Grab your smartphone and lightsaber and battle foes like Kylo Ren in your living room. (Image credit Lenovo)
I no longer have to ‘play fight’ Star Wars villains using my imagination, a wrapping paper tube, and voice effects thanks to Lenovo’s Star Wars: Jedi Challenges AR platform. The system uses the company’s Mirage AR headset and a compatible smartphone to overlay virtual 3D images against a reality-based background, much in the same fashion as Samsung’s Gear VR but at twice the cost ($200 vs. $39.99 respectively). It also comes with a lightsaber handle modeled after the ones featured in the movies and while it looks great, think of it more like a hand-held controller in the same vein as Samsung’s and Oculus’ as the headset uses it for tracking your saber motion.
An interesting facet of Jedi Challenges is that it uses an illuminated floor beacon to track your entire body motion in a confined area, meaning it only tracks location at a certain distance, so you can run away if the fight becomes too complicated. It also uses your phone’s IMU sensor for rotational tracking, which is why some phones are not compatible but anything in the last few years should work fine. Connections for the interface include Micro USB, Lightning, and USB C, allowing for most recent Android and iPhone smartphones compatible.
Jedi Challenges features three games including lightsaber combat, 3D Holochess, and Strategic Combat. (Image credit Lenovo)
Jedi Challenges comes packed with two additional interactive games beyond Lightsaber Battles (also features Darth Vader, waves of Storm Troopers and more on six different planets), which includes the iconic Holochess- battling against alien monsters similar to Battle Chess but only better. This game requires you to use your lightsaber to select and move your pieces- somewhat of an unusual action, but then again, C3PO didn’t physically move the holo-pieces by hand on the Millennium Falcon either.
You also get Strategic Combat that’s similar to most RTS games (Command and Conquer, StarCraft, etc.) where you create and control entire armies- setup your bases, factories to produce mechanized machines (AT-ATs, AT-STs, etc.) and barracks to train troops along with a host of other playing mechanics and battle against invading opponents.
There are some drawbacks to playing Jedi Challenges, with the first being Lenovo doesn’t currently have any other games for the platform beyond Challenges, and Lenovo hasn’t announced any upcoming titles at this point. You also can’t use multiple accounts on a single phone, limiting play among several users (sorry family and friends, you’ll have to get your own AR system). Finally, there is no quit button or command with the accompanying app, meaning you have to shut it down manually when you take the headset off. That being said, it is an exciting AR experience few other platforms provide, especially for Star Wars fans and while it is a little on the expensive side, you can’t put a price on the Force.
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