First look: Ouya

Console games go open source with this Android alternative
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01.Android comes to games consoles



Price: $99 US (shipping not included)

3 stars out of 5

When Ouya hit the crowd-funding website Kickstarter last year, the developers were hoping to raise $950,000 to build the world’s first open-source console running on Android OS. Instead, the project raised more than $8.5 million. Now the palm-sized console has finally arrived, but is it a viable alternative to Xbox, PlayStation and Wii?

For $99 (plus shipping) you get the console, one controller, a power supply and an HDMI cable. It packs a 1.7GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, but doesn’t come close to matching the power of the latest PS4, Xbox One and even some mobile phones. 

The operating system is based on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), which leaves the door open for professional and amateur developers to create all sorts of apps and modifications. Even the hardware can be modified, as opening the case won’t void the warranty.

Most consumers will simply see it as a cheap games console. Ouya lets you try before you buy, which helps you find games you want without hurting your hip pocket. If you find one you like, expect to pay between $5 and $15 for a full game. All games come via digital download, so you’ll need a credit card.

Ouya is new, so its biggest shortcoming is the lack of quality games. There are more than 350 titles available, and most of them are similar to, or direct ports of, mobile titles designed for casual gamers. They’re fun, but generally lack depth. You’ll find a few classic games for sale such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy, but few fresh, new titles of similar calibre.

We found the app store (Discover) somewhat confusing to navigate. The lack of quality control synonymous with Android is evident, and some games are unplayable due to glitches. There’s potential for the Ouya as a media hub however, as media apps including XBMC are added to Discover.

When you buy an Ouya, you’re showing your support for the open source philosophy. However, most consumers will look towards Ouya for games, and for now it’s hard to find really good titles. While Ouya is filled with good ideas, as it stands you’ll get more bang for your buck from a Nintendo Wii for around the same price.



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