Since the release of Star Wars: A New Hope back in 1978, fans everywhere have yearned for the chance to step into the shoes of a Jedi Knight. Or a Sith Lord if you swing that way. There are many ways you can get your fix of lightsaber goodness, from cheapy flick out styles to really expensive replicas, but none really come as close as the new Star Wars Jedi Challenges game from Lenovo.
So computer giant Lenovo has paired up with Disney who now own the Star Wars franchise, to bring us a game which literally puts you into the action. The game runs off of the Mirage AR headset, which is newly released alongside the Star Wars Jedi Challenges game. There’s no confirmation at this stage on whether the Mirage could be used for anything else, as Challenges is its only title, so we’ll have to wait and see. I truly hope it isn’t, as it would make this product a very expensive gimmick.
Nut for what it’s worth, Star Wars Jedi Challenges is actually very good, and I’ve already sunk several long, sweaty hours into flailing my arms around my lounge like a loony. I’m not the most graceful of Jedis yet, but it does make for some very entertaining video. Because the Mirage is an AR headset, which stands for Augmented Reality, it means that the overlay display is actually placed inside the room with you. There are no screens inside the headset like there is with a typical virtual reality system, but instead tracks your position from the sensor using two cameras and then projects the models in front of you.
Because the headset relies on light projection, it’s best to play this game in lower levels of ambient light. When I introduced the headset to my family, we only had a few small lamps on, rather than the top down light. If the top light was on, we found it really hard to see the characters in front of you, especially the little reticle cues on where a laser blast was coming from.
The game comes in two parts, the Lenovo Mirage headset which we’ve spoken about briefly, a lightsaber controller styled the same as Luke Skywalker’s iconic hilt, and then there’s a floor sensor which tracks your movements and the projections on screen. The blade doesn’t fully extend on the saber, instead swapping this for a little rubber nib, but the whole device feels chunky enough to gain some immersion.
The headset relies on mobile phone power to work, so you need to insert your phone into the supplied tray, hook the two USB ports together and away you go. Well, I wish it was that simple. Setting this up is an absolute chore. There are so many steps and hoops you need to go through just to get the game working. And in our case, we found it super difficult tot get the saber hooked up to our mobile. We were using a Samsung Galaxy S7 during tests, which is compatible, but it just took sooooooo many tries to sync everything. I’m worried about this because tech enthusiasts will just find this tedious, and technophobes will get bored before even getting to the main menu.
So, after a long trudge, I managed to finally sync everything and get everything working and powered and ready to go. Once inside the app you replace touching your phone to aiming a centre target at menu options and clicking the power button on the lightsaber controller. Challenges take place in tiers, and are split into several mini games. The first was a wave battle, fighting off mobs of enemies, and depending on the planet you visit depends on the enemies. You have to deflect their laser fire back at them and hit them to kill. Occasionally the enemy will get close to you. If this happens, then just strike them down with your Jedi weapon.
The most notable experience you can have with the Star Wars Jedi Challenges game is the one on one battles, which increase in difficulty as the game goes on. I’ve only smashed two enemies so far, one of them being Darth Maul, and both have been extremely exciting and immersive. There are on screen cues that tell you where the enemy is going to strike, and these get faster as the game gets harder so you’re constantly moving.
The last two are a little more chill. HoloChess is great for strategic thinking and gives you a chance to play the iconic space game from Episode 4, and the last is more of an RTS title, letting you control troops in a top down strategy game. All of this takes place in your surroundings, which makes it even cooler I think.
Apart from the lousy set up process, this Star Wars Jedi Challenges game is actually pretty fun and immersive, and will definitely keep you hooked for a while, at least until you complete it anyway. And of course, it will always come out during a family party. Watching n00bie Jedis go at it against an opponent is pure magic, especially of they don’t know what they’re doing. The downside however, is it costs £249.99 which is a pretty hefty cost seeing as it’s only one title you’re investing in. But hopefully there will be more games to come, more interactive sessions and more compatibility with mobile AR apps in the future. For those true fans of the Star Wars universe, this will definitely be right up your alley.