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Desert Bus Idles into VR

Desert Bus has an ‘exciting’ new format


The worst videogame in all of history looks a little something like this.

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This is Desert Bus. It was originally developed as part of Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors collection in 1995. The game and its collection never saw release, but that didn’t stop it from leaking out to the wider world. And despite never being commercially released, and really being a very bad game, it has been a cult hit for years.

The object of the simulation is that there is no real object. The player is to drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada, a journey taking eight hours—in real time. There’s nothing to see on the road, and because the bus veers slightly to the right, the game requires one’s constant attention.

It’s hard to imagine a situation in which one plays Desert Bus for fun. But the game has become the staple title of one of the largest videogame charity events out there: Desert Bus for Hope. Desert Bus for Hope is a gaming marathon in which participants take turns driving, with events and rewards unlocked by donations. Just recently, the charity event reached the mark of having raised $4 million for children’s hospitals.

Desert Bus for Hope is a wonderful example of the videogame world giving back. And just recently, some developers gave something to the charity event itself, with the creation of Desert Bus VR.

“Back and better than ever”

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Now, a better game isn’t really needed in the case of Desert Bus, per se. The game was originally selected because it was so bad, because it was a feat of accomplishment to survive. Desert Bus VR isn’t needed to fix the issues of the original title; the issues are what make it what it is. Rather, the new title is notable for bringing the experience to the modern age.

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The desert is similarly featureless. The bus still pulls to one side. But it has left behind its grainy graphics of the past and the bus includes some interesting new quirks. For one, the hours-long journey need no longer be solitary. Up to four players can endure the journey together now. As the Steam page puts it, passengers can “sit, wave, and even throw wads of paper at the driver!” The VR format allows for some further manipulation of the bus’s interior, but not much, mind you. This is still Desert Bus, after all.

But everything does look nicer and VR makes the experience a little more immersive. The best update, however, has to be this.

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In recognition of the game’s history, a sticker for Desert Bus for Hope has been put up in the windshield. It’s a nice nod to the good that has come from this bad game.

Interested in getting your paws on Desert Bus VR? Well, today’s your lucky day, because the game came out on Steam just a few days ago and is totally, completely free. You know, depending on how valuable your time is.

Whatever happens, it should be exciting to see the next installment of Desert Bus for Hope—on a ‘real’ bus this time. Now, if only there was a feature for online co-op…


For more bus-driving fun, stay tuned at B-Button Media.

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