I visited two Zap Zone locations back to back while in Michigan and had two totally different experiences, which was really cool for the sake of comparison. I had just assumed that because there are several in the area that they must be a franchise that would basically be quite similar, but visiting the Canton location first followed by the Farmington site gave me a real appreciation for the unique differences between the two.
In order to get to all the arenas I wanted I had to start out early on Saturday. I've done enough of these trips to realize that the likelihood of just showing up and finding a game ready to go first thing in the morning is slim, but I've often times gotten to play better games with the staff if I show up at a quiet time like this and that was how it went when I arrived at Zap Zone Canton.
Lucas was willing to do a one on one since I got there before any groups, so we headed into the vesting room to get ready.
This location uses Cyber Blast, so I tried to connect with my membership card, but it didn't take. But I didn't sweat it and we just headed into the arena. It was a bright, two level arena with neon paint glowing under the black lights at every turn.
What made this arena distinctive was the "swiss cheese" nature of all the cutouts everywhere you look. There were lots of places to stay covered while having a clear shot through one of these windowed cutouts.
Although there was an original hand-painted kind of aesthetic I am going to speculate that the actual structure of the arena must have been heavily inspired by Laser Quest because there was a very familiar feel to some of the elements like the way the mirrors were placed at the ends of the ramps and just a general vibe that had that kind of feel. However, the design elements were all their own with some cool alien artwork that I was told was part of the more recent paint job.
I thank Lucas for making this a great way to start a Saturday morning. He gave me an excellent game that was WAY better than I had expected at that hour and it was nice to be able to experience this arena that I know was the home site where my friend Amber has started playing years ago. When the game was over we went out to check the scores and, well...there are some interesting insights here. I was playing as Cosmo and Lucas had the pack called Wanda.
And before I left I picked up a Zap Zone t-shirt to take back as a souvenir. When I looked at the clock I realized I had to make a choice. I had too much time to kill before my next planned arena was set to open and I didn't want to waste a minute of my time in Michigan. I remembered Jesse told me the night before that he felt the Farmington Zap Zone was the best one and should not be missed. Even though Ann Arbor was possibly closer in hindsight I decided it would be worth taking the time to drive up to Zap Zone Farmington instead and I am so glad that I did!
When I arrived at Zap Zone Farmington I was introduced to Ghelam. He rocks! When I told him about my travels he said "So you love laser tag? Do you KNOW where you are?!" and he showed me how much they love laser tag in Farmington, telling me all about his history with the game the special formats they play here using Hyper Blast to play one life games where a Mike Myers type character "hunts you down", the Deatheater and Fortnite-style eliminators and all sorts of fun games that I could play if I were able to show up in the evening. However, since my schedule only allowed me this brief window to see what Zap Zone had to offer Ghelam made sure I still got a memorable experience.
First he brought me into a game with a party group briefing in progress. He offered them up a few choices of special game modes and the decision was made to play "Ghostbusters". Really this was just a game of Rabbit, but by calling the rabbit a "ghost" and theming it with some cool music and sound effects to set the stage this turned into a really fun game with a twist. It's the little things that can really transform an average game and turn it into an experience and that's how I felt at the end of this game. An added bonus was a Ghostbusters themed prize at the end.
Then before another group had a chance to enter the arena Ghelam took me in for a really unique one on one game. It was an elimination game of Deathmatch where we went in with six lives each. With the shot speed slowed down to only one shot every two seconds there was a different feel (a little like Photon, but even slower!) and once I got into the arena I discovered something else rather unexpected. You see, Ghelam sent me in first to find a hiding spot among the neon walls.
This game required stealth movement and with two seconds between the shots you would have to be accurate or else there would be plenty of time for an opponent to tag you during that length of down time. So I expected a higher level of intensity to this game. What I did not expect was to see a dark, shadowy caped creature lurking around the corner stalking me. Ghelam came into the game dressed like this!
Let me say, this took everything up a notch! Sometimes games like this get the heart pumping faster, but I have to give him credit because this surprise really took it to another level. I absolutely LOVED this game! He asked me beforehand if I wanted him to play it full out and I said absolutely. That's what he did and I think this game lasted longer than either of us really expected. It was a very immersive experience. I landed a few decent shots, but ultimately he eliminated me first. Good game...even though I do have to point out that the cape did cover up his back sensor! ;) It's all good. This was a really unique experience and proved to me that this place really is all about the laser tag. I hope I get a chance to return sometime when I can play one of their multi-format tag nights. Thanks to Ghelam for giving me a taste of that experience this early in the day. And big props to this site for the level of creativity. Everything about this place says "go big!" and I'm glad it was recommended to me because I appreciated being able to compare two awesome, but completely different Zap Zone experiences.
Comments or Questions?
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com