If you follow gaming news at all, you’ve probably heard about the Ouya.  In case you haven’t, here’s a quick summary — it all started with an innocent Kickstarter campaign.  The team wanted to raise $950,000 to build an Android-powered open-source gaming console.  That goal was surpassed within days (if not hours) and roughly 8 months later, all of the consoles for backers have been shipped out.  I rolled the dice and pledged $100 for the console and a controller.  It came a few days ago and I finally had some time to hook it up and play around with it.

Note: these are phone pics.  Sorry for the quality.

This little shoebox is what I’ve been waiting months for
The goodies! 1x wireless controller and 1x console
Console size comparison
Controller size/design comparison – I think it’s clear what they modeled the Ouya controller after
After some initial setup, we get to the home screen
Inside the “Discover” page, AKA the app store / marketplace
Page for the first game I tried out, Knightmare Tower

This thing is SO COOL.  As you saw above, it’s very small.  There are hookups for power, HDMI, USB, and ethernet, although it has built-in wi-fi.  It comes with 8GB of internal storage which is expandable via USB.

Positives:

  • Both the console and controller have a brushed steel finish.  Very fancy.
  • The console is SUPER small, very unobtrusive.  I have mine sitting on top of my 360.
  • The controller layout is … uh … “inspired” by the 360 controller which, in my opinion, is the best controller layout of all time.  You won’t hear any complaints about that here.
  • Home screen has no BS with favorites or ads or social media.  You can play something, download something, or make something.
  • All games have some sort of free trial.  No need to spend money on something you end up hating in the first five minutes.
  • Since it’s powered by Android, you can load just about anything you want (emulators, anyone?) on it.
  • There are 127 games available at the time of this post, including some well-known favorites like Final Fantasy III and Canabalt.

Negatives:

  • The batteries being behind the faceplate on the controller is a little odd.  The faceplate doesn’t quite snap back into place all the way.
  • I had some intermittent connection issues between the controller and console.  It seemed to be mostly line-of-sight related, but still frustrating.
  • There doesn’t seem to be an option to fix the height/width of the main menu, so my menu is stretched about a centimeter too far in all directions.  The game I played, Knightmare Tower, had it’s own option, so I’m hoping other games do too.
  • It’s super easy to upgrade the game you’re playing to the paid version, but Knightmare Tower, at least, had nothing telling me exactly what I was getting over the free version.

So there you have it.  The little $100 console that could, the Ouya, is out to anyone who backed the Kickstarter campaign.  The retail launch is currently slated for June.  I wouldn’t expect the Ouya to blow the doors of anything graphically or make a serious run in the Console Wars, but it’s pretty exciting to be a part of this whole thing.  I’ll post some updated impressions after playing around for a while more.

4 Comments »

  1. Nice review! One thing: I had the same “picture going to far off the TV” problem too. I fixed it by going to the HDMI settings, turning on Overscan, and then following the directions below that where is says to find the picture settings on my TV and fiddle with them. It’s working great. I have a post on reddit asking anyone who has questions about common bugs and emulators since I’ve had some time with my OUYA and I’ve really dug deep into the software. http://www.reddit.com/r/ouya/comments/1f3wgu/i_set_up_nhl_94_on_snes_while_pairing_a_ps3/

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