Most people who use computers still use Windows (or Macintosh). Even among Linux fans, most of our family and friends are not likely to use Linux. When they are visiting, they might appreciate the chance to play a casual game or two. Rather than trying to teach them a brand new game – no matter how good we think it is – we can offer games they are already familiar with. If the version of Linux that you use installs the KDE desktop rather than GNOME, you may know that KDE supplies 40 games in a collection that can be easily installed from the Synaptic package manager by “kdegames”. But if you’d rather not have quite so many cluttering up your menu, what are the best ones?
Here are my suggestions for the 10 best games for casual gamers:
KPatience – The card game you usually think of when the word “Solitaire” is mentioned. The KDE version has 12 different solitaire games, including Aces Up, Free Cell, Golf, Klondike, and Spider. There are 4 themes for the background, and 2 more are available online. For the cards, you can choose one of 16 styles for their appearance. The game features a “Solver” option to check, if you don’t want to waste time on games that can’t be won. You probably will want to make sure that “kdegames-card-data” and “kdegames-card-data-extra” are installed also.
KSudoku – In addition to the standard 9×9 game, you also can select from 11 other varieties of play, including 3-dimensional games. There are 5 difficulty settings and 3 background themes.
KMahjongg – The classic solitaire game where you have to match pairs of tiles to remove them from a pattern. This version features 6 backgrounds, 6 tilesets, and over 70 layouts to choose from. If you are finding the game difficult, you can choose to blink matching tiles whenever a tile is selected, or just use the “hint” option if stuck.
KBreakout – This is more of a reflex game than most of the others. You bounce a ball against a set of bricks at the top of the screen, trying to grab power-ups and bonuses without missing the ball when it returns to the bottom. Six themes are available.
KMines – Minesweeper for KDE. Three difficulty levels, plus a “Custom” one that you must set up in the main options menu (choose length, width, and number of mines). KMines has 4 themes to choose from, one of which resembles the version used on Microsoft Windows. Others are a Garden theme, a KDE one, and a Graveyard theme!
KReversi – I played the boardgame Othello quite often with my friends as a young teenager in the 1980s. The game has 7 difficulty settings, ranging from Very Easy to Impossible. You can adjust the animation speed of the moves, choose 2 styles for the chips, and show the last move. If you are having trouble, you can ask for a Hint or select “Show legal moves”.
KBlocks – KDE’s version of Tetris. You can choose one of 2 backgrounds, or get new themes (4 are currently available), There are 3 difficulty settings.
KDiamond – Both GNOME and KDE have a version of the Bejeweled game. This one starts with 3 themes, and you can add one more.
KFourInLine – Known commercially as “Connect Four”, in this game you drop checkers from above and try to get a line of four before your opponent does. There are 2 color themes, 7 difficulty settings (when playing the computer), and you can also play against another person (in a hotseat mode).
Knights (Chess) – This is the standard chess front end for KDE. Choose from 5 themes, or download one of 7 others. It uses (and installs) the “gnu-chess” engine by default, but if you want to use different ones it will let you choose from what has been installed. In Ubuntu and Linux Mint, some additional chess playing software can be found under the names “fruit”and “glaurung” in the Synaptic package manager. There are several other choices, but those two specifically say they work well with the Knights program. If you are using Fedora or openSUSE you will probably have to do a search in your package installer for “chess” or “chess engine”.