Waste your time the right way – shoot bubbles at similarly colored bubbles, in the hope of freeing the entire board of bubbles just long enough for more bubbles to show up. It’s called Frozen Bubble, and it’s more than a game.
Actually, it’s not more than a game. It’s a game, and for a long time it was one of the best put together games for Linux. That’s not been true for a while – the platform has grown leaps and bounds for gamers since then – there’s the Humble Indie Bundle and Steam for Linux, to name a few developments.
But before all of that, Frozen Bubble taught us all that Linux games didn’t need to be ugly. It won Linux Journal’s reader’s choice award seven times, so clearly Linux users love it. The game hasn’t aged perfectly, but it still runs well and the music simply couldn’t be catchier. It’s a worthy diversion.
Playing Frozen Bubble
Open the program and you will be immediately assaulted by spectacular music and pictures of penguins. When the shock of all that awesome fades, you can pick the sort of game you want to play.
If you’ve never played before, I recommend starting with one player. My preferred settings are random levels with chain reaction turned on, but it’s completely up to you – and you should probably experiment with different settings.
The object of the game – which is essentially a clone of Puzzle Bobble – is to clear the screen of all bubbles. Shoot bubbles at like-colored bubbles – any time you cause three bubbles of the same color to connect they’ll all fall down. If you do this properly you’ll clear a bunch at once, assuming they were supported by bubbles you matched.
It’s simple, sure, but it’s addictive. And it’s even better with multiplayer – do well enough and you’ll cause chaos to happen to your friend.
The second player uses the X, C and V players to move left, fire and more right respectively. The idea here is that both players can share a keyboard – and this works well if you don’t mind being cozy. Plug in another keyboard if that bothers you, I suppose.
Not a fan of in-person social interaction? Not a problem. You can play Frozen Bubble on your LAN connection, or even play with total strangers thanks to the world wide web.
There are usually several servers up and running, so pick one you like and enjoy the five-player action.
Don’t like the levels? Design your own. A built in level editor allows you to customize the bundled levels, or to create your own entirely.
Download Frozen Bubble
If you’re a Linux user, you’re in luck. Frozen Bubble is basically in the repo of every Linux distro in existence. Just search your package manager and you’ll find it.
Ubuntu, Mint and Debian users who love the command line can quickly install Frozen Bubble by typing:
sudo apt-get install frozen-bubble
There’s a Windows port of Frozen Bubble, if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s outdated – no web support – but if you’re stuck using Windows it’s better than nothing. There’s an OS X port as well, though you’ll need MacPorts to get it working. The game’s also been ported to many mobile phones, but the quality seems to vary – all ports are done by third parties, not the Frozen Bubble team itself.
I remember when I first stumbled upon this gem – around 2005. I was just beginning to explore the idea of Linux, and somehow aquired a copy of Knoppix – then the premier live CD on the market. Every piece of Linux software you can imagine was on this thing, but one game caught my attention – Frozen Bubble. I regularly booted into Knoppix just to play the game. I’m not going to say it’s the reason I’m a Linux user today, but it certainly helped keep me curious.
As I said earlier, these days there are many worthy diversions out there for Linux users. Steam could end up bringing some of the biggest games on earth to the platform. But Frozen Bubble’s always going to be special to me, because it’s completely open source and a lot of fun in it’s own simple way. I cannot believe we’ve not given it a proper review until today.
I’ve pointed out casual Linux games you might not have heard of, and included Frozen Bubble in the list. What Linux games do you think deserver their own review? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll try to get to them.