SuperTuxKart is a fun free kart racing game with online and LAN multiplayer modes as well as single-player story-mode, time trials, a soccer mode and Easter Egg hunt. It's quite fun.
It begun as a fork of TuxKart in 2006 and it has been gradually improving since that time. Version 1.0 released in April, 2019 was the first version with online multiplayer features.
Graphics and gameplay
The game uses modern OpenGL features and looks really good at the higher graphics settings. The higher settings do require a powerful modern graphics card while the lower settings are kind enough to let you play on older laptops with a integrated graphics card.
The gameplay is similar to most other racing games like it. You can pick up cans of Nitro for a boost and there's packages with items you can use to attack other players or defend yourself from them.
The karts themselves have a free software theme. You can be Tux, Pidgin, BSD and many other mascots from free software projects.
The Story Mode
SuperTuxKart has a "story mode" where you compete against AI carts at various levels. There is a limited amount of tracks to play when you start out. More tracks, karts and challenges karts are unlocked as you win races.
There's three levels of difficulty for each track: bronze, silver or gold. The racing speed is slow on bronze, faster on silver and fastest on gold. There's also a SuperTux difficulty. The SuperTux difficulty is not used in Story Mode but you do need to play story mode to unlock it so it can be used elsewhere.
Unlocking items by winning races in Story Mode is kind of optional. There is the option of editing
.config/supertuxkart/config-0.10/players.xml if you'd like to unlock everything without playing Story Mode more than once (you need to play it once to create that file). Editing this file could be described as "cheating".
SuperTuxKart allows you to connect to servers and play against other people. There's servers with special types of game-play; there's normal races, soccer and some other modes.
There are a lot of servers but not very many players. There will be sometimes be enough people to race online on a server near you and sometimes there's nobody online. Your time of day and location may vary.
There are many add-on tracks and karts available. These can easily be downloaded from within the game. The KDE mascot Katie is not part of the original game but you can add her and play as her if you want to.
Hardware Requirements and Recommended Settings
SuperTuxKart does not require very much in terms of GPU or CPU. The graphics settings can be configured with a slider going from 1 to 6 where 6 is the highest setting.
2 will run just fine on an old dual-core laptop with a Intel iGPU and a 1080p display.
Running the game on high settings at 1080p on a mid-range GPU like the AMD RX 570 is fine. However, at 4K the game will struggle. It is possible to manually configure the graphics settings and we find that manually configuring the following settings works great:
Verdict and conclusion
SuperTuxKart is a really fun game worth having around. The graphics is fine and the game-play is entertaining. It's free and it's available for most platforms and it works on older as well as new machines. It's worth the 1 minute it takes to install it if you don't already ahve it.
Secret Artist Debug Mode
$HOME/.config/supertuxkart/config-0.10/config.xml (created when the game's started once) has a line setting
<artist_debug_mode value="false" />
This can be set to true to get additional functionality where you can view tracks from above, freely move the camera around, switch between what chart's in focus in a race and a lot of other things like that. It's meant to be used by artists creating carts and tracks. It's also useful for taking screenshots of the game's characters in odd settings and things like that.
Getting the game
Some version of SuperTuxKart is available in all GNU/Linux distributions repositories and there's also versions for Windows, MacOS and Android. You can click here to install it on Ubuntu. Binaries and source can be downloaded from supertuxkart.net/Download.
You need version 1.0 or higher to participate in on-line multiplayer races. Your distributions version is likely new enough - but do make sure it's v1.0 or higher or you will miss out.
Compiling SuperTuxKart from git / svn
While compiling yourself with fancy CFLAGS tends to give placebo performance increases there's actually good reason to compile SuperTuxKart yourself: CMAKE defaults to the legacy libGL.so library when both the legacy library and the newer OpenGL and GLX libraries are present. The package you get on Ubuntu is compiled to use libGL.so.
Requirements for compiling on Ubuntu are:
sudo apt-get install build-essential cmake libbluetooth-dev \ libcurl4-openssl-dev libenet-dev libfreetype6-dev libfribidi-dev \ libgl1-mesa-dev libglew-dev libjpeg-dev libogg-dev libopenal-dev libpng-dev \ libssl-dev libvorbis-dev libxrandr-dev libx11-dev nettle-dev pkg-config zlib1g-dev
And on Fedora they are:
sudo dnf install @development-tools cmake bluez-libs-devel \ openssl-devel libcurl-devel freetype-devel fribidi-devel mesa-libGL-devel \ libjpeg-turbo-devel libogg-devel openal-soft-devel libpng-devel \ libvorbis-devel libXrandr-devel libGLEW nettle-devel pkgconf zlib-devel
Now you can grab the source and graphics assets. This will take a very long time. Checking out the svn with graphics assets is particularly slow.
mkdir supertuxkart-src ; cd supertuxkart-src git clone https://github.com/supertuxkart/stk-code stk-code svn co https://svn.code.sf.net/p/supertuxkart/code/stk-assets stk-assets
Now it's time to configure it.
cd stk-code mkdir cmake_build cd cmake_build cmake -DBUILD_RECORDER=off -DOpenGL_GL_PREFERENCE=GLVND ..
-DOpenGL_GL_PREFERENCE=GLVND option to ensure you're not using the legacy OpenGl library. Now it is time to compile by running
and once that's done
sudo make install