The OUYA was introduced to us last year with a fair amount of bombast and energy. Julie Uhrman was front and central in their Kickstarter video proclaiming that she wanted to reinvigorate the gaming market for independent developer, steer them away from just developing on the mobile platform. She laid out the plans with gusto, promised to take on the established players in the market, in short they promised a revolution. People wanted to believe, and they put their money where their mouth is, to the tune of about 8.6 million dollars.
Now its time to check the Ouya’s pudding for some proof. They’ve been shipping for a bit now and I finally got my hands on my console that I ordered about 9 months previous. how does it stack up?
The Hardware of the Ouya is fairly straight forward as far as the console itself is concerned. Its a small box, about the size of an apple, with a button on top and some ports in back: HDMI, Ethernet, USB-A, Micro USB-B, and Power. Its got Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an RF controller connection. The processing power itself is fairly middle of the road now with a Tegra 3, a gig of ram, and 8 gigs of flash memory. but still quite good considering the $99 price point. The one thing that bugs me is the fan. It’s not very loud, all told, but I was expecting it to be silent. You might think this an unfair expectation, but as I figure, its basically a phone without a screen and battery so its not too odd to think it could work without one. That being said I could see why its there if the idea is to squeeze all the possible power out of the box, but the fan kicks on even when the box isn’t under load.
The Controller for the Ouya was one of their major selling points and I think overall they delivered with fairly few caveats. The thumbsticks feel nice, as do the face buttons, and they are – at least in my opinion - in the correct places, taking the Xbox style offset thumbsticks over the Playstation’s symetrical claw format. The caveats I do have though are worth mentioning. The d-pad has issues, its usable and close to the right size, but feels a bit mushy and doesn’t quite travel quite as much as I would like. Additionally, the face buttons sometimes get stuck underneath the face plate of the controller, and must be dislodged, which can be a real combo-breaker.
The Ouya’s System Software is simple but does the job fine for a 1.0 product. There are menu items for your software library (play), the Ouya store (discover), making your own software (make), and settings (manage). these serve fairly well, except for a few shortcomings. One thing I noticed on the play tab was that the page said that you can search your library with the Y button but pressing Y had no effect whatsoever. That could just be a spit and polish thing since I may not have had enough software on the thing to do a search, but I would have like to have had some interaction.
The Software Library on the Ouya is the biggest unknown right now, there are not many titles yet and they feel a bit toward the amateur side of things. Many of the current titles are just reworked Android games, and while thats fine, there really isn’t a “killer title yet,” and the Ouya could sure use one.
Overall I think its a good space to watch, but its not quite there yet. That could change quickly if the Ouya is the best place to get a new hot indie game, but for now we are left waiting.