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The “Thrills” of the Challenge

Since last November I have had one particular arena in Florida on my radar because I had heard rumblings about how they were revamping their space and really stepping things up in some interesting ways. That’s why my first stop upon arriving in Florida was to Thrills Laser Tag and Arcade in Miramar Beach.

I was intrigued to see how they had designed this arena, now using Laserforce Gen 8 gear, and what was inside that would make it so much different from the other places I had visited.

I joined a group and we entered the briefing area where a drum beat set the stage, creating an atmosphere before anything else happened. You know how I love an immersive experience, and the sounds in that first room were already cultivating a mood. This is where we watched the first of two briefing videos that established a storyline for the game to follow.

A wizard-like image filled the screen and told a story about two rival tribes fighting over an ancient artifact, the golden monkey.

This video explained the storyline, then we proceeded to the briefing room where a second video detailed the elements of the game in a clever way, using “hieroglyphic” imagery.

I thought these videos were creative and original, although perhaps a bit lengthy to go through both every time. There was some humor as well… “No foul language…I heard that!” However, they set up the experience well for an introduction to what comes next upon entering the arena.

This two-story arena looks sharp and has a LOT going on! My first impression was that the statement structure in the center is enhanced tremendously by the stunning realistic artwork decorating the walls.

As I maneuvered through the lower level I found beacons acting as base targets, then of course I had to protect the gates with my team.

I proceeded up the ramps to the second level, where there were some interesting things to be found.

The structures on top featuring serpents heads were unusual. At first they just look like towering locations to find the generator targets (which, if you look closely, you can see they are). However, I am quite certain I actually awakened their “warbot” fury because what I observed is that there were multiple layers to this game with multiple objectives that I first experienced on this upper level. You didn’t just have to avoid being tagged by other players, but also by elements of the arena itself.

The layers of the game experience include of course the basic game (tag players and bases and hit some sporadic bonus targets along the way), and then layer on top of that avoiding the warbot who can target you if you get in it’s way, but then there was the added challenge of finding, opening and battling the “artifacts” appearing in the form of animatronic guardians, which would also fire back at you. To make these artifacts appear, players should ideally work together to tag the sub-targets positioned around it multiple times and “awaken” the arena guardian…who of course wakes up cranky and continually tries to tag you back as punishment for interrupting its beauty sleep! See how this played out for me at Thrills as I set off in search of the golden monkey inside the Temple of Doom!

So there are the players, the warbot, the guardians and in my case one more level of challenge. As a level nine player I have to land five tags on an opponent in order to deactivate them. Try doing that with thirty players and all these additional elements firing back at you in the living arena…whew!

It really was quite a challenge because of all these different facets. This strikes me as the kind of arena where a player could enter by themselves and still face enough challenges to have a decent experience. However, there were plenty of players in the games I played at Thrills, so I got the full challenge and it was awesome!

And in case you are wondering, I did in fact find and conquer the golden monkey!

Actually, the serpent was the final artifact I tagged in my last game inside this arena. I had unlocked the sub-targets by myself and then I was tagging and dodging to complete the sequence. I gave a fist-pump to the air as I captured that guardian and deactivated it in the literal last second of the game! Those are the experiences that get the adrenaline pumping and make you say “let’s do that again!” :)

So, my time at Thrills Laser Tag and Arcade was well worth the travel. Plus my unexpected detour to Florida now allows me to say I played laser tag in both Alaska and Florida within roughly 24 hours! It was an awesome experience and I look forward to my next opportunity to challenge the Thrills Temple of Doom. :)

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