The Ouya Android console is arguably one of the success stories from Kickstarter, raising more than $8 million dollars for the project and making sure that the console would be made. With that level of backing it showed that there was an interest in a console that could be made cheaply and use a lightweight operating system to power the games.
Journalists and backers were given a preview at the GDC this week of the console, and although it’s arguably early days in terms of the impact it will have the overall impact seems to be positive. Looking at the experiences of the people who saw the demo and were able to try the console it’s possible to gleam some information about what we can expect.
Console and Controller
The console itself look quite simplistic, but this was already known from the images that have already been shown. The controller that comes with the Ouya is obviously shaped in the same veign as the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 design which is a wise decision as this is a design that is known to work. The dual controls and button placing all look to fit what we are used to so as long as the games play well, there is no obvious reason why the controller should hold gamers back. Although small in design the Ouya has to perform well to catch the gamer’s eye.
Features & Hardware
The Ouya will be powered by Google’s Android 4.1 Jellybean which is the latest operating system, so is another plus. The menu system for the Ouya appears at this time to be quite simplistic but in a way this can actually work in its favour. The more intuitive the interface is to use, the easier gamer will adapt to it and accept it as a gaming console.
In terms of connections the box itself has an Ethernet port, though Wi-fi is built in. HDMI is available for the connection to the TV with micro-USB and USB ports available to copy files onto the box. This is obviously for use for developers who will be testing their software on it. A menu option called “Make” also provides the teasing chance that amateur programmers can write their own games and test them on the machine, this is obviously something that will provide an edge for hobbyists. With USB confirmed to allow for external storage, this also means the machine can be upgraded.
The actual power behind the Ouya is the Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset which is powerful enough for most Android gaming, to put it into context with smartphones and tablets this is the chipset you’ll find in the Nexus 7. This is obviously a good sign, but when it comes to consoles will hardly compete with the bigger names and the next generation consoles, but that is hardly the point. The Ouya is not designed to do that, but more aimed at the more casual gamer, or as previously noted the hobbyist developer maybe.
Not much can be said about the games really at this point because there is not much information about what will be available. As with all consoles this is something that can make or break the initial spending spree from gamine (use the Wii u as an example here) but with a release date in June this is something that will obviously be worked on during the build up to the release.
With the possibility of media streaming and a few hidden extras still to come the Ouya does seem like a good console, for what it’s aiming to provide. More hard-core gamers will no doubt be more hesitant when considering it as something for them, but maybe they can be won over? The fact is the Ouya needs one of those special titles that will pull them in and make them consider paying the reasonable $99 price tag. As one of the first consoles of its kind though it’s always interesting to see what is possible. It’s too soon to really give a verdict on the console and time will obviously tell, for now though I think the Ouya has still done enough to keep people interested.