Start your engines!
Racing games are quite fun. They take skill and practice to improve how well you do, but are good whether you have a short time to play, or hours. Some of these games have an overhead, 2d view, while the best ones are fully 3 dimensional and let you pick from different cars to drive.
As always, a (W) indicates a Windows version exists.
SuperTuxKart (W) – This game has very good graphics, and is a clone of Mario Kart. Unfortunately, there is a serious bug in the version I found in the repository – every race I try, my car starts moving backwards and I can’t get it to go forward for very long. This is only the most recent version. I subsequently installed the 0.7 version instead, and have had no issues. I don’t know if this is only on 64-bit Linux or also on the one for 32-bit. The Windows version doesn’t have this bug. You’ll find the website here.
(Later edit, 1/28/12): The 0.7.3 version of the game, which is in the getdeb repositories, has fixed this bug and is now playable!)
Xracer – This game starts in a small window that cannot be adjusted in size. It’s rather difficult to escape the game once you begin. Your “car” is some bizarre group of 3 wire-frame spheres in a triangle. Control is difficult – I never figured out how to turn. The background is mountainous. A Google search seems to indicate that this used to be a Wipeout clone nearly 10 years ago, but the version in the repositories isn’t a very good game. Not recommended.
Racer – This is a 2d top down game that only runs in full screen. You choose between one or two players, and about 6 tracks. The graphics are not crisp, but not ugly either. You can play a campaign. One strange feature is that occasionally humans will walk on or near the track, and can be run down. The bloody body will remain until the end of the race.
Pyracerz (W?) – This depends on pygame. An overhead game with an odd font for the text. Handling is not too hard to get used to. Graphics are basic. There are seven tracks (but each can be run in reverse) and three different options: Single race, Challenge, or Tournament. There is also a high scores section.
Road Fighter – The original game was made by Konami for the NES, and must have been really popular, since I found many clones online – including a Flash one. This version opens up a small window that is fixed in size. It has better graphics than the original of course, but is still 2d. It might be fun a few times, but seems to have limited replay. You can choose 1 or 2 player option but the only configuring seems to be the keybindings. Recommended.
Vdrift (W) – This game starts in a small window, adjustable. As the name indicates, this one emphasizes “drifting” during the races. Don’t forget to “Add” at least one opponent before starting a race. My first try ended upside down and stuck. Then, more recent tries didn’t seem to go very fast – I can’t figure out how to shift out of neutral! The game features 9 tracks. Website for VDrift is here.
Trophy – This overhead 2d game starts from the terminal. Only 3 tracks are offered. The only option is to adjust volume of sound. The game said you could use the arrow keys to change your car color, but I wasn’t able to do so. It seems that you always have 5 opponents. You can play it full screen or in an 800×600 window. Not really recommended due to mediocre graphics and limited playability.
Trigger Rally – This game is only fullscreen. There are 6 tracks available for the Event mode, “Trigger Cup”, and you unlock each in turn by beating the time expected. You could also pick one of 4 for a single race mode. The graphics aren’t bad, but are pretty bland – a night sky and desert/moonscape ground. You are timed as you navigate a twisting course, turning giant red circles green as you pass thru them. Controls can be tricky, the car easily flips over if you turn too sharp or fast. Recommended.
Tile Racer – This one seems to be a game focused on “stunt car” racing. It has good (and shiny) graphics, and lots of configuring. It starts windowed, and your mouse is trapped (NOT a good thing). A track editor is available, and you have ten to choose in the main game. Recommended.
Toy Cars – This overhead, 2d game starts windowed but can be run fullscreen. There are only 3 tracks to start with. The controls allow keyboard, xbox or ps3. I didn’t hear any sounds, even though the options supposedly let you. I’m not sure if it is a bug, but I wasn’t able to control the car. A vehicle editor and track creator are also available. Not recommended.
TORCS (W) – This game is the one that Speed Dreams is based upon. Both are 3d games, however they each have certain races that just won’t run once they load. I am unsure if this is only in the 64-bit version, or why, exactly. But the Windows versions seem fine. Here is the website for TORCS. Recommended.
Speed Dreams (W) – This is a 3d game that starts windowed but can be run fullscreen. It’s a fork of TORC, although I’m not sure what the differences are. Your mouse is not trapped when running in a window. You can set AI opponents skill level (out of 4). Despite having very good graphics, this game will try your patience. Control is extremely precise, and also, some races did not want to start after loading the data. Here is the website for Speed Dreams. Recommended.
Extreme Tux Racer (W) – This isn’t a car racer, it’s a snowboard racing game using Tux the penguin as your board! The original version was commercialized, and then abandoned. The current game is a fork of the original version. There were a couple of other versions, however this is the best one currently being developed. The game has music and sound effects. And herring! As you slide down the slope, you can try to catch (eat?) herring to improve your final score. The website is here. Recommended.