I abandoned console gaming roughly 4 years ago—games are too expensive and I don’t have much time to play anymore. This, of course, comes as a great disappointment to my 2006 self who, at 5:30 one morning, got in line at the Corridor G Toys ‘R’ Us to get a Nintendo Wii on release day. Though “Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” gave me many hours of sword-swinging excitement back in the day, that console is near the end of its long march toward obsolescence as it sits on my dresser having first been relegated to a Netflix machine, then a paperweight.
Even when I can find time for a retro role-playing game like “Breath of Fire,” “Fallout” or “Baldur’s Gate” I just don’t have the attention span for it any more. It’s probably safe to say I’ve become someone I scorned in my youth: The casual gamer. The advent of the iPhone and iPad have led me to a habit of quick gaming sessions with cheap, quality games. Maybe they’re not as polished as your Final Fantasies or your Phantasy Stars, but you can buy them instantly without paying more than a few dollars at most. Plus, a lot of them are actually good fun.
To my mind, the only drawbacks are the smaller screen and the lack of tactile controls. Sometimes I get a little nostalgic for 1991 when my friend, Josh, and I would beat to death NES controllers while we grew increasingly frustrated with “Dragon Warrior” or the first “Final Fantasy.” But those days are gone forever — controllers nowadays can’t take a whole lot of punishment and, as far as iPhone and iPad games are concerned, there is no controller.
Then I saw this “Wired” article the other day: The $99, Android-Powered TV Game Console.
This company is building a gaming console called “OUYA” that’s designed to bring these kind of direct-to-market games back into the living room with big TV screens and physical controls and everything. The lead designer on the project is the guy behind the One Laptop Per Child program, so they have experience building intuitively designed, inexpensive hardware. From the video and screenshots I’ve seen so far, the machine’s Android OS looks to have a user interface that’s maybe two steps simpler than that of the Wii.
I was going to write about this yesterday, but I’m glad I
was lazy waited. The OUYA people began a Kickstarter fundraising campaign other other day and, in something like eight hours, they raised more than $1 million. About a day later they were pushing $3.5 million with 28 days to go. I’m pretty sure that’s another Kickstarter record.
It’s far, far too early to tell whether or not OUYA is going to be any good, but so far about 27,000 random people on the Internet have given it a financial vote of confidence. If you’re a lapsed gamer who isn’t planning on shelling out for the next next-gen systems on the way, then this is a project you should be watching in the months ahead. I mean, I paid more than $99 for a used GameCube.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I haven’t given any money to the OUYA Kickstarter campaign, but I really, really want to.