Once I realized that I could play my 250th arena in Texas I decided to look for a really special site where that milestone number could happen.
The reason I chose Lazer X in Longview, Texas is because of the current rarity of being able to play using their system. Lazer X is one of the last three laser tag centers in the United States where you can still go to play Intersphere and that made this site a MUST for me to visit.
As soon as I arrived I was greeted by owner Bill and his wife Cindy. A short time later I met game master Kathy and Bill took me for a tour of the equipment and gave me some history of the business and the Intersphere equipment that they have been using since they opened in 1999.
Originally this business was located in Tyler, TX and there was a different Laser X location established in Longview. The first Longview site opened in 1998 using the version 6 packs (O packs) which were made with a harder plastic. Later on some of the version 6 packs had plastics with a tendency towards breaking at the joints. However, by the time Lazer X in Tyler opened in 1999 there had been a change in EPA regulations that resulted in a change in the plastic formula they used on the subsequent Beta packs used a softer plastic. They have a Y front pod and the O design style and when compared side by side (Beta on the left, version 6 on the right) you can see some of the subtle differences.
The fact that these packs are still holding up speaks well to the quality. Today Lazer X has packs with the original yoke and only the inner shell removed.
A later generation, the version 7 packs had a distinctively different design with the square front featuring the X that were manufactured in Des Moines, Iowa, circa 2000.
These packs also featured a double strap on the sides, while the earlier version only buckled with a single strap.
Here’s a better look at the single strap Beta…
…and the double strap version 7.
There was also a change in battery between the two.
The differences between the Beta (left) and the version 7 (right) are much more apparent.
The phasers have a comfortable, ergonomic design.
And the screen on the back of the phaser has pertinent in-game info including credits, points and rank.
Lazer X moved from Tyler to Longview in November of 2004. Here they are able to run up to 30 packs in the games played inside their over 6000 square foot double level arena with six wall unit targets and two switch back ramps leading to the upper level.
My first peek at the arena came when I was able to join the local venture crew who came out to play a few games. We watched a video briefing before entering the briefing area and being assigned packs for the game.
The public games were all Solo Invis (basically stealth) and when you successfully tag an opponent you earn 20 points, meanwhile the tagged player loses 2 points. We entered the arena passing by Mike and Jerry…
…and I got my first peek of the spacious playing field. The lower level is more your typical maze while the upper level (which everyone gravitated to) featured more obstacles like barrels and separated “rooms”.
I didn’t immediately notice the gem style wall units that count down and fire back during the game, very similar to those used in Darklight.
Actually, during the first games I was just shooting at everything, so although I took first in every game I was accomplishing that with ridiculously low accuracy.
It wasn’t until Bill gave me some guidance about targeting the shoulder sensors (they would stay off until hit and then would flash to indicate the tag had been made) and showed me how accuracy factors into the scoring with this game that I made strides towards really developing some skill for this system. He explained to me that the accuracy is multiplied by the enemy score to give you what is called a “sniper bonus” so higher accuracy really does matter in this game (unlike in many others). So in the next couple of games I played I made a concerted effort towards getting my accuracy up and it jumped significantly.
Bill indicated this poster on the wall for a reference on how to read the scorecards.
After about five games in the arena with the venture crew we took a break and had a second night of celebration with party snacks and cake.
And before too long I had a chance to play with a few of the center’s more experienced players for an “Owner’s Game” which means that Bill got to join in the fun too!
Here’s a look at how that went with a GoPro view of a game of Intersphere at Lazer X Texas!
I had such a great time here! By the end of the night I really felt like I was getting some skill with the game and I had to lament that unfortunately there is nowhere I can go to practice this system. However, I am so glad that I got to really play this system properly and learn so much more about it in the process. It was a fantastic evening of laser tag and I want to thank Lazer X Texas for hosting me and becoming my 250th laser tag site. Whenever I make it back to Texas I would definitely like to play here again!
Comments or Questions?
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com