The OUYA is a little box that has big dreams, riding a massive wave of Kickstarter hype over its open source software all the way to the front doorstep of fans. Unfortunately this particular dream seems to be the kind that you wake up from with a sudden jolt, shaken and dripping in the shame of a concept only half realized.
The first thing you'll notice about the OUYA is that it's charmingly small, especially when compared to the other major league consoles currently out there. Even the Wii seems bulky sitting next to the thing. Typically when you want to ferry a game system over to a friend's house it's a huge ordeal, requiring a big bag and lots of fearful hand wringing during transport, the devices often being as delicate as they are large. This isn't so with the OUYA, owing largely to the decision to venture away from the disc based model. Although we don't recommend shaking it intentionally, the OUYA is actually durable enough to be jostled during gameplay without crashing your game. Be careful when you touch it, though: With only one exhaust vent on the bottom, this thing can get rather hot.
Startup is so startlingly fast that you won't be sure you'd turned the console off correctly the last time you used it. Sadly, the magic begins to unravel shortly after that. The brightly colored menu flares up with artsy categories like Discover and Create, and while that may look pretty at first it isn't very informative and starts to feel gimmicky after a while.
Again owing to the lack of a disc drive, in order to actually play games on this console you'll need to first connect to the internet and then download them. The OUYA's wireless sensor has an appalling range so there's a good chance you'll get reacquainted with that Ethernet cable you so lovingly laid to rest in the attic back in the day. Once you have managed to connect your device you'll be ready to download some of those deliciously free-to-try Android games you've been hearing so much about, but not before signing up for an account, where literally the first step in the process is a prompt to enter your credit card information. It's reasonable that they'd need that information to facilitate the sale of full, paid versions of each game, but making it essential to any console use seems excessive.