News Article

Android-based Ouya Console Will Have NES and SNES Emulation At Launch

Posted by Damien McFerran

Wii U rival to offer ability to play ROMs on your TV

Ouya is one of the more high-profile Kickstarter campaigns, having raised a staggering $8.6 million in 2012. The system will run on Google's Android operating system and should retail for less than $100 when it launches in June this year.

Although its primary objective is to host titles similar to those seen on Android and iOS, the open nature of the platform is already starting to throw up some potential problems. It is being reported that hacking groups are working on emulators for both the NES and SNES, both of which will be available at launch. Although Ouya will use its own custom version of Android, it will be "open source" and "hackable", according to its creators. That means it will be relatively easy for bedroom coders to create apps and games for the system.

Existing Android users will already be aware that there are a wide range of retro emulators available on the Google Play market, so this news shouldn't come as too much of a shock. However, it will be interesting to see how Nintendo reacts to the news; the Ouya is considered by many to be a direct challenger to traditional consoles like the Wii U, which also offers NES and SNES emulation — but via legal means.

It should be noted that the developers of Ouya have not commented on this news as yet.

What are your feelings on this? Do you see emulation of this kind as illegal, or do you consider it a way of preserving classic games — many of which aren't currently available through legal channels? Post a comment to tell us what you think.

[via computerandvideogames.com]

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User Comments (89)

Bobhobob

#1

Bobhobob said:

I think that this has good and bad points.
Good: I can play the games that I can't afford to buy on eBay
Cons: It might take business out of Ninty's Virtual Console.
Also, FIRST.

AbeVigoda

#2

AbeVigoda said:

Most people who are interested in playing roms have already hacked their exisiting systems to do so already. It only takes like 15-20 mins to get your Wii loaded with thousands of games, plus with adaptors you can play them with original NES, SNES and Genesis controllers.

I don't think this will really affect Nintendo at all.

Shiryu

#3

Shiryu said:

Excelent news. This makes the thing even more attractive then before, but still... I might go for Hyperkin Retron 5 for that, I have quite an extensive cartridge collection as is. Nothing will ever beat the original hardware of course, but they wont last forever...

Tsuchiya

#5

Tsuchiya said:

I really think OUYA will be a hit. I'm no fan of ill gotten games but for those games we must wait years for, accessing them in this way is hardly taking down empires. It's like a protest. It screams at Nintendo. We're telling them they've been stupid for not using their own software properly, it's too expensive or is badly emulated.

Like a zombie dodging Curagas.

Randomname19

#8

Randomname19 said:

Virtual Console is better than roms because it doesn't need messing around to make games run or run better.

Fitzjames

#9

Fitzjames said:

Guys, GUYS. Emulators are NOT illegal. It is the ROMS for copyrighted games that are illegal.

AbeVigoda

#10

AbeVigoda said:

@NintendoLel

How? The emulators won't come pre-installed with the system and will only be downloaded if the buyer chooses to do so. If roms and emulators are illegal, how come Nintendo hasn't sued Sony, Sega and Xbox yet? All of them have or had systems on the market that could run emulators and play Nintendo roms.

TheRegginator

#11

TheRegginator said:

I don't see why the OUYA is worth getting. It's weaker than last gen consoles, uses the outdated Tegra 3 processor, doesn't have that much developer support, has a terrible controller, and requires you to buy an external HDD. Why should I get this when I have a PC that is more than capable of playing every game the OUYA is getting plus way more? Nvidia's Project Shield also makes the OUYA 100% pointless.

MAB

#12

MAB said:

Patent troll takes 30 million... Nintendo takes back 30 million ;)

AG_Awesome

#14

AG_Awesome said:

If Nintendo wanted my money they'd offer this stuff themselves. I don't pirate and I won't ever pirate, but I have no problem with people that do. Maybe Nintendo will see the success of the retro industry and start revamping their VC on the 3ds, wii, and wii u.

Blue-Thunder

#15

Blue-Thunder said:

Emulators are a grey area, but that is nothing my laptop can't do. I can only judge this Ouya console on my gut feeling which is 'I have absolutely no interest in it' so judging myself as an average gamer give or take a bit, this console will not be a big player. I could be way of the mark so lets see.

Ralizah

#17

Ralizah said:

LOL Ouya

So far it doesn't seem to do anything I can't do much better with a decent laptop.

SkywardLink98

#20

SkywardLink98 said:

Instead of suing the people who do this, Nintendo should revamp the 3DS and Wii U VC so that the Ouya isn't even a viable option for playing retro games.

Reala

#21

Reala said:

Actually looking forward to ouya a lot more than I am the wii u to be honest, as for the emulation thing ouya is hardly likely to increase piracy any more than it is right now, people that want to do that most likely already have the means to do so

TwilightV

#23

TwilightV said:

They could always deny online services to anyone that downloads such emulators until they can provide proof that it's been deleted from their console. :P

Araknie

#24

Araknie said:

What a news, not only you can do that on PC without having to buy another console, (you only need 256mb ram, also) but it's also illegal.

So if you promote it they can remove it, they need to be shady like Sony did with the PSP.

SkywardLink98

#25

SkywardLink98 said:

@Fitzjames Well yes, but what I was saying was Nintendo should offer such a better service no one would think of using the Ouya's emulation capabilities.

banacheck

#26

banacheck said:

(Open source) I can see hackers running amok on Ouya, as the same goes for the Steambox...

CanisWolfred

#29

CanisWolfred said:

Of all the dirty underhanded ways to get people interested in a system. But damn did it work. :P

Hyperstar96

#32

Hyperstar96 said:

I love how people are ignoring how big of a deal this console itself is and are only saying "It can run illegal ROMs! This is clearly a big deal even though nearly every Nintendo system since the N64 has also been able to emulate other systems! Someone should stop this monstrosity now!!!"

Come on, people.

SanderEvers

#33

SanderEvers said:

Emulation is just as illegal as roms are! Nintendo hold patents on emulating any of their consoles. (Virtual Console).

Hardy83

#35

Hardy83 said:

@SanderEvers Emulators are not illegal (at least in North America). Having them won't get you in trouble. It's the ROMs that are illegal, and even if you have the physical copy of the game, it's a legal grey area since consumer rights kind of went out the window with the digital era.

AbeVigoda

#37

AbeVigoda said:

@Hyperstar96

What's the big deal about this thing? It does nothing a computer/hacked console/android tablet/phone cant already do. It will have no 'exclusive' games on it that will be worth playing either. When it's big selling point from the start has been emulation, that doesn't scream 'big deal' to me. It's a cheap throw away console that will supposedly see a new Ouya released each year, assuming this one succeeds.

ouroborous

#38

ouroborous said:

interesting, but really, anyone with a pc has all the emulators they could want already.

rjejr

#39

rjejr said:

@Strongo9 Are you describing the OUYA or the Wii U as a system not worth getting? The arguments are very similar.

ejamer

#41

ejamer said:

I don't think Nintendo can do much if/when this happens, unless they can identify and sue the individuals doing the hacking. Even then it's not entirely clear they'll have a case - depends on jurisdiction and other factors. They didn't get much when Wii turning into a cracked emulation machine. Why would this be any different?

Clearly illegal to download and play games you don't have any business accessing, but that doesn't stop most people and Ouya will likely enjoy the attention of being a cheap and convenient emulation box.

HeatBombastic

#42

HeatBombastic said:

On the topic on, "Is emulating illegal?" I'm not way too familiar with the topic, but I think I get it. The Supreme Court ruled you can do what you want to a game you own, you can hack it and such. If you can do what you want with your game you can import it on your computer, and that means emulating right? From what I can tell people download ROMs that let them play games through their computer. This is pirating. People are giving other people their imported games, and the many downloaders never had it themselves. Although, are owners of a game allowed to download a ROM of a game? They haven't imported their own version of the game, but then again they do own a copy.

Reala

#44

Reala said:

Pretty sure at least one of those emulators was backed on kickstarter, so if they can sue them which I honestly have no clue if they actually can or not, I'm guessing probably not, the people that made it shouldn't be too hard to find.

TheRegginator

#45

TheRegginator said:

@MMLgamer You don't even have to buy a dedicated or high-end PC to do what you could with the OUYA. The integrated graphics and low-end GPUs that are found in today's computers perform just fine when playing the same indie games that are getting ported to the OUYA.

Dreamcaster-X

#46

Dreamcaster-X said:

I'm against piracy but at the same time these companies do a poor job of releasing their back catalog titles sometimes. The Wii's Virtual Console started off ok but the good games were so few & far between and many never even appeared on the system & yet again the new e-shop Virtual Console has been late to the party & will probably follow the same pattern as Wii. They'll release a few AAA games Like Super Mario World, Super Metroid etc but leave Earthbound out, AGAIN!!!

Phle

#47

Phle said:

Well, the thing is that you might be able to hack the console to play whatever, but a lot of people would only buy programs and games approved by the ones that sell the console.

I don't really see this as a huge threat, there are already ways to hack and ways to buy illegal or unapproved games and programs to most hardware like computers and game consoles. I can't really see the headline: "Get your OUYA now, pre-modified to play the games you might have from your childhood! Read more on www.ouya.com or visit your local retailer if you have specific support requests for your OUYA.". Nah, you would have to get the illegal programs and games or get it hacked yourself, the company behind OUYA would not support it unless they had a way of doing it legally. Of course that means you can get it, if you want to got around the law a little bit.

Fafulec

#48

Fafulec said:

Emulators could also be reported... strange... if they are "legal", then why even such possibility? From official site:

To report ROM sites, emulators, Game Copiers, Counterfeit manufacturing, or other illegal activities, please call us at 1-800-255-3700 or e-mail us at piracyscene@noa.nintendo.com

Marioman64

#50

Marioman64 said:

if i want to play roms on my tv i can just plug my laptop into my tv and my snes controller into my laptop...

driftydrift

#51

driftydrift said:

so what does this say ?????? your buying a non Nintendo console to play all the best games of the gaming history from Nintendo hmmmmmm lol fate it seems is not without a sense of irony lol

brucelebnd

#52

brucelebnd said:

I was thinking about picking up a Ouya just because of the price but when you think about the nature of android games it isn't going to work. think about it a vast majority of android games aren't meant to be played on a TV. the vast majority of them are games you can play for a few minutes and drop. Kemco makes some great RPGs but games like that are the exception.

moo99

#53

moo99 said:

So Nintendo should have more VC games. Their SNES offerings are paltry.
No FFV? Starfox? Dragon Quest? Earthbound?

Shworange

#54

Shworange said:

If there's a way to pay for a game, then it's wrong in my eyes to emulate/pirate it. However, if there is no way to pay a company for a 20 plus year old game due to non existant companies... It gets a little grey.

Ren

#55

Ren said:

If Nintendo wanted to grab this market share overnight and shut down all this mess all they need to do is make a bold move. Why not quickly catch up the WiiU with the library of NES/ SuperNES games that were at least on Wii already and offer ALL the NES library for free or 1 dollar or so each. It's just bad business not to; instantly the console sales would rise and promote the full price sales of the new games. They own the licenses to the best ones so just let them go and kill all the competition, and usher people into buying the new stuff. That's how this market works now and it works fine but Nintendo is living in the dark ages with it's pricing policies. No one will even glance at the new stuff if you won't hand them the old stuff. It's not ideal by the old model but it works.

Tasuki

#56

Tasuki said:

I saw this coming when the Ouya was announced. Just look at how many emulators there are available on the google store itself. I can get a dozen or so on my phone alone.

Heck to be honest thats the only reason Ouya interests me.

AcesHigh

#57

AcesHigh said:

Not much news here if you already know about emulation. Emulation was the first thing I thought would go crazy when Ouya was announced - The first commercial device with traditional controls out of the box that could run emulators. But the processor is already way behind anything that has a Tegra 4. The Nexus 7 is the first Android/iOS device I've seen that runs everything full speed! If you're in the market for a device that plays emulators with traditional console controls, skip the Ouya and get NVIDIA's Shield. That thing is going to shred anything you feed it! Or wait for the titles you want to be released on WiiU eShop.

Stuffgamer1

#58

Stuffgamer1 said:

Dunno about the need for emulators on the Ouya specifically. I guess it's useful for those who don't have computers connected to their TV's, but if you do, it's meaningless. Of course, the same argument could be made about the Ouya in general. :P

theblackdragonAdmin

#59

theblackdragon said:

Hey guys, please, piracy is piracy. This article has been posted under the impression that the ROMs being used have been dumped from your own personal collection, not downloaded off the internet. If we can steer clear of the personal anecdotes regarding how big a pirate you are (or aren't, but your friends/family/boss/coworkers/etc. are), we'd appreciate it. Thanks! :3

WesCash

#60

WesCash said:

It's no different than PC emulation. That's what happens with open platforms.

TrueWiiMaster

#63

TrueWiiMaster said:

I'm kinda surprised only NES and SNES emulators have been confirmed. From the moment they said the Ouya would be open source, this was completely inevitable. The sad thing is people won't just get games that "aren't currently available through legal channels". I'm sure there will be plenty of Mario ROMs downloaded, along with many other classics easily accessible on Nintendo's platforms.

@Tsuchiya
The games are Nintendo's to distribute (1st party games anyway). What's more, most of them are available in their original forms, even if those can get expensive. If Nintendo does something you don't like, true protesting would be withholding your money, sending them complaints, and encouraging others to do the same. Pirating software is in no way a protest, just a crime.

Gridatttack

#64

Gridatttack said:

Happy to hear this :3
And also, no, they wont include any roms, since its illegal...
The emulator itself isn't.

@brucelebnd The OUYA will have its specific games made for it, not the existing touch ones....

UnseatingKDawg

#65

UnseatingKDawg said:

Well, as long as the emulators and ROMs are free to download, I wouldn't see too many problems. But personally, I'd rather stick with the Virtual Console, because I know that the games will run properly.

DePapier

#66

DePapier said:

I'm pretty sure it's illegal, and if Nintendo catches someone playing Super Mario Bros. on their Ouya, the console will be bound to be discontinued.

scir91

#68

scir91 said:

mac osx emulates windows. emulators are legal. as long as you use real software or legal roms, you aren't breaking the law. there is no lawsuit here.

Gamesake

#69

Gamesake said:

I always felt that Nintendo's DS design was implemented to make emulation more difficult. Not a bad idea on their part.

@Ralizah Yeah I feel the same way. At least OUYA is cheap.

Peos

#70

Peos said:

A pipe dream perhaps but it'd be good if after purchasing a VC game you could freely download the ROM to play on other devices. Yes it would cannibalise a number of Wii/ U sales but surely it would bring a huge amount of income from people who just want to play a few old classics without shelling out hundreds for a console.

AlexSora89

#71

AlexSora89 said:

Lawsuit coming in 3, 2, 1...

Seriously though, if they pay Nintendo whatever Nintendo asks for the use of emulation, the console might well make it to the stores. Then again, what with Rayman Legends and Ninja Gaiden Razor, it'd only add insult to injury if even first party and second party NES and SNES titles "went multiplatform". It's a depressing thought, I know.

Capt_N

#73

Capt_N said:

As many have said, & to my knowledge, emulation isn't illegal, as long as the emulator doesn't use any portion, or whole, of copyrighted bios code, or any code whatsoever a part of a system had/has, that is copyrighted.

As for the impression of the scenario that the roms came from one's own collection, I see a legal issue here, due to different countries' takes on the matter. Do I see this kind of emulation as illegal, (as the article asks)? Yes, & no. I think it's ok, only under the fulfilled circumstances that a Ouya owner A. still owns the original physical copy of the game, & has dumped their own cart's rom themselves, specifically for the purpose of playing on only their own Ouya system, or B. Legally purchased, & d/l'd a legal emulation of said game. The issue is that if the technology to verify someone legally owns a cart, & also that their rom is, in fact, from their own cartridge, exists, then said technology is not currently widely implemented enough, that co.s could allow this kind of emulation, & rom dumping from your own collections. So that strikes option A down. Option B is also difficult for a co. to verify.

GamerZack7

#75

GamerZack7 said:

Isn't Nintendo incrementally-updating VC on 3DS and Wii U anyway? I don't get why people keep wanting improvements to VC games when Nintendo is currently working on just that right now. :|

As for the issue of illegality, I'm sure that the NES and Super NES games those emulators will likely be running are illegal ROMs. I think I'll stick with VC, thanks muchly. :)

Neram

#76

Neram said:

That's BS that just anyone can make emulators for Nintendo's systems and put them into products being sold on store shelves, and get away with it. This jeopardizes Nintendo's business stance with Virtual Console, and there's nothing they can do about it? Man, nice legal system.

People can say all they want about open-source vs. closed-source, but I'm calling it right now, an open-source console will cause a crash in the video game industry. An overwhelming selection of junk games caused it to crash in 1983, history will repeat itself 30 years later once this console comes out, and there's nothing but a surge of junk games made by anonymous people in their mom's basements. Just look at the Google Play store to see what I'm talking about. "Oh man, I can't wait to pre-order Weed Farmer 2 on the Ouya!" or "When I get home, I'm gonna download some Undress Hot Babez 16 on my Ouya."

Wintendo

#77

Wintendo said:

Hey, you know, maybe if Nintendo's Virtual Console service on Wii U and 3DS (3DS especially, it's had more than enough time) wasn't such a joke, we wouldn't have to resort to emulation.

As well, you guys saying the Ouya will be discontinued because of this... you're oh so wrong, it's almost sad. PCs can emulate Nintendo games. They are still on the market. Android phones can emulate Nintendo games. They are still on the market. Hell, my calculator can emulate Nintendo games. They are st- You get the point.

The actual console itself won't be affected, and I'm looking forward to seeing what developers can do with it. Maybe it'll send a wake up call to Nintendo.

dragon_rider

#78

dragon_rider said:

@moo99, The Wii/ Wii U is capable of running Super FX games and I have proof. Final Fantasy V was never translated for the Snes; you'd have to insert the GBA translation into the original ROM. Earthbound...not so sure, but the game's in legal limbo.

@Neram That would be the case if they actually, oh I don't know, RELEASED more games, and games people CARED about?

Noend

#79

Noend said:

This thing isn't a console anymore than my tablet and phone that are more powerful. It certainly isn't a contender with Wii U. Anyone saying that isn't a gamer.

I don't see we how it can't flop after a couple iterations.

CrabGats

#80

CrabGats said:

Off Screen Play? No? Okay.

I'm buying an Ouya anyways but this isn't points against Nintendo for me.

Kage_88

#81

Kage_88 said:

Wow, that’s pretty damn pathetic.

Ouya is supposed to be one of many new devices that are supposed to make traditional consoles ‘extinct’… yet one of the main selling points is playing dodgy Nintendo ports?

Reminds me of the smartphone developers who crow about Nintendo’s doom… before completely ripping-off the Japanese firm’s software.

TheAdza

#82

TheAdza said:

It wouldn't be an issue if Nintendo decided not to charge so much for all their own old games. I'm willing to pay a premium for games that have been updated, fixed, translated, etc, but paying $6.50 (AUS) for what is basically a ROM on the 3DS or Wii U with functions like 2 player actually taken out, it's just insane. Now these 30cent VC Wii U games. Obviously not sustainable, but they are probably selling very well.

RetrogamerFan

#83

RetrogamerFan said:

Don't think this is a Ouya (and I thought Wii was a bad name!) specific issue, any laptop/PC/tablet has same access to these sorts of things.

MMLgamer

#84

MMLgamer said:

@grimbldoo #62
For $300, I could buy an Ouya for three different TVs. I'm sure the options would go up for every $100 you add to your budget. How does that defeat my original point?

Crunc

#85

Crunc said:

IMHO, game and bios roms should be public domain after some number of years. NES should certainly be public domain, as should SNES, Genesis, TG16, etc. This stuff is old. Nintendo should be spending its time making new games, not reselling us old ones.

slim80

#86

slim80 said:

Lol I called and reported this to nintendo.they reported it to there legal division.sorry I support nintendo.lol they are looking into it now

SwimyGreen

#87

SwimyGreen said:

@MMLgamer No matter what, a laptop will be more expensive than the Ouya. I think the point is that practically everyone has a computer capable of emulating NES/SNES games already. Why buy an Ouya to do something that almost every computer and home console can already do.

To me Ouya is just a combination of what you can do on other devices. It can emulate and play Droid games, but you could do those on any old smartphone. There seem to be some exclusive titles in the works, but nothing has caught my attention.

If it was more powerful, if it had more exclusives, I could be interested. But for now, I am unimpressed.

NINTENBOY

#88

NINTENBOY said:

I never understood why Nintendo didn't bring ALL the stuff from the Wii Shop Channel over to the WiiU with a nice HD lift and a very needed price cut on everything. That would increse the value of the Wii U by a lot IMO because that's over 500 games right there! Not to mention it would kill ya to have a bunch of classic GAMECUBE games or even some of old Wii's diamonds in the rough would it? All this I mentions should have been there DAY ONE honestly.

Speaking of missing features what happen to the gift feature where you could send each other games or the feature where you could send each other internet links??

grimson

#89

grimson said:

This is a lost opportunity for Nintendo. They could offer that kind of emulation themselves. OUYA is also cheaper, and runs Android, an ecosystem that many can back.

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