‘Star Wars Jedi Challenges’ is now only £150 but is it worth the money?
‘Star Wars Jedi Challenges’ is a smartphone powered VR headset game from Lenovo. It was released before Christmas at £250 but has just been dropped to £149.99 at all major retailers – but is the lightsaber wielding game worth the money?
Jedi Challenges is an Augmented reality lightsaber game – one where a 3D virtual game is overlaid over the real world. Which means if you ever wanted to duel Darth Maul in your living room, this game makes that happen. You download the app, slot your phone into the exclusive Lenovo Mirage headset and wield a rather beautifully crafted lightsaber controller.
The game is actually made up of 3 sub-games – the core Jedi Challenges training game, a tactical battle simulator and holo-chess. Of these, I would say holo chess has the least appeal. It’s fun for about 15 minutes but the tactics are limited and it’s got the lowest amount of replayability. The battle simulation game is quite fun; laying out fully animated 3D troops across your living room floor is actually really fun. The game has some good variety and is well put together. But quite frankly those games are like bonus content – everyone is here to play the main event… because who doesn’t want to wield a lightsaber in their living room?
The game works using the rather beautiful lightsaber peripheral and a positional sphere placed on the floor linked by Bluetooth which send back positional information to the phone in the headset. You progress by overcoming increasingly harder challenges which require progressively more accuracy and skill unlocking new abilities along the way. Each system has multiple planets with Stormtrooper and droid missions and a mini-boss at the end.
Hardware wise, a lot of people are playing the game with the lights low to increase the clarity of the enemies, somewhat sidestepping the augmented reality aspect in favour of crisper gameplay. The headset and peripherals are of high quality and pretty easy to set up. The accuracy of the lightsaber is actually pretty good, and at the points where the virtual blade starts to go out of synch with the hilt. There is a simple realignment button that can be done mid-game to avoid any need to pause and recalibrate. For us the hardware downsides were the huge file size of the phone app, which meant deleting other apps in order to get it onto the phone, and the reliance on Bluetooth. This meant that the gameplay time was limited to how hot your phone runs and how quickly the Bluetooth and demanding app drain your phone battery.
Other than that, the fun novelty of fighting enemies with a lightsaber in your living room has some longevity… but it is just a novelty. The game feels like a really polished and beautifully made gimmick in a lot of ways. Much as it’s enjoyable, it’s definitely a casual gaming experience aimed at family fun as an occasional distraction and not a serious of long-term game. There is also the matter of the lack of planned future games making the fact the Lenovo Mirage headset is exclusive to Jedi Challenges a downside since we know there won’t be new content for it. The last real sticking point for us was the fact this only comes in single player. A co-op or versus option would have been a great way to extend the life of the game (if not the life of delicate objects in your living room!)
Overall although the game was really fun it felt very expensive at the £250 mark and will still a little so at the £150 mark for many people for just one game. If they release plans for more games or a two player option however that would drastically change that so definitely one to watch.
If you are interested in trying the game out for yourself check out the Jedi Challenges site here.