We see ya, Ouya, you tasty Android games console gear
But you won’t leave Sony and and Microsoft quaking to their controllers
Name of the game
Ouya’s website has a list of all available titles that run happily on the console, and if you want to know how many there are... go ahead and count ’em. There were 500 titles available as of the start of November, according to Ouya, and there are certainly enough in there to keep me amused for the foreseeable future.
Ouya’s main menu screen
And there are some good Google Play ports available including The Cave, Hero of Many, Another World and Ravensword: Shadowland to name but four. Another couple of titles worth a shout in this hack’s humble opinion are Meltdown and Reaper. All games come with a free trial so you can play before you pay, and prices are reasonable. Neon Shadow will cost you £1.99 while Shadowgun will set you back £2.99.
Browsing for games is helped by handy genre categorisation so you can dive straight into the selection of available FPS or RPG titles if those are so the sort of games that float your boat. The only genre lacking decent representation is racing games, with neither Need for Speed nor Real Racing 3 - or something similar - available. Other key Android mobile game titles are missing too, such as Dead Trigger 2 and NOVA 3.
In fact, there aren’t any EA titles in the Ouya library at all, and I couldn’t find any Gameloft titles either though it is listed as a supported developer. Of course with the Ouya being as ‘open’ as a platform can really be there ways around the lack of titles from the major software houses.
A reasonable - but not comprehensive - selection of shooters
As this thread on the XDA Developers forum shows, installing Modern Combat 4 is really not that much of a challenge, ditto getting the controller to play nice. Games aside, I installed Netflix and the Amazon Appstore in minutes and both work perfectly.
More seriously, the Ouya lacks any killer exclusive games, something to give it a Halo halo. Towerfall and Clark - a cracking little game that reminds me of Head Over Heels but channelled via WALL-E - are two noteworthy titles from the rather small selection of Ouya-only games currently available. That catastrophe that was Ouya’s Free the Games Fund initiative has a lot answer for when it comes to the lack of exclusive titles. How much trust you want to place in this is a matter for you, but Ouya lists a fair number of titles due on the platform over the next couple of years in a Coming Soon section.
If the games that I have been playing are anything to go by, the adaptation of titles from a touchscreen to controller interface has generally been successful. Shadowgun played for all the world like a shooter designed for a control pad from the off. Some games like Hero of Many and Sine Mora actually benefit from the transition because your finger no longer obscures the view.
Sideloading the Netflix app worked a treat
I didn’t encounter any graphics glitches during my gaming though that may have been a matter of good luck with my game selection. No problems to report when it came to network gaming, other than me getting my arse handed to me on a plate by more competent opponents on a regular basis that is.
Of course the big problem, the elephant in the room, is the absence of the Google Play store. This means that if you want to play a favourite mobile title on your telly you have to buy the game a second time. It also means that the Ouya’s ecosystem is destined to always appear a minnow when compared to Google Play’s whale. Sideloading the Play Store won’t get you anywhere, but it’s certainly doable as you can see here. On a more positive note, there is a small but growing number of non-gaming apps available, including ports of XBMC and VLC which together turn the Ouya into a nice little media player.
I also have to flag up a concern I have that the Tegra 3 underpinnings of the system may prohibit new games written, or being written, for the latest fire-breathing Qualcomm chips with 2GB of RAM used in newer Android devices from ever being ported to the Ouya. That said, I can’t see the Ouya being disconnected from the Taylor household’s telly anytime soon so maybe there’s life in the old Tegra 3 dog yet.
Once the batteries are in, the controller feels solid and weighty enough
The Reg Verdict
Is the Ouya competition for the likes of the PS4 and Xbox One? No, don’t be silly, of course it isn’t. It’s not even competition for the PS3 and Xbox 360. But for the price it’s still not a bad little box of tricks.
The range of games is good and there are now a couple of decent media player apps that expand the box’s capabilities. The hacking possibilities are very broad. The added support for USB storage is another big bonus. More importantly, it looks like support both from the makers and from developers is reasonably healthy - meaning the ownership experience should get more rewarding as time passes.
Would I have recommended one to a friend at launch? No. Would I now? Just about, yes. It’s just a bit of a shame that - even taking the UK’s VAT rate into consideration - the price isn’t closer to £80 here in Blighty. ®