For video game fans looking for an alternate fix from the HD-glorified consoles of the PlayStation, Wii-U and Xbox, the Ouya (pronounced oo-yah) is a welcomed new addition to the market.
Originally unveiled on July 20, 2012 through Kickstarter, the Ouya team boasted that their Android-based gaming device was “A New Kind of Video Game Console.” No bigger than a Rubik’s Cube, the small-console-that-could became an instant smash and completed its funding goal. As many impassioned gamers sending in monies to be a part of the ground-floor, the Ouya looked like a family-friendly, cheap, and innovative alternative to the grandiose gaming consoles currently on the market.
Priced at $99, this device was created to go toe-to-toe with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, the Ouya promises free-to-play games, reasonable prices for full titles, and a marketplace for independent developers to show off their own projects. Powered by a Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of on-board flash storage, HDMI connection at 1080p, a USB 2.0 port and wireless Internet connection, the Ouya packs a wallop inside such a small machine.
Our hands-on experience with the device found us uncovering some intriguing discoveries.
Scroll through the page to find out what we think of this moderately priced device.
What We Liked About The Ouya
In regards to its design, the last thing that the Ouya is is cheap. The bronzed-grey color placed against bits of piano finish makes the minuscule device reasonably attractive. Fitting anywhere you can conceive to place it, the Ouya doesn’t need an ethernet connection. So as long as it is plugged into an electric outlet and your television, then you can stash it anywhere. Heat and ventilation aren’t much of an issue either, since the Ouya’s processor uses low wattage.
Combining the power that it uses with the ease of installing makes the Ouya feel like a well-oiled machine. The games are readily available upon completion of installation, and can be played instantly depending on the file size. Upon arriving to the dashboard, you’re given the choices to Play, Discover, Make, or Manage. Pretty self-explanatory, but the two that are most intriguing to gamers (and developers) are Make and Manage. Make is for devs who are currently building games within the Ouya’s development kit, and Manage opens your console’s settings panel.
The Ouya isn’t just about playing or crafting games, as it allows modifiers to use emulators to port classic gaming titles from Nintendo (Super NES, Nintendo 64) and enjoy apps that track the weather, or just set the mood (Rain).
What Works Best For The Ouya
Android gaming has its fair share of detractors, and the Ouya suffers from lack of superstar publishers. Yes, games such as Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog and Square Enix’s Final Fantasy III may appeal to retro-gaming fans. But as PlayStation and Xbox all make pushes towards indie developers and allowing self-publishing through their consoles, there is mainly a wide spate of Android games pollinating the Ouya. While it doesn’t have the robust library of Google Play or of an iOS, the Ouya provides gamers with a host of titles that they have never seen. Organ Trail, a mix of the retro game Oregon Trail and zombies, is an excitingly fun game that is a personal favorite of ours.
Adding Telltale Games’ hugely popular The Walking Dead is an extra step in the right direction for the Ouya. By including 2012’s Game of the Year and the 400 Days DLC, new players can enjoy a deeply rich and emotional storyline that has been celebrated across the board. As the marketplace continues to develop, this is the best thing that works for the Ouya. Through the controller, gamers can jump-in and out of the games with relative ease and even play local multiplayer. Streaming services such as Twitch allow gamers to keep an eye on the culture in real-time which is a boon for anyone who cannot hop on a plane and go to Cologne, Germany, for Gamescom.
What We Don’t Like About The Ouya
The Ouya controller. Simply put, it is created to represent a hybrid form of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controller. Similar aesthetics aside, the Ouya controller lacks severely when it comes to usability. There are moments when you’ve sync’d it to the system and it mysteriously times out. Sometimes it syncs automatically without you even pressing the button. The D-pad is incredibly stiff, making 2-D shooters Astro Fighter Alpha or Avoid This Asteroid! hard to play. The triggers are also placed on the controller awkwardly, leaving your fingers worst for the wear when playing Beast Boxing Turbo.
While the Ouya does allow you to sync other devices like your iPhone (or Android smartphone), Xbox 360 or PS3 controllers to the console, if the Ouya is your first gaming system then you’ll be left with minimum options. All in all, these issues result in a consistently frustrating experience to use. An even more annoying issue is a bug that causes the Ouya to turn back on after being placed on standby. Add to that the finicky issues with loading content, restarting downloads, the lack of a friend’s list or leader board hurt the Ouya chances of being a choice home console greatly.
As this is the first iteration of a planned attack at the three big boys in the gaming industry, the Ouya’s intention is smudged by glaring technical flaws. In regards to the games, there is no must-have exclusive for the console to rest its hat on. As other parties begin to take interest in the gaming marketplace and its potential, the Ouya has the potential to smooth out any rough edges created by the 1.0 version. In the end, the Ouya presents a new opportunity for independent developers, gamers and the technorati to play “alpha” titles, develop and upgrade them at a moments whim.
Will the Ouya be your first-day holiday purchase in a game full of next-gen competitors? Share your thoughts and watch the Walking Dead trailer below:
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The Ouya is available now for $99. The Walking Dead and the 400 Days DLC doesn’t have an exact date or pricing details released yet. Expect the first episode to be available for free though.