The Closest Thing to Real-World Jedi Training
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Who doesn’t want to whip a lightsaber around like an Ewok?
Wearing a visor and holding a plastic blue lightsaber, I see a dark figure approaching me. He swings at me, and I wildly push back, my hand vibrating as the saber slams into his chest. But no one around me seems to notice. Unlike VR headsets that place you into another world, this augmented reality (AR) headset transposes Kylo Ren into my current space — to the left of his weapon is a table loaded with mini éclairs, to his right my friend idly scratches his head, clueless that I’m playing Star Wars: Jedi Challenges.
I’m guided through the game by my personal Yoda, the Archivist, a Star Wars character designed just for this experience. With his advice, I use the force to defeat my foes, en route to Obi-Wan Jedi status — I hope. Whipping my lightsaber around like an Ewok on Adderall, I look ridiculous, but too immersed in my duel to care.
Think re-enacting the Battle of Hoth in your living room with X-wing fighters dropping shade on AT-AT walkers.
Lenovo’s Mirage AR headset is equipped with two cameras that track my position in the room, making the gameplay feel incredibly natural, with no lag in the scene. All controls take place through the lightsaber — modeled after the one used by Anakin and Luke Skywalker (and Rey) — which is equipped with haptic pads that pulsate in reaction to gameplay, creating an immediate sensory response. It’s 100 percent wireless, meaning it can be played anywhere, without any annoying wires to trip up your battle.
Three games are included as part of this package ($199), each with multiple levels. There’s Lightsaber Battle (referenced above), Strategic Combat (which provides a more nuanced approach to war games) and Holochess (as seen on the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) — that’s holographic aliens going head-to-head on a virtual chess board on your command, FYI.
“[This gives] Star Wars fans a new way to interact with their favorite moments,” writes Lenovo product analyst Aimee Foskie via email. Think re-enacting the Battle of Hoth in your living room with X-Wing fighters dropping shade on AT-AT walkers.
The headset is surprisingly lightweight, making it comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and it comes bundled with the lightsaber controller, a tracking beacon and full game access. Game setup is simple. Download the Jedi Challenges app onto your cellphone (Android and iPhone compatible), then slot your cell into the headset tray. Place the beacon in front of you, wave your lightsaber and boom: “It is your destiny,” to quote Darth Vader.
Sure, this is partly a publicity grab ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s Dec. 15 release, but as long as it’s fun, does it matter? As Yoda would say, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”