Ouya Controller, a Review

The Ouya controller belongs to an innovative and fun console. But should you even bother purchasing the controller?

In the console wars, it's understandable that you might've forgotten about the little guy. The Ouya, the crowd-funded mini-console, is just now available for non-Kickstarter individuals. While the library of games is still mostly limited to Android ports, the $100 console is worth the price if you're looking for a great console to play arena style games with friends. 

The Ouya has one of the sleeker designs of any console, hands down. No matter how sleek PS4 or Xbox One manages to be, it's going to have a hard time fitting in the palm of your hand. The tiny box has the appearance and actual ease of something that you could throw into a purse and go to someone's house with. 

The controller, however, is an interesting conundrum. 

If you've played with a third party controller in the last few years, you might understand the problem. A lot of the innards in a controller are evidently patented, so whenever you make a new controller you must either pay the piper or reinvent the wheel. Both options are less than ideal. While I love the Afterglow third party controller I bought for my PS3, it can't compete with the PS3 Dualshock. 

Unfortunately, it sounds like that same problem is happening with the Ouya. 

The Ouya has a lot of similarities to a third party controller for a conventional console, in that it cut some corners due to patents that make it a bit more interesting to use.

Feel

The controller feels very solid and very smooth. Initially I was not impressed by the square shape and thought that it would be an odd fit for my hands. Personally, I'm very picky with controllers and my two favorites are the PS3 Dualshock 3 and the Gamecube Controller, two very small and precise feeling controllers. For its shape, the Ouya controller definitely brings to mind the Xbox 360, but is honestly less bulky than its Microsoft counterpart. 

The buttons all feel very right in their location, and the D-pad and sticks are in comfortable and easy to reach positions on the face of the controller itself. The triggers along the back are probably the most problematic feature of the controller. 

The triggers feel very cheap and flimsy. While there weren't any problems in game with the triggers for the time that I used it, they feel rather insubstantial. With a controller that one of my fellow gamers called heavy, having these cheap plastic triggers was rather bizarre. 

Functionality

While using the controller, the OUYA buttons kept getting stuck. The console I was using was less than  a week old and barely used, so this seemed rather odd. The Microsoft controllers I have for my 360 still function rather well and they're over two years old. That the Ouya buttons already seem sticky and well, broken is disappointing. 

Other writers have covered in far more detail the sensitivity of the analog stick, which is an experience I personally did not find offensive. That said, I use the analog stick on the PS3 and Xbox 360 like a battering ram and with subtlety of a pubescent teenager, so there's reason to suspect it might not have been as delicate as some gamers like to have. 

Previous articles have mentioned a problem with controller lag, but that was not my experience at all. The Ouya allows for other controllers to be used, so the set-up we had was for two Ouya controllers and a wired Xbox 360 controllers, and no one felt like their controller had any lag. 

Price

The price is a huge sticking point.

It's $50.

For the same price as a Dual Shock 3, you can buy an Ouya controller. It's roughly half the price of the whole console. In fact, if you buy four controllers, you spent twice the amount on controllers that you would on the console. 

The thing is, the Ouya will accept a PS3 controller and an Xbox 360 controller, so there's really no need to buy the Ouya controller outside of supporting the console. So if you already own a 360 or a PS3, then you should probably just use those controllers with your new Ouya console. With all the patents that the two companies hold on their controllers, they're just better overall. 

Former Staff Editor

Former rugby player, social media person, and occasional writer.

Games Towerfall Genres FightingIndie Platforms OUYA
Published Jun. 25th 2013
  • Austere Wizard
    Contributor
    I won't be getting an Ouya but it is interesting. I'll watch to see what consumers react to is now that next-gen consoles are around the corner.

    I saw the consoles and controllers in Best Buy today. There were probably 10 or so.
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    Yeah. I live in a smallish big city, and had to hit up three Gamestops before finding one that carried the Ouya, and that store only had two. Best Buy wasn't even carrying them in my city.
  • Yordle of Doom
    If this device is compatible with all android apps then you could have Playstation 1 emulator, Gameboy, NES, and SNES games all on it. For 100 dollars that is not bad at all.
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    I'm by no means an expert, but I've been told that you can sideload it with things, though they do have an actual game store in it. And it's pretty "hackable," so I can imagine that you could emulate other games on it. Personally, I'm a fan even without that feature.
  • Max Jay
    Featured Columnist
    I've been really curious about the Ouya since it came to Kickstarter. Is it worth a purchase, or would it be a more suitable gift for someone not as into gaming?
  • Max Jay
    Featured Columnist
    I've been really curious about the Ouya since it came to Kickstarter. Is it worth a purchase, or would it be a more suitable gift for someone not as into gaming?
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    I played it last night and then purchased it today. I honestly think it's a great little console, especially for the price. The controller is really the weakest part of the whole deal.

    Since it's a lot of Android game that have been ported, that's honestly a plus for someone that really isn't heavy into gaming. You can just play a few rounds of Canabalt, for example. And the game I have mostly played at this point is Towerfall, and it was great. I'm an active gamer, but not a great gamer, and I felt like it was worth the price.

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