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Review - Super Tux

Move over Mario!


Image © SuperTux Devel Team

In the annals of video game history, few titles are as loved, borrowed from and outright copied as frequently as Super Mario Bros. Some might even argue that without it, there'd be no modern platformer genre at all.

But with so many imitations out there, how do you stand out and make people take notice? Well, for the open source community, the answer is easy -- penguin power! When it comes to playing the role of Mario, few characters do it as well as Super Tux.

Super Tux at a Glance

Whether you're on Linux, Microsoft Windows or OS X, you can enjoy this free and open source take on Super Mario Bros. that puts Tux, the Linux mascot, in the role of Mario as he makes his way across a frozen landscape, running and jumping, collecting coins and avoiding enemies. With 26 levels to play, nine types of enemies to battle and a built-in level editor, there are a lot of reasons to play -- and replay -- this game.


First released in 2003, Super Tux has been a hit in the Linux community for quite some time. And even though there are now many more highly polished and completely modern video games available for that operating system, Super Tux still enjoys a highly favorable reputation within the community.

In fact, the love for this game has driven a number of volunteers to port Super Tux to a wide range of operating systems and platforms, including: BeOS, BlackBerry, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Wii and Wii U, OS X, Pandora, Sony PSP and Wiz.

These days, work on Super Tux continues, but at a somewhat slow pace. Defined by distinct milestones, new versions of Super Tux often include additional levels, improved graphics or new music and sound effects.


For this review, I played Super Tux 0.1.3 (a.k.a. Milestone 1) on Linux kernel version 3.13.0-45-generic.

  • Gameplay - If you've played Super Mario Bros. -- or any 2D platformer for that matter -- you'll immediately feel at home not only in the Super Tux environment but also with the controls.
  • Fun - Super Tux captures all that's good about Super Mario Bros. and re-packages it in a new setting with a new hero. If you liked the original, you'll like this re-make.
  • Look and Feel - From the cheerily nostalgic graphical style to the happy music and sound effects, Super Tux manages to make mid-1980s video gaming technology addictive over 30 years later.
  • Level Editor - As much fun as it is to play the pre-made Super Tux levels, making your own with the included level editor brings something completely new to the Super Mario Bros. clone experience.
  • Community - Did I mention this game is beloved? If you don't believe me, just check out all of the free community-created additional levels and add-ons.


While I get addicted to this game every time I start it up, there's possibly still room for a little improvement.

  • Level Editor - Yes, making your own levels for Super Tux can be incredibly entertaining and satisfying. Unfortunately, it can also be quite tedious, time-consuming and difficult. A lot of the problems could probably be avoided by more documentation and clearer instructions on how exactly you use the level editor.
  • Too Short - When a game is this fun, you just don't want it to end. And, unfortunately, 26 levels just isn't enough. Personally, I'd like to see about 100, but I'd settle for 50.

Getting Super Tux

Because it runs on so many operating systems and platforms, your best bet for getting Super Tux -- both a playable binary and the source code -- is simply to go to the game's official website and download everything from there.

And, don't forget, this is an open source project. In fact, it's one that welcomes contributors, so be sure to join the Super Tux Devel mailing list or join in on the conversation at irc.freenode.net, #supertux.

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