Last week I received my Ouya after nearly a year of naysayers saying that it will never come to fruition but I do have to admit that is was more a case of “ooh look…shiny” (which is an issue of mine) then truly believing it as a innovative game console that is open to new developers to get their feet in the door to the world of video games.
I’m not the best at reviews so I’ll give it my best shot, I’m not sure what scoring system I’ll use but we’ll see where this review takes me.
Everyone knows the Ouya’s not the most fastest of machines out there, its not even the fastest Android machine on the market, but for some reason people couldn’t understand that because the aim of this console was to be cheap.
Ouya could have gone for some fancy components like the new Nvidia Tegra 4 graphics chip and have more then 5GB of on board but as it would drive up the price which would go against their goals for a cheap console and new and better components could come down the line in new iterations.
The console itself is small which is good to the people who are tight on cabinet space and its not too intrusive. The back ports have a USB slot for a flash drive, a mini USB port so you can connect the console to a PC, the mini USB is mainly for developers but for me has come in handy as I’ll explain later on, and it has a HDMI port, Ethernet port and of course the plug for the power which comes in a nice small transformer which is good for those people who are short of space on their power boards.
Now to the controller, it feels nice, weighty and sturdy.
The sides come off so you can access the battery slots but the sides fit snugly back into their holes so you shouldn’t have any troubles with the sides coming off. There is an issue with the controller and it is that in my honest opinion might be a little troubling for some people and that is that I feel that the controller buttons could be a little more more responsive and could be an issue for games that need quick reaction times, however, there is a way around this which gives this console a big tick.
You can also pair your Playstation 3 controllers with the Ouya without any software needed, it’s a bit of a pain to pair at first but there is a knack to it and once its paired wirelessly you can use it as another controller for multiplayer games. You can use a wireless Xbox 360 controller but it does mean using up the one USB port as the Xbox controller doesn’t use Bluetooth like the PS3 controller does.
There is also a track pad on the controller that can be used as a mouse which can be quite handy especially in the internet browser.
Now to stop boring you with hardware details and get to some juicy games and software.
As everyone knows that the Ouya is using the Android OS, and the it’s quite simple to use.
There are four menus on the Ouya: the Play menu is for all the games that have been downloaded to the Ouya; Discover for finding new games on the Ouya store; Make for developers to test their games and where you can side load Android apps that aren’t in the Ouya store; and Manage which is where you access all the console settings.
You can side load Android apps on the Ouya which is a bonus because you don’t have to wait for games/ apps to be developed, as there is a good chance that they might already work on the Ouya. Two sideloaded apps that are an absolute must are XBMC and Dropbox for Android.
Dropbox because for some reason you can’t run apps from a flash drive, so Dropbox gives you the option to download then straight to the console, and do I really need to explain why XBMC is a must? The folks at XBMC are developing a specific version for the Ouya but as of yet there is no ETA and the Android version works perfectly.
Every game is free to try either via a free-timed trial or limited functionality. Contrary to belief you don’t actually need to input your credit card when you first load up the Ouya but you will need to if you want to buy games, I suppose if you are paranoid about giving Ouya your details you can just buy a pre-paid card.
Arcade Pinball is a good little game which has real Williams Pinball machines but this is one of the games where the controllers responsiveness comes an issue; King of the Hill, just a simple game similar to Trials but instead of going over obstacles its just going up a mountain; and lastly is Flashout 3D which is just a carbon copy of Wipeout HD on the PS3.
Now to my personal favourite features and in my opinion one of the strongest areas for the Ouya is the emulation capabilities. There is a Nintendo 64 emulator that is available from the Ouya Store (Mupen64Plus) and I managed to side load ePSXe, a PS1 emulator. So far the only game I have tested for the Nintendo 64 has been Mario Kart 64 which works flawlessly, and the PS1 have been Colin Mcrae Rally and Duke Nukem: Time to Kill both work without any issues. The emulator, however, only works on a game to game basis.
As I mentioned earlier if you connect the Ouya up to a PC you can transfer roms to files to make games run better.
Ok now time for some numbers.
Console, I give an 8/10, i’m sure there will be something that pushes this console to its limits but not just yet.
Controller, I give 6/10 purely on the button responsiveness, it needs work for future iterations but it does feel nice and doesn’t feel flimsy.
Games I give an 7/10, nothing really appeals to me yet but something will in the future.
Capabilities I will give this 10/10, there is a huge potential for this to become a media player with XBMC and as an emulation machine, a chance to play all those games from the consoles of yore, its capabilities is where I personally think the Ouya shines.
Should You Buy It?
The Ouya has huge potential for home developers who might not have the money to submit their games/ apps to Google Play or Apple as there is no fee to submit games to the Ouya store. I don’t personally know how much it costs to develop an app for each of the major app stores but I can imagine there would be some sort of fee you have to pay.
The one thing people have to realise is that it’s still early days for the console and as with any new releases even the big players like the big three don’t have a spectacularly huge launch line up of games but if people are willing to wait a few months then we should see more and more games trickle through and push the hardware even further.
The Ouya is a good little games console with huge potential.