Ouya Games - First Impressions

I’ve downloaded a number of Ouya titles to test out the hardware. One of the nice things about they system is that you can try any game for free; every title is either free to play or offers a demo mode. One thing you can be confident about with the Ouya is that you won’t buy a game without trying it first.

A press image of Fist of Awesome.

A Bit of A Fist of Awesome

This is a preview of “Fist of Awesome,” a low-fi brawler with a sense of humor. You play as a lumberjack named Tim Burr, who has been transported to a future world ruled by forest animals, and must fight your way through it. You have a massive fist with a mind of its own. It’s fun, and funny. The demo leaves you wanting more.

Canabalt in action.

Canabalt

This is a port of the Android version of Canabalt. An endless runner, Canabalt is $2.99 on Ouya, just as it is on iOS or the Google Play Store. There isn’t much more to say. There is a flash-based demo at the link presented above. I buy Canabalt for pretty much any platform I own. It’s a nice pick-up-and-play game when you have a few minutes to kill. The Android version has been upgraded with 3D (polygonal, not stereoscopic) visuals, but if you purchase the game you can play with the original 2D pixel-style graphics.

A promo image of ChronoBlade.

ChronoBlade

This is a hack-and-slash game that crosses Diablo with a brawler. It plays interestingly, though either the controls need work or I was experiencing a bit of controller lag when I played it. The game isn’t complete yet, so I don’t want to judge it too much before the final build. It has promise. There isn’t much of a manual or tutorial, making figuring things out frustrating. The only direction you are given is a controller layout. You aren’t told what the items you pick up do, and things like leveling up and inventory management don’t seem to be implemented. If this was the final product, I wouldn’t buy it, but since it is a beta it has time to improve.

On a very good note: this is one of the few games that doesn’t use a pixelized graphical style, which is a nice change of pace for the Ouya.

An image from the iPad version of Deep Dungeons of Doom. The Ouya version is the same, but in widescreen format.

Deep Dungeons of Doom

This kind of a rouguelike combined with a very simple fighting game. Each level of a dungeon contains one enemy, and you only get two actions: attack or block. If you time your attacks right, you can chain them. If you attack before your turn, you’ll be penalized. You can pick up items to add stat boosts, but can only equip one at a time. It is a fairly simple game, again with a pixelized graphic style. It has a humorous side, though not to the same degree as Fist of Awesome.

An image from the mobile version of Flashout 3D.

 Flashout 3D

Wipeout, minus the awesome soundtrack, with a slightly different control scheme. It’s not a bad game, and stands out among the glut of pixel-style games by being another game using polygonal 3D graphics. The demo offers a single playable level, giving a good feel for the play style. However, the track offered isn’t particualrly exciting. It has a branching path, and a couple jumps, but it doesn’t have the slick style of Wipeout, and I found myself missing that.

A hectic scene from Knightmare Tower.

Knightmare Tower

This is probably my favorite game on Ouya so far. It’s a port of a fairly simple flash game, so don’t expect too much. However, Knightmare Tower is whimsical and clever. You control a knight ascending a tower by bounding from enemy to enemy. Use the coins earned from your kills to unlock stat boosts. Buying the game unlocks higher levels of skill improvement.

Either this game has found a way around the Ouya’s controller lag, or its design masks the issue well. I definitely recommend checking it out.

 

League of Evil

League of Evil

A port of an iOS game, League of Evil is a platformer with (sigh) pixel-style graphics. It has 160 stages, each scored based on grabbing collectibles and completion time. The game is fun enough, but I had a hell of a time pulling off wall jumps. I believe the culprit for this issue is controller lag, which makes the game nigh-unplayable. This did not improve after the latest Ouya update. I could not get a USB controller to work with League of Evil, in order to test whether the issue was with the Ouya controller or the game's software.

MUPEN64+

MUPEN64+ is a Nintendo 64 emulator. I tested it with Super Mario 64, which ran flawlessly, or near enough to it. I was able to collect the first start from the first level without a single issue. I didn’t notice much in the way of controller lag in this game, though I did have a bit of trouble pulling off triple-jumps and wall-jumps in the castle courtyard. Back in the N64 days, I was able to scale the castle walls with little effort; I was not able to replicate that feat here.

Snes9x EX+

Although Snes9x EX+ was able to run Super Metroid and Super Mario World at full speed (or, again, near enough to it), controller lag in this game was atrocious. I plugged in a USB controller, and found things worked significantly better. The timing still seems to be slightly off in comparison to the Wii U Virtual Console version, but SNES9x was never known as the most accurate SNES emulator (that would be BSNES, which the Ouya probably could not handle at full speed).

Overall

So far, I would say that the Ouya lineup falls into the realm of disappointing. However, the official launch date is still a week away. When the official launch happens, I will look at some new releases and share my thoughts in a new article.

Posted on June 16, 2013 .