Arena Identity Crisis 2
Ok, once is a novelty, but twice is ridiculous. So the next stop was to Interskate 91 North in the Hampshire Mall in Hadley, MA. In researching this center I found that they run Laser Blast, so you can imagine my confusion to walk in and see this...
Then I walked through the entryway...
And walked up to the elevator that goes up to the second floor...
And on the way up heard the speaker announce "Welcome to the Laser Storm transport system. You are about to enter the 22nd century. This is level two, the galactic arena." It sounded very much like the "Welcome Photon Warriors" voice.
And even upon arriving at the ticket counter (next to a skating rink that seemed to circle around a good part of the upper level of the mall) there were more signs referencing Laser Storm...except they were all wrong because this place currently runs Laser Blast. At least the wristband was correct.
Now, why am I making such a fuss about all this Laser Storm branding? What difference does it make? Well, it's like if I walked into a restaurant with two Golden Arches and the guy behind the counter says "Welcome to Taco Bell". It may be food, but it's not what you thought you'd be eating. And if you didn't know any better the next time you saw that logo you might go in expecting one thing and be very surprised to get another. Frankly, Laser Storm is absolutely nothing like Laser Blast in my opinion and the name should not be used interchangeably with other forms of laser tag. It's confusing...and irritating if you go in expecting one system only to find something else. Even though the irony is I would really like to play more Storm and there isn't anywhere near me to do so...just don't bait and switch me with an incorrect neon sign!
Moving on...there were more oddities going on here than a mis-marked game of laser tag. As I mentioned, they actually run Laser Blast here. What was strange was...no briefing or vesting room. In fact the guy in charge (not even going to call him a game master as he sat in the next room the whole time we played) went to get our vests OUT OF A CLOSET and then had us watch a briefing video on a monitor in a hallway on a balcony overlooking the mall food court.
We were instructed to enter the arena when we heard "Yahoo!" But calling this an arena was a further stretch than the last one in that it was basically an open room with black lights and neon wall decor...
...and in place of a standing maze structure there were pieces of fabric dividers suspended from the ceiling!
These would sway if you got too close. So this was not exactly a challenging round of tag, but it was an interesting stop for all the other strange things it had going on. So this is the second center in a row to have a definite identity crisis...or maybe laser tag is just an afterthought to their skating business. I'm guessing that Storm must have had a good presence in Massachusetts once upon a time for there to be all these remnants remaining at the arenas to this day.
When we were done playing it was back to the elevator. The Storm voice coming from the speaker informed us we were "returning to earth"...and just in time to catch half price appetizers and happy hour in the restaurant down on the main level of the mall. It was almost like if Photon had an elevator! :)
Comments or questions?
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com