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Building a Retro Linux Gaming Computer Part 41: The Worm Turns

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Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving

Continued from Part 40: The Cyborg Project

Somewhat similar to SDL, the Allegro library is a cross-platform backend for low-level game routines. Although the project does see continued support to this day with the Allegro 5 branch, for much of its history Allegro was very much associated with the MS-DOS freeware scene that was still going strong well into the early 2000s. Seeing this wealth of game content, the Fedora contributor Hans de Goede decided to see if he could port some of these over to Linux.

One group which were receptive to this were the developers of Worminator 3, an expanded version of the original Worminator inspired by the action platformer games released by both Apogee Software and id Software in the early 1990s. Included with the source code is the actual email correspondence Hans de Goede had with Electroencephalogram Productions going over the change in licence, as well as further fleshing out the whole process of bringing the game over to Linux.

I have often found using Allegro to be mercurial, and this again proved true. With both the allegro-4.2.1-1.rh7.rf.i386.rpm and allegro-devel-4.2.1-1.rh7.rf.i386.rpm packages installed I was able to get Worminator 3 to build without any complaints, but the compiled binary for whatever reason was unable to find the Allegro library. To get the game to launch I ended up just grabbing the allegro-4.2.1.tar.gz source archive to make a separate library file, and then preloaded that to start the game.

As the title implies Worminator begins as a loose parody of The Terminator film from 1984, but with the roles reversed as you instead take on the role of the killer cyborg hunting down the rebel worms and their leader Wrom Conner. As the story branches out though things do get more complicated, with the second episode new to Worminator 3 having a more surreal tone that even includes some rather risqué content. All in all this added personality is appreciated, especially in a free software title.

The creativity also bleeds into the artwork, which while being simplistic is also varied with a lot of nice small touches, such as the dedicated animations the game will play when left idle. With Worminator starting its life out on MS-DOS the game also has a lovely MIDI soundtrack which Allegro does play with my MIDI synth hardware, all of which kept me engaged enough to play through the whole campaign in the course of a single day and a very pleasant evening.


Performance wise the game averaged around 30 frames per second at 640x480 resolution for me, which is slower than I might have expected, but did little to impact the game experience. Lowering the resolution further did speed up the game, but since it did not scale I would have been left squinting at a tiny game window surrounded by black borders. Speaking of variable speed, Worminator 3 also includes a bullet time mechanic I never found the need to use, but then the idea was in vogue at the time.

In the same vein are the vehicle sections found late in the second episode, but these are at least more cleverly implemented as they are utilized in solving a couple of neat puzzles. The tank did however introduce the only lock up I encountered in the game, which happened while driving into a large swarm of enemies in the very last level. Overall I found that the second episode was in fact easier than the first, but it was also the more enjoyable of the two.

The final level of the first episode features a mean trap where the game will take all of your weapons away, and as you will only pick up ammunition for the weapons you currently hold, you will be caught short unless you backtrack after acquiring new ones. This left me stuck on my first attempt, and since you only get the one save slot, I ended up having to start the whole game over from scratch; you can restart the current level after you die, but one of the doors refused to open for me after doing that.

Apart from this Worminator 3 does present a fair challenge, but if you still do not wish to meet it, you can instead subvert it by playing with the various modes listed in the cheats menu. Also included are skins that allow you to play as someone other than the Worminator, for those thirsting for even more variety and customization. There is even a built-in level editor you can use to create your own missions, so the possibilities here really are endless.

Keen Linux users may also notice that the same sound effect Knoppix uses when shutting down can also be heard in one of the levels, although this is probably just due to them pulling from the same royalty free audio library. The last five games I have played had all been brought to Linux by virtue of having their source code made available, so I think it is about time I tackled another commercially released product, and return to my original intent of playing through the Loki Software ports.

Carrying on in Part 42: Upset the Applecart

Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving

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About the author -
author picture
Hamish Paul Wilson is a free software developer, game critic, amateur writer, cattle rancher, shepherd, and beekeeper living in rural Alberta, Canada. He is an advocate of both DRM free native Linux gaming and the free software movement alongside his other causes, and further information can be found at his homepage where he lists everything he is currently involved in:
See more from me

The name "Worminator" brought back memories of this TV commercial here in Australia back in the 90's........
Hamish Apr 9
Further links and resources can be found on the official website:
Pengling Apr 9
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But what about Worm Quartet?
scaine 11 years Apr 9
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One of the last games I ever bought for my Spectrum was called Fat Worm Blows a Sparky. Nope, nothing to do with the article, or Linux. Just putting it out there.
Pengling Apr 10
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Quoting: scaineNope, nothing to do with the article, or Linux. Just putting it out there.
I think that's the gist of the entire comments section this time around.
Quoting: scaineOne of the last games I ever bought for my Spectrum was called Fat Worm Blows a Sparky. Nope, nothing to do with the article, or Linux. Just putting it out there.
Sounds like the title of a late night movie on Skinemax.....

Last edited by StoneColdSpider on 10 April 2024 at 6:55 am UTC
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