Last year at Christmas, WowWee toys was all the rage with their line of Paper Jamz toys; before that they were a giant smash with the Robosapien. It seems like every time they put something out, it ends up being a hit – so will that same success rate follow them with their new line of Light Strike toys?
I have very fond memories of the old original Laser Tag guns; where I grew up there was a lot of woods, and my friends and I used to run around and play with them all the time. Unlike even the best swing set for toddlers, Laser Tag stays a blast no matter what age. I’ve seen other companies try to recreate the feel of the old Laser Tag, but every iteration has been a miserable failure – until now. Light Strike is the toy you’ll say that you’re buying for your kids, but in reality you’ll play with it just as much.
The Light Strike guns come in two varieties – either a Striker (basically a pistol), or an Assault Striker (effectively an assault rifle). For the purpose of the review, I was sent one of each. While you would normally think that the Assault Striker would instantly be better than the regular old Striker, that’s not always the case; each gun has advantages and drawbacks, which causes you to make the tactical decision of which role to play.
The Striker, while not having to reload (though it can “overheat” if fired constantly for too long), loses one fire mode (rail strike) because of it’s smaller size. Also due to it’s smaller size, it’s less of a target to hit. While the Assault Striker is a larger target, and has to be manually reloaded (just by pushing a button, but it takes time) – it can use accessories, which can make a big difference in a fight.
Each gun has four firing modes – laser strike (standard blast), stealth strike (a “silenced” blast that does little damage, but it’s good for sneaking), pulse strike (does more damage than the laser strike, but fires slower and uses more ammo), and sonic strike (the most powerful shot; fires very slow and uses a third of your ammo). The Assault Striker has a rail strike firing mode that’s in between pulse and sonic. The Assault Striker can also switch between single shot and semi-auto fire modes (with the pulse strike on single shot you can fire extremely fast).
The game is fairly straightforward – each player has three health bars on the butt of their guns. Different shots do different amount of damage, and you’re warned when you have low life. There’s also a shield button that you can press that negates fifty percent of all incoming damage for fifteen seconds (it has a three minute recharge time). After you die, you simply need to press the shield button while holding the fire trigger to respawn.
That’s where the biggest problem starts to become apparent. There is no actual score keeping with the guns. You basically have to rely on the other player being honest about how many times you killed them (playing with a 9 year old, I’m sure you can see how that can be frustrating). If you happen to hit the other player while they’re running, they can just respawn and you’d never know. Hopefully this is fixed in the next generation (even a simple counter for respawns would suffice).
Aside from the no score-keeping issue, the guns work the way they’re supposed to, and look really neat. I’ve said they look like something out of a Halo-style FPS…until you look at them from the front. The guns, while being incredibly intricate looking from the sides, are extremely flat when looked at head-on. Almost like looking down the barrel of a 2×4. It’s not really a problem, but it is a bit odd when you look at it the first time.
There are also a number of attachments that can go on the Assault Striker – I was sent the “Rapid Fire System” (essentially a bipod that locks the gun into a fully-auto fire mode and extends the life of your ammo considerably) and the “Enemy Scanner” (sounds cooler than it is – it lets you know when someone is in front of you basically, but it also increases the damage slightly of your gun). The other two attachments are a scope that doubles your range to 100 feet (really wish I had a chance to try that) and a “Refractor Launch System” that I believe works like an under-barrel shotgun, capable of taking out multiple people with one shot.
I know we don’t much use the attachments that were sent along (you can’t use any other fire mode with the bipod, and I like the pulse shot; the enemy scanner didn’t work very well as I had already seen my son by the time it would tell me where he was), but the others do sound like they could be useful – if I get them eventually I’ll update this with their info. There’s also a sensor you can place on your body that takes the place of the sensors on the guns, but as I didn’t have one at the time of posting this, I can’t speak on how well it works.
Despite the few flaws in the execution, the Light strike from WowWee has the potential to be one of this Christmas’s “Must Have” toys. If it’s marketed right, fathers like myself could buy them for our kids and share some great bonding times. The way they are now though, I don’t think a four team war will work. Not until some sort of scoring system is put into place at least. For now, I give the Light Strike system four stars out of five. I can see where they want to take this, and I just hope they have the fortitude to follow through.
- Very reminiscent of the old Laser Tag
- Designs are very cool and futuristic
- A fair amount of customization is possible with the attachments
- No score keeping means people have to be honest
- The voices are annoying
- Some attachments are pretty pointless
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