Console or Smart TV?
UNU tries it all
Ouya has just landed into the labs of its backers and already a plethora of new alternatives surface. There´s the GameStick by PlayJam, project M.O.J.O by MadCatz and an interesting tablet we spotted at Gamescom: UNU. Unlike the GameStick and Ouya, UNU sports a tablet and optional peripherals, such as an air mouse and controller. The device is also being pitched as a Smart TV, which is, of course, fully dependent on what software is installed (Netflix, etc.).
I played Angry Birds Star Wars with the air mouse, which needed some work (the controls, not my skills mind you). Air mouses are like presentation tools turned game controllers, which in my opinion is not a good thing. The UNU seems like a decent device, with the standard cuad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM (a little modest in my opinion) and a launcher very much like Ouya´s. Momentarily, the content depends on Google Play and not on a proprietary ecosystem such as Ouya´s, which I quite like. I also liked the controller, which feels like classic controllers from the Dreamcast and N64 era: bulky but solid.
However, with so much competition on the horizon, is UNU really adding to the experience? Having just two games installed on the demo device (Angry Birds Star Wars and Candy Crush Saga) did not help and working with an air mouse is a genuine disaster.
Smart TV-gaming: feasible controls?
I had the same experience when playing The Sims Freeplay on an LG Smart TV; a terrible ordeal. LG strangely enough believe that Smart TVs could offer a console-like experience, but even the demo crew at Gamescom had trouble working the air mouse in the LG corner. Catapult King and The Sims were fun to play for exactly 20 seconds, after which I was pulling the mouse behind my head in order to shoot.
Matt really liked the Ouya in his review and his final thoughts captured the essence of all of these Android-based machines popping up like mushrooms within the active Android ecosystem. In the end, it´s all about games and how developers prepare these to be played on either a Smart TV or Android console. I don´t see air mouses persevere as comfortable living room-peripherals, but any Smart TV with bluetooth (or even Android as an OS..hint, hint big TV-manufacturers) could support the fine controllers out there. It´s not so much about the devices any more, but more about out-of-the-box support for peripherals.
I really don´t care where I have to install my collection of Android games on: as long as I can play them with a controller…maybe on a big screen. What about you guys: where do you want to take your games to?