Is the 99 Ouya worthy of a spot under your TV

first_imgThe first Kickstarter-funded video game console, the Ouya, released this week. If that date flew under your radar while you were besieged with great games and new console announcements, and you haven’t had enough time to read up on the little console to determine if it’s worth a purchase, we’ve got your back. We spent some time with the Android console and one of its representatives, and now have a better understanding of the Ouya. Though the console is an affordable (for video game consoles, that is) $99, is it worth the entry fee?The Ouya is essentially the first major Android gaming console, followed by the GameStick and Nvidia’s Shield. Some of our feelings regarding Android as a gaming platform have been well-documented, and the Ouya doesn’t escape that criticism. At this point, the Android gaming platform is more about potential than it is must-have titles, but if you can get $99 worth of entertainment value out of the current crop of Ouya-compatible games, that price could easily buy you a pass to get in on the ground floor of a bright future.The hardwareThe Ouya proper is a tiny, silver-and-black cube with a minimal number of ports — an HDMI out, a USB 2.0 port, a microUSB port, an ethernet port, and standard DC power. Within the cube resides a Tegra 3 SoC — already outpaced by Shield’s Tegra 4 — as well as 802.11 b/g/n wireless capability, and the capability to output in 1080p or 720p. The Ouya has 8GB of internal storage, and 1GB of RAM.The unit is less powerful than many Android phones, but the Ouya also carries that $99 price tag and controller capability like a badge of honor.The controllerSomething of an offshoot of an Xbox 360 controller — which is basically every controller that isn’t of a Sony or Nintendo heritage — the Ouya controller is quite familiar, and fits comfortably in the hand. Sporting the same silver-and-black aesthetic, the controller has the general layout we’re all familiar with: Staggered analog sticks, two shoulder buttons and two shoulder triggers (more similar to the PS3’s triggers), a home button, and four face buttons that use the letters that compose the name of the console. The center of the controller also acts as a touchpad, similar to the PS4’s new DualShock 4.The layout of everything is just fine, but everything about the controller feels a little off; cheap isn’t the word, but it feels like the controller is a very good working replica of a controller. The shape is correct, the layout is correct, and all the buttons work when you push them, but the buttons feel either too mushy (especially the D-pad) or too clicky, the shoulder triggers are universally reviled on the PS3 and the Ouya triggers are very similar, and — this may be an odd criticism — the buttons are loud. I felt self-conscious mashing away at the buttons in the office, as if I were being a nuisance to my diligent coworkers.Another issue we couldn’t help but notice is that the controller seemed laggy. Sometimes it wasn’t too noticeable unless you paid attention, such as when using the touchpad. Other times, though, such as when playing Canabalt, it was extremely noticeable and you actually had to change the way you timed pressing the buttons.Next page: The games, and the $99 decision 1 2last_img read more