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First Look: The Ouya stretches far, but ultimately comes up short

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First Look: The Ouya stretches far, but ultimately comes up short

2:49 /

The Ouya Game Console does its best to deliver as an alternative console, but various issues keep it grounded.

The Ouya is an Android-based game system that costs $99. The package includes the system one controller and an HDMI cable. If you're here wondering whether the Ouya is worth the money, let me answer that straight away. It's not. At least not yet. As luckily, the Ouya's biggest problems are software-based. The Ouya is small enough to fit into the palm of most hands and includes HDMI, micro-USB, full USB, and an Ethernet port. It also sports WiFi, Bluetooth, and includes 8 gigabytes of internal storage. Games must be downloaded, however you can expand the Ouya storage with a USB drive. The games are all free to try, but most will ask for about $3 to $16 for the full version. The Ouya controller feels hollow and brittle, almost like it will smash into a million pieces if it fell on the floor. It won't do that but it just feels that way. The analog stick can be real squeaky, and the face buttons have the rare tendency of getting stuck under the removable battery plate. The trigger buttons are creaky and honestly don't really feel like triggers and aren't calibrated with enough resistance. The interface looks and feels like a proof of concept rather than something fully-fledged and professional. It crashed on me several times. There are currently no profiles, achievements or leaderboards. And non-gaming content like Netflix and Hulu have to be side-loaded from Android APKs, and in my experience, aren't optimized to work with the controller. There are currently a few apps like Twitch and Flix there, but what's there is extremely bare bones. If you're in to the indie gaming scene, that's where Ouya will hold its strongest appeal. Every Ouya is also an Ouya development kit, so virtually anyone could make games for it. Because of this, you will see lots of small, unrefined efforts on the system, as well as several Android ports. You'll also see TowerFall at Ouya's killer app. It may be difficult to tell here, but you could easily lose several hours playing this awesome local multi-player game. Seriously, once you get the hang of the game, which takes all of 20 seconds, you will lose yourself. However, even at only $99, Ouya needs many, many more of these types of experiences to be worth its cost. You can ramp up on good games, add native music and video streaming apps, fix the bugs, and build out the interface, we could have a viable console here. Graphically, it doesn't compare with the Xbox 360 or PS3, and the controller leaves a lot to be desired. But its biggest problems could be fixed over the next few months. Here's hoping that happens. I'm Eric Franklin, and this has been a first look at the Ouya.

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