Thoughts on the OUYA.

This weekend I catsat for a friend. This friend was generous enough to let me bring my OUYA over and use her tv to try it out - because she does have a nice big tv. As a result, I got several hours to mess around and figure out how it worked and all, and these are my initial thoughts.

Pairing the controller: fairly easy, though not particularly intuitive, because the button you use isn't obviously a button. It usually reconnects without problem at successive bootups.

Attaching to wifi: not too bad. But the UI for switching from the keyboard to wifi popup is less intuitive than pairing the controller was. Also, it got confused after I logged in as myself, and decided it was no longer attached to the wifi, and wouldn't scan properly. Fortunately, it's Android. All I had to do was turn wifi off and back on again in the settings, and voila. Wifi restored.

The UI in general takes some getting used to, and there's a funny little touchpad in the controller itself, between the left analog stick and the four buttons which, when you put your finger on it, shows up as a mouse on the screen. The GUI is not the greatest - not a fan of the colour scheme, mostly - but the labels and menus are not too hard to understand, though some of the game categories aren't clearly indicative of what they mean. I do wish there was an option in the games menu for "Newest games".

Indeed, most of any beef I have with the OUYA is with the games themselves. Not even with the quality (which, I have to admit, isn't the most amazing ever, but it's definitely tolerable) but with the button mapping and the fact that it's near impossible to properly exit a handful of them.
The button mapping is the biggest problem - in most cases they make sense, but one or two games use the buttons completely differently than any other game, or even the OUYA menu itself. In an OUYA context, usually the A button means "go back". In a few of the games I tried, it does no such thing. If you want to go back you have to press some other button. It's frustrating, but that's just one example.
As far as exiting games, sometimes the only thing you can do is press the center button (the same semi-hidden one I mentioned, for pairing controllers) - similarly to the Home button on an Android phone. As far as I'm aware, that is just like minimising the game, and it's still in the background. I could be wrong. But if that is the case, that's really impractical and simply takes up memory.
I did have a fun time messing around with Final Fantasy III - first time I've played FF of any kind. Yes, I was a sheltered child. But now I have joined the ranks of gamers everywhere. Or something like that, I think.
I also found a puzzle game vaguely reminiscent of Portal, called Polarity; I'm quite looking forward to playing that one through, it looks promising.
Overall game quality was not quite up to playstation/xbox standards, particularly in the graphics department, but I don't find that particularly offputting. I rather found it endearing more than anything. Although some of the games available were in a highly unfinished state, which I found frustrating. The other frustrating thing is the low number of currently available games, but I'm sure more will come.

In summary, I feel like the OUYA is for adult gamers what the Wii is for kids; a fun toy. I don't mean that in a condescending way, what I mean is that it doesn't look like it'll have big shiny expensive games, but it doesn't need those either. It has its share of darker games already, but it still feels much more light-hearted and relaxed. If that even makes sense. It doesn't have any delusions of grandeur - it's got a swingset and hopscotch to play with, and it's happy there.
Also, as someone who hasn't really played video games til now, it was fairly easy to get the hang of, which says they did something right.
And I enjoyed it, too.

So that's my initial impression. I can't wait til I have a proper screen to attach it to, so I can play through Polarity properly.


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