It should come as no surprise to most of you that when I was a kid, I was a huge nerd. One of the things that me and my other nerd friends used to do on the weekend (because we certainly weren’t doing sports) was go play laser tag. Ours was called Laser Quest but I imagine everyone will remember what their local one was called (Quasar, Mega Zone, etc). Now when I say we used to go play laser tag, I mean we all had memberships, our own keychain gun activators and knew all the staff by name. We were laser nerds.
Back then, the laser tag business would have involved investing in a lot of expensive equipment and filling a warehouse with ramps, dry ice and day-glo wall monsters. Luckily, here in futuristic 2019 you can now recreate the experience with an even greater degree of interactivity and it’s called Recoil!
Recoil is a two-player combat experience that you can set up in your own home. The set comes with two guns, a wi-fi hub and attachments to attach a smartphone to the side of your gun. All this toy and tech comes together to recreate a pretty gripping experience right in the middle of your own home.
So what does everything do?
Okay, so as I mentioned, it comes with two guns and a wi-fi hub. The hub has nothing to do with internet connectivity but instead is used to generate a localised wi-fi field that the guns can use to talk to each other. They do this via the attached smartphones. Connect your smartphones to the hub and they are able to register and share game information relevant to whatever game mode you’re engaged in. It really ramps up the gamification of real-world combat toys and brings all the scoring, sound effects and interaction that really enhance the experience.
What about the guns?
Recoil comes with two ‘Spitfire’ pistols (a larger gun is available separately). The guns themselves are great. There’s a real weight to them and they have motors inside to give realistic kickback when you pull the trigger. They’re very reminiscent of the guns you used to find on Time Crisis machines in the arcades except these don’t have big metal cables hanging out of the back. Even outside of the realms of their intended use in the game they’re a great toy.
When using them with the game they turn on easily with a button on the side. There’s a main trigger where you’d expect but also a couple of other buttons for additional functions including a reload button on the bottom of the hand grip which is exactly where you’d want it!
How does the game use smartphones?
Each gun has a bracket that can be attached to the side to hold the smartphone. By downloading a Recoil app to the device, the smartphone integrates with a wi-fi hub to share data. This is used to initiate a range of game modes and activities, alert the player when they’ve hot the other player or been hit themselves and also records the player scores. It’s an uncomplicated interface that, given the complexity of the technology involved, actually works incredibly well. When we tested it everything connected easily with a minimum of fuss. You do have to deactivate your phone’s usual ability to switch wi-fi networks as this causes them to de-sync from the game hub.
What does the hub do?
The Recoil hub sets the game area as both guns need to be kept in the approximate vicinity of the hub to remain operational. The area this sets though is very generous and you don’t feel restricted from running off a little bit. We often moved out of the room the hub was in without experiencing any disconnection so the wi-fi signal is clearly quite widely spread. It runs on batteries so this doesn’t have to be stuck attached to a wall and actually operates better if placed in as much a central position as possible.
Are there any downsides?
There’s only one real concern and that’s due to the practicality of using smartphones in a context that requires a lot of physical activity. From the moment I attached my brand new smartphone to the gun and handed it to my son I realised that I was really not too happy for him to be charging around with it strapped to the side of his gun while he dived behind furniture and around doors. I’d recommend using an old, unused smartphone wherever possible. The smartphone also makes the gun a bit unwieldy but it’s a fair trade off for the benefit of it being there.
Recoil is a REALLY neat bit of kit. We’ve played with a few ‘laser combat’ toys and they’ve all come with their own issues. This is the first one we’ve seen where everything is made to a really high quality, uses standard AA batteries and has absolutely no fuss in terms of setup and operation. It’s certainly not the cheapest set on the market but if you don’t mind spending a little bit more then it certainly pays off in terms of quality and the fact that you get to spend more time playing and less time faffing about trying to get it to work.
Recoil is available from Amazon.
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Disclosure: We were sent this toy free of charge in return for an unbiased review. No financial agreements were entered into and our opinions are 100% our own. This post contains affiliate links.