Today we take a look at a piece of expansion hardware for the Laser X laser tag system: the Laser X Gaming Tower from NSI International. This piece of hardware adds 10 additional game modes to your child's existing laser tag arsenal.
In this review we are going to take a look at the hardware, the game modes, and test it all out to see if the tower is worth the $40 price tag.
Before we get started, it's important to note that in order to use the tower, you'll need at least 1 other Laser X blaster. The great thing is that it is compatible with all the existing Laser X products.
This write-up is one of a three part review series on the Laser X system. Be sure to also see the other articles as all products are compatible with each other. You might want to mix and match to create a set:
Lets take a look at what comes in the box and how the hardware is configured. Once we cover the hardware, we will jump into the functionality.
Pulling the product out of the packaging, you'll find the tower and a set of instructions. The tower is a good size at roughly a foot tall with the legs folded up.
The top of the unit features a red bulb which houses 3 infrared hit sensors. This bulb also functions as a button allowing you to power on and off the tower.
Just below the red button you'll find two outgoing laser blasters and a speaker. The blasters are used in some game modes to shoot back at players. The speaker is used for status information and to help control the game modes.
Working down the tower you'll find a light up "Laser X" logo that pulses from blue to purple to red. Two large illuminated bars can display the same 3 colors and are used as visual indicators during gameplay.
On the reverse side, you'll find two digital number displays which are used to select one of the 10 game modes and keep score during these games.
The unit has fold-out legs that allow you to adjust the height. The legs nearly double the height of the tower. They are tall enough where you can set the unit on the floor and have the tower sit comfortably in range.
You'll need 3 AA batteries to operate the unit. They are installed into the bottom of the tower - a smart location as they help properly weight the tower to be more stable.
Included in the box are a simple set of instructions. These give you the basic run-down of how to operate the tower. We've included full resolution versions here for you to take a look at:
Now that we've covered the hardware, lets look at how to set up the tower and select one of the 10 game modes.
The Gaming Tower is designed to be a stationary piece of the playing field. It should be set in the middle of an area, but out of the way so it won't be knocked over during play. If you're setting it up outside, be sure to place it in the shade to help improve the range of the sensors.
In testing - we found that setting the tower up about chest level of your players is ideal. The red bulb on the top of the unit will detect hits in a 360 degree angle this way. If the tower is too high, the sensors won't detect hits consistently.
To turn the tower on, you simply tap the red button on the top of the unit. Once you do this, the side lights will flash red and blue. You have one minute to select a game mode before the unit turns itself off.
To select a game mode, use any Laser X blaster in red or blue team mode to shoot the tower. Each shot will cycle through the 10 game modes which we outline below. Once you've selected the mode you want, simply press the red button again to start playing.
Use the image below to browse all 10 game modes:
The 10 game modes are split into two groups:
The game modes are the core of what makes the tower what it is. The various game modes are described in the instructions and played in short bursts. We found the games to be very short and pretty cumbersome to choose each time.
The standard game modes are comprised of some combination of shooting the tower while a specific color light is lit or active. Some modes have the tower shooting back at you if your timing is off or you miss a shot.
None of the modes really encourage much moving around and we found them to get boring quite quickly. There is little depth and no score tracking to keep things progressively interesting.
The special game modes are where the tower shines. The first mode (9) turns the tower into a repeater of sorts. If either team shoots the tower, their blast is repeated. This allows for cool trick shots that allow you to hit multiple enemies at once or shoot around corners. See this trick shot cheat sheet for more:
The final game mode (10) has teams blasting the tower with the first to reach 10 points winning. This mode is interesting because while the tower is being hit, the battle still goes on!
Overall the idea of the gaming tower is in the right place. The hardware design is pretty good, despite a bit of a clunky and slow powering up and game selection system.
We like the idea of allowing Laser X owners to play some solo games allows you to get more use from your set. Unfortunately we found that the depth and replay value of these games is low. For very young children, this depth might be fine, but for most it will leave you wanting more.
We've always found the addicting excitement of a laser tag match to be the head-to-head competitive aspects. Simply sitting there and shooting at a stationary, non-human object really just isn't much fun.
Where the tower does get it right is as an add-on to an existing match. The two 'special game types' (9 and 10) add an additional element to a fast-paced laser tag match. You can use this to create your own game types or add to an existing team based match.
Overall, if you're looking to add some new variables and depth to your children's laser tag match, great! If you're looking to get more miles out of the Laser X system by adding solo play, we would suggest spending your $40 elsewhere.
Activity Quest Rating 2.5 out of 5