Lenovo's 'Star Wars: Jedi Challenges' review: As close as you can get to wielding a real lightsaber

The lightsaber battles are fun (even if you look a bit silly while playing it) but the price is slightly too high for the casual Star Wars fan

Jamie Lam |

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Test your lightsaber skills against iconic villains in the Star Wars universe.

Darth Maul closes in on you, with his trademark double-bladed lightsaber humming viciously through the air. He feints left, acrobatically flips to the right and aims a deadly strike at your shoulder, which you parry just in time.

He backs off and circles menacingly around you, glaring and visibly seething with dark rage. With a few light steps, he’s within the range of your own glowing blue laser sword and makes a series of three well-timed cuts which you barely manage to fend off.

Then a big glowing spot that might as well be labeled “weak spot: slash me here” suddenly appears on his body and that’s when you are jarringly reminded that yes, this is just a video game.

Star Wars: Jedi Challenges is an Augmented Reality experience by Lenovo that’s powered by your smartphone. Shipping with an AR headset, a tracking beacon that sits on the floor, and a Bluetooth enabled lighsaber controller, you can play one of three modes on the system.

The most fun mode is of course, the lightsaber battle mode, which starts you off easily enough against the comically weak battle droids from Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Reflecting their slow moving blaster bolts back at them is as simple as angling your lightsaber in the correct position.

Pro tip: Stay away from the Mantellian Savrips in the holochess mode.
Photo: Lenovo HK

The one-on-one battles are more interesting, as they test your reflexes by forcing you to parry multiple lightsaber strikes (sometimes as many as seven in a row) at different angles, and at very difficult speeds. After defence, where to slash your opponent is pointed out to you by the aforementioned glowing spots, which isn’t the most realistic but still oddly satisfying.

That’s the gist of the dueling mechanics, and of course the difficulty ramps up as you unlock more stages. You’ll also gain Force powers such as Push to temporarily disable your opponents for a free strike, though your Force meter fills up quite slowly to prevent spamming of abilities.

The second mode is the holochess game (fans will know its proper name is Dejarik) lovingly recreated from the iconic passenger cabin of the Millennium Falcon. It’s a fairly robust intellectual challenge, with different pieces possessing different abilities, such as the weak but ranged K’lor’ slug being able to damage enemies from afar.

The whole thing is not as complex as real chess, but I’m guessing true Star Wars fans will be too busy geeking out over the fact that they’re playing the same holochess that Han Solo and Chewbacca play to really care.

I choose you...Pika...Obi-Wan Kenobi! You can summon powerful heroes in the strategic combat mode.
Photo: Lenovo HK

The last mode is the strategic combat mode, which is a sort of AR 3D tower-defence game where you must intelligently place turrets and troops on the battlefield as they automatically do the front-line fighting for you.

The highlight of this mode is the ability to summon powerful heroes such as Obi-Wan Kenobi to turn the tide of battle, but beware these guys have huge cool-down timers and should be saved for critical moments.

All-in-all, for the Star Wars fanatic, the lightsaber duels against some of the most iconic villains of the franchise is worth the price of admission alone. And with content from The Last Jedi coming as a free download in mid-January, it appears Lenovo is committed to updating the game with new experiences. We just wish the HK$2,399 price weren’t quite so steep for something that doesn’t have its own processor. Let’s hope for a price drop soon.