OUYA is set to hit retail at the end of this month, and as a backer, I've already had an extensive look at the Kickstarted cube both inside and out. This cut-price alternative promises to distrupt traditional consoles with an inclusive take on homebrew and free-to-play development, with every title available to download for free and playable in some form (whether a timed trial, or via microtransactions). Though the pre-launch software lineup is a little on the anaemic side, there's still a number of completely free applications on the marketplace, both in terms of games and handy applications that allow you to make the most of the little cubic contender.
So, to get you started, here are ten fantastic free OUYA games and applications that should net you hours of fun without having to pay a single penny (though a donation to the hard-working developers probably isn't too much to ask...).
Whether you're a Kickstarter backer or are thinking of hopping on the bandwagon at launch, hopefully you'll be able to hit the ground running.
If Vector looks great on Android phones, its big-screen debut is something else. Sporting gorgeous visuals and plenty of unlocks, this Canabalt-inspired parkour platformer packs fluid animations, detailed backdrops, involving gameplay and loads of content for absolutely free.
Hardware optimisation needs work, though, as evidenced by a stuttering frame rate.
9:Deep Dungeons Of Doom
What first appears to be a Roguelike quickly becomes a cross between a QTE and rhythm game as you venture through multi-level dungeons slaying a range of disgusting beasties. Persistent character development and a slick inventory system makes for a deceptively deep and enjoyable experience, which differs radically depending on your choice of three classes.
Before we go any further: Deep Dungeons Of Doom is freemium, not free. However, you'll still have access to plenty of levels without paying a single penny.
8: Star Shipping
This odd little proposition casts players as a futuristic market trader who buys low and sells high throughout a dangerous solar system. The rough and ready interface makes sense when played using the controller touchpad, and is one of the only decent uses for it at present. Gameplay can be awkward and slightly hands-off, but for the bargain price of no money at all, Star Shipping is certainly worth a download as an entertaining diversion.
This 'endless jumper' is one of several Doodle Jump clones on the store, but differentiates itself by offering a neat rotating mechanic that makes you really think about timing and direction before each leap. It's also colourful, enjoyable and totally free. Which is nice.
If you don't mind paying a couple of quid, the fully-featured Knightmare Tower does the business in considerable style.
6: Zombies & Trains
I can't believe no-one thought of it sooner. As the title suggests, you'll defend a central prize from waves of ravening undead using high-speed locomotives; ripping apart the necrotic hordes with tonnes of screaming metal. The retro art style and soundtrack are both attractive to boot.
Numerous modes and upgrades make for a seriously mental execution challenge, and a brilliant waste of time that doesn't carry a price tag.
So, yeah. It's TwitchTV. On the OUYA.
The client is solid enough, and streaming quality is reasonable (depending on your connection, of course).
Couch co-op fans should make a beeline for Sci-Fighters the moment they finish downloading the initial firmware update. Headup Games' four-player evade 'em up throws you and your pals into some tight arenas, wherein you'll do your best to stay away from a ravening monster while abusing competitors with a range of powerups. Sharp and expressive visuals, coupled with a strong soundtrack, wouldn't have seemed out of place at a premium price.
Note that Sci-Fighters includes a 'donate' option, which you should naturally take advantage of should you enjoy the fun and frantic product.
This lovely app lets you listen to live radio from practically everywhere in the world; giving you live content listings, genre breakdowns, favourite functionality and more. Better yet, it can run in the background, allowing you to listen to some classic rock while plugging away at Final Fantasy III. TuneIn has been optimised well and is very convenient to navigate with the touchpad alone.
I'd personally recommend tuning into X106.7 - San Antonio's most commercial free classic rock station. Back to back Journey, Styx, Kiss, Rolling Stones and AC/DC? Go on then. Damn, I wish UK radio was this good...
Not a game so much as a timesaving measure, this beta application lets you turn an Android phone or tablet into a wireless keyboard. You'll need to download the free OUYA app and its companion on your device of choice (get it on Google Play here) before effortlessly synching them up.
Considering that the OUYA's virtual keyboard is absolute rubbish, I can't recommend this enough. Note that the keys might be rather small and fiddly depending on the size of your phone, though.
Not only is this innovative Indie project totally free, but it's probably the best game on the OUYA console so far. It's easily the finest exclusive title at the time of writing. Developed during a game jam, EVAC blends familiar Pac-Man panic maze mechanics with stealth, hectic action and puzzle solving along with eyepopping visuals and a sensational soundtrack. It's fresh, vibrant and worth your immediate attention.
Brilliantly, you can net the whole game for free and optionally donate to the developers in exchange for a couple of unnecessary but handy perks. Considering the quality and quantity on offer, you really ought to show your appreciation with a couple of Dollars.
That should be more than enough to get you started, but if you've got some suggestions of great OUYA games (both free and premium), then let us know in the comments! If you're developing for OUYA, note that I'll feature or review practically anything I'm sent.