Magnificent, isn’t it?
I’m not going to make this into a review. There are plenty of websites out there doing reviews of this revolutionary little console before its even been opened up for general release. The OUYA delivered to Kickstarter backers has always, in my mind, been akin to a beta program. We get the release candidate of the console and we provide feedback for the release-release console. So, this is mostly going to be feedback. Though I was vocal about my displeasure with OUYA’s PR during the rollout to backers (namely the lack of information being communicated), I am very, very happy that I finally have my unit in hand. Literally in hand. This thing is tiny.
Something the people at OUYA did tell us as the rollout was going is that the controller was being tweaked in response to feedback mid-production. It would seem, being one of the last recipients, that I have one of these tweaked controllers. I will say if feels marvelous in my hands. Maybe not quite an Xbox 360 level of refinement, but it has weight, the thumbsticks feel great and don’t catch anywhere, and the faceplates now have the additional magnets to hold them in place, and they have a good amount of heft to them as well. The D-pad is a little mushier than I’d like, yes, and the two large triggers don’t feel quite right being so wide, but that’s a small gripe on my part. Otherwise, I think its great.
The OUYA itself is brilliant. Its small, and the design is beautiful. I had a nice surprise in that the top backers’ names were not etched into one of the side panels. All of the standard silver OUYAs that shipped did. Another reason I’m loving my limited edition model so much. I really hope they don’t offer this retail, even in limited quantities. It would detract from the joy of owning it (and the pain of being bumped back for switching up to the limited edition on Kickstarter).
One detraction I’m going to mention is that the Limited Edition model I received has four hexagon screws holding the top in place instead of the standard phillips screws that were promised. I don’t know if this change was ever communicated, but it seems like an unneeded hinderance to the idea of how simple it is supposed to be to open her up (I do, thankfully, have access to hex bits and allen wrenches.
(E3 2013 UPDATE: A firmware upadate pushed out alongside E3 addressed some of my earlier gripes when I drafted this post. While I’m still not certain if the interface is any faster, they did automate the game download/install process and made overall browsing/discovery easier).
As much as I’ve been praising the hardware design, it really comes down to the software experience, and with my limited time I so far have a few early impressions I can pass on to you (though no screenshots at this time).
I had some initial Wi-Fi flakiness getting setup but got past it. After logging into my reserved OUYA account screen name, I came to a stark minimalist interface when you compare it to the other consoles out there (both mainstream and indie). I happen to love the design, and there is very little keeping me from jumping straight into games or apps I’ve installed, but I will say that there is a lot of lag in moving between categories. I don’t know if they aren’t properly caching the thumbnails or it it attempts to redraw every time you go in and out, but it can be painful at times when flipping in and out of the DISCOVER menus, or especially when you’ve started downloading a game (which, admittedly, is probably less noticeable on better internet connections).
‘Didn’t have to enter in my credit card to start downloading free/trial games. Huge plus.
Interface is simple, easy to navigate. I think it might be hard to find new content as more titles find their way into the catalog. Why isn’t there a “favorites” option? I think being able to flag games for later download would be a huge advantage over other platforms.
There’s no external drive support yet. I’m pretty disappointed by that as the 8 GB of space (of which only ~5.7 was available to me) is going to get blown through really quickly. Several titles in this store hit above 200 MB in size. And then there’s my desire to store media on my OUYA alongside all of these games. It will soon become an issue and I’m going to hope a pre-release firmware update will resolve that.
A huge bonus to the process of downloading games from the OUYA PLAY store is that I didn’t have to enter my credit card information. At all. Until I actually purchase something on the OUYA I don’t believe I ever will be, and that is a comforting idea when everything else out there requires a card even if you’re downloading free content.
While I downloaded a couple of games and tried them out, I haven’t found anything original that really calls to me yet (but some good ideas are out there). And that is really the whole point to the OUYA. The economy of the OUYA is going to be dictated by the quality of the work. If its not good don’t expect players to buy it, and whatever gets put out there they’re going to get to try for free (in some capacity). Its a revolutionary idea in a space where we are at the mercy of big box developers if they’ll give us a playable demo.
I’ll come back around to more on some of the titles that I do end up purchasing on the OUYA and do an in depth walkthrough of the software after it reaches the final, retail release.
Until then, play on.