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OUYA - Console Review

The Ouya is a new console that was originally develops as a kick-starter program. After the console began to draw enough attention, it was manufactured and distributed in many retail stores such as GameStop, Best Buy, and Target. The console sports a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chip along with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage that is expandable via USB storage. The console also has an AC adapter as well as a single HDMI port. The Ouya is not on the market to compete with consoles like the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, it primarily plays independently developed games and emulators of retro and arcade systems. Personally I have enjoyed the time I have spent using it since I picked one up back in December of 2013 and this will be a review and a brief overview of the system itself.

PHYSICAL SPECS

The Ouya console is a very small cube like system, almost resembling a very small version of Nintendo's GameCube. It is made of a shiny black plastic as well as sand blasted aluminum. It has a single button, which is its power button on the top of the system. Also on the top of the system are 4 T-series security screws that hold the top of the system secure to its base. On the back of the console, there is a CAT-5 Ethernet port, an AC adapter port, an HDMI port, and a single USB port. On the front of the console, the name “OUYA” is engraved into the aluminum. Overall I really like this design and think that it is very sleek and stylish. Unfortunately however, there is one major thing that I believe could have been done differently with the consoles design. I believe that instead of aluminum for the console, silver painted plastic should have been used instead. My reason for this is because there have been multiple times where I have gotten up from my couch to go and turn off my system and I had gotten a shock from the aluminum. This not only was slightly painful and a bit more intense than your average shock but it is also a pretty major issue. Static shocks for electronic device parts are very bad and can easily destroy and ruin them. I now worry a little bit when I go to turn off my system and have to touch something metal before touching the system. While this doesn't bother me all that much, it is still a concern that I have. Other than this, I really have no complaints for the systems design. I believe that it is put together well and looks very nice.

OPERATING SYSTEM

The Ouya runs on a custom Android based operating system. The interface is very clean and simple to use. I have really not see anything that I do not like about it. Everything on the menu is fast and responsive which is very important when making a game system because nobody wants to be sitting around waiting for a menu to open up. The Ouya marketplace, like the rest of the OS, is very clean, simple and easy to use. Through the marketplace, you are able to search for games by categories, by genre, or by name. There is also a section for anything that is currently trending on the Ouya marketplace.

One feature that I enjoy a lot that the Ouya offers to players is the chance to try any game or in-app purchase before they purchase it. They say, “We believe that you should love something before you pay for it”. For the players, this is great because there have been many times that I have bought a game and not liked it all that much and then I was not able to get all of my money back. The same goes for in-app purchases/Downloadable content. I have purchased add-ons for games before and I have not always been satisfied and sadly there almost always isn’t a way to get a refund for these items. Ouya allows you to actually see if you’ll enjoy it before you fully purchase it. While sometimes this means only being allowed to use the add-on for a small amount of time during a trial-period, it is still nice to be able to get some experience with a game before you put your hard earned money into buying it.

Overall the operating system of the Ouya isn’t perfect but it is very nice and easy to use and I enjoy the time that I have spent using it. There really isn’t anything about the operating system that makes it a turn-off and makes me not want to use it. One last thing about the operating system is that the Ouya dev team is usually very quick to respond to problems with the system. Here, Ouya did a great job keeping a customer satisfied. PERFORMANCE

The Ouya is built with the Nvidia Tegra 3 chip, which is a common processor/GPU, used in lots of tablets for example the Google Nexus 7. Sadly however, this chip is becoming outdated with the Nvidia Tegra 4 chip now available. The games that are made for the console are made to work well with the hardware of the system so you definitely will not see any Battlefield 4 quality graphics wise here. The Ouya mainly focuses on smaller indie games that can be similar to a lot of smartphone games. It is actually possible to port games from the Google Play Store to the Ouya and run them with the controller.

Some games that have a lot going on at once for example the Tough Guy stage of Dubwars can be very demanding on your system and you may be able to see very minimal lag. From my overall experience with the system however, I have not really had that many problems with games lagging or frame rate drops at all. Out of all of the games I have played on the Ouya, which is quite a large number believe it or not, I have only experienced a lag on a very small number of them and it was only with games that had a lot going on at one time. During normal play however, the player will virtually never experience lag. THE CONTROLLER

The Ouya is a great system sadly however, the controller is lacking a lot in my opinion. The controller connects to the Ouya with a wireless Bluetooth connection. It sports a directional pad, two rubber coated analog sticks, an O, U, Y, and A button, two bumper buttons, two triggers, an Ouya menu button, and it also features a mouse pad in the center of the controller. I have to give the controller credit for one thing however. The batteries for the controller are store inside of the handgrips, which removes a cumbersome battery pack from the back of the controller.

The triggers on the controller can be very annoying in my opinion. When pulling them down, they may squeak a little. And it isn’t a little gentle squeaking; no it can be very obnoxious. On top of this, pulling down the triggers just doesn’t feel right. I feel as though I have to pull down on them harder than I should. The analog sticks of the controller also in my opinion just do not feel right. The sticks can rub up against the plastic of their casing, which gives a bit of a strange feel to the sticks if you are moving them in a circular motion in their places. The mouse pad on the controller in my opinion is not needed at all. There have been too many times where one of my fingers have accidently skimmed the mouse pad, which automatically brings up the arrow on my screen and this can be very annoying if it happens in the middle of a game. Even for the Internet browser I believe that you would be better off just using the analog sticks to control the cursor like the Xbox and PlayStation browsers. To add on top of all this, there have been many times where I have been playing a game and the controls are what are lagging and the controller becomes very unresponsive and it isn’t the actual system’s fault.

To finish my ranting over the controller of the Ouya, I feel as though the company knows that their controller was going to suck. For god’s sake they didn’t even put a pause button on it! How are you supposed to make a successful game console without a pause button on your controller? Even the Nintendo Entertainment System had a start button on its controller. Back to the company knowing their controller sucks, they even made it so you would be able to connect your Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controllers to the system instead of using the native controllers. You are much better off doing this because the quality of these controllers is just so much greater.

CONCLUSION

To finish up my review of the Ouya, I believe that this system deserves a solid 8/10. There are definitely many things that can be improved with this console however it is definitely very fun to play around with. Not to mention on top of this, Ouya offers a dev kit for everyone on their website so you have the ability to develop your very own Ouya game or app if you would like. It may take a lot of work but it has a good payoff in the end. The controller is definitely one thing I strongly believe that Ouya needs to put a second look into. In the end the controller is definitely worth the $99 you pay for it.

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