This year brought the release of the Android systems OUYA and the NVIDIA Shield. They gave off the distinct feel of being fresh , new, and hip for the console race. Like what black glasses did to the cool hipster. However, much like what the black glasses did to the hipster, it became a horrible trendy popularized fad that’s hurting the industry more than helping it.
But I am guilty of owning one, or two. Which is why this article has been written.
We look to these consoles in hope that we’ll find a more entertaining and just “something different” or unique experience that hasn’t been found in our current state of affairs with the Big Three. Instead all we’ve got so far is time waster games on the big screen with gamepad controls.
The OUYA dug itself its own grave. By creating its own ecosystem filled with time wasting games and timed exclusives it ultimately gathered dust for owners who bought it at launch. The few that still play to this day use it as an emulation machine or it’s the only console their parents can afford without having to spend a lot of money on future games. It doesn’t help that the UI was absolutely garbage and was not the same as shown in the Kickstarter video. “Towerfall” was the only thing this console had going for it and the developer already announced the game was coming to different platforms in the future.
The NVIDIA Shield took a step in the right direction. Offering PC game streaming and console quality specs in a somewhat hefty handheld worked. Sales were good for a device that was priced at $300, $50 above the PlayStation Vita. The five inch screen helped give massive appeal as a screen for apps like Netflix and Hulu. Overall there was nothing wrong with the hardware side of things for the Shield.
The software side on the other hand was better than the OUYA but not by much. There were some games that were geared towards the hardcore gamer but not many. At least not enough to give a ‘hardcore’ gamer such as myself any lasting appeal to keep an eight pound handheld in my messenger bag for more than two weeks. Games like “Hydro Thunder 2″ kept you playing on it but past that the console just bubbled with buyer’s remorse.
“Sonic 4: Episode 2″ stands out as the best game on the system, which is sad considering it was packed in. The game felt great when played on hardware controls, there was a huge amount of variety in scenery and enemies, excellent level design, and no rehashing of old Sonic levels featured in the Genesis games that the first episode contained. Other Sonic games were either not well implemented with hardware controls or had other nuisances. Second to this was “Sonic CD”.
The Shield game library still featured a majority of time wasters with little to appease the ‘hardcore’ crowd. Even worse, the games that tried to were either cheap knockoffs of current games or games that looked console quality but featured little depth. “Dead Trigger 1″ was the worst culprit, having really pretty aesthetics but monotonous missions and little variety in objectives. Ultimately the Shield still fell into the “neat to have but barely use” category because of this.
No Android console will ever truly succeed unless quality developers create games on them, studios like Bungie or Platinum Games. Hell, even Indies can drive these consoles so long as the games are good. Hardware specs, free to play, and any other tactic will not stick to gamers. In the age of the Internet, great games will drive gamers to come and buy your console, not anything else. As of right now and in the foreseeable future that is never going to happen on the Android market.
Amazon console or not.