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Flashout 3D: Ouya vs. Android
Flashout 3D from jujubee is a fast-paced, futuristic racing game combining mechanics from traditional console racing titles and mobile coin-and-powerup collecting games. The game features a full career mode in addition to single-player races, pitting players against A.I. opponents armed with machine guns and rockets in cutthroat racing battles.
Flashout 3D joined the ranks of early Ouya titles at the console’s launch, being ported directly from the existing Android and iOS versions. Luckily for me, I had just paid for a new copy of the game for Android a week prior to seeing it’s icon in the Ouya Discover store, so naturally I bought a second copy to check out the differences.
Visuals and Audio
Flashout 3D is what I like to call a triple-I experience, that is to say it’s an indie game that can hold its own alongside triple-A competitors on the same platform. The full 3D tracks and background setpieces rival those of more expensive racing games, providing an immersive experience in a futuristic world of super-fast hovercars and twisting highways darting through towering cityscapes. Sound effects are crisp and gratifying, and the original score features the kind of uninspiring but catchy electronic music that racing fans have come to expect.
The Ouya and Android versions show very little difference in graphical or audio quality, if any at all. There is obviously a huge difference playing the game on a full-sized TV rather than a tablet, and the audio comes to life on stereo speakers in a way it never could on a mobile device. The new port itself does not offer any improvements, but the experience of playing it on Ouya really takes it to another level. Needless to say, I’m writing off the $7 I paid for the Android version as a loss.
Compared to the Android version, the gameplay experience of the Ouya port feels like driving a Rolls Royce vs. a Ford Escort. The always-on acceleration is still there, but the steering mechanics on Ouya are far superior. The mobile version can be controlled via tilting the screen or using optional on-screen buttons. Since my head is actually attached to my shoulders, I can’t seem to figure out tilt controls for racing games, so I used the big gaudy buttons on Android. Needless to say, using a controller provides a much smoother and responsive experience than pressing buttons on a touch screen. Unfortunately, however, steering in the Ouya version is still programmed to respond to single taps rather than the full range of motion allowed by joysticks, so I’ve found the optional R1-and-L1 button steering scheme to work best.
In my humble opinion, Flashout 3D could have done without the mixture of traditional and object-collecting mechanics. The game’s visuals and controls would make it a perfect pure racer, but jujubee decided to take the gameplay in a different direction. In addition to constantly weaving to pick up energy, weapons, shields and coins for upgrades, players must aim for speed-up zones all over each track to keep up with opponents. Aiming for the speed-up zones is one of the core mechanics of the game — without mastering this, it’s impossible to win in later stages. Something about always looking for the next powerup and speed-up zone takes away the unadulterated joy of a racing game, and I would have really loved to see something similar to Need for Speed’s nitrous mechanics used instead.
Ouya Free Trial
Unlike the Android version, the Ouya version of Flashout 3D is free to try. The game’s trial version allows players to choose between a handful of single races and a single vehicle, with the career mode and additional vehicles reserved for purchasers. The free trial is perfectly designed to give players a feel for the mechanics of a race while tempting them with the opportunity to go further.