The next morning I woke up filled with appreciation for the opportunity I had to celebrate the previous evening at Laser Quest, but there was still plenty more to my Texas trip still ahead of me. A lot of people have been asking me “what are you going to do after you play all 50 states?” Although I haven’t come up with a perfect answer to that question just yet, I do know that I have no intentions of stopping my journey just because I’ve hit that one big milestone. So I figured that, at least in the short term, my next step was to strive to hit a second milestone number while I was still in Texas. I knew that I could end up playing at my 250th laser tag arena that same weekend with a little strategic planning if I could play in just three more arenas in Northeast Texas before making my way to Lazer X Texas. However, that would be a bit more of a challenge only because in order to do so I would need to play in the less ideal hours in the middle of the day on a Friday to allow enough time to get where I was going by the early evening, so I knew I’d have to find some willing staff members to make this happen. I set out to play at several more sites before making the drive that would let me end my Friday night in Longview.
All of the places I stopped while on route were family entertainment centers built predominantly around bowling alleys with plenty of additional activities besides laser tag…but we all know what I was there for!
The first stop along the way was to Alley Cats in Arlington, TX.
I got there early in the day when it was unlikely I’d find a group for a game (this was the middle of a Friday mid-morning after all), so when I was introduced to game master Dennis he said he’d indulge a game as soon as he got everything set up for the day. I said that was fine and while I waited I killed a bit of time in the arcade. I won a few tickets…
…and took home a souvenir.
Then we entered the two level arena and suited up with Gen 7 Laserforce packs.
Come on Dennis, game on!
We played what I would call a light game, but with enough energy to be worthwhile and wake us both up. The only particularly interesting element was the warbot on the second level. Otherwise the arena was a classic CW design and I meandered knowing fairly intuitively where I expected to find the bases and beacons. I think in spaces like this the familiarity of the design has made it much easier for me to predict the flow patterns. I felt like I knew this arena well even though I’d only walked into it for the very first time.
I enjoyed my experience at Alley Cats. It was a good way to start the day and a convenient first stop because it was relatively close to my hotel.
From here I moved on to Pinstack Plano.
Apparently this was the first Pinstack location ever built (there are several others, but this is considered the “headquarters” site). Inside the two -level arena they are using Hyper Blast and I got to play against Destin and Ethan.
Similar to the last stop, this was a typical CW design (although the walls looked very new) and there were all the recognizable hallmarks you would expect.
There was also a bit of original airbrushed art scattered throughout.
I took my bases first before figuring out what was a little more unusual here.
There were a few things that made this arena a bit more distinctive. The LONG ramps are very playable as there were some really good sightlines to several targets and both levels when you are between levels.
The targets by far were the most interesting part of this experience. The multi-colored flashing targets were connected to unusual sound files and it was interesting to see what each one would “say” when it was tagged.
There were at least 10 distinctive sounds including familiar jingles and phrases like “plop, plop, fizz, fizz”, “read my lips”, “It’s alive!”. “Yahoo!!!” and a baby crying “waaahhhh!!!” The guys told me that these sound effects are signatures of the Pinstack arenas and I have to agree that they made this one stand apart. I can definitively say that this was the best sounding arena I have ever played and that made it a lot more fun!
Next I was off to Shenaniganz in Rockwall.
This is where I met up with game master Hunter who gave me an EXCELLENT one on one game in their really cool, aztec two level arena. I had a great time playing This place had a completely different look than the others I’d been to today. I loved the way the décor really came to life under the black lights.
We suited up with Helios vests and went in. I immediately noticed something unusual…two bases were both positioned on the upper level, although they could be tagged from the lower level. This was just a little different from the norm that made the game a little more interesting.
To get up to the second level you would have to ascend the ramps, BUT these ramps were a little different also because they had colorful half-barrels acting as speed bumps for players inclined to move too quickly. Although they were a little inconvenient, I definitely see how this can be a smart thing to keep the player speed down in regular games.
The base housings looked a little ominous sheltered under “guarded” rooftops. It was a very cool look all the way around.
And when the game was over I left the arena area…
…and I headed over to the restaurant where I ordered something delicious for lunch. I’m not usually one to post photos of my food, but THIS was something special.
I ordered an Avocado Bomb, which was a fried whole avocado stuffed with chicken and cheese and it is quite possibly the BEST thing I have ever tasted!!! Well done Shenaniganz!
Well, these stops along the way represented arenas 247, 248 and 249 on my list. Longview, here I come ready to play number 250!
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Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com