I love to talk about all kinds of Android games during the weekly Android Amusements updates, but I also like to talk about systems. To be more specific, the Ouya. A lot of times I won’t mention it, but I am side-loading games onto my old, launch run Ouya for good times. I know the micro-console gets a lot of flack, but it’s a reliable, little friend in my living room. Except the original guy was giving me a bit of trouble.
To be specific, my first Ouya had control issues. The controller just wasn’t accurate enough. I didn’t trust myself to play more intricate games where precise controls were key, like So Many Me.
So, on to the next. The Ouya I’m currently using is the most recent model. It has a quad-core Tegra 3-T33 processor, an improved controller, improved 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, and is generally designed to make the microconsole experience more enjoyable.
Let me say that right off the bat, it works better. Like many Ouya owners, I side-load. I have the Amazon App Store installed, so I can take advantage of many of those free App of the Day programs I’ve accumulated over the years. I also constantly test my Humble Bundle acquisitions on the console, praying for compatibility. (And perhaps one day an official Humble Ouya Bundle.) The first game I decided to try on this newer Ouya was Rayman Fiesta Run. On the older Ouya, there was constant and noticeable lag. It ran much better on this newer model.
Though, that’s the only game that really showed performance differences on the Ouya itself. I’d never experienced any of the WiFi issues other early adopters had, perhaps due to the placement of the router in my home, so I couldn’t really tell if the networking capabilities are better. Especially since many of the Ouya games are so small. I wouldn’t be able to tell if speeds improved, as so many games are downloaded within a few minutes.
The controller, however, is vastly improved. It doesn’t look much different, but the buttons feel a bit snappier and more responsive. More important, the latency is better. This newer controller paired better with the console and offered better response times. I was able to enjoy So Many Me without worrying about the Ouya’s controller bogging me down, and found it worked just as well with other games, like Dropchord and Rush Bros.
I think it’s the little things about the controller that really make this iteration feel so much better. There are slight depressions in the analog sticks, and I found my thumbs fit better within those tiny pits. Also, the surface has a slight texture to it that makes it easier to grip. The original Ouya controller was a tad too smooth for my liking.
The Ouya may not have the flash of other consoles, but this system is coming into its own. If you use it the right way, and aren’t afraid to side-load and keep a USB attached with a library of assorted games, you’ll find a welcome living room companion. Especially since there are now 800 apps in its store. (Granted, less than half are worth playing, but still.) If you’re willing to give it a try for $99, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.