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Game Info:

Super Tux Kart
Developed By: Steve and Oliver Baker (original developers); "Benau"; "Alayan"; Marianne Gagnon "Auria"; Jean-Manuel Clemençon "Samuncle"
Published By:
Released: August 6, 2007
Available On: Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, Android, Nintendo Switch (homebrew port)
Genre: Racing
ESRB Rating: None specified
Number of Players: Singleplayer and Multiplayer modes (1-8 players locally, more possible on online servers)
Price: Free and open-source software (FOSS)

Note: This review was based on the Linux and Windows 1.3 versions of this game.

Some game developers make something initially to follow the lead of other games, but then it turns into something unique and worthwhile on its own merits. Super Tux Kart initially was a Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) Linux clone of Mario Kart in its earliest forms, but these days it has its own charms and does its own thing.

Super Tux Kart has a basic story mode where you (as Tux, patterned after the Linux mascot) have to save Gnu (after the GNU project animal mascot) from becoming the dinner of an alien called Nolok, by beating him in go-kart racing. Alongside a bunch of other racers patterned after the logos of various other free and open-source software, you can also just race without the story against other people and the computer in a few other game modes.

Aside from the campaign mode, they have various types of time attack modes, battle modes, and a few other modes like the "Egg Hunt" mode where you and other racers drive around and try to collect all the eggs before anyone else. In terms of replay value, this alone gives the player many things to do.

The actual racing mechanic works like most other kart racing games, with the basic motive being to outpace all opponents in several laps around various tracks to secure victory. There are random drops that can boost speed, allow you to knock other racers off the field, or provide a shield against being attacked yourself in most competitive modes. While the game can be played against local players and the computer, it comes with a built-in online component for playing against others from around the world. You can also host a server if that is more your style.

Super Tux Kart
Highlights:

Strong Points: Well done in terms of quality for a FOSS game; distinctive cartoony style
Weak Points: Mild issues with certain types of controllers
Moral Warnings: Cartoony violence; mild references to witches and haunted houses

Graphically, FOSS games tend to be either good or bad, with precious little in-between. This game is thankfully on the former end of the scale, with a lot of bright, colorful, and very well-done textures and models. Like most FOSS games, the graphics are all under various licenses, but thankfully they are all at a high level of quality regardless. This game should be playable on most computers, but it can have subpar graphical performance on those running integrated graphics. On very high-end computers, this game can look absolutely stunning. Godrays, particle effects, and many other things found in other high-quality commercial games are possible if you have the GPU to handle it, and this game supports a wide array of resolution settings. The sounds and music are also pretty good, with a lot of upbeat music fit for racing fast by various composers making up the soundtrack. The sounds all feel like something out of a cartoon, which fits the lighthearted and child-friendly atmosphere like a glove.

Game controls can be done with the keyboard or with a PC gamepad of some sort, including many for actual consoles. There are some issues with some versions of Wii controllers, one should read their page on the subject for more information on their website. Otherwise, not only are the controls rebindable, I found them easy to learn with a brief amount of practice. It is worth noting the controls can be a bit stiffer due to the stiffer animations, especially for those used to other kart racing games. Me, I was not overly bothered, but for those who are, this may be a concern.

Stability I'm very proud to say is excellent on all platforms. There are native releases for any platform you wish, and advanced users can compile the source code themselves for any platform not supported by default. The game code and assets are available under permissive licenses so they can be modified at will if one has the skill and inclination. There are a few unofficial and "beta" builds for other platforms (the Switch excepted), which I did not have the ability to test and outside of what the developers officially support, I cannot guarantee these unofficial ports are as stable.

Super Tux Kart
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 90%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Morally, this is a very child-friendly game.

Violence is present, of the cartoonish variety. Various goofy implements can be used to impede other racers like flyswatters and bowling balls, but all damage is devoid of blood and gore and no worse than something in a zany cartoon. There is no foul language, sexual content, or anything of any particular moral concern that is notable and this is appropriate for anyone old enough to understand how to play a racing game. Online interactions are limited in such ways to have little concern of inappropriate player reactions as well. Certain measures are taken on the developer end to make sure any downloadable addons for the game remain child-appropriate as well. Chatting is possible, and this may be of some concern, but again developers do try to police all servers they directly control for inappropriate content, and private servers can do the same.

There are a few references to the supernatural and occult, mostly in cartoonish variety such as the racer Sara riding a broomstick like a stereotypical witch as her vehicle choice and a haunted house depiction at one point, but not much else of especial note.

Technically, this is a superbly well-done FOSS game that works on a wide degree of platforms and costs nothing, so if you want some good go-kart fun for free, I can't recommend it highly enough. Morally, aside from cartoonish violence and mild supernatural references, this is also quite appropriate for young children. If you want to have a fun game to play, modify, or just love go-kart games and/or FOSS in general, this is worthy addition to anyone's gaming library.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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