You've been challenge by Captain McAllister to board one of his new "submarines" to freeze blast the sea creatures before they can attack the park again. It's a fun premise that essentially gives developers an excuse to sprinkle images of past Knott's landmarks throughout the ride. Yet I found myself wondering if perhaps we should stop attacking these attraction-munching demons and instead just dive below to give them a stack of annual passes to other parks around the country, along with a to-do list.
Alas, I am a salty soldier, aren't I?
Let's get to the game. Voyage to the Iron Reef carries us under the sea with an impressively decorated mix of practical sets and 3D screens. All of the game play happens on 10 of the 11 3D screens in the ride. You have up to three others in your four-person ride vehicle, and although there's no explicit competition between you, bragging rights always are in play.
Just as the Captain guides us below the surface, the voice of the Kraken Queen warns us that we will never emerge from the depths again. And with that, the battle is on, as crabs, eels, puffer fish and other monsters under the Kraken Queen's command begin their attack on our ship.
You'll want to aim first for the four-pointed-star medallions you'll find at the start of each scene. They'll score bonus points and appear to be key in helping you get the highest possible scores in each scene. Beyond that, fire away. You'll need to pull the trigger for each shot (no automatic firing) and make note which color of freeze-ray blast corresponds to your gun. (Each of the four guns blasts a different color.) That will help you dial into the targets.
There are too many targets on the 10 screens to account for them all here, after just three rides today. Clearly, this is an attraction that will reward visitors for riding again and again. (My score went up with each new attempt.) A few tips I picked up: Aim for the targets inside the claws on the arms of the octopus, and the giant puffer fish puff up with each shot before exploding after the high-paying kill shot.
But the biggest score awaits you in the finale, when you come face to face with the Kraken Queen. Aim for the weapons she launches at you before your fellow riders can, for whoever blasts them first gets the big points.
Let's take a ride. (In two scenes, I have edited in 2D footage provided by the park, to allow a clearer view of the targets and playscape.)
With Voyage to the Iron Reef, Knott's adds to its collection of attractions that should appeal to theme park fans looking for more than your basic regional iron park. A visually stunning experience, Iron Reef offers rewarding game play in a rich environment that should appeal to visitors looking for a shooter ride less "cartoony" than Disney's Buzz Lightyear and Toy Story Midway Mania.
Along with the Timber Mountain Log Ride, Calico Mine Ride, and Mystery Lodge, Knott's now offers four attractions that would fit well down the street at Disneyland, or any world-class theme park, plus a well-decorated Camp Snoopy children's area where kids can play on their own scale. General Manager Raffi Kaprelyan hinted in his opening remarks at the Iron Reef dedication this morning that next year's new/improved ride will be in the park's Ghost Town land, to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2016. Perhaps a fifth world-class attraction might be joining the Knott's line-up soon.
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