Tuesday, March 28, 2017

International Laser Tag Day

Tonight I enjoyed playing laser tag on International Laser Tag Day with a group of French foreign exchange students in Albany...truly international!

Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the opening of the first Photon center near Dallas, TX. The credit goes to George Carter III, inventor of Photon, for creating the original game from which the laser tag industry evolved. Stay tuned to this blog for an upcoming interview with the father of Photon as George Carter talks with me about his latest laser tag innovation. But in the meantime...

Happy International Laser Tag Day!

Comments or questions? 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tournament Time!

The final stop on my weekend journey was Laserforce at Jungle Rapids in Wilmington, NC and (spoiler alert) it ended with me taking first place in the tournament that evening! :)

My time here started with some exploration of their site. When I arrived I explained that I was visiting from out of state and Donna at the front counter remembered me calling ahead a couple of weeks ago to book my spot in the tournament. She said "oh, you're the one who I spoke to from New York" and the entire staff really went above and beyond to make my visit pleasant. They honored my Laserforce membership card from Syracuse to get me the member pricing discounts on some tag rounds for practice. And Kyle was great to give me a tour of their new arena design, which was space themed and very cool. It's a single level space, but with platform turrets and ramps it has a bit of a second level feel to it.

They run Gen 7 Laserforce packs (which were REALLY nice...although I was startled when my pack started playing music out of nowhere during the games). Now, although my home site runs Gen 6 I have played with Gen 7 before and the bases I had seen looked like the shield on the vest and the same as back home so I wasn't quite sure what to make of these bases...

So I sent Beanz a pic and he informed me they were Gen 6 base housings, so aesthetically just a bit different than what I have seen in other arenas. This was interesting, as was the temperamental warbot. 

This was my first time playing with a warbot. There was also a tablet beacon over by the blue base.

So I played five games for practice with the public groups that came through. I left for a delicious seafood dinner at Hieronymus restaurant where the waitress and I chatted about what brought me to town. She thought what I was doing was really cool and she wished me luck. Then it was back to Jungle Rapids for the evening tournament.

This was a very well organized tournament. Kudos to G.B. and the staff. From checking in member card numbers in advance to placement updates each round they really ran things very smoothly.

The tournament was solo play in each of four formats, highest total score determining the winner. The formats were Supercharge (which I was the most confident about), Shadows (which I have never played before), Dead Aim (which I think I played once before, but as a sniper thought I'd do ok) and Highlander (ugh! I'm terrible at missiling).

Supercharge was first. I went in playing aggressively. There were at least two other previous tournament winners in this event along with some practiced members (which now includes me...I purchased a new membership for this site). I took first in this round.

Next up was the Shadows game that was completely new to me. By this point I had been announced as the first round winner so I know some other players were really coming after me. I ended this time in second place.

After round two we took a break and G.B. tallied the scores. Numerically I was in second place by 1449 at the halfway mark.

The third game was Dead Aim. Although I had only a minimum of experience with this game format I feel I play best as a sniper so I felt ok going into this round, although I momentarily forgot about the limited shots and went after the base and beacon and realized I needed to play more conservatively than usual. This round went in my favor.

However, even with this win I crunched the numbers and I was still in second place by about 134 points. This was before going into the final format, Highlander, which I know is not my strong suit. I'm not great with missiling in games and I can't recall ever winning at Highlander in the past...but that was until now. With the tournament hinging on it I focused my attention on simply staying alive. I kept myself tucked away in one corner to protect my back sensor as much as possible. I took the nearest base, but didn't even try to cross the field to the other one. I simply took shots and counted down time. Although I did get off two missiles that eliminated a couple of players  and in the end those were enough points to push the game my way. I couldn't believe I won at Highlander!

And I really was astounded that this was the result that put me in first place for the tournament. I congratulate Bryan (a former tournament winner) who came in second place and Jason who came in third place for their really competitive performance along with all the other players who were involved. 

And thanks to Jungle Rapids for my prize of an Amazon gift card.

This was a great way to end my trip and I'm glad to be returning home with lots of memories of the southern states and all the laser tag arenas I was lucky enough to visit.

Comments or questions?                                                    

Planet Fun

Sometimes timing my visits out is tricky. While I try to play during the afternoon and evening to ensure there will be plenty of other players, sometimes that isn't possible. So when I rolled into Planet Fun in Sharlotte, NC first thing in the morning they had barely opened and I was the first and only customer at that hour.

When I explained that I was a laser tag blogger just passing through and that I'd be happy if I could just do a one on one with an employee in order to experience their arena Leah was very helpful. She said Chance was in the laser tag area, however he turned down the opportunity to play against me, so Leah stepped in. She said she doesn't usually run laser tag so she's less familiar with it so I volunteered to give the briefing session to her! 

Just last week a few of us a FJ were reciting the briefing rules from memory to prove we could so I was on point with the patter. She told me she wanted me to recite it to some of the other employees to prove someone could memorize it. :)

Planet Fun runs Nexus and they have a nice two level arena...

...and those walls I see everywhere!

She started the game and we played with a bit of a cat and mouse chase. She did well, but the running around exhausted her while it just got me warmed up for the day!

So we called it a game and I thanked her for being a sport and giving me a great start to the day at Planet Fun.

Comments or questions? 

Top Score Ever? (at least here)

I want to thank Wonderworks in Myrtle Beach, SC  for being very accommodating to me when I explained to them that I am a blogger only here to play some laser tag.

Kayla walked me upstairs to the arena.

At this Wonderworks they run Lasertron solo free for all. It was clearly a popular attraction with a long line waiting to get into a game. While standing in line I watched the monitor and saw their high scores of the day. I always use that as my minimum goal whenever I play Tron and so I was surprised to see that all I would have to beat was 2370 for top score of the day. Now, the game was only five minutes and there were no bases, so scoring was a bit different. However inside of that five minutes I got a score of 3880 which to me was an ok score, but sufficient enough to meet my goal. 

However the game master was a bit surprised. He saw the number and asked who got that score. I said it was me. Then he announced to the entire room that it was not only the high score for the day, but the highest score anyone has EVER gotten at this facility. The previous high score on record before was 3160 he said he didn't think getting higher than that was possible.

Now this is an entertainment venue on a midway, not a tournament site, so I am not losing perspective on reality. I know in Lasertron world this number is no big deal, but it is kind of cool to think that I left my mark in Myrtle Beach by giving this center a new all time high score.

This definitely made for a fun stop and if you have any doubt how much fun we had just check out the building itself!

And when the tag was done I spent some time playing tourist in the midway before going back to Fun Warehouse for some more tag to round out the night.

Comments or questions? 

Tag Fails

I'll take responsibility for not vetting these sites better, but all indications were that I'd be able to play two more centers in the area. Unfortunately that wasn't the case here. Although there were a couple of red flags I took the still active website for Surfs Up at face value when I read "now reopened". They were in actuality "now shut down."

When I dug a little deeper I understood and was skeptical that the second location would be closed as well. From the outside on a Saturday afternoon it sure looked like Extreme Laser Tag was under the same management and they appeared closed too.

Now their Facebook shows activity as recently as January and I did not actually check to see if the place was locked up or not (I just peeked from the outside at a building that looked lifeless), but of course if I had any positive indicators while standing in their parking lot I would have tried. As it was my assessment of the situation was that it was better to get back in my car and head to a center I could confirm was playable. Sigh...sad.

Comments or questions? 

Playing Zone at The Fun Warehouse

I made a deliberate point to visit the Fun Warehouse in Myrtle Beach mostly because of their name. It's ironic because my local Force center back home is also called the Fun Warehouse.

This place was full of people when I walked through the door. Everything about this center was top notch and impressive. They have lots of other activities from skating to go carts in a really fun atmosphere. Although to my mind the best part was finding couches in the back right next to the laser tag entrance. :)

At this center they run Zone Rift (with vest that work very well with good, visible beams) in a nice two level arena with gears as their theme.

An employee named Jay noticed my Photon hat and started a conversation about where I got it. Turns out he was a Photon warrior from Denver!

Another guy noticed my "real women play laser tag" shirt and wanted me on his team. I searched the red packs and found what I wanted to use...the pack named Legend. I was pretty sure I'd find it. :)

So I had to play for the honor of Legend.

And I quickly developed a reputation with the other players. A couple of the better players went head to head with me. I played a bit in the early afternoon and returned to play more in the evening. One player must have been talking about the earlier games because when I walked out of my final game to check scores he pointed at me and shouted to his group "that's her, she's the bomb!" Gotta say, that's a nice way to end a full day of travel and tag. Well, that and having a new t-shirt to wear when I play at the Fun Warehouse back home. :)

Comments or questions? 
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com

Frames N Games was a (Hyper) Blast!

Frames n Games in Pooler, GA was also a combo of bowling, arcade and laser tag with a grille, but when I walked in the loud music and flashing lights gave off a completely different vibe. This was more like walking into a club and it was packed with people.

While waiting for my game of tag I killed some time with a 5D movie. That was a little trippy with a space adventure happening in 3D as the chairs moved and wind blows in your face. It also gave me a chance to rest and recharge before playing as this was my fifth arena in one day!

So back to tag. I ended up playing with a really fun group. 

While waiting to get into a game I chatted with one guy from Chicago who goes to school in Seattle and I mentioned I'll be tagging out there in the fall (tagging my way up the west coast). I had extra time to chat because the scheduled games were lagging behind and it was a little disorganized with players not knowing when/where to be ready for their game. I hung out by the Aztec themed structure in the arcade area.

When we got in to play I tried to remember what I know about this system. They run Hyper Blast here. I've more recently played Cyber Blast and Zeta Blast, but it's almost two years since I've played Hyper Blast, so it felt like something fresh to me.

I got the feel for the system again pretty quickly. 

The group gave some good competition, especially the one who played as Deadpool. My pack was Capt. America.

But scores aside, I enjoyed seeing the list of random achievements. Even though I don't often focus on achievements for my various member cards I did think it was cool to see a few on the screen.

And although I really enjoyed my visit and would have liked to play another round (or even watched another 5D movie) common sense said this was the point where I should call it a night and head over to my hotel. What an intense, but worthwhile day of tag!

Comments or questions? 

The Clubhouse

The Clubhouse in Statesboro, GA is an impressive sports bar, family center, bowling, mini golf and laser tag facility...a real showpiece facility. This is how you do amusements for all ages.

They run Rift. I could tell I was tired from my travels because my game was not as sharp as usual. I won, but it was not my best showing and I knew I could feel that I was starting to drag. However it was a fun round in an arena with a nice use of the space.

Mild gripe about the aesthetic...these walls are everywhere! I see them in so many arenas it's ridiculous. I would so much rather play somewhere with a more creative theme like they had on the outside of the arena. These walls are just so played out and I'm starting to grimace at the lack of originality every time I see them. 

But that aside, it was a fun go around with the game. But I was really starting to get tired so this was ALMOST my last shot for the night.

Comments or questions? 
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com

Star Castle

This was one of the strangest games of Tron I've ever played. I visited Star Castle in Savannah, GA. 

As you can imaging there was a heavily implemented castle theme. 

They even have a dragon.

There was a castle outline painted on walls around the typical tube structure of a Tron arena. A couple of bridges gave a tiny bit of height. Then there was a recharge station that only activated after you stood in front for about 3 seconds...that seemed like way too long a lag to re-activate.

There were no older players so they sent me in with a group of kids so obviously I did not play hard at all. Actually, what I did was call out multiple times "be careful, your shoelaces are untied" because they ALL had untied laces! But back to the odd tag...

Constant point and shoot rapid fire on high never seemed to run out, so it seemed the recharge station was only for when you ran out of energy/lives, not ammo. There was a large scoreboard inside the arena and to be honest the scoring made no sense to me. It was just a strange game. I will say that the one Tron concept those kids grasped really well was punishing back to base...lol!

All the kids seemed to have fun up until the end. Let's just say the kids on the losing team got a little angry about it. I tried to diffuse the tensions between the teams by reminding everyone to say "good game" to each other, but I don't think that took. Maybe that's just something you learn as you get older...like this guy!

This seems like a good place for kids parties, but I have trouble picturing it as anything more serious. However, it was a fun diversion and now I make this claim...

Comments or questions?