Last Friday, Disney released “Star Wars: Jedi Challenges”, an augmented reality game with equipment developed in cooperation with Lenovo.
Ever think to yourself, “if only Star Wars were real…” Well now it is, kinda, with Disney’s “Star Wars: Jedi Challenges”, an augmented reality (AR) video game.
The kit includes an AR headset, a lightsaber handle, and an LED motion tracker. As a mobile AR system, this setup requires a smartphone, and is happily compatible with most of the latest iPhone models and Android devices.
One key difference exists between Disney’s headset and existing systems: You don’t look at the phone, you look below it. That’s because it rests just above the user’s field of view, with the display facing the floor.
The image projected by the phone is then mirrored off the headset’s transparent screen. In this way, the user’s surroundings are automatically enhanced by the game’s features.
According to Mike Goslin, Disney’s VP of Advanced Consumer Products, the company’s goal was to “create a compelling illusion, with high fidelity, high frame rate, and authentic realism.”
He and his team began brainstorming and designing the game 18 months ago, fleshing out the animation and syncing it with official Star Wars lore. They then teamed up with Lenovo earlier this year with the goal to bring the AR game to life before Christmas.
Of course, you don’t have to wait that long. The game, which costs $200, was released last Friday.
Facing the Jedi Challenges
Arguably the game’s most important AR feature is the lightsaber. Without the smartphone-headset combo, the realistic handle does little more than look shiny and flash the LED at its tip. But place the game’s enhanced environment over your eyes and the plasma blade suddenly springs to life.
Although the lightsaber’s projection doesn’t always align with the handle, its general appearance is clean, and works well with the gameplay.
Reviews claim the headset to be light, with plenty of room to wear glasses and for air to circulate. One minor issue is that it can feel a little bulky due to the smartphone sticking out like the brim of a baseball cap.
The simplest of the three modes offered by the game is the Lighstaber Battle, which puts you head-to-head against enemies like Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, or Darth Maul.
The second mode, Strategic Combat, has you commanding Rebel forces in a struggle against the Empire. Finally, there’s Holochess. And don’t worry — you won’t be playing against any wookies.
Gameplay is reported to be fun and extensive, with plenty of levels to complete and a vast galaxy to explore. There are various planets to visit, and as players progress, they grow in rank from Padawan to Knight to Master. They also gain new colors for their lightsabers.
“We’re confident there’s deep, engaging gameplay in here for players who want to take a deep dive and enjoy the challenge of acquiring mastery.”
Interested in joining the fight against the Empire? Then head on over to Disney’s and Lenovo’s website.