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Abigail Magana explains how the Oculus Quest virtual reality gaming system works to Ryder Loreto at the Star Wars Lightsaber Dojo at Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019. (Photo by David Rosenfeld)

Ever wondered what it feels like to be a Jedi warrior wielding a lightsaber?

Well, wonder no longer: Star Wars fans can now experience a Jedi training session — albeit in a virtual world — at one of three Lightsaber Dojo locations throughout Southern California until Feb. 2.

The pop-up gaming experience, by immersive entertainment company Nomadic, can be found at the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance; Cinemark Century Huntington Beach; and the Ontario Mills Mall; in Ontario. Locations also exist in Northern California, Texas and New Jersey.

As the virtual reality headsets come on, customers get transported to a large, industrial-looking room, where robot drones the size of softballs fly toward them and others fire lasers. One hand holds a lightsaber, with which customers can strike the drones and other opponents away; the other hand holds a device allowing the virtual-reality Jedi to activate “the force,” allowing them to summon objects, grab their opponents or throw things across the room.

“I don’t know what’s real anymore,” 14-year-old Ryder Loreto, from San Pedro, said last week, shortly after experiencing the game and taking off the Oculus Quest headset. “It was spooky. Everything was around me and I didn’t know what to hit.”

Loreto and his family were doing some post-Christmas shopping at the Del Amo Fashion Center Thursday, Dec. 26, when they stopped at the pop-up near Nordstrom.

“He loves Star Wars,” said his father, Frank Loreto.

The game costs $10 for about eight minutes of playing time. Players receive a score that’s added to a national leader-board, which compares them to others at each of the six locations where the pop-up exists.

The game is meant to be a special experience coinciding with release of the new Oculus Quest virtual reality home gaming system, which comes with three episodes of the Vader Immortal video game, said Sean Griffin, chief business development officer for Nomadic. And it’s all tied, of course, to the recent cinematic release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

“We’re hoping our guests come through and see what an amazing piece of technology the Oculus Quest is,” Griffin said, “and how fun it is to be a part of the Star Wars story.”

In the full game, players encounter various challenges and move through different levels. The Lightsaber Dojo is meant to replicate a training ground to learn the game’s basic movements and sharpen the user’s Jedi skills before taking on the actual game.

“We’re allowing our guests to be good at that stuff,” Griffin said. “That will have the benefit of making them better when they are playing Vader Immortal. It’s about coming in and becoming part of the Jedi universe and learning what it’s like to become a Jedi.”

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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