Like many others I had asked Santa for a Disney Lenovo Start Wars Jedi Challenges for Christmas last year. Having saw the online ads I was intrigued and desperate to try it out. But turns out the first lesson for any Jedi apprentice to learn is patience. Damn you Yoda for being so right!!! I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I watched those ads or how many times I spoke about it to friends, colleagues, strangers or anybody that appeared to listen about how cool it looked, about how awesome it would be to try it out. So why am I telling you this now? Well, my friends, almost exactly 2 months after Christmas I got my sweaty little palms on one and the time has come to share it with you in all its glory! That’s why!
From dreamer to Jedi apprentice:
From watching the ads I wondered whether the actual game-play was going to be as realistic as they appeared to be. Or whether it would be gimmicky. What would it actually look like? Well I am delighted to report that once you start battling, it absolutely is like the graphics shown in the above Lenovo ad. The product uses Augmented Reality so you are still able to see your natural surroundings as you play but the in-game characters also appear in the surroundings with you. How cool is that?! You can frantically battle AND avoid your cat #gameon! So when you look at those ads, you think to yourself, how cool would that be, how incredible that you can be a Jedi and battle with a lightsaber followed by a little giddy laugh – am I right? Well. There’s something that you won’t be able to fully appreciate until you try this out for yourself. The battles are freakin AWESOME! Your lightsaber (an exact replica of Luke Skywalker’s by the way) VIBRATES during battle when you connect with an opponent thanks to it’s haptic technology. I’m not kidding when I tell you that playing this leaves me feeling absolutely pumped full of adrenaline. Every. Single. Time. I have excitement and fear of facing those iconic Imperials, Praetorian Guards, Darth Maul – Darth Maul is the first ‘boss’ you will face. I wasn’t prepared for that so soon. It was EPIC! I totally whooped his ass though thanks to breezing through my lessons – ‘ I’m at one with the force, the force is with me’ don’t you know…
Solo or Social?
Is Jedi Challenges a one hit wonder? I don’t think so. My family and friends took turns to play it and were all absolutely hyper, even when we were ‘patiently’ waiting for our turn to come back round. It was so much fun playing it but funny when watching others too. I’ll be honest, I enjoyed watching my husband’s form as he battled away. His past martial arts experience shone through and it was pretty hot. It sparked conversations about Star Wars and future predictions amongst the group. So is this a solo or social game experience? I vote it can be both. Although in the words of the Laughing Chewbacca mask lady, ‘this is mine!’ and I’m not sharing it. Well, not too often anyway ;o)
What does the Augmented Reality look like?
This is the first AR product that I have tried other than handheld mobile apps that are also fun including Pokemon Go. This felt closely aligned to VR though as you did feel the sense of being immersed except you were in your own surroundings. However, the focus is most definitely not on those surroundings, believe me! Dodging laser bullets, lightsabers and remaining alert to your battle strategy takes your concentration away from seeing your furniture. Be warned, you do have the sense that your surroundings is the layout for the game though so don’t underestimate the power of the dark side! I battled a stormtrooper who popped out from a corner wall of my room – it genuinely took me by surprise as I found myself questioning how he got there seeing as there was no doorway in real-life… ha!
Jedi Challenges Kit details:
The AR headset is a good weight and comfortable enough to wear – although I think that you would need to take frequent rests during lengthier periods of play. The recommended age to play is 13 years old. It is compatible with most mobile phones – you insert your phone into the headset to view the content from a Jedi Challenges app. The lightsaber is the hardware showstopper – an exact replica Luke Skywalker’s. It feels light enough to swing about but sturdy enough to feel ‘authentic’. We’ve all held a pretend lightsaber and yeah it’s still felt kinda cool but this one feels AWESOME! Aside from the real ‘fricken laserbeam’ (Dr Evil) of course – although you do see the full lightsaber effect through the AR headset. Did I mention it has haptic technology in it? Well, yes it does, so when you strike your opponent the lightsaber vibrates to let you know you’ve connected with them. The final touch is the little beacon which is the sensor – this helps with the distance/depth perception, the alignment and connects all devices together so that they can interact with one another leading to a more realistic experience.
It comes with hours and hours of content and has actually been updated at the start of this year so that you can have dual battles now too. It encourages you to move as you do battle so it is important to have a large clear area free from obstructions whilst playing. There is a lightsaber sync method to help you get back on track after you’ve been lunging around. Together the hardware and software form the full Jedi Challenges experience.
There are only approx 30 Jedi Masters in the entire world – a Jedi Master is someone who has successfully completed all the content and levels within Jedi Challenges.
In a Lenovo poll at the end of last year only 35% of people said they would choose Star Wars Jedi Challenges instead of a ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop. I was one of the proud 35%!
Plans for the future?
Ok, what I am about to tell you may be the real game changer for you should you not share my enthusiasm for Star Wars. The hardware is the hardware and the app is an app. Once you have the hardware, you have the hardware. Though there’s room to innovate the app or build a new app… What else does the Disney franchise own that would be so much fun to play with using this existing hardware? I can think of 2 more that would blow my mind, can you? Being Hulk from Avengers and unleashing his massive green fists could be fun… How about facing Lord Voldermort from Harry Potter? Not forgetting Lenovo’s ability to replicate, how about using a Dumbledore or Potter wand to complete the package? Would that sway you to join the 35%?
That’s exciting enough to turn even the darkest of forces to the light…
Special thanks to Lenovo for making my dreams come true and so much more!