So next Thursday Alita: Battle Angel opens in theaters everywhere. I did a write up about why you should be excited for this last summer, which you can read here. With the film so close, promotion has been ramping up. Here in L.A. I've seen posters, billboards, and bus banners everywhere, which I think is awesome. In order to promote the movie, a new limited event called Passport to Iron City has opened in three cities; Los Angeles, New York, and Austin. Being the massive Battle Angel fan that I am, and now living in L.A. I decided to check it out. So last night I attended the 5:00 event. What follows is an account my experience
Passport to Iron City is an interactive exhibit, kind of like an escape room. Players are divided into teams of three and given 40 minutes to solve a series of puzzles inside a recreation of Iron City. Every puzzle you solve gives you credits, and at the end the team with the most credits wins. When you arrive security checks to make sure you don't have any weapons or lighters. Upon entrance, you'll be asked to scan the code given when you purchased a ticket. Then an ID card is made for you that ties into the whole game. You are then led into a recreation of the Kansas Bar, the regular hangout for Hunter-Warriors in Battle Angel, where you can buy overpriced drinks. Although in all fairness, literally every entertainment venue I've been to sells drinks at a significant markup, sports games and concerts in particular. The one thing on the menu that stands out is a specially brewed craft beer that's unique to each city. The L.A. beer is brewed locally (which I'm guessing is the case at other venues) and called Panzer Kunst. No, that's not a clever swear word, it's the name of the martial art Alita uses.
Some others and I arrived early and since we had about 45 minutes to kill before the start of the game, we spent in the Kansas Bar. It is definitely not, however, a waste of time. Each table at the bar has an interactive computer that gives you clues and information regarding Iron City. This comes in very handy in the game. Furthermore, two of the cast members come in and interact with the guests, also giving clues. I say cast members because each exhibit/game inside the room is manned by at least one person in a costume, playing a resident of Iron City. Props to the cast members who all stayed in character, even when I went meta on one of them and argued about the answer to a trivia question. So while I gave what I absolutely know is the correct answer, BECAUSE I READ THE MANGA, it's not the "official answer" for the game. I'm not going to say what we argued over because it's a massive spoiler, and one of the biggest twists in Battle Angel. As far as the cast member was concerned, I was simply a cyborg who'd suffered brain damage. This all may sound rather simple, but the puzzles are clever, and the endgame throws a giant monkey wrench into the works which can upturn the whole game.
One of the activities is betting on Motorball, the ultraviolent sport of the future. You don't have to place a bet, but since its double or nothing it can take you from last place to first, which is exactly what happened in my session. My team (black) was solidly in first place, most likely because of the two people I was teamed with. One was (like me) a major Battle Angel fan. The other was his fiancé, whom he'd convinced to read it prior to the event, so we had a bit of an advantage when it came to trivia questions. Then the Motorball race happened and the betting took us out of contention. We got sent from first place to last, and the team that had been in last place (Orange) placed first and was given a prize, which I won't spoil here.
After the winning team gets the prize (*Highlander* music plays), you're escorted out into a small Gift Shop where you can dress as a cyborg and have your picture taken or buy various collectibles. The picture costs nothing, but the other stuff varies in price. I don't usually buy stuff at things like this, but seeing as this is a limited even, I did buy a Kansas Bar pint glass. After that, you can return to the Kansas Bar if you want. I went back to my car and headed home.
So that was Passport to Iron City. All in all I was there for probably about an hour-and-a-half. It was fun, and while I think Battle Angel fans will get the most out if it if you aren't a fan yet it's a cool introduction to Alita's world. I will say if you're going to go, go now. It will cost you roughly $30 per person until next week. After the movie releases (Feb. 14th) the price doubles. The event lasts until March, you can purchase tickets at the official website here.
Be here next week for my official review of Alita: Battle Angel.