Wii U

5 underrated games consoles (you can buy right now)

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For most people, gaming begins and ends with PlayStation and Xbox. Sony and Microsoft have made such a reputation for themselves that most people aren’t willing to venture beyond the safety of the console brand names they know and love.

Beyond ‘the big two’, however, there are actually quite a few lesser-known consoles on the market. At the time of writing, there have been 8 different consoles released in the ‘8th generation’, with 5 more scheduled for release this year. There’s a lot of choice, even if you don’t realise it.

So, with that in mind, we’ve picked out 5 current consoles you might not have heard of, but should definitely check out.


Ouya

Ouya

The Ouya was supposed to be the start of a gaming revolution: it was the first console entirely funded by fans on Kickstarter (raising over $8.5million), it was the first to offer every single game on the platform for free, and it was one of the first to launch at a price below £100.

As it happens, the Ouya hasn’t actually done that well. The Android-based console has been criticised for a lack of games and some critics have pointed out that the Tegra 3 chipset the Ouya uses makes it less powerful than devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Nexus 7 tablet.

Still, if you want to play Android games on your TV, the Ouya is still the easiest way to do that. The console has also been praised for its open-source approach, which means developers can create their own games for the Ouya store.

At £99, it’s the perfect console for the kids, or for gamers on a budget. And, if you get bored of it, you can always trade in your Ouya for cash with musicMagpie!


Wii U

Wii U

Okay, so the Wii U isn’t exactly a hidden secret. Nintendo’s successor to the Wii has been well advertised and is readily available from most games retailers.

For some reason, though, it hasn’t sold that well at all.  The recent release of Mario Kart 8 boosted sales slightly, but the console remains a firm 3rd behind the Xbox and the Playstation.

The only reason we can think this would be is that families who snapped up the Wii see no reason to upgrade as they’re still enjoying the Wii’s many titles. But it’s a shame, because the Wii U is an excellent and innovative console (the Gamepad, which is more like a tablet, is particularly great) with a whole host of brilliant games (Mario Kart 8, Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker).

With Super Smash Bros. and a new Zelda game around the corner, it’s likely that sales of the console will pick up again. But we reckon that if you’re looking for something a bit different to the Xbox and Playstation, you should think about checking out the Wii U now.


Mojo

Mojo

The Mojo is another Android-based console and shares a lot of similarities with the Ouya. However, there are a couple of key differences: the first is that it’s made by Mad Catz, who have applied their vast knowledge of gaming peripherals to produce a very well designed console.

The second is that it’s aimed at the premium gaming market, which is reflected in its premium price tag: £219.99. That might sound steep, but the Mojo offers a lot of good features such as full access to Google Play (which means more games) and a wireless Bluetooth controller that can be used with any other Android devices you might have.

It’s still early days for the Mojo, though, and a lot of the games you can purchase on Google Play haven’t been optimised for the console yet. Still, it’s one of the best Android consoles on the market, and it’ll be even more appealing when that price tag comes down (as it inevitably will).


GameStick

Gamestick

Would you believe it? It’s another Android console!

The Gamestick doesn’t actually look like a console though. Instead, it takes the form of a USB stick (or, technically, an HDMI dongle), which makes it the most portable non-handheld console around.

The Gamestick is the brainchild of Playjam, who you might remember from one of the games channels on Sky Digital in the mid-00s.

On the whole, the Gamestick isn’t that powerful and probably won’t appeal to hardcore gamers. The £79.99 price tag will definitely be a selling point for some people though.


Nvidia Shield

Nvidia Shield

The Nvidia Shield is the most powerful Android console on the market and even packs more processing punch that some top-end smartphones and tablets. Best of all, it’s handheld, so you can play your games on the go as well as on your TV.

The Nvidia Shield consists of a controller with a flip-display 5” inch screen – imagine a DS crossed with an Xbox 360 controller and you’ve more or less got the picture. Inside the console sits a Tegra 4 chipset (which is a newer version of the Tegra 3 in the Ouya), which provides an unbeatable Android gaming experience.

And, as a little bonus, you can even stream PC games over the device.


Have we missed any consoles off our list? Let us know in the comments.