Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lenovo's Star Wars Jedi Challenges Lets You Battle The Dark Side with an AR Lightsaber

Amongst all the "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" toys and merchandise released during this year's Force Friday II, there was an intriguing device which was placed unobtrusively in a corner slightly away from the racks.

If the looping video ad did not happen to catch your eye, you would most probably not have known about this exciting product that will be available on sale in November 2017.

Take a look at this sleek headset and lightsaber set. Aren't they gorgeous?

These devices are part of Lenovo's soon to be released new augmented reality (AR) experience called Star Wars™: Jedi Challenges. There is the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, lightsaber controller and tracking beacon. The technological innovation was first launched at one of the world's largest tech show called IFA 2017 in Berlin.

Red Dot Diva was invited to get a first hands on experience on the Jedi Challenges gameplay at the Sandcrawler just now. No doubts about it, the AR experience was AWESOME.

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The game is smartphone-powered via the Jedi Challenges app, with the phone fitting neatly into a slot in the headset. Even while wearing glasses, Red Dot Diva found that the headset was very snug and comfortable, and not too heavy. She was relieved to see that her vision was not skewed or blurry in any way.

Once the AR lightsaber was placed in her hands, Red Dot Diva was immediately transformed into a Jedi. It had the right details, weight and sensation, just as she has imagined how a lightsaber would feel like, from watching all those Star Wars movies.

Taking a battle-ready stance, Red Dot Diva activated the lightsaber via a button on the side. The bright blue blade came alive in the AR space, together with that beautiful swoosh! whrrrrr sound effect. Soon, bad boy Kylo-Ren was standing right in front of her, goading her in his usual whiny way, trying to pick a fight.

Sure, Emo Kylo.
You want a fight, Diva will give you a fight. (Besides, she has a lot of repressed anger!)

ZRrrrrrr! Vrrzzzzzzt! Diva swung her lightsaber.
Strrackk! Her lightsaber clashed into Kylo's. He backed away a step.

Kylo advanced again, Diva drove her saber forward aggressively, swinging it in quick succession. Brrrkt! Zrappp! Kzzzzzck!

They both backed away and paused. This time, Diva decided to attack first with a series of parries.  Krrckkk! Vrrzppp!! Strrrkkkkt! Prrrckt! 

She managed to get a hit or two as Kylo reacted by flinching. Maybe she sustained a couple of hits - not sure. Whenever there was a long red line flashed on her screen, someone must have gotten injured. Or, it could have been Kylo getting swiped by her kickass moves.

Then, suddenly, Kylo-Ren got into a tantrum, and backed away. He then howled saying that Diva should be careful because he was going to unleash his full power. His entire being became cloaked in red, bright Emo Embers (Glowy Dark Side Edition) radiating around him.

What you gonna do, Kylo? Huh? WHAT? The game music became super ominous.
Diva's heart was pounding in her chest. She took a few tentative swings of her lightsaber at Kylo, but he just stood there, pouting. (She assumed he was pouting. He was wearing his helmet, so she could not be sure.)

There was not much movement or reaction from Kylo until she took a couple more steps CLOSER to him, and then Kylo hurled himself at her. Diva managed to deflect his maneuver (Wrrrzzpttt!!!), and their lightsabers locked (Brrrzzzzrr...).  

Diva decided to show no mercy. Kylo was beginning to piss her off. She struck him again and again.
She was enjoying having the upper hand when a sign flashed on her screen :

= You Have Won This Game =.


and also, WOW!

It was really easy to get swept away in that universe for awhile, mainly because the field vision was reasonably wide enough, the sound effects were really good, and furthermore, the lightsaber had haptic feedback whenever the blades strike each other. That said, it was not 100% immersive because your peripheral vision could still see the real world.

Red Dot Diva thought that Lenovo's Star Wars™: Jedi Challenges proved to be great catharsis, especially after a challenging day at work when she fantasized on terminating a few people. It was also thrilling to swing the lightsaber around in battle.

Apparently, one could battle with Darth Vader in the game too. That would be rather scary, although in a very cool way! Will there be Darth Maul too???? PLEASE, say there will be.

Before she geared up, the attendants did warn that the version for the sneak peek session was a prototype, and would contain some glitches. Diva thinks that the final fight segment was probably one of them. The part when Kylo was standing there looking all red and hyper-sensitive could have used with more action or vocal prompts, so that the player knew what to do next, rather than just waving the lightsaber about aimlessly.

Besides the high octane Jedi battles, the AR experience will also have the Dejarik Holochess game, where one can direct pieces across the board and take over the opponent's territory, and a Strategic Combat mode for Rebel Forces to fight against the First Order. Red Dot Diva did not manage to have a go at either of these at the trial session just now.

If you snoop around on the internet, the entire set is currently available on pre-order at about USD 199 on some USA-based sites. This amounts to an estimated SGD 300 (excluding any shipping costs), which is quite an affordable price range for the serious Star Wars fan.

In the long run, Red Dot Diva feels that Disney/ Lenovo will need to get innovative with the gameware. If they roll out more new and creative updates to keep the experiences interesting, Star Wars™: Jedi Challenges will definitely be a hot favourite for AR game enthusiasts and Star Wars fans out there.

Take a look at these Star Wars™: Jedi Challenges to help you decide if you want to take the plunge!

Do you think you will be aiming to get a set next month?

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