I’ll start by saying I’m not a huge gaming fan. My gaming exploits have been limited to mobile in recent years and I’ve never owned a major console from Sony or Microsoft. I have tried these consoles and have a good understanding of recent state of the art. What brought me to buy an OUYA was the fact that it leads the crest of the wave of budget micro gaming consoles releasing this year. The OUYA, GameStick, GamePop and the MOJO add to a slow growing list of consoles intent on carving out there own territory with consumers, a segment away from the market leaders high quality but highly priced offerings.
I’ve been aware of OUYA since it’s Kickstarter campaign last year. I’d held off on pre-ordering, waiting for a few more reviews before going for it. The delivery time from Game was within 48hrs so this didn’t give me too much time to build false projections. My expectations were set at the quality of recent mobile gaming and below but on a larger scale screen. I knew the OUYA was not a major console replacement and didn’t expect any photo realistic game play. I’m guessing the quality of micro console gaming sits 3-5 years behind the current mainstream console for a medium sized studio title.
On arrival day I opened the box to asses my purchase. After slipping open the cover we are met with the cover words “And so begins the revolution”, I guess we’ll let history be the judge on that one. Handling the controller and console for the first time they felt good, aluminium feeling cool in the hand. My only criticism was how to insert batteries into the OUYA controller. Lifting the top of the controller wasn’t obvious and I had to go online to find out. Strong nails or an old credit card are advised.
Later I got it hooked up to the TV to get started. Sadly the next 30 mins were very frustrating. Firstly I had to perform set up involving controller, Wifi, software updates and credit card details all before I had to search for a game to install. It was way too long before I played the first game which felt so disappointing. I would have loved to have dived straight in to playing a few preloaded major titles.
I got into searching through the titles. After a few minutes I was starting to regret my purchase as the quality of the games seemed poor, likely written by novice developers as their first game. As with Android before it the open nature of the platform allows access to all which is great of course but I feel consumers and novice developers aren’t always the best mix. As with Android I’m sure we’ll see better quality titles emerge, I’m not necessarily criticising graphics quality here but also gameplay. Of the two dozen or so I played I was reaching for the quit button after a few seconds! I just hope for OUYA’s sake things change very quickly before reputation is harmed in any way.
The OUYA operating system is built on Android 4.1.2 for what that matters anyway as we only see familiar looking system screen now and again. The Menu system built by OUYA is clean and simple and I had no trouble with it. My only problem that it’s was never explicitly clear how to quit a game, it took me three console restarts before I went online to find the solution. To exit a game in OUYA the player need to either long press or double press the central U button (the same one used to connect pair the controller to the console). There were also a few occasions where I feared the controller delay issue hadn’t been resolved. I couldn’t quite figure out if the delay was from getting used to the controls in each game or from a lag due the download and installation of a few dozen games in the background.
So what did I play? To confirm the OUYA wasn’t in fact a NES 80’s throwback internally as I feared for a few moments I looked up Shadow Gun which I’d played before on mobile. The game ran smooth and looked great on par with what we’ve seen on mobile. I also tried Monocle Man and a Jelly Platform which were fine to poor (see comments above). There are tones of 8bit classics with 80’s gamer may get a kick out off. I just fear any kid thats tried a major console with see OUYA content as stupid.
So your thinking my final recommendation must be not to buy this micro console turd, we’ll in fact quite the opposite! The OUYA is oozing with potential and has a solid roadmap ahead of yearly updates so we could see it catching up to the big boys very quickly. The price tag for the console and games also hurts our pockets less in these mean financial times. Start dropping hints for christmas now parents! The tides are already changing away from movie like budgets for major game productions. These types of games do have there place and perhaps the market shift we are seeing will help slim down the top end console gaming market towards better quality. It remains to be seen what we’ll do with the bottom.
Titles to get started:
- The Ball – You could call it that I guess
- Beast Boxing – Punch ugly things
- Puddle – Keep your water wet
- Final Fantasy – major title
- Fez – see Indie Gamer movie!