Monday, July 18, 2011

Light Strike: The full review.

Light Strike is Wow Wee’s much anticipated new home/backyard laser tag system that we have been fortunate to get our hands on after months of speculating and waiting. Home laser tag has always been rather lacking in Australia, even during the glory days of the 80s so it’s been exciting times for us to hear the Light Strike line would not only make it to our shores, but in a timely manner.

After a while weekend on the job, we've finally gotten around to writing our review; it IS as comprehensive as we believe the system deserves, and realise we're not just reviewing a new single toy blaster but actually a whole new system of game play. Needless to say, this is a very loooong post so apologies if you've got slow net connections:(

We also envisage this post to evolve and change as we play more rather than starting new blog posts, so if you do see it bumped to the top again, you'll understand why. I've got more videos to upload and actual range tests so watch this space:)

Anyway.. get comfy because without further delay, here's our review. With so much functionality, a decent variety of launch products to buy and possible customisation, there’s a lot going for Wow Wee’s laser tag line.. on “paper” at least..


On paper? That’s right- Wow Wee were responsible for the rather popular but bizarre “Paper Jamz” electronic guitar toy that allowed users with no music talent whatsoever role play their rock star dreams with replica flat guitar looking toys; they’ve taken this popularity to suggest consumers were cool with the design, and have incorporated it with the new Light Strike line. Light strike blasters are very flat and slim lined with the gun detail mostly being stuck on via a printed plastic sticker. If you're into repaints, it's not an easy process here- if you were to peel the stickers off, you'd just have a very flat piece of plastic to work with, and you'd have to be mindful of the pressure sensitive buttons.

Straight off the bat, I have to admit the Light Strike aesthetic is the biggest turn off of the Light strike line. I don’t know ANYONE who has looked at these new blasters and thought ‘well that was a good idea’. I think it may have worked with fake guitars, but with blasters, I think people expect a whole lot more; there is always a strong roleplay element with this sort of play, and the more 'real' (even in a sci fi futuristic sense)  your blasters look the better. Having the blaster detail printed on and flat unfortunately does look tacky and really quite disappointing as you feel like you’re holding a slap of light plastic rather than any form of replica gun. I know it’s NOT a gun, but when you’re playing a game that requires you to SHOOT people, it always feels better when you’ve got something that replicates the experience in your hand.

That being said though, the blasters DO have very nice grip moulds and good triggers; these are at least a very durable plastic and feel good  in your shooting hand, but not so much in the support/secondary hand.
They are a tad small though so anyone with larger hands might not like them as much, however there are three different tagger designs to choose from depending on your own personal preferences and what feels right for you. Most of us preferred the feel of the Orange GAR 023 but I (Pocket) really preferred the Yellow SR 143.. as you can probably tell:)

Blasters are very light weight and easy to wield with no significant shoulder strain after long periods of play. Each blaster takes 4 AA batteries (compared to 6 in a Phoenix LTX or any of the LTTO blasters from Hasbro/Tiger) in a small screw top compartment hidden in the top of the blaster.

The front of the blaster has the light emitter and receiver points similar to the way the LTTO blasters worked but not the LTX’s (which didn’t have the receiver and thus proximity alerts didn’t work!). This is also where your blaster fires from, AND will indicate whether you’ve been hit or not so you generally don’t cover this up. It does mean if you can shoot, you can also be shot so when you’re aiming at your opponents, the front of their tagger is where you aim (especially if they aren’t wearing a target vest). Personally I wasn't sure where I was supposed to be aiming for on the blaster- the manual says there's an inbuilt infrared sensor.. but there are no obvious sensors or dome receivers to aim at, so for now I THINK the idea is to shoot at the front of the blaster at the receiver (or a paired vest). That seems to work.

The taggers have two hidden plugs for the optional additional attachments that can be purchased to be clipped on to add more oomph to your game. One sits on top of the blaster and is for the additional Scope or Enemy proximity alert sensor; the one on the under carriage is for the rapid fire machine gun attachment or the “lots of damage” shot gun attachment.

The only physical buttons on the tagger are the on off switch on the top of the blaster, the trigger and the reload button on the blaster’s undercarriage. This reload button is to simulate the loading of a clip and that works pretty well, but you’ll have to decide which blaster you prefer for placement as they are located closer or further away from the trigger and grip depending on which gun you have.

Once you’ve powered the blaster up you’ll need to identify yourself using the finger print sensor to proceed to customise the blaster. Straight up, this is a disappointing fake feature that doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than perhaps role play fun; it’s just a touch sensitive button that can be activated using any finger, including that of your friend’s or even a knuckle!! You can’t proceed though without pressing this, so do it and move on I guess.

Every other function of the taggers uses touch sensitive buttons integrated into the panel under the stickers on the left side of the blaster. We’ve said before that we’re sorta in mixed minds about this; the lack of buttons adds to the cheap and tackiness of the blaster, but it’s also quite cool technology and less things to fall/break off/ result in physical wear. Having them only on one side isn't a real problem, but the fact you need to access them in game (shields especially) it is a bit of an issue for left handed players. Not a show stopper, but still something to think about.

As far as functionality goes.. there’s a LOT. Light Strike has boasted the bringing of video games into the real world, and just as video games have changed significantly over the years, Wow Wee are assuming the players now expect more from their laser tag too. You can tell that much of the tagger's functionality comes from video game cues- shields, respawns, multiple weapons you can scroll through.. You have a button for each function that you scroll through by pressing repeatedly/or holding down till you get to the function you want.

These are:

Shields: activate this and it’ll operate for a short period of time (about 15 seconds), meaning when you run off like buggery you’ll only sustain 50 percent of damage inflicted from the opponent’s shot. Once this has been used up it needs to be recharged and you’re shieldless for around 3 minutes. It’s also in a bit of a fiddly place being on the side of the gun and having to activate and leave; the Phoenix LTXs feature the shield at your trigger finger and you can often use the shield function to lure out opponents and have them waste their shots on you without them knowing you’ve activated the shield (even for a second).

Given the placement of the shields feature on the Light Strikes, I found we tended to just forget this functionality- we used it once or twice for funsies but it started to just get in the way. I also personally prefer shields to mean I’m TOTALLY protected rather than this 50 percent stuff.

After playing around with the weapons, I've realised shields are almost essential to master, as if someone comes at you with a weapon that's sporting a 2 shot kill, you'll be out of the game pretty quickly. By making the shields so important, it might add to the playability, but also makes the unergonomic placement of the shield button even MORE frustrating.
Weapons: There’s 6 ingame weapons (4 in a pistol) that can be toggled throughout the game as well as using this button to activate any attached weapons you might have clipped to your blaster. Each weapon has its pro’s and cons and generally follows the rule of “more damage-slower to reload and lag between shots” vs “less damage- faster reload and minimal lag”. They have different names that your electronic voice details, and also sound different so after a while you should be able to recognise them by sound alone and know how useful they are in battle. Again I found we would scroll thru and use different weapons initially, but after a while we’d just set ourselves on the run of the mill “laser strike” and leave it alone. Some of the weapons are so powerful that you can take out an opponent in two shots- which might be cool but we all agreed it was not that fun and reduced the game play down to about..20 seconds:P

Semi auto/single fire: This is a little misleading. How this works-You can toggle between having one shot per trigger squeeze, or around 3 shots per trigger squeeze. Obviously having semi auto on will mean you’ll need to reload faster. As far as I’m concerned though, leaving the blaster on single fire and just rapidly squeezing the trigger makes more sense as “semi auto” so I left it on that. With things like the machine gun attachment, you can just hold and leave but it’s kinda not that fun to do?!  The other thing I noticed, is even though I was in single fire mode, I could hold the trigger down and it would fire automatically ANYWAY. Ok now we're really confused...

Team: There are four teams with four different colours to choose from- blue, red, yellow and green. Just holding the team button will scroll thru these colours and you’ll see it light up on your blaster; they’ve taken “friendly fire” away so you can’t take out players in your own team/colour. This was ‘confusing’ to some of our players, as they assumed “I have the red one” meant the sticker design of the blaster vs the actual in game team colours.

Volume: You have three settings for volume so you can turn it up or down. Sound through the speakers is very and clear which is great. You can also stick in a pair of headphones into the headphone jack at the back of the blaster. This is to allow for quiet stealthy gameplay where you can hear your hits and shots but noone else can. (you could also hook it up to a really loud external speaker.. for funsies?!)

Finger print sensor: as we said, this is pretty useless and doesn’t do anything other than being the gatekeeper to all the functions. Some functionality requires you to press this to activate it, but most of the time it’s just there for funsies.
Game feedback is all visual or audible- The taggers are filled with a multitude of lights and sounds; this is somewhat overwhelming at times as you’re trying to work out what sound means what and what is it you’re actually listening for;when you hit someone.. when they hit you.. types of weapon etc. The light indicators on the blaster are also supposed to tell you your health status and how many rounds you have left, but it’s a tad cryptic and even those who bothered to read the manual found it confusing.

The manual states:

"Three green-colored bars on your Assault Striker keep track of how much ammo you have left. A voice will tell you when you’re running low"

In the end noone really cared when we were playing. The voice telling you when you're running low is drowned out by the crazy firing sounds you're blaster is making and if you aren't using the orange GAR 023 there's a very good chance you won't understand the voice anyway. The GAR 023 has a rather sour woman's voice, but at least it's human- the other two blasters feature either a monotone robot or an Admiral Ackbar-esque gargling alien voice that you can barely understand. You can't scroll between voices and they're coded TO that specific blaster so if you'll have to decide between physical design AND voice cues when selecting your blaster of choice.
There is no tactile feedback when you fire or get shot so at times it does feel a tad.. dissatisfying if you’re just firing crazily without knowing what any of the sounds and lights mean. Phoenix LTX’s had a physical ‘hammer’ that gave the blaster recoil so you knew when you were shooting at someone, and would vibrate when you were hit. It would have been useful to have some form of inbuilt vibration feature, mainly for receiving damage from opponents.

Even the touch sensitive buttons on the side of the taggers lack feedback- there's no "click" or vibration or anything that you can feel to acknowledge you've toggled/progressed to the next menu item. For the impatient (especially kids and old people!) this is a pain as they keep pressing and wondering why it is not doing anything, or accidently over shooting their chosen weapon and having to go through the menu again. While being shot at.

The reloading feature is nice- fire away and reload when your ammo runs down or out completely. The simplicity of a physical button is good to have and simulates the reloading of a real clip by it's size and positioning on the under carriage of the tagger. You can reload any time; pressing the button reloads your ‘clip’ and there are sounds to accompany this and obviously you can't fire while the reload is occuring. The reload will be as fast or as slow as the weapon you chose. The reload function is associated with the inbuilt weapons, so you do need to make sure you’ve reloaded EACH weapon as opposed to assuming a reload will load up everything you’ve got.
After a while, I admit you do tend to forget about how tacky the blaster feels and it actually feels pretty nice in hand, thanks to the well made grip and trigger. The lightness of the blaster was found by some to be “unrealistic” but I found it made for easy long term games so that didn’t bother me. For me, the killer was the lack of any tactile feedback for when you’re firing or hit; It just doesn’t’ really FEEL like a gun though because of it being this flat slab of plastic which made it a tad less fun.


The Light Strike assault rifle comes with a practice target that runs off 3 AAA batteries; you can also buy these targets separately. They’re pretty simple stuff; A white plastic dome encased in a black and red plastic housing and feature an on/off switch and a headphone jack.

All you have to do is power them up and.. shoot them.. With every successful hit, the target flashes and lights up to whichever colour your team is which is very cool and can be pretty novel for home arena games where teams are award points for the amount of targets they’ve turned.
The other variety of targets are the mini targets that come with the pistols, a rather advanced motorised target with more added functionality (but that I haven’t seen in stores yet) and of course the target vest which although an additional purchase to the taggers is really quite essential to gameplay.

The target vests consist of a target dome that sits on the chest, and a shoulder sensor that rests on..well your shoulder. The straps are adjustable with Velcro but are really made for kids/slim adults; They were quite uncomfortable for all of our male players and for me personally they didn’t fit at all... The shoulder sensor IS wired up to the chest sensor via a shoulder strap, so if you’ll be doing any modifications you’ll need to ensure these two pieces stay together.

The chest sensor has buttons on the side for powering up and shields, as well as some LED light bars around the target that flash and can tell you how much health you have left.

The first thing that you’ll need to do is pair the vest with your tagger- I personally found the method of doing this to be really awkward and we got it wrong several times. This may seem like a small problem, but when you’re playing with a group of people who lack the patience to care for manuals and reading, you’ll lose your people really fast if you can’t pair straight away.
We ended up constantly making mistakes of changing the tagger/vest team colours to other teams so rather than having blue vs red it was blue vs yellow.

Once however the pairing IS successful, your vest’s chest dome WILL change colour to match your blaster and you’ll be ready to go.  What you have to remember is how "pairing" actually works. Essentially what is happening here is you're transferring the shield and health meter functions from the blaster TO the vest; what the system is actually doing though is merely disabling shields and health functionality on the gun and activating them on the best.

The "pointing at the vest and firing' function is sending a signal to the vest that A) hey vest, we need you to activate health and shields, and B) this is the team colour you now represent. Because of this, you CAN 'pair' another blaster to have a dual wielding system, however neither blaster serves any receiving functions any more, but only shooting. If your opponents do shoot your blaster, it will register a hit in principle via lights and sounds but not affect your health in anyway.

Now you're all paired up, the target for your opponents is your shoulder sensor and your chest sensor, not your blasters. I don't mind this, and it does add to the playability of the game; to activate your shields now you can press the shield button on your chest rather than on your blaster. There are also ways to respawn and pseudo medic modes, but again they were quite fiddly and I think all of the players gave up on it and just accepted their fate as dead:P

The cost of the target vests IS a rip off at standard price of 39.95AUS- while it isn’t essential to play Light Strike, you can really tell the game has been designed to have users buy them which bumps up the costs significantly to kit out a player.

One of the very cool things about the Light Strike line is it's customisation; the line comes with four optional attachments that basically soup your tagger up to suit your playing style. The four attachments are:

-a rapid fire machine gun attachment complete with vibration,

-an enemy proximity sensor that detects where and when opposing teams are nearby,

-a scope that doubles your range and also brings an "optical cannon" for cool sniper ability and;

-a "Refractor Launch system" which is basically a shotgun/rocket launcher room clearing weapon that increases your blaster's spread it too vibrates! (note this requires you to keep your finger on a touch sensitive button on the side of the attachment for it to work..oh it pays to read the manual!)

The attachments have a plug that slots into one of two brackets in the Assault Striker depending on what the attachment is. I found at times it to be a bit fiddly- it wouldn't clip in properly, and all it takes is a little bump and your blaster no longer acknowledges the attachment. When it DOES work though, it's pretty cool; snapping it in place, you'll receive visual and audible feedback that your tagger is not enhanced and ready to fire. Should you need to use other weapons you still can; the weapons toggle allows you to scroll down to others and just bring out the "big guns" when you need.

Attachments aren't actually a new concept- Tiger Electronics were going to do some very cool things with the Phoenix LTX's- shipping them with a shotgun attachment and there were others in the mix including a.. ooh.. rapid fire machine gun attachment, right down to the foldable bipod legs.
The attachments are definitely worth getting though not essential; they just give it a bit more oomph to the game. You've already got six inbuilt weapons, but hey, these ones are cooler because you can clip them on!

The full automatic fire of the rapid fire attachment is awesome, and gives you genuine tactile feedback that you're firing, but it IS just vibrating rather than a genuine recoil so it does feel a bit flat at times at the same time. It also feels like you're shooting a LOT but not causing that much damage.  It's cool, but it has a tendancy of giving the player a false sense of achievement:)

The enemy proximity alert scanner is fun but in close quarters most of the time you'll actually just see their heads sticking out and you'll know they're close anway so it is a bit of a gimmick- if not admittedly a very cool one at that. It picks up on opposing team signals and the LEDs indicate whether they're to the left or right of you but it only picks up the signal of opponents, so you won't be able to 'find' your own team mates. (this functionality was similar to that of the LTTO laser tag line- again nothing new, yert still fun)

The scope is almost a must, as it doubles your tagger's range and also the sounds and effects of the "optical cannon" are very much cues from a sniper rifle, although I have a feeling it does only increase the range when you're using that weapon. While the scope has no magnification, it does include a working red dot sight, and that does actually work pretty well as far as accuracy is concerned. The fact the optical cannon is lethal with a 2 shot kill rate meant we were all fighting to have this attachment on our blasters:) (it also happens to be the cheapest for some reason)

The "Refractor Launch" system attachment is the shotgun/grenade launcher that essentially just increases the spread of your fire and results in greater damage to your targets. When I say greater damage- you can pretty much take out your opponent in two shots.. and one of our testers believes it works well against multiple targets but I'm still not quite convinced. Personally, I find it kind of boring, but it does vibrate (whooo!) when you fire a shot. It's just like some of the more advanced in built weapons- takes longer to fire and longer to reload but if you've got a hoard of opponents coming at you, I can see how this would be very useful. It also works independently from the in built weapon selector- there's a touch sensitive button to press on the side that you keep held while you use the trigger.
Obviously you can't have all four attachments on your blaster on the same time, and an 8 minute game (I keep coming back to that because it is the rough time your standard indoor skirmish lasts before one side is toast) means it's unlikely you'll be attaching and detaching on the fly. More likely you're going to choose one or two and stick with them for the duration of the games so I can see how it adds a cool element to roles based play. (other than having players yelling 'I want to be the sniper.. I want to be the heavy ammo guy'.. I wanna be call sign "Hawk" :P )


Into the arena we go; we played several rounds of straight death match, followed by making it interesting by adding extra targets around the car park in a semi ‘capture the flag’ esque “the most targets brandishing your colour at the end of 8 minutes wins” sort of game.

The thing about laser tag is you rarely have games where you've got clumps of people standing there staring at one another, just out of range. Tactics change when people can hit you at any time, so the games are spent always in hiding (unless you're playing against goober kids where they just stand there in the open and keep shooting till they are dead- given the price of these taggers I generally refuse to play against said goobers) with lots of scuttling along for cover to the next point where you can get a shot off.

The big question everyone has is ranges. Personally, I seemed to find my old Laser Tag Phoenix LTXs ranges were better than these Light Strikes- partially because their domes are so much more visible but I honestly feel like they seem to go further. Light Strike blasters are by no means bad and still will out perform a Nerf gun for instance range wise (yes even your modded Longshot- I’m surprised you’ve even made it this far in my review!) and in the close quarters underground carpark, you really couldn’t notice the difference. Only when we were basically walking down the road and firing for tests was there any real visible difference.

You really DO need the target vests though- shooting at the opponent's blasters is good and well but given the lack of sensor dome, it's really a system made to work with the shoulder and chest sensors.  I'm surprised there isn't any back sensor or any way to take someone out from behind.
I’d say modestly you’re able to hit 40metres with a bit more if you’re operating the scope attachment (and only with the optical cannon weapon) which I think gave it more. We were testing it at night though where I find ranges are better, and to be honest, if you’re ever positioned more than 40 metres away from your opponent, it’s because your team mates don’t want you to play and are letting you down gently..

Accuracy- we’re dealing with light here. It’s precise stuff- look thru the scope and aim at your target and if you’re half decent a shot, you’ll hit them. The whole thing about laser tag that makes it so much fun is the fact of line of sight shooting- if you can see ‘em, there’s a good chance you can hit them.

While there is so much customisability for the Light Strike taggers, I was a tad surprised there’s no actual pre-saved games inbuilt in this system. The Tiger Electronics LTTO was almost TOO complicated with how it ran hosted games of capture the flag/VIP/death match- with the Light Strike blasters you’re pretty much left to work out your own battles. I don’t mind this but there are some weird inconsistencies with the gameplay and I think that's part of the issue. Light Strike have added so many functions to these blasters, but not actually defined any rules to the game they were intending, meaning players are pretty much up to their own devices to work out what's there, and what will be used in game.

This is fine except like any kid, big or small, give me buttons and I shall press. Given you're not limited to settings before the game begins, you can change these at any time, and people will, but rather than customising to suit their gameplay, it was more often they'd accidently press something and scream out 'Can we stop, I think I broke it...."

It's also worth noting Light Strike is its own system; they aren't compatible with the Phoenix LTXs so you'll have to be choosing one system or the other if you wanna play against others.

For some reason it IS possible to respawn if you’re all out of health. On the whole I don’t mind this as an idea (especially against those 2 shot kill weapons) other than Light Strike doesn’t appear to have any scoring system so it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to have health and respawns if you can just die, respawn and keep playing without anyone else the wiser. Respawning is by pressing the shield button and the trigger simultaneously, but this is a really awkward motion, trying to hold your blaster in one hand and squeeze the trigger while pushing the blaster from the left side to activate the shield?

You have to select which team you’re on via the colours.. but if you’re playing without a vest, you seem to be able to change sides mid game?! This can happen even accidentally if you happen to be holding the blaster wrong and unknowingly activate it.
You can also change your weapons, single/semi auto fire modes, and the volume control mid game as well, which isn’t an issue but in the heat of battle, I don’t think any of us actually DID this. It ends up being a bit of wasted functionality; I’m not saying it’s bad but because of how you have to scroll through the modes, you tend to not care and leave it alone. (unless u accidentally bump it and have to change it back)
I found the shield mode was activated for far too long- in a close quarters game you really only need it for a second or two while you’re running for cover. The Light Strike system’s shield seems to go for quite a while meaning you’re wasting it all in one burst when a few short bursts would make more sense. I also didn’t like the fact the shield didn’t offer maximum protection, rather than this half strength stuff. We ended up disregarding it as well.. until one of our players decided to keep her blaster on the 'Sonic Strike' weapon and kept killing us all in less than a minute.


How cool is Light Strike? We'd say it's very cool, and while I admit, I want to like it a WHOLE lot more than I actually really do.. it still has a LOT going for it and it grows on me with every game.

We love it because it's the first high grade home laser tag to reach Australian shores since the early 90s (Sega Lock on.. ahh memories). the amount of functionality and customisation is very cool, and the variety of weapon design means people with big hands or small hands are no longer confined to just one style.
The actual quality of these products are pretty high- Wow Wee have done a great job with them as far as build quality and durability is concerned (though we have only had them for less than a week!) We're hoping lots of people get this so we can have games a plenty and not have to provide the guns ourselves like we do with our beloved Phoenix LTXs.

Here's the thing though; there's SOOO much functionality and customisation available that you'll probably laugh and think "wow that's cool" for about.. 5 seconds and then forget about it. Controls are just too fiddly, and while we definitely welcome an experience that is more than just point and shoot (like some of the cheaper, dodgey laser tag products that come and go) what Light Strike offers is essentially a tad gimmicky in the long run. The massive lack of tactile feedback and the overwhelming lights and sounds mean players tend to just disregard EVERYTHING and stick to what they know which unfortunately is just point, shoot, run..and then repeat.

None of our players bothered toggling through the weapons for the first half hour other than those that were attached to the blaster; once we were confronted with the mega powerful weapons we found the shields function so fiddly we just made a blanket rule to not use any of the 2 shot kill weapons and dumped the shields!

The bottom line is the usability of the taggers are to be honest.. pretty poor and it's just too confusing for someone who just wants to dive in and get into it. IF you're pretty into it and willing to read the manual, learn the Light Strike taggers and practice a lot, AND play with people who will do the same, this probably will be less of an issue, but alas I didn't have that luxury! It's a shame because more thought in where the buttons are placed and how they operate and things would be a whole lot more fun.
It's like they've designed it with all these great ideas in the sandbox but haven't really thought it through right to the end. Having a headphone jack makes perfect sense, but it's sort of useless unless your targets can all be muffled too- and while I'm not necessarily suggesting bluetooth hands frees and all that, the technology IS there and the blasters are pretty $$$ already so why the hell not:P Having so many weapons makes sense when playing a video game, but with no clear HUD or obvious cue as to what weapon you're actually using; when you are under pressure most players are more inclined to just stick with the fastest, or furthest weapon and run and gun their dear life out.

It's the nature of the game to be fast and furious.. but then.. MAYBE it's appealing to a new audience who haven't grown up on or been exposed to laser tag in the past and may relish these new advancements.

As we said,  for us though we ended up ignoring the weapons mode, single shot/semi automatic mode and even the shields mode somewhat. It became way too complicated to change weapons on the fly nor even care about what each weapon could do, OTHER than the optical cannon/scope (for "HO-LY CRAP that's cool..and you're dead") and the rapid fire machine gun (for "mwahahahha i'm a crazy person.. and by doing this i'm a sitting duck and I'M dead")

More on shields- one of the most fun aspects of the Phoenix LTX's for me was 'faking' my shot thereby exposing my blaster dome and drawing fire from opposing team fire while my team mates proceeded to jump out and take the enemy out; The enemy are firing at me constantly and all that's happening is a very satisfying "thunk" ricochet sound to indicate they're not damaging you in the slightest, while also leaving themselves exposed. (you can't shield and fire at the same time with Phoenix LTX whereas you can with Light Strike). As we also mentioned earlier, Light Strike shields don't operate like you'd expect- taking away 50 percent of the damage inflicted rather than protecting you completely, and only for 15 seconds. You then have to wait for 3 minutes before the shield returns.

You can't activate them for a few seconds at a time like you can with the LTXs, and the placement of the shield button is on the side of the blaster and the worst thing is accidently activating it, leaving your shield useless for the next 3 minutes. Given most of our games last under 8 minutes, shields don't really get a whole lot of play with Light Strike:(
Now.. as for the blasters.. they grow on me. They're flat and somewhat tacky looking, but they sort of do the job and I found myself less wanting to work out a reshell and just leave them as they are. Their hard corners don't make them the most attractive or ergonomic toy blasters around, but they.. work. I personally will always prefer the SR 143 and will be sticking with that but it'll be interesting to see what sells and what doesn't in future.
The target vests are a great idea but we're not happy that they don't fit the fellas very well, or in my case, at all. Given the price of these things, it's likely even if they are going to be played with by kids, there's still going to be a big kid around- mainly to A) show them how its done and B) pay for it in the first place. A tad narrow minded to make them so small- then again, if you can fit into a Nerf Tactical vest you'll fit into one of these..which as I said..I don't:(
On the price side; that's going to be the BIG test for Wow Wee. An assault striker for 80 dollars and a targeting vest for 40? One player is at least 120 dollars; plus the attachments.. even if your parents do pay for them for you, there's no guarantee your best mate's folks will. The US pricing makes more sense at 45 a Tagger I'm not sure it's going to be able to win parents over with such a high price. From an Australian viewpoint, we haven't really seen a decent home laser tag system before; is the market ready for this sort of outlay?
It's definitely a big step up from Lazer Tag and Photon of the 80s, and we definitely welcome that, but we'd probably prefer they just stuck with the basics and did them well; something I have to admit the Tiger Electronics Phoenix LTXs did. Sure they didn't have vests, but they had solid firing mechanisms with decent simple but effective visual, audible and tactile feedback that let you know when you were firing, when you were being hit, and when you needed to reload. We could have done away with much of the functionality on the Light Strike blasters and just used the attachments to add to the playability, as opposed to now where it's an overload of sound and light that's just confusing for casual players especially.

As it stands, I'm gonna say YES, we're a fan; I will be buying more and using them in our regular games. Is it enough to box my Phoenix LTX's away? I don't think so just yet. It might be that I'm just resistant to change, but I don't think this is the case; maybe I was expecting too much. But you know, whatever Light Strike says it does, it delivers and delivers in spades. It's a great system and maybe first timers who've never picked up an LTX blaster before will LOVE it..

I've posted a few more videos to demo the line; given we're using light here, I was shooting against a white door indoors from only about 4 metres away, which meant my shots were bouncing all over the place and taking out targets a lot easier than they should:) The Phoenix LTXs had an "indoor"/ "outdoor" setting- whereas these Light Strikes do not.


  1. Thanks for the in-depth review of Light Strike. I think if I had the chance to see the system first-hand, I'd get many of the same results as you from the sounds of your findings.

    It sounds like I kind of expected it to be. From the very first commercials, it looked very gimmicky. From your review, it sounds like these gimmicks tend to get in the way of the game. Then again, if you think about how they've pitched this "Video Games in the Real World" (which laser tag has been doing for ages), the games themselves are getting more complicated with features and gimmicks and such. Maybe it's this new generation of gamers that older fans like you and I have trouble appreciating.

    I only wish that the LTX were properly expanded like it was intended to. I know folks who worked on the LTTO and LTX lines who have told me of the future plans they had for LTX before Hasbro effed it up. The attachments like the ShotBlast were the first of a few more planned for it that would've helped expand it like Light Strike's accessories. It would've been neat.

    When it comes down to it, my bias for aesthetics still shoots much of what Light Strike has in the foot. At least it'll keep Laser Tag on store shelves until the LTX designers can get their next system out (Late 2012).

  2. Very looooooooong post Pocket, but well said at the same time... This happens with every new concept, the fact that its "new" means that people will have mixed emotions about it. The difference between the successful and non-successful "new concepts" is the ability to cope.

    But Pocket beware, some nerd is gonna figure out some way to use every different feature/weapon on the gun at the perfect time in battle... And you know what might happen next... You cant just shove all those different weapons to the side... They are there for a reason...

  3. thanks pocket. so its abit anticlimatic? I think its a bit too expensive for me unless my parents buy it for me. the long review is not bad but understandable. sorry for not much capitalization.[typing fast] portal

  4. Thanks for the review, these are growing on me. Just some thoughts: First of all, is daul-wielding possible, and perhaps more possible with the pistols? (or carrying a sidearm with an assault striker) The price is kind of high in the US, but it seems worth it with all of the features... And that's the next thing. I am thinking that people will like the extras, but it kind of depends on your personality. I'm the kind of guy who would be constantly switching my weapon type in a round, and taking the time to use my shield. I mean, you paid for those features, so I would use them even though they seem like too much trouble for the effort. I think the biggest thing is the attachments for these, and all of their possibilities. This is kind of seeming like a video game at this point, and it will cater to all kinds of people. The only think I would be worried about is the price, and the aesthetics. Although, to me, as long as they are solid, I wouldn't mind the paper jamz thing so much. I might find a way to pick up some cheaper options for this, like the pistols, just to see if it's worth it. Anyways, thanks for the review, it has certainly helped at least this one person.

  5. Can you make an indepth review on all of the different built in weapons?

  6. Brilliant review Mr P - well done and thanks! Looking forward to hearing more about your range tests - and also the beam spread. It looked worryingly like your tagger was making both of those practice targets light up in all weapon modes even though they were about a yard apart and you were only shooting across a room - but maybe that was due to reflections?
    Thanks again. M

  7. Review too long. Boring. You have too much time on your hands.

  8. I don't think Light Strike was anti-climatic; it actually delivers everything it says it will and everything we were expecting it to. It's good, I like it, I wanna play more. But it's one of those things where sometimes the K.I.S.S principle really applies, and in this case there's a lot of stuff going on that seems cool on paper and if you were to read it without ever really playing laser tag, you'd think "that's awesome!" which..we still do to an extent. But.. when you're actually playing it's just too fiddly and can actually hinder the experience by accidental presses and bumps.

    Think about how many people ACTUALLY use the Nitefinder light, the Deploy "stealth" mode or the Firefly glow in the dark features; they're cool, we like them, but ultimately, you just want to know if it shoots far and shoots accurate. In a way the same thing applies here.

    We may very well be onto what laser tag needs to be for a new generation; but it also sort of clashes with the Gen Y behaviour of 'I can't be bothered, make it easier to do" which Lightstrike doesn't do. Lots of features with not a whole lot of obvious goals/wins.

    We've only had them for less than a week, so in a way it's still premature to say "they're awesome" or "they're crap". All we can do is go into as much depth as we can so you yourselves can decide. DO we prefer these to the Phoenix LTX? mm not sure, probably not. But against an outdoor Nerf war? You betcha:)

  9. as someone who plays a lot of laser tag, I wouldn't be worried about someone who uses all the inbuilt weapons. you just don't have time to be screwing around with that when playing. Sure right now you're telling yourselves "i will be.. that one guy" but in reality 5 really quick shots where you can reload really quickly makes more sense that one "MEGA" shot that takes too long to set up and reload.

  10. You know what I find weird? Having a target vest but with no back sensor. If you're going to have sensors on the chest and shoulder, why not one on the back?

  11. We don't actually have any pistols available to us yet to test dual wielding. From the way pairing works with the vests, I'd suggest no, but on the actual boxes, you'll see the guys jumping around dual wielding two pistols...

  12. The inergonomically placed shield button i think was intended, as you are leaving yourself with worsened accueracy for a short time. The laser tag sheilds i think are like armor lock from halo, but worse. As it looks like a cheap way to keep the incompetent players in the game, it almost feels like cheating. Now the light striker's shield you can still fire, but thats why the 50 percent thing is there, so its a feature that can be tactically activated for a long time, and then rendered inoperational for a longer time, like painkiller from Modern warfare 2, but longer. I think they need to do away with this shield stuff, as both are a cheap noob trick, reminds me of, armor lock, juggernaut, flak jacket pro, and more. Both are just like every cheap and overpowered video game trick since year 1975.

  13. The only at-home Laser Tag I was able to get my hands on growing *crignes at showing age* was a system called "Lock On". It was ridiculously awesome for it's time and Pocket, if you haven't heard of it before I suggest you start hunting.

    I've been trying to get my hands on a set of it for ages, but it's like trying to find hen's teeth.

    This Light Strike series look great. I was reading the box of the Scope attachment and saw you can buy amazing addons. Sadly not sitting around the blasters at the time though :(

  14. We had a pair of Sega Lock Ons, that I bought from Toys R Us I think for 6o bucks. They were actually pretty cool other than the fact you had to wear a rather uncomfortable dorky headset.. and that headset got sweaty.. AND u didn't wanna wear it again after ur stinky mate had a go first:P

    Here in Canberra the attachments came out first without the blasters (go figure). We picked up all four and they're definitely some of the cooler aspects of the Light Strike line.

  15. Davis is a tool. He warned us from the start it was gonna be a long review. And if you didn't want to read it, then you didn't have to.

    One of the things I really like about Urban Taggers is the depth of the reviews and genuine opinions rather than the same ol trash 10yo kid blogs have. I've been thinking about the Light Strike line for ages and it's very useful and appreciated that someone would go get them all first and review in such a manner that I can make a decision rather than P.R crap or opinions based around a picture. Something I liked UT wrote was "We get them first, so you don't have to".

  16. thanks for responding pocket. I am portal anonymous number 1.

  17. Wow. Awesome review! These look sick! The Light Strike site is also really cool. I cant wait to try these! I'm still not sure if I'll like the strikers or assault strikers, but I'm keen on checkin em out. Have you seen the arsenal thing ?

  18. Looks really great, and a wonderful review. My only issue is finding others to play with and against; other than that, I love the idea of light gun combat and really hope I can do lots of it!

  19. Really does look like a the LTX is the pinnacle with it's hammer tactile feedback. Plus you can mount a decent reflex scope on an LTX for accuracy.

  20. Great review, actually in-depth enough to inspire me to go out and buy a pair of Assault Strikers for me and the wife. We've been having a blast with them, and a few of our co-workers and friends are already wondering where to track them down. Seems our weekly outdoor Nerf game may end up becoming a Light Strike game.

  21. Thank you--we'll be sure to show this post to the R&D team! As cool as we think the Strikers are, we know there’s always room to make the gaming experience better and better, so keep the comments coming.

    We'd love to keep the conversation going on Facebook here:

    And Twitter here:

    Please feel free to post questions, and we'll do our best to answer. Thanks again for the awesome review.

  22. The system's rather accurate compared to the LTTO set I have - my LTTO blasters shoot around walls and have pretty short range. Felt more like an arcade shooter (Time Crisis, etc) than a real laser tag gun.
    The Light Strike rifle I have goes a good 45 feet at least - don't have enough room to test any further. Accuracy is also much better than LTTO system.

    The Optical Cannon attachment boosts the brightness of the "laser" when it's equipped, right? I can hit the target with the blaster pointed off-center more than normal, which implies a brighter beam.

    Just because of the attachments/extra sensors, I like the Light Strike system a lot more than Hasbro's Lazertag stuff.

  23. Check out my Light Strike Blog here:

    I am still working on it, hopefully it will be done in a few weeks.

  24. DO you lose life by shooting the gun anywhere you whant

  25. Good review.
    Just bought one of these a week ago (the 024 pistol)
    I'm not really sure why people are putting up such a fuss about the looks of the blasters. I love attention to detail as much as any other nerfer, but sometimes its nice to just NOT have a gun that you feel like you need to mod.
    I feel that these guns are a decent modern update of laser taggers and should have a good cult following soon enough (I have also started a laser tag club using these blasters at my co-ed dorm! 24 members so far) :D
    If you like shooting games/sports at ALL I wouldn't hesitate to suggest getting these guns :3
    NOTE: These are fairly expensive so I suggest just buying one gun and sticking with it until you decide you really like it or not :)


  26. I did a bit of documenting on what I had at the time. Some of you might find the following chart interesting.

  27. My brother and i have the assault strikers and i've got the rapidfire. I haven't gotten my gun to work since the battery cap wont screw off. So ive tried the rapidfire in my brothers gun. The recoil worked for about 1 second and hasn't worked since. Do you think it's the gun's recoil that doesnt work or the attachments. I think it's the gun

  28. Bravo super review !

    Good super review

    Gut super review

  29. My friend came over with the Striker the other day, and I have to say, it's pretty killer. It's equipped with a little flip-up iron sight, You don't have to reload (Though if you continuously shoot for tool long it just pauses and you have to wait for a second or two before you can fire again), and it's not as complicated. Instead of buttons on the side, they're mounted on top, with shield, change team, weapon, and rapid/single fire changeout. It's more of a simple laser tag game with the regular strikers because it's got less weapons, and the best of all is that you don't have to press that stupid fingerprint. So, if you just wanna get shooting instead of getting big and hauty, go for the striker, priced at $25 at Walmart. Sweet deal!

    The other thing is, I was doing some testing with it,and if you hold the guns parallel to each other and fire, the other actually recieves feedback. So I guess you can shoot other guns sideways.

    I also have the scope, which gives you a "one-shot-one-kill" weapon, a "two-shot-one-kill" weapon and your basic stealth strike. if you play during the night or inside a dark house, you can see red lights that line up your shot in the scope, and it increases your range by almost TRIPLE (100 feet). In MY opinion, it's the best attachment of the four. I could be wrong, because it's the only attachment I own, but I'm getting the enemy scanner soon.

    I do agree with you on the shield part, though. I'd rather have a solid shield than half-damage whatever stuff.

  30. Great review and spot on. I bought $400 worth of this stuff for my three boys (ages 6-9) and we like it a lot.

  31. If you have a vest on, How do you heal yourself on medic mode on the I T S?

  32. Thank you for the review! I just purchased two of these on clearance for my kids (saving for Christmas). After reading this, now I kind of want one for myself as well.

  33. It must be a LOT more expensive in AU. I just purchased two guns, two rifles the bomb thingy and rechargeable battery for just a little over 100 euro. That is a lot of fun for my kids plus two visitors!