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The app finishes the job by providing the familiar lightsaber sounds and effects that the Star Wars fandom has come to know and love. Once I got everything set up and the headset adjusted comfortably on my head, it was time to play ï¿½ or so I thought.
I made the mistake of setting up everything in a conference room with a lot of direct sunlight. Because the holograms are so translucent, the images were immediately lost in the light. After I drew all the shades and made sure the phone's brightness was set to percent, it was time to rock ï¿½ for real, this time. When I got into the thick of battle, there were times when the tracking was off the mark, forcing me to recenter midbattle.
It's not ideal when you have Darth Maul furiously flipping toward you with murderous intent. I also encountered a few hiccups when trying to move my pieces in Holochess. The game uses your gaze as a selection tool, and with the tracking veering off to the left or right, it made getting a bead on my monster piece a little difficult at times.
The good news is that the headset usually recenters itself after a few seconds, but the wait can be jarring. I really wish there were a view-recenter button on the headset like the one the Gear VR offers. But when the headset is firing on all cylinders, the experience is seamless and compelling. Once I got past the beginner Initiate phase of training and the difficulty ratcheted up, I really felt like I was in a life-or-death struggle during Lightsaber battle. Suddenly, I didn't have the luxury of haphazardly placing troops in Strategic Combat because I ran the risk of being overrun by Empire forces.
I actually had to move around the map and effect some actual strategy. It's a setup that's easy to play, but difficult to master.
Hardware without good software is nothing but a fancy, expensive paperweight. Available as a free app on Android and iOS, the software provides at least 12 hours of gaming fun ï¿½ or more if you want to get all the accomplishments.
These games are spread across five famous Star War planets that unlock as you progress farther in your Jedi training: Naboo, Garel, Lothal, Hoth and Takodana. Everything culminates at The Core of the Galaxy, where a mysterious challenge awaits. Each planet has those three games to choose from, and once you choose your poison, there are three tiers of the challenge to defeat, each with a varying degree of difficulty.
As you complete each tier, you get a chance to unlock a new Force Power, battle battalion or creature depending on which game you're playing. So down to the games. Lightsaber Battle is clearly the star of the show. After selecting a planet to start on Naboo , my opponent waves and waves of droids and my Force Power Force Push , it was time for me and Darth Maul to throw down. On the easiest setting, he was manageable.
Though he evaded me with a few flips and volleys, it was easy to land blows and hold up my saber to deflect his blows when prompted. I even hit him square in the chest with a Force Push, opening him up to some more serious strikes from my lightsaber, which led to his ultimate defeat.
Strategic Combat is a real-time-strategy battle simulation that lets you lead waves and waves of clone forces against the Empire. I, for one, could not wait to get to Hoth. Once the battle started, I began placing turrets and troops to defend various strongholds. When the battle got particularly fierce, I got a prompt informing me that I could dispatch a Jedi into the fray to turn the tide of battle. I quickly selected my Jedi and put him on the field, and lo and behold, there was Obi-Wan Kenobi, swinging his saber, deflecting lasers back at the enemy and generally being badass.
Best of all, I could walk around the battlefield to get a better look at the action as everything went down. Finally, there's Holochess, which, like regular chess, requires a bit of thought and patience, and a smidge of luck.
Based on the game, from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, I moved my holographic alien piece around a board, hoping to smash and claw my way to victory during impromptu monster battles. Since chess ï¿½ monster or otherwise ï¿½ has never been my strong suit, it's taken a few tries for me to get the basics.
But so far, I've won a Kintan strider for my effects, which is pretty boss. As fun as beating the Empire solo no Hans can be, I really want the opportunity to go head-to-head with my fellow Star Wars fans. Both Lenovo and Disney say that a multiplayer experience is coming down the pipe, but they have yet to say when.
What is every Star Wars fan's biggest wish? No, it's not for Jar Jar Binks to get tossed into the gaping maw of the Sarlacc, never to be seen or discussed again although I'd wager that'd be a close second choice. It's to have lightsaber battles with your friends.
With Jedi Challenges' latest update, you can duel to your heart's content -- provided your opponent also has Challenges set up and is willing to travel to your house. If so, then all you have to do is get both systems on the same Wi-Fi network and follow the prompts to get everything set up.
Once everything is connected, it's time to duel. Lightsaber duels keep two of the battle prompts, or premonitions, from the solo version of the game: attack and block. Disney also introduced two new premonitions: dodge and power attack. Signified by a large directional arrow, dodge directs you to the correct place to avoid an incoming lightsaber barrage. Power attack presents a yellow diagonal slash, signifying that you can swing the saber up or down to land a hit.
The trick is to correctly hit the power attack before your opponent can dodge. Battle and defense commands are chosen randomly by the app, so no two battles will be the same. There's just something about seeing my opponent directly in front of me doing their damndest to dodge my lightsaber volleys that really gets the blood rushing. It took me a couple of rounds to adjust to the new prompts, but once I did, I felt a bit like my favorite Jedi badass Ahsoka Kano. The shiny lightsaber should have been the star of the kit but we found tit to be a bit on the light side.
It has two buttons on it - the larger "Blade" button powers it up in-game, while a second "Force" button centers your view and controller.
You need to separately charge three devices- the headset, the lightsaber, and your phone, and because battery times on all of these devices varies, there is a good chance that you will end up without power on at least one of them. Lenovo recommends a clear area of 1. Though, in smaller space, you'll probably need to press that re-centering button on the lightsaber more often.
Once you have all components charged, you download the Jedi Challenges app from the Apple or Google app store, pair the lightsaber controller to the phone via Bluetooth and slide the phone into the headset through a tray.
Although this tray is made of easy to handle materials, the edge where it slides is very sharp - we ended up cutting ourselves while pulling the tray out, so proceed with caution. With the tray in place, there is a tiny cable that needs to be connected between your phone and the headset.
We tried Jedi Challenges with an iPhone 7 Plus but faced connectivity issues with the headset not being detected. You might want to check the compatibility of your phone opens in new tab with the kit before you decide on getting one. Thus, recharging would require you to disconnect the devices and individually charge each one of them which is not very convenient. A single power connector on the headset to charge both the headset and the phone would have worked a lot better.
Once you do have everything set up, playing Jedi Challenges is a lot of fun. The game starts by introducing you to the Archivist, a new character in the Star Wars Universe that acts as a guide. When done with Naboo, you move on to other planets with the final destination being "The Core" with unknown challenges.
Besides lightsaber battles, Jedi Challenges also features Holochess and Strategic Combat that, unfortunately, aren't half as much fun. Update : Lenovo shared with TechRadar that it has issued a free update to users, which includes "new characters, lightsaber battles and gameplay levels on the planet Crait ï¿½ as first seen in the film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
One significant issue with Jedi Challenges is that the phone sits towards the front of the headset making it heavy and uncomfortable after a few minutes of gameplay. We were constantly trying to adjust the headset and balance it, which distracts from the gameplay experience. Star Wars: Jedi Challenges works if you think of it as a casual entertainment session rather than a full blown game.
It could be a lot more fun if it supported a multiplayer mode - think of all the crazy Star Wars-themed parties where you could duel against others with virtual lightsabers.
But as a single player experience, it loses its appeal fairly quickly.
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