Now you can play Star Wars Holochess in AR on iPhone

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The latest update to Disney and Lenovo's AR Star Wars game makes the holochess portion free on ARKit-enabled iPhones.
The latest update to Disney and Lenovo's AR Star Wars game makes the holochess portion free on ARKit-enabled iPhones.
Screenshot: JB Hi-Fi Official

If you’re going to play Holochess on the Millennium Falcon, there’s just one rule: Let the wookiee win. To play it in your living room, the only requirement is having a new-ish iPhone.

Star Wars: Jedi Challenges is an AR game that came out on Android and iOS in November of last year. It included four parts: Holochess — or Dejarik, if you’re a true nerd — lightsaber dueling, Jedi training and a real-time strategy game. Playable on any mobile device, it required Lenovo’s Mirage AR headset, a special lightsaber controller, and tracking beacon. The whole thing cost about $200, so maybe you haven’t played it.

With the app’s latest update, though, all you need to play the Holochess portion of the game is iOS 11 and an iPhone or iPad that supports ARKit, Apple’s augmented reality framework. It’s free, and worth checking out for anyone who’s into AR games. It’s only for iOS, though. To play the other parts, or if you’re an Android user, you still need the extra gear.

Holochess is, go figure, a turn-based strategy game. It features eight distinct creatures of differing abilities who move and fight on a grid. It’s basically, you know, chess — but in space, with holograms.

Of course, using an iPhone isn’t quite as cool as a real hologram, and the graphics certainly don’t do justice to Phil Tippett’s stop-motion Star Wars magic. But even through a phone, the sense of the game unfolding in real space on your desktop is pretty neat.

Until recently, immersive experiences on mobile devices were limited to 360-degree video and other basic formats. Or you had to attach your phone to something like Gear VR or Google Cardboard, or Lenovo’s Mirage. But with technology like ARKit, a device that many already have in their pockets becomes a window onto more immersive applications. And AR experiences that cost 200 bucks a few months ago are now free.