The Ouya is where indie games rule. With nearly the same free reign as the indie scene on PC, the Ouya marketplace is open to a colossal range of Android ports, converted Flash games, and original projects. They're all free to try, but with so many available, it can be tricky knowing which ones you should download. Well, wonder no more--these are the best of the best on Ouya, and are absolutely worth your time and money.
We played almost every game on the Ouya marketplace, and these ten stood out above the rest. Sure, you could play many of these games on other systems, be it your PC or smartphone. But the experience of playing them on the Ouya is where they shine, and their affordability belies their everlasting fun. Since an Ouya will only cost you $99, these games are where all your savings should go.
Something about Polarity's no-frills simplicity makes it an incredibly inviting brainteaser. Polarity is one of many in the long list of first-person puzzle games inspired by the success of Portal. But instead of warping space-time, the gimmick here is the ability to charge yourself with red and blue energy. Or rather, a representation of yourself--you play as a hacker trying to break through a highly secure firewall, in a Tron-like, minimalistic environment.
Polarity is about as straightforward as they come, with little in the way of music, story, or visuals (understandable, seeing as its the pet project of a lone developer). But the puzzles themselves have a soothing, meditative quality to them, giving you all the time in the world to ponder your way to the solution. Unlike The Ball, an excellent PC puzzle game that suffers from the transition to Ouya, Polarity can't be experienced anywhere else. Give it a try if you're in need of some mellow problem solving.
14. Ice Rage
Some may disagree, but our fondest memories of hockey games go back to the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. Ice Rage embodies the spirit of nights spent playing Blades of Steel and NHL 95, while infusing the puck-smacking action with a flavor all its own. The singleplayer offers a surprising amount of variety: classic hockey, tournaments, or a deathmatch mode where you bash each other to death and scoring does crazy damage.
But where Ice Rage really excels is in the head-to-head multiplayer. It's easily one of the Ouya's most exhilarating versus games, where duels on the ice against an equally skilled opponent will produce one memorable moment after the next. Beginners will rest easy knowing that their goalie is AI-controlled, but experts can take matters into their own hands by controlling their shot-blocker manually. Ice Rage is a blast to play, even for those who could care less about real-world sports.
13. Wind-up Knight
Forgot toy soldiers--it's all about knights in shining armor with giant gear keys in their backs. Wind-up Knight is a level-based, 2.5D auto-scroller in the same vein as the excellent Runner 2, where you must guide a miniature hero through a gauntlet of medieval-themed obstacles. You'll have to slice apart cockatrices with your sword, leap over treacherous spike pits, and shield your noggin from fire traps--potentially all within the space of seconds, depending on how far you've fought into the game.
Wind-up Knight knows the secret to runner game replay value, filling each stage with secrets and challenges that'll keep perfectionists busy. There's also a satisfying item progression, letting you acquire sweet upgrades using coins you've collected during your runs. With tons of levels and plenty of S grades to chase after, you can get a lot of mileage (no pun intended) out of this one.
12. Beast Boxing Turbo
This arcade-style boxer falls somewhere between Punch-Out!! and Zeno Clash, nicely balancing light-hearted, fast-paced fisticuffs with a healthy dose of weirdness when it comes to character design. You play as Char, a human girl masquerading as an insectoid creature to compete in the Beast Boxing Leagues. With the help of your porcine coach Piglas, you'll K.O. any monster that you meet in the ring on the road to the top of the circuit.
BBT pulls no punches when it comes to difficulty, forcing you to learn your opponents' patterns of attack if you want any hope of winning the later fights. Defense is just as important as offense, since mindlessly wailing at the uppercut button will tire you out in a hurry; it's much more important to strike at just the right moment. Addictive equipment management and increasingly tricky tutorials round out this distinctive prizefighter.
Breakout clones are a dime a dozen, but WizOrb is in a league of its own. Unlike the countless ball-and-paddle imitators you've likely played over the years, WizOrb hooks you with a fully realized fantasy world and a distinct retro flavor, creating something entirely unique in the process. As the stumpy wizard Cyrus, it's up to you to defend the people of Gorudo from encroaching monsters, using your magical powers and the ability to keep a mystical orb in play.
All the typical annoyances of the Breakout formula are done away with in WizOrb, thanks to a slew of spells you can cast on command. One errant block that you just can't seem to hit? Blast it with a fireball. Think you won't be able to move your paddle (sorry, wand) in time to reflect the orb? Shift the wind to curve the ball's trajectory. When you're not chipping away at baddies, you can help out the adorable pixelated citizens of nearby towns or expand your knowledge of sorcery.
10. Canabalt HD
You've no doubt played this highly addictive Flash game countless times. But have you ever played it in HD on your TV? The one-button game that helped vault the "endless runner" genre into the spotlight looks gorgeous on the Ouya, with your choice of spruced up polygonal visuals or the classic pixelated look. Your suited, unnamed protagonist controls just the same, leaping from rooftop to rooftop in a desperate attempt to escape the giant robot apocalypse. And Danny Baranowsky's pulse-pounding soundtrack is as powerful as ever.
There's also a bunch of additional modes in the Ouya version, which change the variables in your randomly generated run. For instance, can you survive a sprint across skyscrapers when they're covered in crates? What if all the buildings are invisible, with only pigeons to guide your jumps? You'll also encounter a new, terrifying obstacles: colossal robotic arms which serve as platforms after they've tried to crush you.
9. Super Crate Box
Simple, arcade-style experiences can often lead to the most feverishly addictive games. Super Crate Box is the perfect example of the maxim "less is more," with a single screen's worth of action that can keep you playing for hours on end. The goal is simple: collect weapon crates as they randomly drop around the stage, and kill any green ghouls that get in your way. It sounds simple, but things get extremely hectic when baddies drop in faster than you can kill them. And, oh yeah, they go into something of a rage mode if they cycle through the bottom ground's firepit.
Mastering Super Crate Box is an art form, where you have to get comfortable with switching weapon types on the fly. SCB delivers a plethora of unlocks with just the right cadence; eventually, you'll go from firing peashooter pistols to flamethrowers and bazookas. The pace is fast and furious, and you'll find any reason you can to hit the "Restart" button just one more time.
What if Pac-Man tried to escape the confines of his maze? That's the basic premise of Evac, a neon-soaked interpretation of the classic arcade game. Instead of a plain yellow puck, you control a bright pink cube, sliding around collecting colored pellets and avoiding red guards instead of ghosts. But in Evac, you have much more control over your environment. You can trap guards by pushing boxes, hide in concealed alcoves, or flip switches to open up new avenues. You also have more in the way of power-ups, letting you stun enemies with an electric shock or simulate the Power Pellet with your own enemy-crushing Aura.
Evac's visuals are captivating, with a unique neon palette that's still distinct from Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. The soundtrack is filled with excellent synth, that's at once soothing and foreboding. And you'll be genuinely curious to see Evac's story all the way through, as a shadowy figure discourages you from escaping every step of the way.
7. Final Fantasy III
Say what you will about the current state of Square Enix, but it's hard to deny that they do JRPG remakes right. Final Fantasy III (the actual third game in the series, not the Super Nintendo conversion of FFVI) is an Ouya console exclusive, and while it may not be the Ouya's killer app, its presence is definitely appreciated. With a touching story, polygonal graphics from the Nintendo DS remade, and classic FF gameplay, this is marks the perfect opportunity to play an old-school RPG that you might've missed the first time around.
Keep in mind that this is very much a game of its time, so battles are incredibly straightforward, and the story might seem a little clich. But, as with any medium, the classics can show us a lot more than we might expect. For instance, FFIII marked the birth of the job class system, which lets you switch your party members' specialties whenever you see fit. Seeing the birth of such a significant Final Fantasy hallmark is worth the price of admission alone.
6. You Don't Know Jack
We can say, beyond a reasonable doubt, that YDKJ is the funniest trivia game currently in existence. This is faux TV game show blends pop culture knowledge with archaic minutiae from throughout history, with bitingly hilarious results. You'll learn to love your chatty host, Cookie Masterson, even as he's insulting you for every question you so miserably fail to answer correctly.
It's the perfect party game, letting up to four players join in on the ego-abusing fun. And, since it's highly unlikely that you'll have four Ouya controllers lying around, anyone can jump in using their QR-code-scanning smartphone as a buzzer. YDKJ is a fool-proof way to get you and your friends cursing each other out between fits of laughter. And those special question jingles (particularly Cookie's Fortune Cookies and Funky Trash) are simply amazing.
5. Saturday Morning RPG
If you have fond memories of the '80s and '90s, this RPG will light up all the nostalgia pleasure centers in your brain. As the referentially named Marty (complete with your own hoverboard for fast travel), you're sucked into a dream inspired by your favorite Saturday morning cartoons. Using an almighty trapper keeper bestowed upon you by the Wizard, only you can save your crush from the clutches of evil.
The graphics are a charming mix of traditional sprites in a 3D world, and the turn-based battles are chock full of interactive minigames that keep you on your toes. Attacks come in the form of awesome throwbacks, like a stampede of Fruit Stripe-colored zebras or a devastating floppy disk toss. SMRPG also has the best use of the Ouya controller's touchpad we've seen thus far: simulating the act of frantically clawing at scratch and sniff stickers to power up before a fight.
4. Streemerz (EMUya)
Given how emulation-friendly the Ouya is, there's a good chance that you bought it to play some retro games on your TV. But besides the classics, you'll also discover some truly great homebrew games, which beautifully capture the old-school feel and challenge of your favorite NES carts. Streemerz is one such game, included for free with the NES emulator EMUya. It plays off the tropes of the Action 52 original and Bionic Commando to brilliant effect: your hero still can't jump, but in place of a high-tech mechanical arm, he gets around by grappling on ceilings with a festive party streamer.
Everything you know and love from Radd Spencer's adventures is here, albeit in a slightly altered form. In place of Hitl--we mean, Master D, you'll face off against Master Y and his deadly balls. Instead of the Badds, your enemies consist of pie-throwing clowns. Streemerz even manages to recreate the Engrish-filled hilarity of the intercom cutscenes, as well as the game's tough-but-rewarding difficulty.
3. Deep Dungeons of Doom
RPGs are all about choice. Attack aggressively, or maintain your defense? Respawn where you are, or restart entirely? Keep your existing gear, or drop it for a chance at new loot? Skill up your survivability or specialize in all-out magical offense? Deep Dungeons of Doom encompasses all of these complex decisions into two buttons and a D-pad. Floor by floor, you must descend into the underground lairs of classic medieval fantasy, slaying monsters and discovering shrines along the way.
The combat is completely timing-based, forcing you to maintain a balance between attacking and blocking in response to your enemy's telegraphed actions. With three character classes to choose from and a host of different ghouls to cut down, there's variety aplenty in DDD. And the graphics--oh, the graphics. The pixelated art style is a retro gamer's dream, with gorgeous cutscenes preceding each quest. Everything about DDD just oozes old-school charm.
If any Ouya exclusive can sell the system like hot cakes, it's TowerFall. This four-player archery melee is almost too much fun, with the kind of carefully thought-out design that defines the best competitive games. It's not as simple as spamming shots in the enemies' direction; you have a limited supply of arrows in your quiver, but you can pick up stray arrows, and dashing into an oncoming arrow will catch it in midair.
Single-player is a tad limited: all you can do is hone your skills against test dummies. Luckily, four-player sessions should be well within your reach, given that TowerFall supports 360 and PS3 controllers. The art's incredible (by the same team behind Deep Dungeons of Doom), and there's plenty of level variety to go around. Add to this the plentiful power-ups and arrow types, and you've got one amazingly frantic, exceptionally fun multiplayer game.
1. Knightmare Tower
There are triple-A, $60 games that pale in comparison to the enjoyment we got from Knightmare Tower. If we're not mistaken, we played it for four hours straight one night--and we can't wait till we can play more. You're a knight with a rocket, propelling yourself up a giant tower to save princesses and gaining speed by slashing the parade of enemies below you. Missing a downwards slash will make you lose velocity--and that means you're in danger of being engulfed by a wave of molten magma.
This arcade-style launching game is so addictive, and so expertly crafted to achieve maximum fun, that it will make you forget about all the troubles in the world. With each attempt, you can feel your skill level increasing--and with a ton of achievements and upgrades to spend your in-game gold on, there's always another carrot on a stick to chase. Your valiant knight controls like a dream with the Ouya controller (no small feat), and taking turns with friends is just as delightful as playing solo. In short, it's just plain incredible.
And many more
Those aren't the only awesome Ouya games, mind you.Games like Pix'n Love Rush and Bombball are worthy of an honorable mention. If you have a penchant for the wild and weird, then oddities like Amazing Frog and The Little Crane That Could will be right up your alley. Any other Ouya games you think we missed? Call it out in the comments below.
If you're looking for our full verdict of the Ouya, check out our Ouya review (Retail system).