We aren't sure about you, but we've always wondered what it would be like to have a proper Lightsaber duel. Or maybe play a game of Holochess.

Thanks to the joys of augmented reality, you can now do both. Lenovo has teamed with Disney to create an AR experience using your phone, a special headset, a tracking orb and, yes, a Lightsaber.

We've had a quick battle against the new Sith upstart Kylo Ren ahead of the official release in November to see whether you'll want to be battling the dark side yourself.

Lenovo Star Wars Jedi Challenges headset image 2

Not to be confused with the company's more expensive Windows Mixed Reality headset, the Lenovo Star Wars Jedi Challenges kit consists of three hardware elements.

The main bit is a Lenovo Mirage AR headset that you slip your smartphone into. There is also a tracking beacon which is placed on the floor. It acts as a stable base for the headset’s sensors to detect the user’s movement during gameplay. And there is the pretend Lightsaber.

The headset works in a similar way to mobile VR equivalents. You load the app, put the phone in the caddy and then slip it into the headset. The difference is that the phone actually sits flat, facing down and uses two mirrors to reflect the image onto a plastic windshield-like element in front of you.

Because the shield is see-through, you can still see what's going on around you, although the immersion might still draw your attention from the real world.

 

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The headset isn't just a plastic casing, it also features two built-in fisheye sensors to provide inside-out positional tracking. That tracking comes from a small coloured ball that you sit on the floor in front of you while you play.

It's slightly different, but the technology works in a similar way to PlayStation Move controllers. The bright colour helps the tracker pick up your position so you can move around freely. This is a completely wire-free experience.  

To give you a sense that you are actually battling with a Lightsaber, you get a plastic but weighty Lightsaber controller, modelled after the one wielded by Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker and Rey in the Star Wars films. It adds to the experience and makes you look the part.  

The Lightsaber acts as a controller and pointer, allowing players to navigate the user interface, with all controls, actions and commands activated with a simple two-button configuration. It's all very easy.

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In our demo we duelled with Kylo Ren. Turn the app on, slip it into the controller and press the button on the Lightsaber and away you go. The app will feature more games and more experiences including a strategic combat game and Holochess, but for now we were all about hacking down Ren as best we could.

Through visible light-tracking technology (the orb, remember), the headset’s sensors work together to lock onto the position of the Lightsaber controller, allowing players to see a virtual beam form above the "hilt", which you can use to block and interact with the universe in-game.

It's all very self-explanatory and we had no problem getting to grips with the gameplay straight away.

Haptic feedback is activated as you strike or block the foe that you come up against, while an inertial measurement unit sends rotational information from the controller to the smartphone to assist the beam in remaining stable mid-swing.

In practice, it's great fun. While you can still clearly see what's around you because the display is see-through, you can soon forget where you are and what you are doing.

The graphics are more drawn outlines rather than photo-realistic forms, but nonetheless we enjoyed our demo - certainly enough for us to ask to go a second time. Our duel lasted what seemed like a good couple of minutes with Ren moving around us keeping us on our toes.

The controller was responsive most of the time with the beam projecting from the hilt as you would expect. It's worth noting that we were playing an early beta, so expect it will become even better in the run up to the November launch.

Surprisingly, we managed to win our duel, but not without panic and almost taking out a small child who was watching us at the time.

We would definitely recommend playing in a wide open space where possible.

You'll also be able to fight Darth Vader in the Lightsaber Battles mode, and we're looking forward to trying the Strategic Combat game and Holochess in future.

In Strategic Combat players will marshal the forces of the Republic, Rebel Alliance and Resistance against the might of the Separatists, Empire and First Order on the floor, while Holochess, as you might expect is the change play the game first seen A New Hope.

First Impressions

At £249 in the UK this is a fairly pricey experience for what could be seen as three games you might tire from over time.

But Lenovo, although not clear on details, suggests that once you have the technology more games could become available in the future to encourage you to keep playing once you get bored.

Furthermore, the licence with Disney could be expanded to the Marvel universe, for example, and we could easily see an Iron Man version being created using the same technology.

Augmented reality is still in its infancy at the moment, with devices like Hololens sitting out of reach of many. This does offer a fun experience and a much cheaper way to experience what everyone is talking about, but it will be interesting to see whether, with further play, it has enough on offer to justify the price tag.

In the UK, Star Wars: Jedi Challenges will be sold online and at local retailers nationwide starting in November.