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Saturday 29 June 2013

Ouya Early Crop

As previously mentioned I have had the Ouya for about a week now and I have been disappointed.  In the last couple of days several new games have been released and so I was hopeful.

Here are my initial opinions of what I have tried.  I should point out I have a very low tolerance for rubbish quality, poor interface design and inadequate tutorials or in game guidance about what to do.  I have a life, I am not a teenager with endless hours to try things out, I have to be able to pick up a game, play it immediately and then go and do something else.

Flashout 3D
This was pretty much a launch game and has been shown off in several places.  It suffers from overscan problems on my screen, meaning some of the menus and instructions appear off of the screen.  This makes playing and setting it up difficult so I have not given this a fair chance yet.  I played through a couple of races and it looked OK but it's not fun having to struggle with the menus!

First impressions last.  I may or may not go back to this if they fix the menus!

Bards Tail
I was expecting more from this.  Sadly the port was disappointing.  The graphics appear in a window in the middle of the screen and are a bit too low resolution.  That said, I can see the menus so I played on.  Trouble is I got to a point where I could not find any way other than to die by being burnt to death by a big rat.  There were no in game tutorials to help me past this point so I just stopped playing.

Final Fantasy III
I had high hopes for this being a well known series.  The good news, everything worked and fitted the screen.  Nice lead in to get you going. Trouble is, I am not a 6 year old any more so the style and game play was not to my taste!

For those that like that sort of game, you probably already know what to expect and will find it fun.

I had been waiting for this having seen the trailers and was excited to give it a go.  The good news is they have done a good job of the interface to fit the screen and to work with the controllers.  The tutorial section at the start is just right.  It was clear what to do and the path through the game was evident.

So far so good.  The graphics look good as well.  Not next gen AAA but plenty good enough for this genre.  Think original half life but with improved textures.  During the tutorial level I did struggle with the sensitivity of the controls.  Before going in to the main level I tinkered with the sensitivity, which is the only adjustment.  I got it a fraction better but it felt throughout the game that I was not fully in control.

It's a duck behind cover and shoot type game, but I found that on the easy setting I could often walk up to the normal enemies and just shoot at point blank range.  The turrets required hiding and a nice touch is that some of the cover can be destroyed so you have to be careful where you hide.

Now for the problems.  I found that aiming was difficult because the controller would often overshoot the target by a long way.  Initially I thought it might be me but after some testing could show clearly that I could let go of the controls and they just ran on.  In the worst cases the game got out of sync with my controls.  I would press the controller to rotate then move forwards and nothing would happen then the character would spin and move while I was not touching the controls!

With patience I put up with these glitches which could last for a minute at times.  I was still able to complete the entire free level but I found myself compensating for the lag.  Pulling the trigger early or deliberately aiming off to hit a target a moment latter.  That is not how I like to play a modern shooter!

For me this is still the most impressive game so far I've tried and I hope the controller problems can be sorted.

Muffin Knight
I saw this advertised as coming to the Ouya.  I had no idea what it was about but looked like a polished game so worth a try.

This is another one where the interface has been correctly adjusted for the Ouya.  Well done.  There is a silly story to explain why you are a knight collecting muffins. Each level drops muffins and various creatures to avoid or shoot.

Initially OK but once it got more active I found the lag from the controls and the overrun while moving too frustrating.  The good news is that you restart very quickly after you die.

Again, this is one for the youngsters and not my cup of tea.

That's it for games.  The only other thing I have installed is the XBMC media player.

This has to be side loaded and there are plenty of tutorials to tell you how to do that.  Apart from the Ouya web browser not having any indication of the state of your download it was fairly easy to get up and running.

XBMC is a very polished App.  It puts the rest of the Ouya to shame.  It even includes overscan compensation so you can adjust the usable area to fit your screen.

I found it confusing to find the right network protocol to work with my network storage but that was partly because you need to attach the storage and then on a completely different screen connect to a folder and add it to your catalogue.  I didn't bother to read any instructions and still managed to get it to work.  I could have saved myself some time by reading up on what I should have been doing.

The good news, it works, I could play my videos and after the last Ouya update it stopped crashing when I tried to fast forward!  XBMC works reliably.  The only oddity is that despite its console background the controls only work with the D-Pad.  I find the thumbstick much nicer to use but that does not work in XBMC at the moment.

It's not all good news though.  The video quality is not as good as the other media player I use, which is my Xbox 360.  That was disappointing.  It also had some jitter during playback.  If I had nothing to compare it with the video would have been fine but as I have a better player I am unlikely to use the Ouya for video at the moment.  My belief is that this is because this version of XBMC does not use any hardware acceleration. 

An Ouya specific version is being worked on and I have high hopes for that.

All in all, so far I have been disappointed with what I have tried but I can clearly see there is potential.  I just need to be patient.

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