Fri
Jul 19 2013 10:00am

Gaming Roundup: Meet the Ouya, A New Kind of Console

Lost amidst the influx of recent news about Sony and Microsoft’s latest console offerings was the quiet launch of the Ouya—a Kickstarter-bred $99 open source console aimed squarely at Indie-land and gamers looking for a cheap console option. And, of course, to throw down an early gauntlet to the $400 PS4 and $500 Xbox One. Well, okay, that last part might be a little overly ambitious, but there are certainly more than a few things to like about the newest player on the console scene.

Let’s be clear. The Ouya, at this point in time, poses exactly zero threat to any of the Big Three who have the market currently conquered. But a little marketplace diversity is always welcome, and it doesn’t hurt that the more consoles there are doing different things in the gaming landscape, the better other devices will become by virtue of implementing and improving on new features. Enough gamers liked the idea enough to make the Ouya one of the most successful Kickstarter projects of all time. A little freshness in the field is long overdue, especially after the most significant changes Microsoft and Sony brought us in their reveal press conferences were largely aesthetic in nature. And given the Ouya’s $99 price point, it’ll be playing in an entirely different ballpark from the big boys.

So what’s to like? For one, aesthetically, it looks like a tiny, silver, curvier, supercute GameCube, which is a win in our books. But in terms of actual substance, the Android-based Ouya is very mod-friendly, and can be easily opened up and juiced up by those who know what they’re doing (or want to try and pretend they know what they’re doing).

There is a focus on free when it comes to available games. Each of the hundreds of currently-available games must offer some free-to-play aspect—whether a demo or the full game. And of course, where there is open source, there are several perfectly running emulators (which probably shouldn’t be promoted as a selling point, but are very real reasons people will buy this console). If there’s a past console you’ve been nostalgic for, chance are you’ll be able to find a perfectly-working emulator for it on the Ouya: Atari, NES, Game Gear, SNES, Genesis, Neo Geo, Gameboy, N64, Commodore64, and more. And no side-loading required—all possible through the power of open source.

While the Ouya has its fair share of drawbacks, there is significant potential here—not the least of which stems from the fact that it’s just simply so refreshing to have something different on the market again. If you’d like to learn more about the Ouya, check out Joystiq’s excellent in-depth review. And if you’ve had any experience with the Ouya, we’d love to hear your feedback as well, Dear Reader.

The Ouya is available now for $99 from any number of retailers.

In other gaming news this week: taste mortality in The Last of Us, gawk at a new Saints Row 4 trailer, and get ready to revisit Half-Life via co-op. Read on!

  • In case you haven’t played The Last of Us yet (and if you fall into this category... what’s wrong witchu?!), avoid the spoilery video ahead, but otherwise, check out 20 ways to meet an untimely demise in Naughty Dog’s latest.

  • A new trailer for Saints Row 4 brings the heat. And resurrects a character from the past.

  • Former SimCity creative director Ocean Quigley has parted ways with EA. Quigley noted his departure was inevitable, but EA’s blunder of a launch for SimCity certainly made the decision easier.
  • Any gamers out there who are sufficiently old-school to know what the Sven Co-Op mod for Half-Life was will be happy to hear this. Sven Co-Op is hitting Steam soon, and features better game mechanics and a custom-built Half-Life engine. Oh, and did we mention that it’s free? (For the uninitiated, Sven Co-Op turns the original Half-Life into a co-op experience. And it is fantastic.)
  • Think you love Steam sales? Not as much as this guy.

  • On a related note, a general PSA: the Steam Summer Sale is ON. Repeat, the Steam Summer Sale is ON. Seriously, why are you still reading this?!
  • Finally, the Gaming Roundup will be on hiatus next Thursday, but we’ll see you back here in two weeks!

If there are games you’d like us to cover or blogs you think we should be following for more news, please let us know @tdelucci or @pritpaulbains.

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