Best ASCII Games for Linux That are Insanely Good

Nostalgia? Or just want to have fun on the terminal? Try these ASCII games to have a good time!
Warp Terminal

Text-based or should I say terminal-based games were very popular more than a decade back – when you didn’t have visual masterpieces like God Of War, Red Dead Redemption 2 or Spider-Man.

Of course, the Linux platform has its share of good games – but not always the “latest and greatest”. But, there are some ASCII games out there – to which you can never turn your back on.

I’m uncertain if you’d believe me, but some ASCII games on this list proved to be very addictive (So, it might take a while for me to resume work on the next article, or I might just get fired? — Help me!😂)

Jokes apart, let's take a look at the best ASCII games.

Installing ASCII games could be time-consuming (some might ask you to install additional dependencies or simply won’t work). You might even encounter some ASCII games that require you to build from Source. So, we’ve filtered out only the ones that are easy to install/run – without breaking a sweat.

Things to do before Running or Installing an ASCII Game

Before we begin, some ASCII games might require you to install Simple DirectMedia Layer, unless you already have it installed. I suggest you install it before trying to run any of the games mentioned in this article.

For that, you need to type in these commands:

sudo apt install libsdl2-2.0-0 libsdl2-mixer-2.0-0 libsdl2-image-2.0-0 libsmpeg0 lua5.4
The games listed are in no particular order of ranking.

1. Curse of War

a screenshot of curse of war

Curse of War is an interesting strategy game. You might find it a bit confusing at first, but once you get to know it – you’ll love it. I’ll recommend you to take a look at the rules of the game on their homepage before launching the game.

You will be building infrastructure, securing resources and directing your army to fight. All you have to do is place your flag in a good position to let your army take care of the rest. It’s not just about attacking – you need to manage and secure the resources to help win the fight.

If you’ve never played any ASCII game before, be patient and spend some time learning it – to experience it to its fullest potential.

How to install?

You will find it in the official repository. So, type in the following command to install it:

sudo apt install curseofwar

2. ASCII Sector

a screenshot of ascii sector

Hate strategy games? Fret not, ASCII sector is a game that has a space-setting and lets you explore a lot.

Also, the game isn’t just limited to exploration, you need some action? You got that here as well. Of course, not the best combat experience- but it is fun. It gets even more exciting when you see a variety of bases, missions, and quests.

You’ll encounter a leveling system in this tiny game, where you have to earn enough money or trade to upgrade your spaceship.

The best part about this game is – you can create your own quests or play other’s.

How to install?

You need to first download and unpack the archived package from here. After it’s done, open up your terminal and type these commands:

cd Downloads
cd asciisec
chmod +x asciisec
Replace the “Downloads” folder with your location where the unpacked folder exists, ignore if the unpacked folder resides inside your home directory.

3. DRL

a screenshot of drl

You may know the classic game “Doom”. So, if you want a scaled down experience of it, DRL is for you. It's an ASCII-based game that is very small in size, with lots of gameplay.

How to install?

Before you begin, ensure to install these additional packages:

sudo apt install libsdl-image1.2 libsdl-mixer1.2 libsdl1.2debian libsmpeg0 lua5.1 timidity libpng16-16

After that, you need to download the archive from their download page and extract it to a folder. Then type these commands:

cd Downloads // navigating to the location where the unpacked folder exists
cd doomrl-linux-x64-0997
chmod +x doomrl

4. Pyramid Builder

a screenshot of pyramid builder

Pyramid Builder is an innovative take as an ASCII game where you get to improve your civilization by helping build pyramids.

You need to direct the workers to farm, unload cargo, and move the gigantic stones to successfully build the pyramid.

It is indeed a beautiful ASCII game to play.

How to install?

Simply head over to the official site, and grab the package. After extracting it, navigate to the folder and run the executable file.

cd Downloads
cd pyramid_builder_linux
chmod +x pyramid_builder_linux.x86_64

5. DiabloRL

a screenshot of diablorl

If you’re an avid gamer, then you must have heard about Blizzard’s Diablo 1. It is undoubtedly one of the good ones.

With DiabloRL you get the chance to play a unique rendition of the game in an ASCII format. It is a turn-based rogue-like game that is insanely good.

You get to choose from a variety of classes (Warrior, Sorcerer, or Rogue). Every class would result in a different gameplay experience with a set of different stats.

Of course, personal preference will differ – but it’s a decent “unmake” of Diablo. What do you think?

How to install?

You can grab the archive from the official downloads page. To run it, simply go into the extracted folder and run this command:


6. Ninvaders

a screenshot of ninvaders

Ninvaders is one of the best ASCII games just because it’s so simple to learn, and also acts an arcade game to kill time.

In this, you have to defend against a horde of invaders, and have to finish them off before they get to you. It sounds basic, but it's a challenging game.

How to install?

Similar to Curse of War, you can find this in the official repository. So, just type in this command to install it:

sudo apt install ninvaders

7. Empire

a screenshot of empire

Empire is a real-time strategy game that requires an active Internet connection.

The rectangle contains cities, land, and water. You need to expand your city with an army, ships, planes and other resources. By expanding quickly, you will be able to capture other cities by destroying them before they make a move.

I’m personally not a fan of Real-Time strategy games, but if you are a fan of such games. You should check out their guide for playing this game – because it can be challenging to learn.

How to install?

Installing this is very simple, just type in the following command:

sudo apt install empire

8. Nudoku

a screenshot of nudoku

Love Sudoku? Well, you have Nudoku – a clone for it. A perfect time-killing ASCII game while you relax.

It presents you with three difficulty levels – Easy, normal, and hard. If you want to put up a challenge with the computer, the hard difficulty will be perfect! If you just want to chill, go for the easy one.

How to install?

It’s straightforward to get it installed, just type in the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install nudoku

9. NetHack

a screenshot of nethack

NetHack is a dungeons and dragon-style ASCII game which might be one of the best out there. I think it’s one of your favorites already, if you know about ASCII games for Linux – in general.

It features plenty of different levels (40+) and comes packed in with many weapons, scrolls, potions, armor, rings, and gems. You can also choose a perma-death mode to play it.

It’s not just about killing here – you get a lot to explore around.

How to install?

Simply follow the command below to install it:

sudo apt install nethack-x11

10. ASCII Jump

a screenshot of ascii jump

ASCII Jump is a dead simple Ski-jumping game where you have to slide along a variety of tracks – while jumping, changing position, and moving as long as you can to cover the maximum distance.

It’s really amazing to see how this ASCII game looks (visually) even though it seems so simple.

You can start with the training mode and then proceed to the world cup. You also get to pick your competitors and the hills on which you want to start the game.

How to install?

To install the game, just type the following command:

sudo apt install asciijump

11. Bastet

a screenshot of bastet

Let’s just not pay any attention to the name – Bastet is actually a fun clone of the good old Tetris game.

You shouldn’t expect it to be just another ordinary Tetris game – but it will present you the worst possible bricks to play with. Have fun!

How to install?

Open the terminal and type in the following command:

sudo apt install bastet

12. Bombardier

a screenshot of bombardier

Bombardier is yet another simple ASCII game which will keep you hooked on to it.

Here, you have a helicopter (or whatever you’d like to call your aircraft) which lowers down every cycle, and you need to throw bombs to destroy the blocks/buildings under you.

The game also puts a pinch of humor in the messages it displays when you destroy a block. It's fun.

How to install?

Bombardier is available in the official repository, so just type in the following in the terminal to install it:

sudo apt install bombardier

13. Angband

a screenshot of angband

Angband is a cool dungeon exploration game with a neat interface. You can see all the vital information in a single screen while you explore the game.

It contains different kinds of character races. You can either be an Elf, Hobbit, Dwarf, or something else – there’s nearly a dozen to choose from.

Remember, that you need to defeat the lord of darkness at the end – so make every upgrade possible to your weapon and get ready.

How to install?

You can head over to the official documentation site to learn how to compile it using the source code found in its GitHub repo.

For a simpler approach, type in the following command:

sudo apt install angband

14. GNU Chess

a screenshot of gnuchess

How can you not play chess? It is my favorite strategy game!

But, GNU Chess can be tough to play with unless you know the Algebraic notation to describe the next move. Of course, being an ASCII game – it isn’t quite possible to interact – so it asks you the notation to detect your move and displays the output (while it waits for the computer to think its next move).

How to install?

If you’re aware of the algebraic notations of Chess, enter the following command to install it from the terminal:

sudo apt install gnuchess

Some Honorable Mentions

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve tried to recommend you the best (but also the ones that are the easiest to install on your Linux machine).

However, there are some iconic ASCII games which deserve your attention. But, these require a tad more effort to install (You will get the source code, and you need to build it / install it).

Some of those games are:

You may follow our guide on how to install software from source code.

So, wrapping up.

💬 Which of the ASCII games sounds good to you? Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author
Ankush Das

Ankush Das

A passionate technophile who also happens to be a Computer Science graduate. You will usually see cats dancing to the beautiful tunes sung by him.

Become a Better Linux User

With the FOSS Weekly Newsletter, you learn useful Linux tips, discover applications, explore new distros and stay updated with the latest from Linux world


Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to It's FOSS.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.