Poor Man’s Gamer Presents: On the Ouya

Well last week I took a deep look at the current situation surrounding the current console market, during which I briefly discussed the Ouya, a microconsole with seemingly large amounts of potential.  Well I recently got the chance to sit down with one and find out exactly what it has to offer.

The Ouya was met with great intrigue when it was announced in 2012.  It was a revolutionary console that was set to bring about a revolution in gaming with its strange and unheard of ideas of catering to the consumer.  The Ouya was displayed on Kickstarter and met its goal in eight hours, earning the title of best first day performing project on Kickstarter.  The Ouya was then released in 2013 to the mainstream public.

The console itself consists of a small black cube no bigger than your ordinary coffee mug and with only one button to speak of.  The console downloads games over the internet and can be controlled through Bluetooth enabled controllers.  The controllers follow the traditional dual-shock style, though they have touch screen interfaces, and are powered by batteries that are held in the arms of the controller.

The Ouya gains most of its fame and interest from the fact that it contains a plentitude of “gimmicks.”  The first gimmick would have to be the price.  The Ouya costs only $99 for the basic console and one controller, though packs with three additional controllers are available for an extra $100.  This price means that it is by far the most affordable console on the market, especially when comparing it to more mainstream consoles.  The second gimmick that is meant to attract customers is the fact that all of the games for the Ouya are “free to play” in some aspect.  Now browsing through the Ouya’s gaming catalog this can mean a number of things from including a “demo” of the actual game or a small fraction of the overall campaign, to the exclusion of multiplayer or additional levels/features.  Oftentimes I have found this to mean that most games for the Ouya have free versions which are very analogous to the free versions of most mobile games.  The gaming catalog the Ouya offers is hard kept from any major names, though upon browsing it you will see a few Sonic games and Final Fantasy III.  The rest of the games are mostly comprised of indie games and a few Ouya-exclusives.

Now playing around on the Ouya with a few friends I tried to get a good sense of exactly what the console had to offer in the current games market.  To begin it is definitely cheap to buy and start a gaming library of sorts.  As long as you have an internet connection you are free to try whatever and however many games you’d like.  The games for the Ouya may not consist of heavy hitters like Mario or COD but it is slowly acquiring a good number of interesting and unique games to call its own.  Amongst the games that are out for the Ouya, a great many of them truly shine in multiplayer.  Now this does not mean that the Ouya doesn’t have any good single player games or that you can only have fun on the Ouya playing with others, only that the Ouya is filled with a plethora of smaller games perfect for a fast-paced multiplayer setting, not the kind of games that are truly enjoyable on your own.  The Ouya is filled with a great number of dull and mediocre games, but it does hold onto a few gems.  The Ouya has great games such as TowerFall, Amazing Frogs?, No Brakes Valet, You Don’t Know Jack, and Hidden in Plain Sight, games that as I’ve stated, shine in their multiplayer capabilities (at least these are the multiplayer games I’ve found great enjoyment in).

Perhaps the most seemingly flawless shining gem of the Ouya is TowerFall, a fast paced action game with simple mechanics that lend themselves to a variety of complex matches and games.  TowerFall is a four-player fighting game where you run around an arena trying to kill your other three opponents.  Each player is initially outfitted with three arrows to slay their opponents, though they are able to pick up those that have been fired off.  The game utilizes a one hit kill mechanic to keep things fast and tense.  There’s a variety of power-ups to pick up that can instantly turn the tides of battle and change the favor of things.  TowerFall is a game that is just so insanely simple that it’s a wonder it wasn’t invented sooner.  As it stands TowerFall is an Ouya-exclusive, though it’s currently being developed for the PS4 and PC.

Currently the Ouya’s second iteration has just been released.  This version of the initial console features double the storage space of the initial Ouya and a recolored controller for $129.  The Ouya has a large amount of potential under its belt, though it currently seems to do very little in marketing this potential.  In my opinion it will be through promoting the multiplayer aspect of the Ouya or through an improved single player game catalog that the Ouya may start to prosper.  Though it is still early on in its release, there seems a bit of foreboding over how well the Ouya will do in years to come.  As it stands I think only time will tell whether the Ouya becomes a console for the ages and a “must-buy” or another calamity in the gaming market.

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