Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Light Strike: A pistol you say?

After our pretty lengthy review on the Light Strike system, you'd think you now know everything there is to know about these new laser tag blasters from Wow Wee. Well there's just a little bit more; we picked up a pistol today (the yellow SP 144 that basically matches my fav rifle) and we've now learnt just that little bit more about the new laser tag system on the block... :)

The pistols, or "Strikers" as they are called in Light Strike speak, are smaller, handheld taggers that we originally thought were just detuned versions of the assault rifles. Much of this is true- the main differences features wise is:

-unlimited ammo. There is no reload button, so you just fire away to your heart's content. There is a small pause that represents "over heating" when you're particularly trigger happy for a long period of time; after the pause you're back to full ammo again and off you go:)

-no finger print sensor..or any touch sensitive buttons. The pistols don't have any of the side touch sensitive buttons as found on the assault strikers- in fact, all the side artwork design buttons are just for show on these taggers. Instead, there are four physical buttons on top of the blaster that you can select from.

-no semi automatic toggle. It just comes with standard single fire mode (or hold the trigger down auto mode?)

-no room for attachments. You can't attach any of the additional weapons and accessories on these pistols.

-no "rail strike". The pistols have only 4 inbuilt weapons compared to the assault rifle's 5. 

So what DO you get? Well, in the very nice shiny box, comes with a pistol, a "mini" target and an instruction manual. Which is always advisable to read.

The pistols come in the three different designs just like their assault rifle big brothers. Functionality-wise though, they're identical, and you can use any one with any coloured team, so it'll just depend on which one suits you best; the grips are a little smaller than the rifles though so again it will be a slight issue for those with big hands. They still feature the same associated voices as the rifles so in my case, since I picked up the SP 144 I'm greeted by my monotone robotic assistant:)

 Instead of the touch sensitive buttons on the side, the pistols use four physical rubber buttons in a square grid formation. I found this actually to be a lot easier to use; powering the blaster up is as easy as using the on-off switch and other than selecting teams, you're almost ready to go. The pistol lets off a unique intro sound different to the rifles, but does not require any fake finger print scan. This simplicity is really quite appealing, and appeals to young children and casual players alike. The four buttons are the shield button, the weapons toggle, the team selection and the volume control. Just as with the assault rifles, it's a matter of pressing the button down and scrolling through the menu till you hear your chosen selection. It's quite intuitive to be honest, which I found lacking in the rifles.

The functionality to pair the blaster to the optional (although somewhat required if you REALLY wanna play properly) target vests is the same as with the rifles- select your team colour and press the shield and team colour buttons simultaneously while shooting the shoulder sensor by squeezing your trigger at the same time. This is fiddly stuff, and surprisingly, the pistol's physical buttons actually make it easier to do than with the rifle.

 Each pistol of course has its own aesthetic design elements  in shape and with differing "love it or hate it" sticker details on the sides. Because the pistols are much smaller, I find the flat stuck on look was not as obvious and didn't look as bad as they do on the rifles.

In this case though, the artwork on the stickers are purely cosmetic. No touch sensitive buttons here (I was half hoping there'd be some easter egg here but nope.. pressing plastic amounts to silence and a red fingertip) but this actually didn't bother me.

The tagger sports a similar appearance to their rifle counterparts right down to their light emitters/receivers. I don't THINK the size of them affects anything to do with range and accuracy. and we haven't experienced any differences in ranges thus far.

In hand, they actually feel pretty good. Very light weight, though still using four AA batteries, they felt better weighted than the rifles. For small child hands , there's still room for two handed grip, but anyone could hold one with one hand easily...

This of course lends itself to the question we've been pondering for a while- can you DUAL wield? On the boxes, the kids are all holding TWO pistols in hand, so it suggests you should be able to although there is NO mention of it in either the pistol OR the vest manuals. Physically there's no connection between the vest and the guns so therefore when you 'pair' the vest it actually turns off the life counter on the gun and sets the vest colour and puts the gun into 'paired' mode slightly changing the function of the shield; revive functions to send IR to the vest instead of activating on the gun.
The thing is, if you try pairing more than one blaster with the target vest, it just doesn't seem to work; our constant testing ended up having one blaster drop out, or none pair up; in any case we haven't been able to get it to work.  In a way, you CAN do it.. but it's not quite what we were expecting.  So in the case of pairing two guns, simply point one gun at your vest and pair to set the colour then pair another gun (whether pointing at your vest or not) and it will feel behave like dual paired guns however, when your vest dies your gun will stay alive.  So... realistically there's nothing stopping you from carrying two pistols, but you'd essentially be playing as two people/health packs so it's not entirely the same. (like playing House of the Dead on your own at the arcades during happy hr)

The pistols come with a "mini target" which is essentially a practice target that has a smaller dome and no speaker/sounds to come out of it. It behaves the same way as the practice targets though; switch it on and the colours change as per whoever shot it last.

As far as playability is concerned, I actually found I ALMOST preferred the pistols to the rifles. Quicker to start up, quicker to play, more intuitive use of menus and less "stuff" to worry about meant for a much quicker, faster game. Other than nearly busting my shoulder sensor when I did a John Woo commando roll, the pistol tends to be much easier to wield; I don't need the rail strike weapon, and the unlimited ammo just made the whole system easier to use. Sure there's still no tactile feedback, but for some reason it seemed less of a problem with the pistols.

While the pistols have less of the fun stuff like mad crazy attachments and more realistic functionality (ie the reload button), it makes it simpler to adopt and get right into. I had no problems with little kids using the pistols, and being small it lent itself better for office warfare. I DO like the scope and machine gun attachments for the rifles, so it might just end up having to want to use both:)

The big down side to the pistols, is really.. the price. Target's shelf price AUS was 59.95 for one compared to the 79.95 of the rifles. Both are pretty exi compared to US prices, but the big thing about these is you can't just have one; regardless if you're hoping your best mates will get them too (and maybe you can start your own crew and have matching jackets and a secret handshake) its just not any fun having just one. Plus the vests.. I'm still unsure if parents are going to think this is a good investment when half the kids who've picked it up have no clue what laser tag is anyway!

It's a good way to get started into the Light Strike world, but not THAT much cheaper than getting a rifle and in turn all of the attachments. It's worth getting a pistol anyway if you're ever wanting to go up against kids or casual gamers. It's definitely made us think more about Light Strike as a whole system..  I think it's time you all go out and get some of this gear now and let me know what you think:)


  1. It looks great! But as you said pretty darn costly.:( I'll probably get 2 pistols and 2 vests so my brother and i can strike each other. I might save up for a rifle, but 40.00 bucks at my local Target? ...

  2. As soon as these hit my shelves I will have one and let you know.

  3. Who cares. There's a reason why they say "It's NERF or NOTHING". We don't care about laser tag, it's gay. I know I, and all of my friends only come to your blog to read about Nerf. I'll go somewhere else if you don't start writing about Nerf again. More on the Vortex line and Gear Up.

  4. ^ go somewhere else. I don't think there's anything new to report in the Nerf world anyway that's available on other blogs that isn't found here. How rude!

  5. yeah they do nerf, but thats not their ONLY focus. Read their "about" page. if you don't like the other stuff, then go somewhere else. don't whine about it, one bad comment won't make them change their entire approach.

    Also... you shouldn't say "we" as if you speak for all of us haha. I think if someone could make a really effective laser tag system, it would be pretty much one of the coolest things ever. I had a dream once that someone made a BUNCH of laser tag guns, vests, accessories, customization, and it was pretty much like Call of duty (many guns, perks, attachments, etc.) except it was laser tag! freaking... epic... then I woke up :/

    p.s. they can only write about things as they come up. they are writing about lightstrike now because they actually HAVE them now and are able to give more in depth info on them.

    Vortex isn't out yet, they got their hands on the nitron for a bit, but not enough to write much. plus there isn't much more to write or even know about vortex besides the internals or modability(which UT has said they don't really focus on). we know everything else. until they reveal more vortex products probably six months after the first batch is out.

    And gear up? its just re-colored, re-released nerf guns... not much to say on them lol. we've pretty much got all the info possible on them.

  6. If you don't use a vest, is it possible to connect with an opponent's vest and have an advantage because nobody knows which vest you have? Can you test this?

  7. Thanks for the review Pocket, I went out and got the SP 144. It's really cool, but by itself I have to entertain myself just by shooting the target. Now, was it really worth 35 US dollars? I think so, for what you get, but it is still expensive. I like how if you point the sight at the target, it will pretty much always hit, so the sight actually works. And the beam reacts with my tv, which is cool. Thanks for going in depth on these, and I'll have to get some friends to ask for these for their birthdays so we can battle. My favorite weapon is stealth strike. I was surprised at how loud these can be... I would definetly recommend these to someone, especially if somebody else is buying, heh.

  8. I posted the comment above. I now have the GAP (the orange pistol) 024, and I played a few one on one rounds, so I decided to share some thoughts. First off, the GAP feels much better than the SP, with a larger handle and a trigger that doesn't take a lot of pressure to fire. (The SP required a firm trigger pull) I'd recommend the GAP over the SP. As for playing, I originally thought it wouldn't be much fun because you have to expose your gun to fire; I imagined two people taking each other out.
    First off, we played a round with only laser strike. This wasn't as fun, the only thing that made it interesting was the shields function. Other than that, it was just a mad dash at each other and blast your opponent with full auto.
    When we played with switching weapons, like pulse strike and sonic strike, it made things more interesting. If your opponent had sonic strike, you put your shields on and ran at them with laser strike. That kind of thing. The different weapons really introduced some variety, which was good. I won more because I employed good tactics: hit an opponent with a few sonic strikes, turn on shields, and then run at them with laser strike blasting away.
    After that, we introduced headphones. That way you couldn't hear your opponent's gun say "Sonic Strike" or "Shields Activated." This added a little more complexity, as you didn't know if you should turn on shields to ward off a sonic strike, because your opponent could be using stealth strike.
    Lastly, I came up with the idea to use the mini target included with one of the pistols. I put it in a room, and no player could go in that room. If the target was lit up in your color when you died, you can respawn. If not, you lose. This added even more fun. I was low on health, so I starting shooting at my opponent. I snuck in an attack on the target, right before my opponent killed me. I respawned and blasted him until he died, since he had about half health from earlier.
    In essence, Light Strike offers many possibilities to change up the game, thus keeping things interesting. I have had some experience with phoenix LTX pistols (Still sold at my TRU for 70 dollors, by the way) and I can say that light strike is much better. Me and a friend just got bored easily with the LTX's. If you have the money to spend, I recommend these even more now. My opponent pointed out that they would be more fun if you had 5 or 10 people. Of course, that would be very expensive to purchase 5 of these. However, this is the kind of thing somebody might randomly get a friend for a birthday, so it might just end up that all of your friends have some of these, if they start to gain popularity. Keep in mind that I have seen these on other sites (Target, K-mart, and I assume Wal-Mart) for 30 dollars for a striker and 40 dollars for an assault striker. Gotta love the TRU 5 dollar price hike. End rant, go buy yourself a light striker. P.S. (I wanted to try playing with two targets in game, but I'm out of triple A's)

  9. I have the red/alien assault striker with machine gun and scope attachments. I convinced my buddies and brothers to get guns, and all bought either assault strikers or strikers. We have a pretty good group going now every weekend, and an awesome area to play in (thanks to my in-laws). We were able to pair two strikers, and two assault strikers with both attachment slots filled to the vest. By next week we should have at least one I.T.S. to test out as well. Prices we paid were 40 for each assault striker, 30 for each striker, 10 for the scope, and 15 for the other attachments (refractor, machine gun, enemy scanner) and 20 for the vest. Prices were USD at Meijer, or Target. I want to point out to US customers, Costco has bundles available for multiple strikers with vests, assault strikers with an I.T.S. and multiple attachments. They only save you 5-15 USD but you don't get to pick your colors. Both sets come with orange/human and yellow/robot guns.

  10. fyi..just purchased the light stike combo with pistols for my sons xmas present at Khols..they had a good sale from $80 marked down to $50 for black friday but a sales person told me that this special will be on and off again til xmas for those of you who want to save $30 bucks! Also, vest will be going on sale at Target next month! Have fun!