Linux Gaming: FNA Games on ODROIDs – Owlboy

A short while ago, @ptitSeb made an article about FNA games and how they now work on ODROID. Together, we worked to make sure this was possible. He kept working on it to improve his gl4es project and other parts to give us the best support on ODROIDs for FNA games.

I have also been working with him to try and make it easier from a user point of view, by creating the monolibs-ODROID package (available for all ODROIDs) and providing an installer that allows users to install their games on ODROID.

During this process, I grew quite fond of some of the FNA games, so I decided to give them their own little series in the ODROID magazine, as not everyone is familiar with these games and how they work on ODROIDs.

Owlboy

I just recently bought Owlboy on GOG as part of their 10th year anniversary. I put it on my ODROID and was surprised how it worked out of the box. It was rather easy to get to work properly and looked great. In fact, I was surprised that I could run the game in 1080p without any stuttering or slow-downs.

Figure 1 - Owlboy running in 1080p on ODROID
Figure 1 – Owlboy running in 1080p on ODROID

(Figure 1 – Owlboy running in 1080p on ODROID)

The game itself can be played via keyboard and mouse or via gamepad, but believe me when I say, you WANT to use a gamepad. I was rather surprised at the quality of the gamepad integration with this game. Using my XBox 360 controller I use both analog sticks, the trigger keys, and the shoulder buttons. The button layout is actually quite comfortable. It’s nice to have a game that integrates well with your controller. It feels like this game was made for the ODROID itself.

Installation

I wrote a small installer for the game that, if you are using either one of my images or my repositories, you can install by simply using the command:

$ apt-get install owlboy-launcher-odroid
The installer currently only supports the GoG installer, but might be updated in the future to support the Humble Bundle or Steam as well.

Simply point to the Linux version of Owlboy from GoG and the rest will be done automatically.

Graphics

The game uses a mix of retro-style 16-bit graphics and more modern effects. If it had existed “back in the day,” you probably could have had a similar game on the Sega Saturn.

Figure 2 - In-game graphics have multiple layers
Figure 2 – In-game graphics have multiple layers

Figure 3 - Clouds in foreground and background, light shafts
Figure 3 – Clouds in foreground and background, light shafts

Figure 4 - Colored transparent mist and different vines in foreground and background
Figure 4 – Colored transparent mist and different vines in foreground and background

The graphics are really nice and change from bright colored open skies with lush green grass lands to dark gray caverns. There’s a good mixture of graphics and palettes used in the game. The old style graphics fit the game without feeling too pixelated or like it is trying too hard to simulate the old 8-bit era, as some other retro-styled games have. Although the pictures above don’t show it, there are a lot of outdoor scenes where the sky is blue and white, with wide open spaces. The game occasionally zooms out to give you an overview of where you are, and zooms in closer if you are in tight areas. All in all, the graphics are good and fit the gameplay. The ODROID-XU3/XU4 is able to keep up with the graphics and running the game in 1080p is no big deal. Even the ODROID-C2 can handle running the game with the 1080p a possibility.

I haven’t tried it on an ODROID-C1 yet, but my guess is that it should work fine.

Sound and Music

There isn’t much I can say here. While the sound is fine, there’s not much variety. There are only so much shooting, swirling, wing-flapping, object-hitting sounds you can make and although it’s good quality sound, it’s not very impressive. There’s no voice acting, so there’s not much you can say in regards to narration.

The music is fine, I guess. It fits the setting, but there’s also nothing special about it. The tunes are not particularly memorable: I never found myself thinking I’d want to listen to the soundtrack outside of the game.

It feels like any random platformer 16-bit era music. It does the job, but it’s definitely no Final Fantasy, Aquaria, or Heimdall 2, where the music sticks in your head and you find yourself putting the soundtrack on your phone to listen to even when you’re not playing.

Story

I’m not quite sure about the story yet. You are a mute owlboy, the worst of your kind, and you are not very good at anything. You’re unreliable and most of the time you just mess up. Because of this, you only have a few friends. While progressing through the story you meet up with new people and make new friends, and their help compensates for your lack of ability. You explore ancient owl-temples, try to save the owl people capital by fighting off a pirate attack, and whatnot.

I’m still only a couple of hours into the game but I can already say that, in my opinion, the story is not very interesting. Still, it’s not too shabby and most of the time you can just concentrate on fighting and exploring.

Since there isn’t any voice acting and you have read everything everyone says, I’m even less interested in the story and just progress through without paying much attention.

Gameplay

The gameplay is really good. While game might look and sound like your random platformer/shooter in certain ways, it has just the right feel and control to be different. The fact that you can only stun enemies and require your friends, which you carry around with you, to actually kill enemies or destroy objects, is quite nice. That you can leave them behind and later teleport them back to you is also a nice way to solve puzzles or simply look ahead for a little while.

Thanks to the controller support you can fly and dodge in one direction while aiming and shooting in another direction, which is often needed, especially when fighting boss monsters.

Speaking of boss monsters: The game progresses like most action platformers. You go into a new area–mostly a dungeon of a kind–and kill whatever monsters are in there while trying to solve switch puzzles and such. After a while you often encounter some mid-bosses, or an area where you are trapped fighting a large number of regular enemies. At the end you’ll encounter a boss to fight. They actually come in very different layouts. First, you’ll only have to hit a boss a number of times, then later you’ll need to damage and destroy secondary objects as well. At other times you just need to run away and survive fighting your way through smaller monsters and destroyable objects.

Figure 5 - Entering a new boss area
Figure 5 – Entering a new boss area

Figure 6 - and of course fighting the boss you just found
Figure 6 – and of course fighting the boss you just found

Figure 7 - In this fight you attack the pirate that is flying around but also have to destroy the ship that shoots at you when his captain recovers
Figure 7 – In this fight you attack the pirate that is flying around but also have to destroy the ship that shoots at you when his captain recovers

Boss fights get harder from one boss to another, not due to the fact that the bosses itself are harder to kill, but due to the fact that you get additional tasks to do to damage or kill an enemy.

Figure 8 - In this fight you attack the pirate that is flying around but also have to destroy the ship that shoot at you when his captain recovers
Figure 8 – In this fight you attack the pirate that is flying around but also have to destroy the ship that shoot at you when his captain recovers

From some of the boss fights you actually get something good. In the example above, after you’ve beaten the pirate he joins you and gives you the ability to either shoot multiple enemies at once with his flame throwing shotgun, or destroy large and more durable objects, sometimes with fire, to open new paths. He’s the second guy that joins you in your quest.

Figure 9 and 10 - This boss just chases you and you have to dodge and destroy items until at the end it just stops and freezes in place
Figure 9 and 10 – This boss just chases you and you have to dodge and destroy items until at the end it just stops and freezes in place

(Figure 9 and 10 – This boss just chases you and you have to dodge and destroy items until at the end it just stops and freezes in place)

Conclusion

I was quite surprised at how well the game works, especially the integration with the game controller and the built-in options for XBox and Playstation controllers. The graphics look nice and scale well, which makes playing on the TV even better.

As the game doesn’t require anything special in the way of drivers, it runs on all ODROID platforms including 64-bit platforms such as the C2 or N1. The performance on the XU3/XU4 was outstanding. I had no lags or anything. This game feels like it was made for ODROID.

If you like action platformers I highly recommend this game. It will keep you busy for many hours and shows once more what ODROID is capable of. Thanks to @ptitSeb who made it possible to play these games on ODROID.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply