast and fun. The game contains a single player campaign but it’s the multiplayer that’ll keep your attention. The game is more popular in the US and UK but we were able to find a couple of servers in Australia such as the one hosted by Internode. The game contains over 30 maps 11 player characters a bunch of mutators and 9 weapons. Similar to UT and Quake there are various game modes including standard deathmatch team deathmatch capture the flag cattle prod deathball and assault.

So what kind of weapons do you get? Well there is the blaster violator rocket launcher alien smartgun chaingun flame thrower alien disruptor alien beamgun and alien vaporizer. All weapons can alt-fire too. Fun for the whole family.


#5 The Battle for Wesnoth

The Battle for Wesnoth is an action oriented turn-based strategy game. This isn’t Freeciv – the gameplay and the ruleset are simpler – but it’s still heaps of fun. In fact some players will prefer this over Freeciv due to its accessibility. The game is set in a fantasy environment with 16 races and 6 factions. There are over 200 units which yield different types of weapons and abilities. The current stable version of Battle for Wesnoth contains six campaigns with the development version containing further seven. The game supports online play for you to challenge up to 8 of your friends.

There are six major races available to the player. These include humans elves orcs dwarves undead and drakes. As the game progresses the player can ally with other races such saurians merfolk nagas ogres trolls and woses.


OK… and one more cheeky game to take #6th place in this top 5 list…

#6 Scorched 3D

The original Scorched Earth was a fantastic game. Its gameplay was spot on and it was fun to play against human opponents. Scorched 3D is a follow-up to Scorched Earth which attempts to modernize it with 3D graphics. Unfortunately it doesn’t feel as refreshing or accessible as the original game. It’s slightly harder to control and the camera sometimes drives you insane. On the other hand it certainly looks like a very strategic game with enough depth to keep you going for yonks. Truth be told we haven’t spent enough time on it to deliver a solid verdict. So give it a go and let us know what you think.

Mastered the game? Good. Now take a look at the mods. There’s the Apocalypse mod Operation Scorched Scavenger Hunt Sniper ScorchWars Mod and a few others.


Honourable Mentions

Nethack: a popular roguelike single player RPG.

SuperTuxKart: inspired by Mario Kart.

Crossfire: a cooperative multiplayer RPG game.

FreeCol: open source colonization.

Frozen Bubble: bubble bobble clone.

FlightGear: a sophisticated flight sim.

Armagetron Advanced: cool 3D (tron) racing game.

Open Arena: a remake of Quake III Arena

FreeOrion: Master of Orion goes open source.


And finally…

…free but not Open Source games which you should try.

Sam & Max Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die: Sam & Max. Need we say more?

Synaesthete: a magnificent rhythm and motion game.

True Combat: Elite: team-based shooter.

Echoes: an exhilarating abstract game with great sounds and graphics.


Have we missed anything you like? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Keith Bowes

    Wow, ten years, and no one has mentioned that Frozen Bubbles isn’t a clone of Bubble Bobble? Frozen Bubbles is more in the spirit of Tetris and Dr. Mario.