Woo Hoo, Ouya!

Woo Hoo, Ouya!

gaming consoles android  Woo Hoo, Ouya!
  • Ouya

  • Rating: 3

  • Price: $99
  • Reviewed by:
  • On July 3, 2013
  • Last modified:July 3, 2013

Pros: Very affordable, all games free to try, compact and cool-looking device

Cons: Limited selection of quality games (at the moment), average graphics, expensive second controller

A high quality Xbox-like game console for under US$100?

And all the games for it are free?

Yes, such a thing now exists on the consumer market. It’s called the Ouya. And if you are thinking that it sounds too good to be true then you’d be partially right. Though, happily, you’d also be partially wrong too.

But let’s start at the beginning . . .

gaming consoles android  Woo Hoo, Ouya!

An Android-Based Video Game System

The Ouya began its life as a crowdsourced Kickstarter project. The idea was to design an inexpensive console that developers could easily create games for. On an Xbox or PlayStation, a full complete game can take a company millions of dollars to create (which is why, if you look at the best selling titles for each system, they almost always cost US$50+ a pop).

But what if you could find a cheaper, open source software platform? In theory, that could unleash a wave of creativity. You could have as many games, offered as inexpensively, as there are available for, say, an Android tablet.

And so Ouya decided it would, literally, run an Android operating system — a modified version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, to be specific. Android is not only open source but it’s a platform that already has an extensive game library, allowing developers to modify their Android tablet titles for the Ouya relatively easily.

So far, the strategy has worked. The Ouya has been out for only about one month. When we started our research on this post last week there were already 176 official titles. When we started writing two days ago the count was up to 201. At publication there were 210.

Every Ouya game is free —in a way

Another strategic decision made by Ouya: Anyone can write a game for the Ouya, anyone can sell it through the Ouya online store and set whatever price for it they wish (Ouya takes a 30% cut) but developers must make every Ouya game free to try. The trial might be time-limited or might involve players paying to unlock certain functionality or game levels. Regardless, there will be enough on offer sans cost to get a sense of the game.

Which is good, because in the free-for-all world of an open source system, titles can very wildly in quality. On one end of the spectrum is a game like A Bit of a Fist of Awesome with lame gameplay and 1980s-like graphics:

gaming consoles android  Woo Hoo, Ouya!

On the other end of the spectrum is a game like the Ouya remake of Final Fantasy III:

gaming consoles android  Woo Hoo, Ouya!

Note that no Ouya game has graphics that compare to what you’ll find with a top-end title for the Xbox One or PlayStation 4. That doesn’t necessarily make the games less fun. But there is something about that them feels retro.

The Ouya device

As for the Ouya itself, it’s a good-looking, cube-shaped device of plastic embossed with aluminum. It’s light (10.7 ounces, aka 300g) and small (about the size of a coffee mug or Roku 3 streaming media player).

Considering the $99 price tag, the Ouya has a surprisingly high build quality too. The device features a Tegra 3 CPU and 8GB of memory, expandable via a USB port. There’s also an Ethernet port, HDMI and Micro-USB ports and connections for 5.1 sound. Connectivity is via 802.11 b/g/n wifi and Bluetooth.

As for the wireless controller, it’s very similar to that for an Xbox 360. We’ve read other reviews complaining of controller lag time but didn’t experience any ourselves. We were, however, disappointed that an additional controller cost $50 — that’s half the price of the entire system!

gaming consoles android  Woo Hoo, Ouya!

gaming consoles android  Woo Hoo, Ouya!


gaming consoles android  Woo Hoo, Ouya!
gaming consoles android  Woo Hoo, Ouya!
gaming consoles android  Woo Hoo, Ouya!

Our Verdict

As a piece of hardware, the Ouya video game console is solid. It’s powerful enough to do what it needs to and attractive enough to sit on a living room shelf.

Ultimately, though, the Ouya will succeed or not on its software offerings. At the moment, those are a bit sparse in quantity and inconsistent in quality. For that reason, we can currently only give the Ouya a 3-star rating.

That said, the selection of Ouya games has been growing exponentially. In addition, Ouya has inked app deals with streaming media services Twitch.tv, Crunchyroll, iheartradio, TuneIn, XBMC, Plex and Flixster. A Netflix app is rumored to be in the works.

Hardcore gamers will find the Ouya a poor substitute for an Xbox or PlayStation. Though virtually none of their titles overlap with the offerings on Ouya — you could happily get an Ouya in addition to a high-end consol. Or, if you want a console able to feed an occasional television video game fix, the Ouya is great for that too.

Throw in current rock bottom $99 price (£99 in the UK) and it’s easy to say “Woo hoo!” to the Ouya.

published: 3 July 2013
gaming consoles android  Woo Hoo, Ouya!

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  It’s pronounced “oo-ya.” The O in the name stands for “openess” and the U is for “universal,” after which they just gave up on creating an acronym for a name and added the YA purely because it sounded good.

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Responses

  1. Dave Cardwell says:

    July 3rd, 2013at 10:43 pm(#)

    Well you almost got me.. When I saw the free game thing I thought “Its not fair to mislead these poor folks but you did correct the statement which is ok I guess but its a bit misleading at first.

    I do agree this machine isn’t bad for the price and the “Try before you buy” approach isn’t new but a nice take away from the money monger consoles that only want your wallet and first born male child to work for any length of time.

    One of the nicest features that I don’t expect the “Cool Stuff” boys to know about or delve into is the fact that this console can run Android apps flawlessly and especially XBMC Media Center for Android which is one of the best programs for media online and playback or netflicks. It can give you movies, TV and playback your own media as well as games.

    Its interesting that the marketing direction of this device is so far from the planned direction of future new consoles. Other brands are looking to make their consoles web aware only and not backwards compatible which may make some people a bit put off..

    All in all a good choice for learning, media playback and all around family enjoyment and education with a healthy injection of entrepreneur.

    [Reply to this comment]

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