Early Impressions of an idiotic UK OUYA Owner – Software

Those that know me well, or those who read my early impressions of the OUYA hardware, will be able to attest to the fact that I am not the man to be detailing how many teraflops of megapower are in the inner gubbins of the OUYA. What I can tell is that a more technically-minded friend of mine informs me that “Thanks to not having to worry about over-heating, (due to the inclusion of a fan and heat sync) or the need to worry about battery drain, the Tegra 3 chip could be massively overclocked compared to the same chip being used in a mobile or tablet device and could deliver enhanced performance as a result.” That is a lot of fancy words for an idiot like me to pretend to understand, but the one element I can tell you about with a modicum of expertise is how that technobabble translates into the ‘real’ world of gaming software.

While every game offered up on OUYA is ‘free to try’ I truly hope the labelling, categorising and presentation of the storefront is improved prior to full retail launch; for starters, the simple addition of a price would seem to be the most urgent of absent necessities. As it stands, aside from a few pointers with a selection of ‘Staff Picks’ and ‘Favs’ style categories, it seems like devs were given few guidelines on how they should present their games on the storefront, so it can be difficult to know if you are downloading a demo, a free game or something you will be expected to pay for.

This situation is also an issue once you have downloaded a lot of software, as all your games just sit in the same folder/section – but, at least, your most recently played games will come up first. All OUYA games are only available via the OUYA store but, as they all include at least a free portion of the game as a demo, I have been able to at least try the majority of the 132 titles currently available.

The OUYA will likely live and die by the quality of software available for it. Whilst the console is in its early infancy stage, as it is at the moment, the selection of games on offer vastly vary in quality and are not overly abundant in quantity. However, I have already encountered a few games that I have had a lot of fun with and think that they are all the better gaming experience for being on a console – as opposed to their touchscreen counterparts. Even when it comes to the bad games, there’s also a few elements of their gameplay and design that give me some encouragement for future software development on the platform.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the highlights so far. Note that, as I’ve only had limited play time for each game, these should not be considered reviews.



Ice Rage – This is the first game I bought, and it’s still my current favourite. Although limited in scope – with no career mode, online multiplayer or multiplayer tournament mode – this is easy to forgive when the price is just $2.00 (about £1.50) and the basic gameplay is so much fun. This simple but effective cutesy two-on-two ice hockey game is a nice mix of goal mouth scrambles, skilled shots and on-ice punch-ups that almost threaten to spill over into the real life living room. A version of this game is available for both Android and iOS, but I can’t see how this would be as much fun without a controller – even though the controls are simplistic, the dexterity needed to enjoy them is not something I can easily see replicated without an analog stick.


A Space Shooter For 2 Bucks – This may only cost ‘two bucks’ (or about £1.50 in Earth money), but the quality of its presentation would easily fool you into thinking otherwise. The gameplay is a basic, well polished vertical scrolling shooter (or shmup) that can be difficult in places; but the grind through levels while you upgrade your weapons and abilities is made all the more enjoyable by the high level of comedy that is well scripted and voiced. A great little game that again, while available on Android and iOS, I think benefits from being played with a analog stick.


The Ball – The first game I purchased accidentally – and, as this was at a cost of $9.99, I was less than impressed. Admittedly, I did click on an option that said ‘Confirm Purchase’ but I thought I would have an opportunity to review what the cost was going to be before agreeing; this turned out not to be the case and the first time I saw the price was on my receipt.

I was enjoying the early parts of this game and it was a nice way of showcasing some of the system’s capabilities, as it sees you taking control of a giant ball from a first person perspective and shows that the OUYA has the ability to possibly power first person shooters. The Ball’s gameplay is at its best when using the ball to solve interesting environmental puzzles but, unfortunately, the later addition of enemies that need to be killed using the ball seem to be to the game’s detriment. This is partly due to poor enemy AI and the terrible-looking and woefully animated character models. If you are looking for an FPS fix from your OUYA, then The Ball gives me some hope that this genre might be viable on the console and was a good test of the OUYA pad – which, for the most part, was pretty good aside from the awful triggers. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people switch to a Xbox 360 or PS3 pad, which I hope OUYA developers will take account of.


iMech Online – A fairly simplistic 3rd-person Mech combat-based shooter in the mold of Mech Assault and other similar titles. Multiple mechs (I believe up to eight) fight it out amongst buildings in urban environments; you get a choice of mechs with three weapons options that can be cycled through in combat. Although the visuals of iMech Online aren’t exactly a graphical powerhouse when compared to similar titles on consoles and the PC, they are good enough to give me hope that similar projects on the OUYA, with the right amount of styling and polish, could be very enjoyable.

iMech Online also shows that the OUYA is capable of supporting a number of players in one online detahmatch, but the lack of friends list functionality on the OUYA (at least presently) will mean that it will be down to individual developers to include this or any type of lobby system. At the moment in iMech Online you just join a game in progress and shoot mechs in the face for fun and for free – so that’s okay.


Saturday Morning RPG – The next game I plan to buy as it is a really fun little turn-based combat RPG with lots of good-humoured 80’s cartoon and other cultural references – which is an good mix for me. But the main reason to mention this game is that it’s the first that I have seen that makes use of the touchpad on the OUYA controller.


Square Off – Up to four players (although I have only played with two so far) can take take control of jet pack using square cartoon characters in a 2D sideways scrolling dual stick shooter that be played in co-op against waves of enemies or in a competitive deathmatch. A free fun multiplayer game so far.

Survival – (Not pictured) Styled as a Atari 2600 game, and is as simple as they come, but it’s no less fun for it. You are a square that can only consume squares of equal or smaller size as they scroll across the screen from left to right in random patterns. The size of the squares you need to avoid decreases as your square gets bigger, but it also becomes more difficult to dodge the bigger blocks. If you die you start again from the beginning, old school style. Also, free.


No Brakes Valet – Another fairly simply styled retro-looking game. As a valet, you are tasked with parking cars in a parking lot viewed from above. Cars are fired out from two lanes (or four lanes in two-player) and need to have their brakes applied and be steered into position – you get bigger tips given for accurately lining up the car with a designated parking spot. Cars with ‘NO BRAKES’ can cause carnage with your carefully-aligned efforts, as can a badly parked larger vehicle (especially when carrying chickens!). You also get bonus points for parking the PM in the VIP parking slot. A game that seems no more than silly distraction in single player soon becomes a great ‘after the pub’ multiplayer mayhem of silliness.

Dub Wars – (Not pictured) Electronic-looking dual stick shooter that only allows you to fire at enemies in time to the beat of a dubstep track which gives you massively destructive powers when the wub wubs kick in. This is nearly as dumb as it sounds, but manages to amount to a playable dual stick game with an interesting gameplay mechanic that is enjoyable to play. Only one track available at the moment but currently free. Needs more dubstep. Also, wub wubs.

Quizania – (Not pictured) A threadbare, but entirely sufficient quiz game that tasks everyone with answering questions within a time limit, with bonus points on offer for faster answers. It’s free to download and the question packs that go with the game can then be selected to give a choice of subjects in a quiz that is tracked across sets of ten questions with the help of graphs. Interestingly, Quizania can use the OUYA pad, an Xbox 360 pad, a PS3 pad as well as Android phones and tablets for up to eight-player matches.

A Bit of Fist of AwesomeRichard recently previewed A Fist of Awesome and this was the only game clearly labelled as a demo on the OUYA store. I was glad of the chance to get a taste of just how awesome that fist is myself.

Also of note:

There are a number of RPGs, most notably Final Fantasy III. A number of other vertically/horizontally scrolling shoot’em ups are also available – my favourite of which is Sypher Arcade. There’s also a few other driving and sports games including Natural Soccer – a fairly competent recreation of Sensible Soccer – and Flashbot 3D, a WipEout clone.

Dawn Earth is a free 3D space shooter that is slightly under-polished in terms of presentation, but the dogfights in SPAAAACE are pretty fun. Polarity feels like a poor man’s Portal (which is hardly a bad thing) where you much switch between two opposing polarities to be able to pass through or land on barriers or platforms in order to progress. Happy Vikings is a cutesy cartoon puzzle game designed around stacking BARRELS and chests of gold by picking them up with your little jolly Viking chap and then placing them in groups of three – the result of which is an enjoyable third-person ‘match three’ game. Kinoto Ninja is a nicely styled endless runner and is joined in the race by the old pace setter, Canabalt and the more recent and stylish Vector.

A number of the games above help showcase, at least a bit, of what the OUYA can do in terms of online play and possibly replicating genres that have proved successful on consoles. But so far, the majority of my enjoyment has come from simple games that are just fun to play – and the OUYA may find a market from porting Android games that feel better to play with anolog sticks.


All of the games mentioned above are available through the OUYA store directly, but you can also delve into the slightly grey and murky world of emulators. There are emulators for SNES, N64 and DS already available on the store too.

There are also a number of apps, such as Blue Board, which allows you use your Android device as a Bluetooth keyboard, SwitchTV for the watching of live streams, TuneIn Radio for your musical needs and a GAME.minder app that helps you keep track of new game releases.


It’s still early days for the OUYA. With more competition on the way in terms of other Android consoles like GameStick and, should the rumours be true, a cut-price diskless Xbox 360 that serves up access to extensive back catalogue of XBLA titles and Xbox Apps such as Netflix , OUYA needs to make sure it gets off to a good start when it’s released to the public on June 25th. There is still time to work on the presentation of storefront, inconsistencies in how purchases are made and a few other elements. One thing is true, however – new games are being added all the time. There was even one added during the time it took me to write this article. I am going to see what it is –it may be a fun free game.

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  1. ThaJM

    Looks pretty good! I think it was serendipitous that you bought “The Ball”, it showed me that the Ouya can ouput some pretty decent graphics if pushed. Although looking at the rest of your games, i think the more graphical intensive games will be a minority. Not that it’s a bad thing, that’s what our other gaming consoles are for eh?

    Will this be an ongoing series? If so, i’d like to suggest a tour of the Ouya interface. The storefront, system menu, settings etc. Thanks!

  2. Hi Tim!

    A little fun fact from Dawn Earth is that OUYA approached us to bring our Android game to the OUYA. Without a developer console, (ours never arrived), we jumped in the challenge and ported our game from Android to OUYA and we have been testing it with the help of the gamers who have played it! =) I imagine we will be able to push more polish to it when we finally get an OUYA Console on our hands.

    Still we recently got a new update pushed up to the OUYA Marketplace. It brings up a couple of game breaking fixes we discovered early (thanks to our testers) and we added a little enhancement to the beginning of the game.

    Currently we are all back at the dung.. er. um. Office, coding a new game for PC. For more details check us out at http://indiehex.com or follow our page in facebook at http://facebook.com/indiehex.dawnearth

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