My top ten quick and free (as in beer and freedom) games

neverball.pngI seem to have lost the ability to just browse the web. Aside from work-related ones and when I’m looking for something in particular, I generally only visit about half a dozen sites a day and I’ve got most of them in my live bookmarks. I OCD-style check the bookmarks quite a lot but when they’ve not updating, I can’t absentmindedly read Wikipedia or whatever like I used to. I find myself with a lot of dead five minutes where I don’t want to work but the thought of leaving the laptop world is scary (and also impossible due to the presence of multiple cats).

And that’s where my top ten quick and free (as in beer and freedom) games come in. They’re mostly simple puzzle games and I originally called this post “my top ten timewasting games” but John told me off – and he’s right. They’re not really timewasting because I use them in an almost meditative way: my conscious gets distracted by the pretty colours and my subconscious either enjoys the rest or goes to work thinking about lots of random things. Numerous bits of writing I’ve done over the last few months – including the general idea for this blog posting – were mentally drafted during some game play. That’s one of the reasons I’m posting this list – they help me a lot and they’re fun, and I want to give them a shout-out.

I play all these games on Ubuntu, hence the free as in beer and freedom thing. It rocks and so do they.

Anyway, on with the top ten:

burgerspace.pngTen: Burgerspace
I love this game but it’s at #10 because it’s too hard. I barely get off the first level and if I start on a higher level, I’m burger meat in no time. I only persist with it because I had a similar game for the Spectrum when I was a kid and because IT WILL NOT BEAT ME.

Nine: SameGnome
I used to have a lovely vector-y marbles theme which I seem to have lost somewhere along the way. The planets aren’t as much fun but it’s still a good timewaster – the round times are too short for a proper meditative thing.

Eight: Neverball
I only discovered this (and the related Neverputt) the other day but it might become a long term favourite eventually. It’s a pleasure to look at – the graphics and general overall production are wonderful (see the mini pic at the top of this page). With a sexy woman’s voice doing the announcements too, they’re very slick and professional games. Neverball is rather confusing with a trackpad though – I want to try it on a Thinkpad with a gyroscope-y thing to play it properly.

iagno.pngSeven: Iagno
The computer version of Reversi but since I’ve never played that, that doesn’t mean much to me. This is another of those I MUST BEAT IT games like Burgerspace. When I didn’t know what was really going on, I used to beat the computer about 50% of the time then I started to apply some strategy to it and now I lose about 80% of the time. IT WILL NOT BEAT ME.

Six: Freecell Solitaire
Oh beloved Freecell. It was one of my Windows favourites because there is the subgame of playing the stats as well as playing the game. I knew someone who did the same thing and we used to swap fastest game scores and winning streak records. On linux, you can completely undo games (rather than just one undo on Windows) which require strict self-control to avoid stat rigging. My self-control sometimes lacks.

frozenbubble.pngFive: Frozen Bubble
Dan and I used to set the world to rights while playing Bustamove 2 on his Playstation; this is what I play when I’m putting the world in my head to rights. It’s really cute and pleasant to play. And Gianni and I created some rude-y levels for it; to not blow my own trumpet too hard, mine were frigging works of creative genius. Gianni’s not so much. If you play Frozen Bubble and are amused by rude things, you can download them to experience the wonder that is my brain.

Four: Gnometris/Ghextris
I just discovered Ghextris the other day but it’s a fun (hexagonal) twist on Tetris while Gnometris is more of a direct copy. Tetris obviously rocks. I’ve been known to play GTetrinet when Gianni’s online too: I mostly win (toot toot, there goes my trumpet again).

Three: Monsterz
Another new find but it’s a firm, firm favourite already because it’s so cute. The monsters blink and get grumpy if they’re ignored – and make the cutest sounds when they explode. The puzzle game is a fun variation too. My only problem with it is that its “no more moves” sound is the same sound as when I get a new IM in GAIM and so I keep thinking I’m getting messages when I’m not. It makes me sad until the cute Monsterz cheer me up again.

xjump.pngTwo: Five or More
This was my favourite game for a long, long time but I can’t play it much now because all the Top Ten scores are too high – and what’s the point in playing if you’re not in the top ten? Many, many hours lost on this baby but it’s so good for zoning out – lots of thoughts thunk.

One: xjump
Five or More should really be #1 but the simplicity of xjump just pipped it to the post. It’s a really simple jumping game but it is way trickier than it looks (John can testify to that after thinking I was crap then being crapper himself). It’s frighteningly addictive. Give it a go, I dare you.

Honourable Mentions


  1. This article gives FOSS gaming a bad name. The following GPL games EASILY best the same number of games from your list:

    Battle For Wesnoth
    Super Tux
    Urban Terror
    Kobo Deluxe
    Descent II
    Globulation 2
    Super Mario War

    Granted, about half of those games have their roots in commercial development: Urban Terror is a FOSS “full game mod” for Quake 3 Arena which was released under the GPL by ID Software; Nexuiz is a significant modification of some previous iteration of the Quake engine by ID Software; Descent I and II were released under the GPL by Parallax software; and a great deal of the multimedia in Super Mario War is directly taken from commercial, albeit antiquated (or ‘classic’ if you prefer,) video games.

    This does NOT make them NOT free software, though. Seriously Louisa Parry, what the hell? Are you trying to sabotage the FOSS community? Someone reading your blog would come away with the impression that the FOSS community doesn’t have a respectable taste in gaming!

  2. To-may-to, To-mar-to :)

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