The OUYA was extremely hyped and anticipated during and following its amazingly successful Kickstarter last year, and people felt that this console would open new possibilities for indie publishers to bring their games to life. Has it lived up to the hype? Read on to find out…

The OUYA’s purpose is to provide an open platform on which developers can create their games without publishing restrictions and platform rules taking over their creative possibilities and restricting some of their ideas from coming to fruition. It also aims to bring inexpensive indie gaming (which has exploded on mobile devices in recent years) to the TV.

At the very low price of $100, there is little risk in picking up an OUYA. The improved wireless controller (more on that later) and console you get for the price is very good value, regardless of the fact the game selection is a little limited at the moment, however, this is to be expected as with a new platform which only came into existence last year, there will be a slow adoption at first. The console includes a Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of DDR3 RAM and 8GB of flash storage – which is comparable with today’s smartphones. Since the console runs Android (albeit heavily modified) it is not that difficult for publishers to optimise their games for the system.

On to the controller. The controller, in my opinion, is shaped nicely and although the back triggers feel a little cheap, the rest of the controller is very solid and feels like a premium product in your hands. The buttons and sticks are much, much improved and the only problem rests in the D-Pad, which isn’t terrible, but also isn’t fantastic. To be fair to the team, Microsoft only recently perfected their D-Pad after YEARS of trial and error, so, we can’t criticise OUYA too much – the rest of the controller is great. Also featured on the controller is a touchpad, however, this hasn’t really been utilised on games yet and can be a little glitchy.

On the back of the console (which is extremely small), you’ll find a HDMI port, a USB port, a micro-USB port, a socket for the power adapter and an ethernet port. Impressively, the $100 package even comes with an HDMI cable and 2 AA batteries, two items you would not find in-box with the Xbox 360 console and controller.

Moving onto the UI; the OUYA home screen is split into four separate sections, PLAY, DISCOVER, MAKE and MANAGE. PLAY allows you to enjoy games you downloaded to try or games your purchased on the OUYA store, however, it would be nice if there were more options to filter and separate games into folders or sections; something I’m sure the OUYA team will implement in the future. DISCOVER is the name of the OUYA store. Here you can download games to try (unlocking the full game is completed in-game) which are sorted by filters like genre, trending, special pics and OUYA exclusives. Games can also be searched for through the store.

MAKE allows OUYA developers to test builds of their game. You can also use the browser application and sideload Android APKs, which, when installed, can be found in the SOFTWARE subsection within the MAKE section. Finally, MANAGE allows you to edit the settings of your console, update your system and view notifications. You can manage your account, internet settings, system settings and also access the ‘advanced’ Android backend of the console to edit and view other information.

The interface is very simple, but effective. Menus are quick and fluid and pose no trouble to navigate. The Discover section needs more games which move away from the mobile gaming idea and become more like indie titles found on the PSN and XBL Marketplace. Of course, only so much can be done with the hardware, however, it would be nice to see more complex titles which could be enjoyed for longer sittings. The current line-up includes a few hidden gems, however, a lot of the games are quick games one would play for 5/10 minutes at a time. I do understand however, that the console will take time to sink into the market, and, after selling out in retail channels at such a speed, larger developers will likely become interested. The console has a lot of potential to deliver and I am sure it will once more developers sign on. The OUYA only needs time.

One of the places where the OUYA shines is in its lineup of emulators. Old, classic games can be emulated and run on the console – and they all play fantastic. Going back to NES, SNES, PSX and GBA games works a treat, and the OUYA and its controller are perfectly capable of handling the games. One of the apps even includes a store in which you can purchase old ROMS to play on the emulator. You won’t find blockbuster titles on the system, however, I wouldn’t count up some fully fledged game experiences coming to the console in time. It may not be powerful enough to play graphically-complex games at 1080p, but developers should be able to reduce resolutions or even create a modern-themed game with a full story but with 8-bit graphics.

To round up our review, we definitely see the platform as having a lot of potential, and in time we will see many improvements in the selection of titles and the console’s features. The OUYA should only get better from now, and can’t be denied as being excellent value, and for anybody who loves playing classic games on emulators; this console is for you!