Ouya Console Review

By | 3 years ago 

Over 60,000 interested gamers and tech enthusiasts backed Julie Uhrman and Yves Behar’s Kickstarter for the innovative Android powered Ouya console which earned over $8.5 million from crowdfunding. So when early Ouya previews focused on there being a lot of negatives with the hardware and its software offerings, and combined with repeated delays, there was reason to be concerned.

The Ouya console hit retail this week for an affordable price of $100, but many of the backers still have yet to receive what they invested in a year and a half ago due to distribution center issues. Read our review of the console to see if the Ouya is worth the wait and the $100 price tag.

The Ouya is easy to setup and get into. For better or worse, there’s very few menu options available in the current version of its operating system, but to its credit, syncing the controller(s), accessing Wifi and getting into games is quick and efficient. Despite its compact size, the Ouya sports 1080p HD quality visuals through an HDMI port, although from its current slate of software and entertainment offerings, it’s not yet something that’s taken advantage of.

The concern for the Ouya has always been whether or not its open OS will get the needed developer support to attract a substantial user base. Ouya claims there are 16,000 registered developers – thanks to the open source nature of the platform and free developer tools – working on games and applications for the platform. At the time of launch there were 178 games and as of the time of this publication, 22 more have been added. We can count on one hand however, how many of them we’d actually return to.

Ouya Console and Controller

While the variety of games is noteworthy, it’s important to realize that practically all of them are smartphone-type titles and ports, and play as such. The smaller, lower-priced games are noticeably less visually impressive but where Ouya lacks in triple-A, must-have games, it makes up for in the variety of experiences immediately available. There are puzzlers, platformers, music games and loads of co-op titles highlighted in the system’s store and this is what will eventually separate Ouya for the traditional “big three’ consoles from Nintendo, Sony PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.

As for additional applications, the default software offerings currently include only a very simple browser that’s not user-friendly. As you can see from the video, the browser loads the mobile versions of sites by default and there’s no function we could find to simply scroll. The left stick and D-pad allow for skipping by link, and using the touchpad (the black center panel of the controller face) will let users double-tap and drag up, but it’s slow and not effective.

We found quite a few games that were fun to try, without having to pay any money. One of the core features of the Ouya is that every game on the market must have a  free element, whether it be timed access to the game or some sort of free-to-play/freemium model. It’s a great way to explore and with many of the games not having much replay value, an hour is more than enough time.

Ouya Controller High-Res

The console can support up to four controllers for the couch multiplayer games. As you can see in the video, there’s even a section in the store that highlights titles that support couch co-op. The Ouya retail package ships with one controller and additional controllers can be purchased for a reasonable $50. As we pointed out in the video, the controller design borrows elements from the Xbox 360 layout, combined with a basic touchpad not dissimilar to the PlayStation 4, albeit not as responsive or fun to use. The controller is sufficient but is of a noticeably lower level of quality from what gamers will expect. The potentially deal-breaking gripes we encountered, although not frequently, are that some games have an unacceptable amount of lag and response time, and in terms of the hardware itself, the O-U-Y-A face buttons can and do get stuck under the removable plastic face plate.

The Specs

OUYA Console

  • Case: Sand-Blasted Aluminum and Plastic
  • CPU: NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-Core
  • Memory: 1GB RAM
  • Storage: 8GB Internal Flash Storage (Expandable via USB Port)
  • USB: One USB 2.0 Port, One Micro USB port
  • Connectivity: WiFi (802.11 b/g/n), Ethernet Port, and Bluetooth
  • Output: HDMI (up to 1080p HD)
  • Dimensions: 75mm x 75mm x 82mm (2.9in x 2.9in x 3.2in) / Weight: 300g (10.5 oz)

OUYA Wireless Controller

  • Two analog sticks, D-Pad, eight action buttons, a system button, and touchpad
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Controls: 15 Buttons with Touchpad
  • Body: Sand-Blasted Aluminum Top Plates and Plastic
  • Dimensions: 163mm x 109mm x 53.5mm (6.4in x 4.2in x 2.1in)
  • Weight: 275g (9.7 oz)
  • 2x AA Batteries

The Ouya isn’t a must-buy, certainly not yet, and it doesn’t yet offer much in terms of groundbreaking games of experiences, but it is a noteworthy option for something different, something more affordable and something tech enthusiasts should explore, especially considering its developer-friendly devkit and tools. The interface, game offerings, complete lack of popular apps and lower quality controller don’t live up to the ambitious ideas behind the console’s development, but it sits with so much potential for the future. It just might be a while before the promised series of interface and application updates bring the Ouya to where we wanted it to be at launch.

Note: In the video you can see a skip option for the Credit Card screen but it’s not available. Players must input their credit card info before downloading any games as detailed on the official Ouya FAQ.

The Ouya is now available for $99.99. Additional Ouya controllers sell for $49.99

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Ouya Kickstarter