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HoC reviews the OUYA!

By Blackwalt - Posted on 31 May 2013

All official like with SeanMCR doing it...

Well, after 4 hours with the OUYA

So, basically, the Ouya is an android phone with an HDMI output and connects to a bluetooth controller. I knew this. However, the developers did tout the added graphics performance they would have, more RAM, etc, etc. Makes no difference. You are playing phone games on your TV, on a device that's not much more powerful than the latest Android phone. That's it.

You can download a SNES emulator and search the web for old SNES ROMS, you can root your Ouya (why you'd want to do that is a little beyond me). It's android. It's open source. You can do a lot with the OS on the device... however, you're still limited to the devices capabilities which suck donkey balls. Cute little box, but it has the graphics output of a 10 year old ATI card. No getting around that. I wasn't expecting Xbox 360 or anything but some of the games on my iPhone look better and move smoother.

There are fun games, arcade games, stuff like that. However, a lot of these "free" games are just like free games on your phone. Play 3 levels then they want you to buy them. Fair enough, but I didn't find any of these games all that compelling to pull out my wallet. Even if the price was only $2.99. In total I think there was 23 or so games available. Again, it's Android and open source, so if you are familiar with that world, you probably have access to lots of content you could manually add to the device. Cnet says there are 500 apps/games...but that was not shown on my system. So they must be including the Android marketplace or something? Maybe the available content is region specific, like iTunes and Netflix. Maybe the US online store has that content but not here. Again, maybe this is an android thing and you just have to know where to find all this stuff. It's not available on this system natively when it connects online, nor are there any directions where/how to find them.

I played a first person shooter that was about as sophisticated as the original DOOM. The novelty of playing an antique game like that got boring pretty fast. It did take me 10 minutes to figure out how to launch the game. Since some games are not fully ported for being used with a controller, the controller has a touch surface on the top, between the two analogue sticks. I completely forgot this was even there and since the system doesn't come with ANY documentation, I discovered it purely by accident while trying to play said FPS. When I couldn't get the game to start I accidentally brushed my thumb across this void on the controller and a pointer appeared on screen and moved slightly. Oh, there you go. So you have to use this mini track pad to use pointer device to launch the game, change settings, etc... and then the analog sticks once the game is going. Kludgy at best. I also noticed, on "graphically intense" games like this one (those quotes indicate extreme sarcasm) the controls are not in real time anymore. There is a noticeable lag. Fast button presses turn into held button type actions. Double tapping ends up like a stuck throttle/trigger. Console or game fault? Should I care which one? Not a reassuring experience.

If this platform had a lot of lower end, simple my phone does. Poker, Sudoku, Euchre, brain teasers, etc, they could be fun. In fact, there is a platform for such games! You can buy them at toy stores. They cost $29.95 and plug into your TV.

Is it fair to compare this system to the big boys like Xbox and PS? Yes, I think so. It's a console. It plugs into your TV and you use a controller. You would use this system the exact same way you use those other systems. So when you come home and feel like gaming, which are you going to turn on? It's a fair comparison. That is really the biggest issue for the Ouya. It's trying to compete for your "sit on the couch and eat Doritos while playing games" time and the content isn't there. With it's severe performance limitations, it never will be. These are shitty, low end games. I like playing them on my phone when I'm stuck in the doctor's office waiting room, or even in line at Starbucks. 10 minute time wasters. But at home? With access to a 42" plasma and a beer fridge? No thanks.

It's the complete opposite end of the gaming spectrum from an Xbox or PS3. Completely open sourced and completely under powered. The platform is dominated by cheaply made, poorly supported apps/games. There are exceptions, but I found this to be the rule. The other (dark) side has games that cost a lot of $$$, are tightly controlled (irritatingly so) and demand good hardware. I play these games in the magnitude of hundreds of hours a month. They are compelling, they are entertaining and they keep me coming back for more.

This is basically an android phone that needs a TV and wall power that you can't make calls on. I supported the Kickstarter campaign because I agreed with the idea. Build an open source console, bring the massive world of hackers and developers who want to make whatever they want. Want to make a video game about taking women's bra's off? sure. Play a game as a bear taking multiple dumps in the woods? No problem. Anything you want, you can do. Without the hardware though, it's really lacking any serious penetration into the home gaming market. Why make it so light? They could still use an Android architecture and give it much better guts. More storage, much better graphics and processor. Like an Apple mini type of thing. No drive, everything DL or wifi transfer.

So to those who say the world should be 100% open and free, I gotta say now that I've walked on your side for a bit, I'm appreciating the Empire's tyrannical system a lot more.

Short Answer: NO :(

Editor's Note: this editorial/review originally appeared under the comment well, after 4 hours.... It was promoted to give the appearance of more content.

SeanmcR6's picture

As an update....this thing turns on when your HDMI device turns on. Fine, but there is no way to turn this feature off. I've found the thing running...piping hot...several times when I turn on my TV to play xbox or watch netflix.

Also, I am finding it impossible to do any screen captures from it. I have an Intensity Shuttle to capture HDMI footage form my xbox/PS4, etc. Works like a champ....however, it won't/can't pick up the signal from the Ouya. So no gameplay, UI vids for me to post. Not sure why, but I haven't been able to find a solution or workaround.

It is odd to go into the settings and finding phone settings options given. Like turn off display while playing full screen content....I was tempted to try this to see if it would indeed turn off, but I thought I'd probably not be able to get it back on!

Akuf's picture


Also, have tried searching to see if there is a possible ROM for it?

Glad I didn't "support" the project..

Coxxorz's picture

Maybe he could flash it with Tomato and use it as a router.


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