GET YOUR GAME ON: Holding gaming in the palm of your hand

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First Posted: 7/7/2013

Ouya! It’s not just a fun word to say, it’s a new home console. Ouya is one of the biggest success stories of the website Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a crowd-funding site where people can invest money in projects from indie developers. Essentially, people put up their idea for a movie, game, gadget or other project, and if you are interested you can invest a few dollars into making the project happen. On Kickstarter, Ouya raised 8.6 million and was able to bring its console home to hardcore gamers and people interested in indie games.

For a while now, mobile games have really started to take over the game market; however, mobile games have never really had the quality of home console games. Ouya aims to change that, as it offers an Android game experience at home on the bigger screen.

One of the biggest differences in the games is that players don’t use a touch screen to play them, there’s a controller. It isn’t the most powerful of gaming systems – not by a long shot – but the selling point for me is that all of the games are free to try. You can look through a pretty substantial line-up of downloadable games, play the game demo for a while, and if you like it, pay for it. The games range from $1 to $15.

Most of the starter games aren’t very great so far, but there are some real gems, such as “Final Fantasy 3” and “Towerfall.”

One of the things that really caught my eye when researching this console is game emulation; there are emulators for pretty much every console on the market allowing you to play hundreds of older games from systems like NES or SNES. You can play pretty much any game for those systems at any time as long as you have the ROM files for the game. Most of the games I played didn’t even have a paid component; I just played them for a while for free, which was fun to try.

I really love the design of the system itself. I am blown away by how small and sleek it is; it’s about the size of an orange and fits in the palm of your hand.

The setup is simple, the box it comes in containing the system, a controller and an HDMI cable, which is all you need to begin playing. This is especially great for someone who travels a lot, as you can both pack it and hook it up to a hotel TV easily. As long as you have an Ethernet hookup or Wi-Fi, you’re good to go.

Another area where the system benefits from the use of the Android operating systems, is that you can load apps and web browsers, more of which will be added as time goes on.

The system is not ideal, but for a small price tag of only $99 it can be a really fun one to toy around with. Ouya is not the most powerful system ever, but it is made to play smaller mobile and indie titles. The controller isn’t the best – it feels like a knock-off Xbox 360 controller- but it is adequate to play the particular games the system is made for. If you don’t want to use the controller you don’t have to, as you can hook up a PS3 or Xbox controller via a USB cable.

The “Ouya” certainly isn’t a competition for Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo, but it is a cheap way to play a ton of small quirky games and a good place to play emulated games. Since the system is so open, there are some really interesting hacks and things being developed for it, another compelling reason to try it out. Software updates come out all the time and they are constantly upgrading all of the software.

Right now, the system is mediocre at best, but eventually the Ouya has a lot of potential to do great things. The system will not be for people who only care about hardcore or triple A games like “Call of Duty,” but it is great if you want to try low-budget independent games. I really look forward to what Ouya has to offer in the future.

-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at