Get ready to do battle for the light side. Credit: Lenovo

For more than one thousand generations, the Jedi have protected the galaxy from harm. Now, armed with your lightsaber, you can join these force-sensitive knights in the battle for the galaxy with Star Wars: Jedi Challenges from Lenovo and Disney.

The lightsaber has been the focus of many games for almost every console through the lifespan of the Star Wars franchise, but with Augmented Reality, you may finally step into the robes of a Jedi Master and do battle with the fiercest opponents the Rebels have ever faced. Star Wars: Jedi Challenges allows players to riposte, slash, and strikethrough climactic lightsaber battles, a real-time strategy game mimicking the deployment of troops, and the ever-popular holochess.

Revealed as part of Force Friday II, a celebration of upcoming Star Wars goodies, Jedi Challenges will utilize your iPhone or Android device and some specialized “collector quality” equipment.

The Setup

The Star Wars: Jedi Challenges setup. Credit: Lenovo

Unlike most AR applications, Jedi Challenges is a self-contained set. For $199, you get a headset, lightsaber controller and tracking beacon (available for pre-order on the Lenovo Jedi Challenges website).

The lightsaber is what most will view as the “main attraction.” It’s a high-quality collectible modeled after Anakin’s saber, for you super fans out there. It functions as both controller and pointer. Players will navigate menus, direct forces into battle and block incoming strikes all with the same remote.

The headset, the Lenovo Mirage, relies on AR technology that utilizes a smartphone. Specifically, the app works best with:

  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • Google Pixel XL
  • Google Pixel
  • Moto Z

The headset is very lightweight, and the built-in sensors provide tracking for movement. Using light-sensitive technology, the app renders the lightsaber blade as you move.

Exercise Potential

Jedi Challenges features only one app that challenges your physical fitness, but it happens to be the coolest app in the suite. Yes, Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games are fun and chess is cool, but you didn’t buy this headset to look down at AT-ATs walking across your floor. You bought it to fight Darth Vader or Kylo Ren, and the game is focused on letting you do that in a believable way.

Superfans are going to really get into this game, so they may work up the most sweat playing it. It’s not hard to envision parties where players gather and test their skills against opponents while taking rest breaks between all the action. Haptic feedback on the device tells you when your sabers collide, even though you can see the sparks flying on your headset. That feel helps orient yourself and makes your slashes more precise. The one downside is that you won’t really run or jump around. This device is meant for the living room, with a fixed beacon to act as a sensor, so you’ll be mostly standing and working your upper body or your core as you dodge and twist your body to give your strikes more heft.

The holochess game will be interesting if only because the actual rules of the game were never really established in Episode IV. Along with the RTS component, the app promises hours of entertainment from your living room.

Final Thoughts

Augmented reality is a cool way of letting us into the Star Wars universe. Jedi Challenges is not trying to recreate the franchise’s iconic locales, but it does manage to bring the spirit of the films to you. It even introduces a new character in the form of The Archivist, whose role is to guide players through games to play and tips on how to get better.

What’s missing is the force. Force push, lightning and all of the other abilities would be fun ways to make you feel like a Jedi. As is, the setup for Jedi Challenges looks very promising for those seeking a smartphone-based approach to AR. The Mirage looks very sleek, feels lightweight, and the lightsaber provides excellent feedback.

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