Lenovo Star Wars Jedi Challenges aims to get you as close as possible to being a real Jedi, all in the comfort of your front room. Thanks to a partnership between Lenovo and Disney, any Star Wars fan can now get in on that Light Saber wielding action, without the real possibility of being killed. The set comes with three main parts that all work together to create this magic. The first and main part is the Lenovo Mirage augmented reality headset, the second part is a replica lightsaber, while the third part is a tracking beacon that tracks the movements of the lightsaber in real-time. A smartphone is also required (sold separately, of course). At the moment of this review, only a select few devices are supported, check out this link for more information on the product and compatibility.
So how much does this all cost? Well, unfortunately, it’s not as cheap as you’d expect for a headset that requires a separate phone. Most places are selling it with a price tag £200, but Lenovo is selling it at £149.99 on their website. While Lenovo’s price is the cheapest, I still feel like a £100 price point would be better.
Despite my issues with price, there is still a lot to love about this headset, although as with anything set in an alternate reality there are some issues as you’ll learn while reading this review. The key thing to remember here is that this is augmented reality and not virtual reality. Augmented reality uses your surroundings to create holographic images, while Virtual reality uses virtual scenes.
The Mirage headset is quite clearly the biggest part of the Lenovo Jedi Challenges set. As far as headsets go it’s quite large and very bulky in terms of size. Despite this, I find the headset to be rather comfortable, even if a tad bit on the heavy side. Lenovo has done a great job ensuring the headset remains comfortable by using a thick padding for the forehead and cheekbones. There’s also vent slits around the outer of the headset to keep you and your phone cool.
Keeping the headset on the users head is a velcro harness that is adjustable to fit many different sizes of head from children to adults. It’s a fairly simple strap, but it feels robust and built to last, as you would expect.
The front of the Lenovo Mirage is home to two front-facing fisheye lenses, which work together with the tracking beacon and lightsaber to provide real-time tracking, to give you an accurate as can be swing and movement tracking within the game.
The lightsaber is similar to the one used by Luke when battling Darth Vadar, back in the day. Everything about the design, with the exception of the long end, is similar, including the button layout. This does mean it may take a bit of time for smaller hands to get used to the lightsaber as the buttons are distanced quite away from each other. My young son eventually got the hang of it, so it’s not impossible.
Lastly is the tracking beacon, which is a fairly simple device that lights up to act as a tracker for motion. If you’re struggling to think what that might be, then picture the top of a PlayStation Move controller and you’ll know.
With the exception of the beacon which is powered by two AA batteries, the set uses built-in rechargeable batteries. This does mean that unfortunately, you have three devices in total that need to be charged (the third is your mobile phone) and since all three of these devices have different batteries, you will find one of them dies a lot quicker than the others, leaving you having to charge something and if you don’t charge all three at once, the cycle will be ongoing.
Setting the headset up is, for the most part, a rather simple task, however, there are certain aspects that need to be done properly for the best experience. One aspect is in regards to space. Lenovo recommends a clear area of 1.5m X 3m, anything less does seem to result in having to use the recentre button on the lightsabre quite often.
With everything set up, you can finally begin playing the game and boy are you in for a treat when you do. The characters you interact with appear as hologram like structures in a mixed reality world.
At the beginning of the game, you are introduced to a new character known as the Archivist, who acts as a guide for your mixed reality adventure. A brief tutorial set on Planet Naboo, in which you are taught how to use the lightsabre for both attack and defense purposes. This is done by battling through waves of Droids, which is as fun as it sounds. Then you end the tutorial with a fight against Darth Maul.
When the tutorial is over, you can move on to the main game which has you fighting your way through other planets in the Star War universe to reach the end goal known as ”The Core”. For the most part it’s all Lightsabre battles, but Lenovo Star Wars Jedi Challenges does feature two mini-games as well, in the form of Holochess and Strategic combat. Both are great ways to kill time, but when it comes to entertainment, they’re not as much fun as the main game.
Since its release, Lenovo has updated the application with more characters, levels and even Planet Crait, which was first introduced in the Last Jedi. These overall additions to the game add a lot more fun and do make playability existent again.
One thing I do have to say is that while the Lenovo Star Wars Challenges set offers a lot of fun, there are some things that concern me, such as just how long the application will stay relevant for and there’s no other software for the headset, which means it can very easily become an expensive ornament.
- Well thought out idea
- AR works well
- Lenovo still updating the application, for now
- Slightly heavy headset
- Three devices to be charged