So I finally got a chance to sit down and play the Ouya, courtesy of Binkley, as mine hasn’t arrived yet. The Ouya is the new hyped console system that runs the Android operating system. I won’t go over the specs but you can always check them out here. The thought of a console that runs Android apps has me really excited with the possibility, that maybe it can bridge the gap between the casual and hardcore world, and open up new possibilities for developers. However playing around with it I was kind of underwhelmed, but it does have a lot of potential it can grow into.
The system itself is sleek and tiny. It fits in the palm of your hand and takes up barely any room. Powering it up it’s the world of android at your finger tips. For those unfamiliar with the Android or mobile world, it’s kind of like an entire console built around Xbox Live or PSN.
You search games, download them, and play them on the console. One thing right off though was in my initial set up; the screen resolution wasn’t set up on my TV correctly, as it didn’t fit exactly right. Being just a normal 30 inch TV that I got from Costco, this was a little disappointing. There wasn’t a recalibrate in the display settings, but I could redo the full set up procedures (again, I had borrowed this console from Binkley, so I’m sure it was calibrated for his TV) but it was a little disappointing it didn’t have some quick calibration settings.
The controller itself is somewhere between an Xbox and PS3 controller. It does feel a little cheap though, I prefer a little more weight in my control and feedback. Also a minor gripe for veteran gamers is the button names are OUYA (cute huh?) but the colors match the Xbox scheme. So when it says press A to confirm, and the color is red, it’s a little confusing for veteran Xbox players. Also the home button needs to pressed very hard and is not very responsive. The first time I pressed it I thought it didn’t function as a proper home button, but later discovered I had to really press down on it for it to work.
I will admit that my home internet connection isn’t the fastest but it took a while for things to download and populate. I shouldn’t have to wait just to see the thumbnails for games.
Strangely enough, after you select a game to download, after it’s downloaded, you still need to click install. Why would you download a game and not install it? That might be a requirement from Android, but it seems strange.
Weird console quirks and non-polished UI aside, what makes or break a console is the games. And right now it’s kind of broken. The current issue with the OUYA is there aren’t a whole lot of games that you want to play right now. Most of the games are just ports of Indy or Android games with console controls slapped on. It’s cool that there’s Final Fantasy 3, Canabault, and League of Evil on it, but really these are all games I already played and own on other consoles. Most of the other games are just Indy junk of questionable quality. Also it’s abundantly clear that many of these games are mobile games that aren’t optimized or made for the consoles. References to “tap” in tutorials, vertical screen modes, and extra buttons on screen that you can’t select just scream quick ports. Beyond games there are other apps, and having Twitch.tv stream to my real TV is nice. If anything this is probably a better Roku box.
Overall the OUYA is currently a disappointment, but I do feel its chock full potential. A few UI updates, a few focused developers making some quality games, (hmmm maybe me?) and this could be a great little machine. It’ll need a little while to get to that point though, we’ll see if the Game Stick has a better debut out of the gate.