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From what I have been able to determine it appears that there are only two locations remaining that still operate with Intersphere laser tag equipment so it was especially cool that I had the opportunity to play at one of them in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

When I arrived at Westdale Bowling Center I met up with owners BJ and Kim who told me about how they purchased their Intersphere packs 20 years ago and have been able to maintain that original equipment all this time with the help of a skillful engineer. BJ told me that years ago when they were first looking at systems to purchase he knew that two engineers from a well known manufacturing company were also starting their tag business and he figured if they were choosing the Intersphere system that it spoke well to the system being a solid choice. Apparently so as it really is remarkable that the packs have held up for all this time!

They have mostly the O packs that I understand were manufactured in Holland and then they have two additional X packs (made in Iowa) that were acquired later from another site.

They referred to them as the hard shell versus the soft shell as the vest on the O packs was a more rigid design...

...and the X packs had a canvas type of vest.

The phaser was unusual in shape, but very comfortable to use. You can shoot it one handed, but two hands keep it stable.

I was appreciative to get a chance to play with both, although there appeared to be no significant difference between them that I could see while playing the game.

It's interesting to note that in the mid-'90s Intersphere USA filed for a trademark on the name "Laser X" which was apparently the name of a corporate owned site at the Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines, Iowa (the city where Intersphere was based) and it makes me wonder if they were the original system at the Laser X locations that I've had the chance to visit in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and Sacramento, California. My guess would be yes (since they all seem to share similar branding elements), but I can't say for certain.

So, back to my visit to this still active site in Iowa. They showed me into the vesting room just to the left of their bowling alley.

About 20 years ago they removed several bowling lanes in order to construct the arena (which I am told Intersphere designed). At some point So if you go there to bowl you will see things begin with lane 5 at the edge of the arena.

Inside the arena is small (about 2200 sq. ft) and pretty much split lengthwise down the middle. There's a space age industrial theme with lots of "galactic contamination" barrels augmenting the playing area.

And there was a base station where you could activate it for various power-ups.

I'm told that at one point they had two, but somewhere along the lines the second one had been removed. I looked forward to trying this system out.

And it's always kind of cool to see scoring done on older software.

So this was a thoroughly unique experience and I am glad I had an opportunity to play Intersphere for the first time while traveling through Iowa. Many thanks again to BJ and Kim for the hospitality at their site!

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