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Ouya Hacks and Mods – best projects explored

The Ouya console is finally out of its Kickstarter-funded development and in the eager hands of gamers. So far, reviews have been a little mixed with most reviewers citing a lack of decent games and some concerns about the responsiveness of the bundled controller.

But, but, BUT. It is still early doors for the Ouya. In the coming weeks we hope that the bugs will be ironed out and developers will begin to create games that make the best of what the console has to offer.

Even if official games are slow to arrive, the Ouya was designed from the ground up to be hackable and there are already projects out there that aim to take the little £99 box and twist in into new and interesting shapes. Here is our roundup of some of the best.

Emulation nationOuya pics

There are already apps built for Ouya test hardware that can emulate almost every games console from the Atari 2600 up to the PlayStation 1. Whether you crave classic NES games, SEGA Dreamcast titles or hanker for a lost youth playing on a Commodore 64 the Ouya could be the ideal multi-emulator box for your living room.

As ever, the legal status of these emulators is a little shaky but many of these emulators seem to be thriving in the Google Play store for other Android platforms so, providing you own the originals of course, we think you can look forward to retro gaming heaven if you don’t mind side-loading the ROMs yourself. The complete list of known emulators on Ouya can be found here.


Ouya pics 1

Weirdly, there is not yet a version of Linux for the Ouya. We say weirdly because there is a version of Linux for practically everything. Your phone, your dishwasher, that small lump of modeling clay you found behind your radiator – all can probably be persuaded to boot a Linux kernel and display at least a command line prompt. As yet though, there is nothing for the Ouya.

However, don’t be disheartened, Linux fans. Efforts are underway to get the Debian kernel to boot on the Ouya and there don’t seem to be any technical barriers standing in the way. Once someone cracks it the Ouya could make an excellent little box for web browsing and light office use with the addition of a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Plus, of course, the prospect of playing the huge library of Linux games without the need to adhere to Ouya’s business model. Nethack on the telly? Count us in.

We’ll be back with more news of Linux on the Ouya as it arrives.

XBMCOuya pics 2

As with the Raspberry Pi, we were very pleased to see that the XBMC media player has been ported to the Ouya. For the uninitiated, XBMC started life as a hack to turn the original Xbox into a multimedia browser and player but has evolved into a complete home media hub that makes playing your library of music and video a breeze and can handle multiple formats. It is also actively developed and ports are available for many different platforms.

A bit of effort is required to side-load the app onto the Ouya and it is a bit slow at the moment but once the bugs are ironed out this has the potential to make the Ouya a cheap and cheerful media hub.

Hardware hackingOuya

Replacing a crucial part of your Xbox 360 means running the risk of being banned from Xbox Live for unauthorized modification. The Ouya, on the other hand, is designed to be popped open and fiddled with for fun or to improve its basic hardware.

This YouTube clip shows one Ouya owner taking action to fix the noisy fan in his box with an ultra-quiet Noctua fan. He also whipped out the four metal weight designed to stabilize the Ouya on a flat surface as he plans to wall-mount the box behind his monitor.

One slight snag with modifying the Ouya’s guts is that the device itself is titchy – just 75mm to a side. Of course, there is nothing to stop you taking those innards and putting them in a nice new case, either to give more space for modifications or just because it looks cool.

Case mods like this are fairly routine in the PC world but there is an interesting new option available for Ouya owners who have access to a 3D printer. The company behind Ouya has provided the 3D printing pioneers MakerBot with the exact 3D modeling dimensions of the Ouya’s case so you can ‘print’ one in the colour of your choice. The model file is publicly available so we would expect to see remixes available in short order.

NuidroidOuya pics 3

The Ouya ships with a single controller that has the usual analog stick, D-pad and shoulder triggers plus a central touchpad meant to make playing certain Android games easier. The beauty of Ouya’s openness (when compared to the locked-down Microsoft-approval-required Xbox One) is that you pair it with practically any Bluetooth controller, even a mouse & keyboard if you really need to fully old school when you play a first-person shooter.

It doesn’t have to stop there, though. Nuidroid is a project to bring motion control to the Ouya. Essentially a homebrew version of the Xbox 360’s Kinect, Nuidroid can work with any ARM-powered Android device but the Ouya seems like a perfect fit. Here is a clip of the Nuidroid developers giving a demo of their controller on an early Ouya dev box.

Next, read our preview of the Ouya

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