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  1. #1
    OUYA Devotee Pr0nSyrup's Avatar
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    The Day The Clown Cried: #3 - Hands On! First Impressions

    Hands On! First Impressions

    I won't bore you with the story of getting my Ouya - it involved landscaping equipment, miles of vine cordage, and about six beers... The point you should know is, at 2pm yesterday my Ouya finally arrived, and the postman scared the bejesus out of me while I was doing so heavy lifting in my front yard.

    However, before going into my detailed 'First Impressions' report, I would like to say much has transpired since my previous article. And in the lapse of time, it has come to light that Ouya as a company is indeed very much behind in producing units not only for Kickstarter backers, but also for retail. They recently partnered with new investors and seem to be finally on track with shipping, pushing back the retail launch some 3 weeks. Therefore, I was wrong with theorizing they were on the other end of the spectrum: making units slated for retail and holding back on shipping to Kickstarter backers. Anyone reading my output and regular articles should know something about myself: I have no problem admitting I'm wrong. However, in a bit of my defense I ask everyone to understand this fundamental point: Ouya allowed people to speculate wildly due to their lack of transparency and inability to answer the public's questions, by and large. This is something Ouya should address going forward. Many theories could have been right because of their obvious obfuscation of the facts. Even at present, many answers they provide are ambiguous and unclear and I still find myself weary of most of their PR. However, I now have an Ouya unit which is better than where I was one or two weeks ago, and that has definitely softened some of my more ardent feelings of anger and frustration.

    Moving on...

    UNBOXING

    Pretty nifty little case they packaged all their business in (Good job, Ouya-folk). I also found the "Thank you for believing" note attached to be touching. As a consumer, here's what you'll find in your Kickstarter box:

    • Ouya Console
    • Controller
    • HDMI cable
    • Instruction Booklet
    • Power Cable
    • Batteries


    First thing to know: shitcan the instruction booklet. It's worthless. To be honest, you don't need it anyhow because if you've assembled any type of console in the last 10 years, what is required of you to do here is no different. Here's a quick breakdown should you find yourself lacking the inherent assembly instinct:

    1. Remove the faceplate covers located on each side of the Ouya controller. Do not be afraid to manhandle them because they are on fitted fairly tight (apparently held in place with very strong magnets).
    2. Configure the battery latches to the shape of the battery holsters the latches are attached to. This will allow the batteries to be placed on top of the latches with about a half inch of the latch loop left dangling out of the battery holsters (to allow you to pull the batteries out later when you want to change them out).
    3. Insert the batteries in their respective holsters on each side, over the latches.
    4. Replace the faceplate covers. Congratulations. You're now done assembling the controller.
    5. Attach the HDMI cable to your television and to your Ouya console.
    6. Attach a LAN cable (not included) to your router and and to your Ouya console.
    7. Attach the power cable to an electrical outlet and to your Ouya console.

    Your Ouya is now set up.

    Why they didn't include these instructions is beyond me but it's easy to do on your own. So what's missing besides instructions? As noted above, a LAN cable would have been nice but most all of us have a few of those laying around our garage or closet space. The Ouya also has a micro-USB input so having the adjoining cable would be nice as well. However, much like the LAN cable, if you already own an Android phone you probably already own this cable. I think at last count, I have 4. These are obviously minor quips. Let's power this magic pony on.

    POWER UP & NAVIGATING THE UI

    The first item of business at power up is pairing the controller to the box. An easy endeavor. I had no issue here (which is definitely a pat on the back for the Ouya team). Once done, I was placed into the UI. Let's get into this mess...

    There are four areas of the UI to navigate to from the top menu. I won't bother with going through the in's and out's of it all because, well, if you're reading this, you've probably watched a few unboxing videos on YouTube and frankly, my experience offers nothing to add to what most have said previously. Simply stated: The UI is a mess and needs to be managed better. It's laggy, bulky and slow, and unintuitive. No one would know where to instinctively navigate to in order get games and play them. If you're having issues, I suggest going to YouTube and watching a few demos, of which there are many. The good news here is, there really are only a handful of interactive areas you'll find yourself in once you get the hang of navigation and thus, you will eventually get the swing of things. It's not hard, just a bit off-putting and frustrating.

    And though there isn't much to the UI, I do have a few additional comments to add to the user experience not so readily covered in previous unboxing or demo discussions.

    1. Only download one game at a time. Multiple downloads seem to end in all of them being dropped. This is probably the most annoying aspect of the Ouya experience. There's no indication when games are being downloaded except for the initial confirmation.
    2. Don't bother with the wireless LAN connection if you don't have to. Seriously. The wireless LAN is a last resort.
    3. The sub-menu icons take forever to update. This isn't to say you can't use your Ouya right away but many pictures and text items may be missing. Therefore, my suggestion is to turn on your Ouya on and walk away for 20 minutes. Just. Walk. Away. I chose to go buy a bottle of wine, do some dishes, and make some phone calls.
    4. Don't even bother with the browser, especially if you're looking to watch any kind of video (read: pr0n).
    4a. There is no inherent video player to watch videos (read: pr0n).
    4b. The browser registers to websites as mobile so it truly is like having the cellphone experience on the big screen (read: it looks shitty).
    4c. It's really hard to input characters using the onboard keyboard with your gamepad.
    5. To truly power down the unit, you have to hit the power button on the unit and then confirm with the controller. A truly "WTF" moment will occur shortly thereafter when you realize you have to do these specific steps just to turn off the console. Alternative powering off method: pull the plug from the back of the housing for a few seconds.


    THE CONTROLLER

    The controller feels excellent just sitting in my hands. It might be the best in-hand-feeling controller I've ever used. I'm 6'4" and my digits reflect my ginormous size. All the functional pieces of the gamepad are nicely spaced yet, nothing seems too far of a reach. The mousepad works nicely in the UI, too, especially in the otherwise abysmal internet browser experience. The overall gist is the controller feels substantial and far from cheap. However, The shoulder buttons (R2 L2) are obtrusive and mushy and really muck up how much I want to like the controller. During certain games highly dependent on their use (Beast Boxing Turbo), it's hard to time when to press them and to what level. Also worth noting are the invariable issues most are having with the O-U-Y-A buttons becoming lodged under the faceplate during gameplay. Yup. It happens and there doesn't seem to be an adequate quick-fix; adjusting the faceplate yields no results. The only option is to be cognizant of the issue and not press the buttons so hard which is like telling someone to swing a battle axe gently during battle.
    Last edited by DrunkPunk; 09-03-2013 at 10:07 AM. Reason: Edited for language.

  2. #2
    OUYA Devotee Pr0nSyrup's Avatar
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    THE OUYA EXPERIENCE

    In order to really get the full Ouya experience, I decided to invite over some friends and their 8 year old son to gauge their first-time, as well as my own. Said friends also brought over a PS3 controller (sidenote: pairing the PS3 controller was easy). I downloaded probably 5 games (including Beast Boxing Turbo, Bombsquad, Rage Runner, No Brakes Valet and some others I will chose not to mention) plus a SNES emulator (SuperGNES). I do plan on doing some full reviews but I really want to point out the games we previewed because, well simply, they're worth mentioning and greatly added value to the Ouya ambiance.

    First of all, Bombsquad is a runaway hit. It's beyond fun and very much carries the torch of Bomberman onto a 3d playing field. The non-paying version let's the previewer play for an hour before the purchase of the game is necessary. By minute 5, we were all hooked. This is a great party game and highlighted a part of gaming I miss nowadays: people in the same room playing simultaneously. Forget about online play. This is where it's at. For nearly the entire hour, everyone, including the 8 year old, was engaged. My only complaint was not having another 4 controllers for everyone!

    No Parking Valet is a simple, indie concept providing another hour of fun in 2 player mode. Definitely a hit with the kid, too, since having precision skill isn't necessary to the secondary goal of messing with your opponents strategy. Rage Runner and Beast Boxing Turbo were also favorites but lacked 2 player options so they were quickly tabled after 15 minutes or so of playing each, respectively.

    Then there was the SuperGNES. And let me tell you, as a retro-gamer, this is where the Ouya magic pony shines like a beacon. Within approximately ten minutes of hooking up my computer to the Ouya, via USB, I uploaded all my (COMPLETELY MAGIC PONY LEGAL) SNES roms to the console and we were off and playing. My visiting friends, who are not avid computer types (but do play consoles) were in shock at the library of games available and how well the SuperGNES executed these games on-screen. And for another hour, we rolled down memory lane... However with regards to SuperGNES, herein lies another Ouya issue: space. By the time I uploaded all those SNES roms, I was halfway through the space allotted on the device. Now, hopefully, I can map a memory stick to the game app. However, at the time of play, I had no memory stick. And this might be an issue for those who lack an external drive of any sort: there simply isn't enough onboard space in the Ouya to do everything someone like me would want to do. Again, I'm banking on there being some secondary solutions (at reasonable prices) down the road but man, I was a little bummed to see half of my memory just zapped away like that.

    THE WRAP UP

    The Ouya is buggy, laggy, and has some serious controller issues. And you know what? It's still a winner. First of all, the experience, while less than awe-inspiring is still functional despite it's shortcomings. The controller is 'meh' but not horrible - it feels like somewhere between a console released device and a cheap Chinese knock off. And it's good enough to play most of the games with few issues. The UI is manageable. And being realistic, it's not like I plan on navigating around the UI for hours at a time. The UI is only a mechanism to acquire and play the games. Being retrospective: of the 4 hours or so of gameplay I racked up with my Ouya thus far, I spent maybe 20 minutes total in the UI. It's not a make-or-break situation.

    Secondly: in a span of 4 hours, I played indie games, party games, kid-friendly games and retrogames (and, also, 2 or 3 really shitty games I'm not going to call out). The total cost of last night's Ouya excursion? Free. Sick of getting dicked around by Triple-A games at Triple-A prices? We now have a viable solution. And while it lacks some of the polish, it makes up for it in ass-in-seats. This thing is a good time, waiting to happen. The potential is there, the company and the developers just have to refine it and deliver.

    Lastly and probably most important of all is... The pricetag. The console sells at ~100 dollars. At no time did I feel like I getting ripped off. Hell, if they made no changes to what's already in the box, it still feels like a bargain. The games I previewed, if not free, were minimal in price - hovering around the 5 dollar range. And here's the kicker, all these dirt cheap prices yet I had more fun with Ouya in one night than I can remember with my Xbox360. Ever. And I haven't even begun to dig deep. Ouya, you stupid bitch, where have you been all my life???

    TL;DR

    It's rough around the edges, bubbling with potential, and definitely worth the purchase.
    Last edited by DrunkPunk; 09-03-2013 at 10:08 AM. Reason: Edited for language.

  3. #3
    OUYAForum Regular Magnesus's Avatar
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    For Bombsquad you can use phones or tablets as controllers. Thanks for the impressions.

  4. #4
    OUYA Devotee Pr0nSyrup's Avatar
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    Dude, that game is THE GAME to have. So far, I see it as a flagship title (even if it's available on other platforms, which I assume it is).

  5. #5
    OUYA Forum Columnist salvasaur's Avatar
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    I remember reading (can't remember if it was here or on the OUYA Forum Google+ page) that you can continue to hold the power button to shut the box down. Circumventing the prompt. Is this not true?

    Great post, by the way. Always look forward to your opinions.

  6. #6
    Administrative Queen of Evil RiotingSpectre's Avatar
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    Well we talked about this in the chatbox a while back with a lot of swearing but even still, I enjoyed the article and will take what advice you give to heart for when I get mine at retail.


  7. #7
    OUYA Devotee Juggle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by salvasaur View Post
    I remember reading (can't remember if it was here or on the OUYA Forum Google+ page) that you can continue to hold the power button to shut the box down. Circumventing the prompt. Is this not true?
    I was going to chime in to point this out and confirm that it does work. Still a little annoying though. You can't turn it on/off from the controller but you need the controller to confirm the button press ?!?

    I actually found the stock browser better for browsing from my couch than the PC with Chrome I usually use. Even with chrome set to zoom 150% text is usually too small for me to read from the couch - but the Ouya browser (maybe because it's loading mobile versions) scaled to the big screen much better for me. And it's always possible to set it to not identify as mobile to get full versions of pages just like on a phone/tablet.

    I'll have to check out the games you suggested - so far the ones I've tried are almost unplayable due to the controller issues I'm seeing...but I haven't tried any of the ones you listed. (Well, I have Bombsquad loaded but with no friends to play with this weekend I didn't try it yet...and I have the SNES emulator loaded but haven't transfered any of my ROMS yet.)

  8. #8
    Administrative Queen of Evil RiotingSpectre's Avatar
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    Oh, sorry for postin' twice my little Pr0nSyrup, but I wanted to ask a question that's usually overlooked. When you hold the controller, how comfortable is it on your fingers? What I mean is, is it painful, scrunched up, or just generally noticeable. I really hate the name brand PS3 controller because my fingers are too close together and the bones in them are firmly pressed together which hurts after a while. Does this happen for you? Even with your "ginormous digits", I gotta know.


  9. #9
    OUYA Devotee Juggle's Avatar
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    I took one of my controllers into my office today for two of my co-workers who are gamers to see and feel.

    Personally I LOVE the feel of the Ouya controller in my hands phyiscally, seems to fit me like a glove (I have what I'd consider somewhat smaller than average hands for a man my size 5'10" 160lbs)

    My co-worker who is an xbox360 fan wasn't big on the Ouya controller because he didn't like the feel of the shoulder buttons, he felt they were somehat hard to reach. Which I found odd since he's got BIG hands and is used to a 360 controller which I've always felt to be too big. (He did comment that when he got his 360 he hated the controllers because of their size but now loves them and hates using anything else.)

    My other co-worker who is a PS3 guy liked the feel of it much more...but again wasn't big on the shoulder buttons when trying to use all 4 - he complained about a "void" on the backside where he felt the controller wasn't substantial enough when holding it in a way that let him use all four shoulder buttons.

    Other than my wii I've been mostly out of the console scene since the original PS and Gamecube. Just been a PC gamer for awhile. Honestly I hate playing FPS games with controllers - keyboard and mouse for me, controllers just feel too slow and compromised (even wired ones) compared to a mouse. So for the kinds of games I like to play on a console using all four shoulder buttons at once isn't common.

    Other than the shoulder buttons they both liked the controller overall. One had a blast using the touchpad on his iMac in place of his mouse for awhile. (It paired with the iMac no issues, though it was odd that one button caused the cursor to immediately zoom to the lower right corner of the screen....I'm not a mac guy so I don't know how to setup button mappings on a mac.)

    TLDR: I honestly think it comes down to personal preference. People just like what they like. Big hands, small hands...doesn't matter everyone has something they look for in a controller and some just "feel right" while others don't.

  10. #10

    how?

    Quote Originally Posted by Magnesus View Post
    For Bombsquad you can use phones or tablets as controllers. Thanks for the impressions.
    I'd love to know how to do this. I'm pretty frustrated with the controller.

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