The OUYA Doesn’t Actually Suck: How To Make The Indie Console Great

The OUYA Doesn’t Actually Suck: How To Make The Indie Console Great

Everybody loved the OUYA until it came out, and then they realised it didn’t quite live up to its promise of becoming an inexpensive, independent gaming platform that rivals the big consoles. Regardless of what OUYA becomes, it is a great device when approached from the right mindset. Here’s how I made the best of my OUYA and came to love it.

Photo by Chirstopher Robert Alba and Ubergizmo

When I first backed OUYA, I did so more on principle than anything else. I liked the idea of upsetting the gaming industry, even though I knew any company attempting to do so would find a rough road ahead. When the console saw release, most of the backers received an exceptionally buggy platform with very few games and had to wait about a month until we could even call the OUYA usable. Non-backers didn’t love the game selection on the console, and many people felt unsatisfied. So why do I actually love the thing?

It’s a $US99 set top box that runs Android and does more than play mobile games with a controller. You can also fix some of its annoyances yourself. While OUYA may not serve as the ultimate indie console you hoped for, you can make it worthwhile and fun nevertheless.

Emulate, Emulate, Emulate

The obvious solution to a lack of games on the OUYA is emulation. If you want to play the games of the past, you can find support for practically any console and the OUYA has enough horsepower to even manage Nintendo 64 and PlayStation One games. If you want to still get your game on while you wait for new titles to come — and some cool ones really are beginning to surface — you should sink your teeth into emulation. With a USB hub, OUYA works with a variety of other controllers (but we’ll to that in a moment).


Use Better Controllers

While OUYA put a lot of thought into the controller, most gamers — myself included — didn’t care much for it. Aside from difficult battery access, you get a lot of unnecessary bulk that leads to overall discomfort when playing (unless you have very large hands, in which case you may have found your controller soulmate). Fortunately, Android supports a ton of controllers and that means OUYA can use a good number of them, too. Even OUYA acknowledges this. Some controllers only work in emulators (e.g. Nintendo Wii controllers, USB SNES controllers) but some work across the board.

The Sony PS3 controller offers the best experience, in my opinion, because it works with the OUYA system both over USB and Bluetooth. A couple of PS3 controllers can set you back almost as much as the OUYA system itself, so you don’t want to have to go out and buy them. That said, if you have a couple that you don’t use you can simply follow these instructions to pair them with your console and give them new life.


Install Music and Video Apps

Why restrict OUYA to just a gaming platform? You can add a bunch of media applications for streaming video. Over anything else you should install Plex, as it offers one of the simplest ways to stream your video and music collection and works very well. Plex also allows you to take the OUYA with you to someone else’s house or on vacation and stream your media over the internet (presuming your home connection provides sufficient speed). That, in itself, justifies the console for me.

In addition to Plex, some people have managed to install XBMC (for those of you who prefer it). You can also sideload Netflix, MX Player (for DLNA video streaming), HBO Go, and much more. Not all sideloaded apps work perfectly, but many work well. If you want OUYA to do something it can’t do on its own, give it an unsupported APK that you want to use. You might surprise yourself when you see what works.


Learn More

These are just a few ways to improve the experience on your OUYA so you don’t feel like you just blew $US100 on a console without any games you love. Hopefully that platform will grow and prosper in the future, but whether it does or not you can at least create a box you actually like. If you want to learn more about OUYA hacks and mods or just learn some general tips, check out OUYAly, the OUYA Wiki, and Day of the OUYA.


  • I was one of the original backers fro the OUYA, i did a lot of research into it before originally backing it.
    sure the hold ups and mess arounds when it came to the shipping were annoying. but it was exactly as they stated it would be, people expected way too much for a $100 andrioid console small enough to fit in your hand.
    it sits right next to my TV with my two controllers at the ready, when im bored or just want to screw around i load up Ocarina of time on the Meupen64+ emu and blow an hour (usually more)

    • Yeah, I don’t know about that. For someone that already has a proper console and a Roku, there’s very little appeal. I was also an original backer – I tried this piece of c**p twice and gave up on it. It does games terribly and is not terribly useful for streaming. Buy a PS3 for games (assuming a budget) or a Roku 3 for streaming (same price). If you are outside the US or UK, get access to Netflix anyway (follow … and don’t get an Ouya. It’s a paperweight.

  • How does the Ouya compare to the rasp pi for playing back media. I have a couple of tv’s that I would like to chuck a media player at. I have ran network cable to them both and now just need something that can stream media from the plex server.

    • The Raspberry Pi is fairly underpowered: it has a 700MHz CPU from an older ARM architecture that most people have moved on from. The thing that makes it usable as a media box is the VideoCore media processor: so it works pretty well if your media is in one of the supported formats, but not so well if the CPU needs to handle it.

      You should have somewhat more headroom on an Ouya, as you’d expect for a box that costs ~ 4 times as much.

    • *shrug* they both have dedicated GPU’s which when well used, should mean either can do fine in this capacity.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!