by Dan Newman
Laser tag has been around since the 80s when kits came out that had a couple guns that shot lasers and vests that reacted when you got you got hit. The guns were plastic, the vests were bulky and uncomfortable and the sound effects were cheesy.
And it was an absolute blast!
Epic battles raged in neighborhoods across the country until the batteries ran out.
Nearly 40 years later and the game has changed, the technology has advanced and there are more players than ever. Mainly adults play now and laser tag is even used for tactical training to safely simulate real life combat scenarios. Phantom Laser Tag at Cedar Creek features a tactical laser tag setup, but they added an extra facet to the game – actors in full makeup who look and act like zombies.
So you’re playing your game and busting caps and suddenly you have a growling zombie running straight at you and, like the hordes of the undead we’ve seen in movies and video games, only headshots count. The actors have one sensor on their forehead that registers hits and also hurts you if they’re close. They also shoot lasers just like the guns, so the zombies are pretty lethal opponents.
As for the laser tag gun itself, Phantom does not mess around. They use “weapons” that are made of metal and weigh in at around 8 pounds. They look like an assault rifle, but with blue tipped barrels and laser gizmos on them that store your data. It’s a bit of a workout shouldering that much weight for a 10 minute game, but it adds quite a bit to the experience.
The arena is set up like a city with buildings and doorways, a sniping spot, and other obstacles to provide cover when the other team is bringing the heat. Each team has a gear room and a re-spawn point where you go when you get tagged to get back in the game. They have some practical effects too like a smoke machine to simulate explosions while the sound system plays heavy music during the round.
Games start when the siren goes off and chaos quickly ensues. It’s dark in most areas but lights of all different colors are placed strategically around to set the mood. You’ll see it in my video, linked above. My 10-year-old son and I played a couple team games and finished the day with an all out death match. This was my favorite game because you see someone, you shoot.
Laser tag costs $5 a game or $35 for an all day pass. It’s so much fun; well worth the money. You’re gonna wanna play a few rounds at least.
Phantom Laser Tag also has a virtual reality gaming setup using the HTC Vive. This allows players to walk around as the character inside the video game world. You see the game like the character would, so it’s a really intense experience. They have a big list of titles and they’re adding even more. They have a beer bar too so you can refresh yourself between rounds. Owner Corey Houtari says he has big plans for August, but he wouldn’t tell me any details. Has something to do with lasers though.
My boy and I had so much fun during our visit. We’re going back for sure! The next Zombie night is Friday July 27th. Stop down, you might just see my son in full “undead” makeup running around…
Check out my video to see the zombies up close and a guncam view of the game being played.
If you go:
Phantom Laser Tag
10101 Market St
Rothschild, WI 54474