This past weekend I made a trek to Vestal, NY to check out an arena that has only just come on my radar. Fun Zone at Midway Lanes has apparently been operating Helios Pro for about a year and they are absolutely the best kept laser tag secret in NY. Ironically they are a stone's throw away from a rather unremarkable site just down the road, so if you were to talk about laser tag in Vestal you might not realize that there are now two options within less than a mile of each other. So I had to check it out for myself.
When I walked in the first thing I saw were plenty of bowling lanes (36 to be specific...that would be relevant for me to know later on). Apparently this place took out 12 of their lanes to make space for the entertainment area which included laser tag, bumper cars and something called Falcon 360 (I have no idea what that is).
The arena is small to medium in size, but they have packed in a lot of impressive extras. One of the first things to catch my attention was that there were two portal gates with a target above each. Shoot the target and the lights along the gate would switch to your team's color and if an opposing team player walks through while the portal is under your control it deactivates them and you get the points. Until now I had only seen this particular feature at the Baltimore Ultrazone.
There were also two pick-up pads located in internal corner areas and by standing on/under them you could "pick-up" a power-up.
But the most interesting thing in the arena has got to be how they are using the game station screens.
I have only played in one other arena that had these (coincidentally that was also Baltimore) and there you could swipe the tip of your phaser to get the power-up. However here they used them in a COMPLETELY different way. At this site they are used as an in-game trivia station and you have to answer a quiz question mid-game in order to get either bonus points or a power-up. This adds a whole different element!
It makes you shift your attention and even though the questions are not hard it's easy to make a mistake. For example, I knew that we were in a place called Fun Zone, but when the question came up "What is the name of the laser tag arena where you are currently playing?" The choices did not include Fun Zone. There was Laser Zone (wrong), two other choices that I forget and Laser Warfare. Well, that's the answer they are actually looking for.
A few other questions included the following:
Which attraction is NOT available at the Fun Zone? Answer: Batting Cages
What color are the employees shirts? Answer: Purple
What street is the street address for this center? Answer: NORTH Jensen, not South
You'd be amazed how challenging it can be to think about trivia and hit the right answer on the touch screen while simultaneously focusing on the game of laser tag.
The arena was designed to look like an abandoned town. Bases were located under the school bus (red base), house (blue base) and castle (green base).
Although they can certainly adjust settings however they like, I was surprised to learn that during their standard games they have bases set to deactivate after only one shot, not three. Also, they will stay off for about :60 seconds before restarting, then you can shoot the base again and repeat this an unlimited number of times. Although I wouldn't waste time camping for :60 seconds it's interesting that this is where you can really rack up the points.
The rest of the arena coordinated well with their theme and was definitely NOT the same old CW designs I've seen before.
And at the end they do have scores on the screen...
...but I always appreciate being handed a personal scorecard as well.
I played six games, taking advantage of their buy five and get one free offer. All in all I had a really great time and hope to return again soon!
Comments or Questions?
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com