Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My OUYA Review

John B. Marine | 1/14/2015 09:52:00 PM | | |
My personal review of the OUYA gaming console is here on John's Blog Space. I had my chance to finally play and experience the OUYA after previously offering thoughts on this console you either love or loathe. I will be sure to express my review in an unbiased manner. In no way are my thoughts/reviews of the OUYA anything definitive. It will simply be my own thoughts on this little Android-powered gaming console. So with that said, let's begin!

--- OUYA ---

I talked about the OUYA before. If you don't know what it looks like, here is a refresher:

OUYA game console
^ from: (click to buy or learn more) - The OUYA is an Android-powered gaming console.

"OUYA - a new kind of gaming console"

-slogan for the OUYA

Now for some individual talking points.

OUYA: Love or Loathe It.

If you look around online and read comments from others, reviews of the OUYA gaming console are really a mixed bag. A lot of people love the OUYA. Many others totally loathe the OUYA. Some say it is laden with potential, and many others think it is a failed console. You can look anywhere online and get a pulse for its appeal- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram... everyone has their own take on the OUYA, a lot of it with mixed reviews. It is therefore tough to really offer a definitive view of the OUYA. I wanted to get this out of the way just to prove that the OUYA is really tough to offer a solid review on. My own views will probably add to the confusion.

Let me talk about the OUYA before offering my review. Take a look at these talking points below.

OUYA: The Basics.

The OUYA began life as the result of a Kickstarter back in 2012. The goal was $950K USD, and the OUYA received $8,596,474 USD from supporters. Many people backed the Kickstarter and contributed loads of money for the OUYA to come to life. Through its development, some got their OUYA that they finanically supported, and a lot of others have yet to get their OUYA. Various updates over time have been given to this console to improve many elements of its interface and design. The OUYA's controller is styled a lot like the XBOX controllers only that there is an integrated touchpad included in its design. It connects to the console through Bluetooth. Up to four controllers can be connected to the OUYA. If you don't have extra OUYA controllers, then you can use [your wireless] XBOX 360 or PlayStation 3 controllers instead. I think I read even the PlayStation 4's controller can be connected to the OUYA. The OUYA (at present) runs on Android "Jelly Bean" with its own interface.

It will be tough to try to sell the OUYA to some people- especially the mainstream types. On one hand, the OUYA is a gaming console that brings Android games to your HDTV screen. You can play the same game along with anywhere from one player to four players playing it. Conversely, it is also a console running on outdated hardware- namely its nVidia Tegra 3 processor and with a lineup of games that will not trump any Triple-A developers any time soon. You will only find the OUYA at brick and mortar stores Target or GameStop. Or of course, you can always buy the OUYA online. Here are stats on the OUYA (source: Amazon)

• includes 1 OUYA controller
• powered by nVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor; 1GB RAM
• 8GB of internal memory, but can be expanded via a USB Flash Drive; one USB 2.0 port and one Micro USB port
• WiFi connectivity (802.11 b/g/n), Ethernet port and Bluetooth, HDMI output of up to 1080p

An HDMI cable and an AC power supply are also provided with the OUYA package. One thing about the OUYA is that it is friendly towards modification. Your warranty won't be voided if you root (the Android version of "jailbreaking") or modify it with certain pieces of hardware. I am too careful and cautious working with Android devices, so I am going to keep my OUYA as stock as possible.

OUYA: The Killer App and Triple-A Influences.

Many people judge the success of a console on two emphases: a "killer app" and involvement from Triple-A companies. A console is just another console if it lacks either or both characteristics. A lot of games for the OUYA are mostly mobile Android games reworked and refined for the OUYA. The console does feature some exclusive titles for the OUYA including some games with some content made for the OUYA. One of those OUYA exclusives is Amazing Frog, which I was not impressed with to be honest. Two titles from Triple-A type developers include "Sonic the Hedgehog: Episode 4" and "Final Fantasy III Remix."

Honestly, some people talk about the OUYA's game lineup like it is a bunch of no-name titles that can't compare with anything from a Triple-A developer. It is that mindset that every console should be on the exact level (or very close) to big time developers to be worth anything. Almost as if no one wants to take a chance with the OUYA and some title from an independent (indie) developer. Almost all of the games are free to try. If you like a certain game that has a full version that can be purchased, you can buy any games you enjoy. Many of the games start at about $0.99 USD. That's about as much as picking out certain MP3s on iTunes or something. Bigger titles can cost up to $9.99 USD or more. You will need either a debit/credit card or prepaid OUYA credit to purchase games. No charges will be made until you successfully make a purchase.

OUYA has become a viable outlet for running emulators and even towards being a good base for an HTPC (home theater personal computer). Some people even side load certain programs and games to the OUYA. The OUYA is a more dedicated gaming console. So therefore, not much is made of certain other popular non-gaming applications like Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, Pandora, and apps like that. I have popularly heard of the OUYA being used for the very popular Kodi (better known by its former name- XBMC (XBOX Media Controller)).

OUYA: Misunderstood?

I think a big reason why a lot of people dislike the OUYA is because not as many people understand the OUYA. A lot of people probably perceived the OUYA to be a console to overwhelm or challenge the major gaming consoles. Some people even think of the OUYA as being a console to replace their PlayStation, XBOX, Wii, or whatever. The technology and game lineup for the OUYA hasn't overwhelmed anyone for the most part. One thing is for certain- this console is not some super cheap console that is flimsy and has little appeal. Yeah- it may be running on outdated hardware, but it doesn't mean it still lacks the horsepower to play various games.

OUYA: Development.

Perhaps the biggest single element of the OUYA is what you can do in development. Here is one thing you have to love about the OUYA- if you have an XBOX or a PlayStation or a Wii, if you don't like certain games, you don't have to play them. If you don't like certain games for the OUYA, you can make your own rather than waste your time complaining about this game or that game. The OUYA actually ENCOURAGES development of new games for the system. The OUYA and the OUYA team have actual resources for you to make your own games for the system. There is even a specific forum on OUYA's website where you can discuss and share your developed games or check out games in development. Even if there is a game that looks like a school project than a real game made by real developers, at least there is a viable community that not even most mainstream console developers can lay claim to. If you can believe it, one OUYA game called "Astronaut Rescue" was created by a boy who was only eight years old making it. This only adds to the opportunities available to almost anyone- from hobbyist developers to legit developers.

Now that you have an idea on the OUYA, it is time I offer my review. My review is in the next section.

--- My OUYA Review ---

Here is my cumulative review of the OUYA based on the various talking points from the previous section.

• OUYA: General Thoughts
The OUYA is a mixed bag- some love it; others, not so much. I was someone willing to give the OUYA a chance. I'm glad I did. Too many people found as many reasons as possible to dislike the console for what it is. I have a big enough heart to forgive many of the OUYA's shortcomings that many people would consider Cardinal sins. The most common thing I've read and heard is that the OUYA is a console with loads of potential. To some others, that potential has yet to be reached. All I know is that I bought an OUYA thinking the console will last for me and that I could possibly make games for it. The OUYA itself runs quite well with minimal lag often times. Most of this lag was mostly with the user interface (UI). Games play very well with the controller, and while it seems like a huge brick, it still feels very good in the hands with responsive controls.

Speaking of games, if you honestly think that only Triple-A type games and Triple-A game developers matter more than indie games, then (this may hurt) you are not a true gaming fan. A real gaming fan will lovingly play a quality game from an indie developer and enjoy it as much as any similar game from a bigger developer. Just because the OUYA doesn't have much support from Triple-A developers doesn't mean it is a failure. In my personal opinion, the OUYA doesn't NEED Triple-A developer support to be considered successful. Most of all, if you don't like the OUYA's game lineup (I am not saying it is good or bad), you have two options: (a) complain to the high heavens all around the Internet about how bad the OUYA is and its games are, or (b) make your own games for the OUYA. The OUYA and the OUYA team actually encourages you to make your own games and even offers resources for you to make your own games for the system. Join the ranks of people who developed games for the OUYA in addition to other platforms rather than continually hate on the OUYA. Just because the OUYA doesn't have a handful of titles most mainstream people care about doesn't mean it is a lackluster console. If anything, the OUYA is one of the brightest beacons for the indie gaming community. At least a voice is given to indie game developers rather than being drowned out in the seas of PlayStation Network, WiiWare, and XBOX Live. On top of that, you are helping support indie gaming by buying any games that can be bought. It is encouraging when indie gamers make games and make profit from their work. It won't kill you or make you less of a person to buy OUYA games to help support indie developers who offer in-game app purchases. Some of these people probably even rely on purchases of their games to pay bills or live better lives. So do what you can when you play an OUYA game you love.

A lot of people have had lofty expectations for the OUYA or just didn't understand the system to give it more credit than it really should. The OUYA is not the greatest console, but it is certainly far from being the worst. Most people have to abandon the mindset of the OUYA being in the same category as any mainstream console. I treat the OUYA like it is its own console catering to its own market. It is much like how someone has a PlayStation 3 and also has a PlayStation Portable or even a PlayStation Vita. I am not giving up my PS3 in exchange for an OUYA. I don't want the superlative experience- I just enjoy gaming and enjoy playing games. If you care anything about gaming, give the OUYA a chance and have at least a modicum of heart. With over 1K games for the OUYA, one of the joys of playing this console is in finding a game that may pleasantly surprise you.

Since a lot of people say this system is a waste because you can always play certain games on an Android device (since OUYA is based on Android), that takes down the OUYA's appeal to most people. I am gamer, just not much a mobile gamer. So I can appreciate playing Android games with a proper console with a console look and feel rather than play on my mobile devices. This will surely appeal to me as a gamer.

• OUYA: Complaints
I have only two complaints about the OUYA. First off, the UI can sometimes be laggy and it sometimes can be cumbersome to navigate through a lot of features. A bigger complaint about the OUYA is just how fancy pants it is. I bought a PC monitor that I THOUGHT had an HDMI port to it... all to find out it doesn't. So I had to buy an HDMI to DVI converter cable. That worked fine... except I wasn't playing with sound. I then bought an HDMI to VGA cable with audio input that was absolutely horrible. I then bought an HDMI to VGA adapter that had sound to it and works very well. This saved me from having to buy Bluetooth headphones to privately listen to my OUYA gaming experience. Why the OUYA doesn't just have an analog jack for either analog speakers or headphones is beyond me. I know Bluetooth is great and all, but not many people have such access to such items- even including HDMI. I wish it had better and more expansive support for USB- headphones, sound cards, keyboards, mice, wired USB controllers, etc. That's really my biggest complaint about the OUYA besides its UI. Otherwise, I would recommend this console if someone was considering getting one.

If you are still uncertain as to whether or not to buy an OUYA, let me give you my final thoughts to you on the OUYA: give this system a chance and have some heart. You may actually find yourself a bit surprised with what the OUYA has to offer in gaming and in other features. About $100 USD to buy one of these is just enough for you to enjoy a different kind of gaming experience that can be enjoyable by all. One would probably wish there were more outlets to buy this console and any accessories for it, but what you get for the money is just enough for even the most discriminating gaming fan to enjoy. You can always try to make your own games and apps for the OUYA if you want to contribute to its growth or test the waters of game development. If you can forgive most of the shortcomings most mainstream gaming types think of with the OUYA, you'll find the OUYA can be just as incredible as any of the major consoles and any of the major games, even if they lack anything Triple-A level. Also, don't forget to help support games and game developers by buying games that are available for purchase on the OUYA. You can do great service on many fronts with the OUYA and its content. I've even reviewed some OUYA games in my blogs before (more to come!).

Considering buying an OUYA? I say "hestitate no longer- buy one."

--- OUYA: My Current Game Collection (BONUS SECTION!) ---

Because I love my readers/visitors, let me share with you this bonus section. Some of the games I got for the OUYA came for free setting up my OUYA account. You know how people ask what is on someone's device or what someone has. Well, here is a look at what I have on my OUYA. I mention these items because I may review them in the future. Check it out:

NOTE: The following items are games/apps I have on my OUYA as of the time of this initial blog post. Some games have to be bought to be used.

• Diversion
• Pixel Sword
• Thunder Desert GP
• Night Riders
• Highway Rally
• BombSquad
• Tetris Battle Fusion
• Amazing Frog
• Genesis of Drones
• Speeed Rush
• Pizza Boy
• Fist Puncher
• Double Dragon Trilogy
• Retro Racing
• Real Speed: Need for Asphalt
• Big Action Mega Fight!
• XBMC on OUYA « haven't fully configured it yet
• FilePwn

For more games and apps available for the OUYA, visit: OUYA - Games.

That is what is on my OUYA so as of the date of this initial blog post (January 14, 2015). Some of the games here have been reviewed by me previously or will be reviewed in the future.

--- OUYA Resources ---

Here are some OUYA resources for you all in case I persuaded you into buying one or being interested in one:

OUYA on Facebook
Follow OUYA on Twitter (@playouya)!
OUYA on YouTube
OUYA on Google+
OUYA on Instagram

...or you can get one yourself online! Use these:

OUYA on Amazon
OUYA on eBay

Happy shopping! :)

This blog post is over, but let me provide some off-topic material. Last year, the more powerful (compared to the OUYA) Mad Catz M.O.J.O. was recently touted for being able to play OUYA-compatible games. The Mad Catz MOJO runs on the nVidia Tegra 4 processor. Imagine having a little extra horsepower to run and play OUYA games. I hope I can review the Mad Catz MOJO if I ever get the opportunity to do so. Check "John's Blog Space" for if I do get to review it.

Until next time, I'd like to thank you for looking at my review of the OUYA gaming console. You've now read both my thoughts on the OUYA and now my review of the OUYA. All of my thoughts are relevant and real. Feel free to agree or disagree at will. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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