Regarding the controller, the team "really focused on weight, ergonomics, the feel," said Uhrman. "We wanted the controller to have great accuracy and be precise." The controller has a comforting heft, possibly thanks to the aluminum faceplates. The triggers are oddly shaped, more like curved rectangles than traditional triggers. but they seem functional enough. The only thing that was off-putting to me were the analog sticks. They seem loose, and frankly I'm not a fan of the convex tops, though I'm sure user mileage will vary on this point.
As for the games themselves, they were unfortunately the weakest part of the presentation. Playing Wizorb
, a Breakout-inspired game we've covered quite a bit here, there was some noticeable lag between analog stick input and what happened on screen. I noticed the same thing while playing Gunslugs
, a side-scrolling shooter, though switching from the analog stick to the D-pad seemed a bit better. I didn't really notice the issue at all while playing Stalagflight
, a simple action game, though movement was less prominent in this game in general. Given my short play session, I couldn't honestly say whether the issue stemmed from the software or the controller itself, or even if it was simply a matter of getting used to a new controller.
Even if the latter is the case, the game line-up I saw certainly won't be dropping any jaws. In Stalagflight
, you leap upwards, latching onto falling rocks, which allow you to jump even higher, climbing upward to avoid falling into the lava pit below. Gunslugs
offered up some simple, accessible shooting, and it has an appealing retro style. In short, there's nothing wrong
with these games, but they probably aren't going to inspire anyone to pick up an Ouya either.
The key problem is that, for the moment at least, the games generally feel like reworked mobile games. In many cases – Gunslugs
, Saturday Morning RPG
– that's exactly what they are. In fairness, these are good
mobile games, and they lend themselves well to the television, but it would be nice to see some more games really built with the Ouya in mind. There are plenty of promising titles on the horizon – Double Fine's Broken Age
and The Cave
, an exclusive project
from Airtight Games, Fez
– but none of those were on display this week. Hopefully, these games and others like them will be ready in time for the Ouya's public launch this June.
The Ouya is positioning itself as a different kind of console, and the little box certainly has a lot of potential. Its curated approach to discovery could help the truly good games get the recognition they deserve. The ability for developers to easily share and test their ideas with players is a great feature, and unseen on other consoles. Given everything that separates Ouya from traditional consoles, it's ironic that its greatest challenge is the most traditional of all: Building a solid launch line-up.