I’d like to focus this time on one special site, which goes so well together with Windows game emulation on Linux that it’s frequently mentioned at WineHQ itself: Home of the Underdogs.
“Underdogs”, as it’s commonly referred to, is a site devoted to archiving the forgotten video games of history, from the earliest day to titles as recent as last year, which deserve better recognition. You’re almost guaranteed to find something interesting that you’ve never heard of before. There’s games that just didn’t sell well, games that were released by an obscure company with no promotion, games that were produced by a company that went under, and all sorts of odd bits and pieces.
Downloading free abandonware makes for some fun Wine tasting. On a random romp where I just grabbed whatever looked interesting and tried it out, I encountered these gems:
While I have yet to have the game go to the second stage without crashing, I might get it fixed. This game is an adventure runner where you solve puzzles and talk to people. It has a story and a terrific dark, hallucinatory atmosphere. In it, you are an incarcerated inmate at the insane asylum from hell, and it’s up to you to find out why you’re there and how to get out.
There are many Sim games on the Underdogs site, so many that they get their own category. SimIsle is notable for being a unique cross-over game between Maxis’ SimCity versions, with interesting variations such as being able to manipulate individual people who staff the island. The graphics and game play are pretty cool and the music is this incredibly soothing, tranquil background.
Have you noticed how hard it is to find a Myst-type graphical adventure game for free download? Now, did you know that Cherry Coke, of all things, released just such a game? While nowhere near the quality of Myst, this game is quite enjoyable and playable. Because the game was released as a promotional tie-in to Coca-Cola’s product, there are puzzles with no clues in some places because you were supposed to find clues in bottles of Cherry Coke. The Underdogs site links to a walkthrough to make up for this, but really every such puzzle in the game can be solved pretty easily by brute-force – trying every possible combination. It runs like a charm in Wine.
Just in case you were thinking that there’s nothing but games here, Underdogs also hosts some applications. One very handy little toy is AnkerCAD, a freeware graphics editor where you build isometric models out of 3D blocks. This program, as the Underdogs review says, is very intuitive and easy to use. It actually feels very similar to Google’s SketchUp, which also runs on Wine, by the way.