LAS VEGAS – The original Razer Forge TV and the failed Android console Ouya never quite lived up to customer expectations, but they may have a chance to earn a better legacy. A redesigned Forge TV combines design elements from both devices, and seems much more focused than its predecessor. The new Forge TV may help to fill a multiplayer niche that has been relegated to more expensive consoles until now.
I met with Razer at CES 2016 to get some hands-on time with the Forge TV, the first version of which we covered a year ago at CES 2015. The new Forge TV (still $99) actually launched very quietly during Christmas 2015, after the first version was taken off the market with equally little fanfare. Between the launches of the two versions, Razer purchased the Ouya name, technology and game licenses.
For those who don't remember, the Ouya was an early Android console that had mixed reviews from start to finish. While the game library was fairly good, and even included a few original titles that never made their way to other platforms, the system was underpowered, the exclusives were never plentiful and the modified Android interface was not as cohesive as something like Android TV.
The new Forge TV combines the full library of Ouya games (now called the Cortex store) with a standard Android TV interface. That means that the system has two full game stores at its disposal, to say nothing of side-loaded content. That makes it more game-friendly than Google's Nexus Player, but not quite as robust as the more powerful Nvidia Shield TV.
Where the Forge TV hopes to distinguish itself is in the local multiplayer arena. The system supports up to four controllers, and any Bluetooth Android controller will work fine. (Users can buy a controller bundled with the Forge TV for $149.) The Cortex store has a strong focus on multiplayer titles, such as the cooperative twin-stick shooter Age of Zombies. If it catches on, the Forge TV could facilitate the kind of pick-up-and-play local multiplayer that used to make games like Goldeneye 64 and Halo instant party hits.
In terms of performance, I had a chance to play through a level in Age of Zombies, and the experience was very smooth. How it handles more demanding games will be worth investigating – the system can handle some deeper single-player adventures such as Oddworld: Munch's Odyssey and The Bard's Tale.
Neither the Forge TV nor the Ouya did that well during their first outings, but the redesigned system seems to have a much stronger focus and a larger game library to match. Tom's Guide will produce a full review once we receive a unit.