Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bachelor party laser tag!

Yesterday was Al's bachelor party, and rather than having dancing girls and beer, we had pizza, laser tag, miniature golf, skee-ball, and arcade games. Pizza Putt offers a nice group package -- most commonly birthday parties, but they also do other things like this. They didn't even blink at the lack of any dancing girls for the bachelor party (though a few times they asked about the birthday boy).

The package deal comes with pizza for everyone, unlimited access to the miniature golf course and soda fountain, a card with ten tokens for the arcade, and one game of laser tag. The laser tag was what brought me there: my friend Jay suggested it as an approach to the bachelor party, and Pizza Putt's the only laser tag in the area. The group package worked very well, too.

The invitee list was about thirty people. Of those, ten agreed to come. Of those, five showed up. So it was a little skimpy in terms of numbers, and we waited around a while for the others to show. However, that didn't diminish the fun at all, so far as I could see. I'm sure it would have been nice to have had those other folk there too, though.

The laser tag was only seven and a half minutes, and their "arena" is not terribly huge: it's probably about forty feet on a side, and full of glowing pillars. The suits take the form of a vest with four target areas that glow faintly, two in front and two in back, plus a hand-held gun. We chose to go for a simple every-man-for-himself event with unlimited lives (getting hit just takes you out for five seconds), though they have options for various team games, capture-the-base, etc.

And it was fun! I had hoped it would be, but it was a lot more fun than I'd hoped, and everyone else seemed to have a blast, too. I did very well -- in fact, I scored the best, with the highest score, a two-to-one kill ratio, and a good accuracy, too. I kept finding people stalking each other, taking out one from behind, then darting around a corner and taking out the other, and by time they recovered I was halfway across the arena doing the same thing to someone else. I found it very helpful to stop and listen -- even with all the baffling and echoing you could find people that way and come up on them unprepared. I also had good results with just charging people shooting -- if you focus on the targets, not their guns or faces, you can hit them before they hit you, and then they're left just staring.

Seven and a half minutes is over so fast, and yet when it ended, I was out of breath and coasting on adrenaline, which quickly wore out once the game was over, leaving me surprised at how hard I'd been running the whole time. And still exhilirated. If Pizza Putt was nearby, I would probably be burning a lot of money going there. I could play that free-for-all version for seven-and-a-half out of every ten minutes for three hours and not get bored. And then there's all those other formats to try!

Pizza Putt's pizza is serviceable -- it doesn't compare to Juniors but it's not too bad. Their miniature golf isn't quite what it used to be (they're down to 11 holes and some of them are a little shoddy in spots) but you can't complain too much given that you can play over and over if you like.

Their arcade was a little disappointing, though. Lots of those games that are mostly about trying to win some cheap toy prize or more tokens, like a carnival midway, and relatively few arcade games in the Space Invaders sense of the word. (And most of those were racing games, often with damaged controls.) They did have a surprising number of other goodies mixed in, though, including a small merry-go-round, a bumpercar arena, a batting cage, a miniature bowling alley, and a few other rides you'd expect more at a carnival. Impressive for an indoor facility that's not that big. But I wouldn't've minded a Tempest machine or at least some Donkey Kong in the mix. And while you start with ten tokens, almost everything costs two or more, so that number's fairly deceptive. (The cards are rechargeable, at least.) Nice air hockey tables, though.

Despite having only five people show, I think all five had a blast, and I have to call the event a rousing success. I'd recommend the laser tag bachelor party to anyone. (Not that there's anything wrong with dancing girls, per se. But why not put them in a laser tag vest and chase them around a dimly lit arena with a laser gun instead? I bet that is an attraction that would sell awfully well. I wish I had some investment capital to start that business with.)

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