That’s right, a famous magician and one of the most prominent game developers around are busy reviving a notoriously dull mini-game from an unreleased, 20-year-old Sega CD title for virtual reality. I love this industry.
So you’re into long, uneventful journeys but averse to sand? Check out the best PC space games (shots fired).
Desert Bus, for the uninitiated, is a kind of throwaway joke mini-game from Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors, which was intended for release on Sega CD, 3DO and PC in 1995 but never saw the light of day.
Here’s the gag: you literally drive a bus along a straight road in the desert. That’s it. There are no obstacles, no passengers, and very little to keep your attention. Here’s what it looks like to play:
Basically the most fun you can have with it is giving yourself a funny name so that the sun visor reads “Your driver is A BUTT” as you trek mirthlessly through miles of featureless tundra.
It was conceived just as CD-ROMs were finding their way into gaming, bringing with them the kind of eye-searing pixellated video ‘gameplay that titles such as Shaq Fu (also inexplicably getting a remake) traded off. Where would this quest for ultimate realism end, developers Imagineering mused? With an absolutely prosaic slog along a sandy highway, obviously.
And now it’s coming back! In VR form, no less! For a very good cause, though.
Penn Jillette, one half of ’90s magician double act Penn and Teller, announced the news on the latest episode of his podcast, Penn’s Sunday School.
“I’m working on a game,” he says. “I’m working with Randy Pitchford, and we’re going to do – and this is a big, big deal – we’re going to do a new Desert Bus and it’s going to be just for charities, so charities can use it to raise money.”
That’s not just wishful thinking on Jillette’s part – Desert Bus gained its unnatural lifespan in no small part thanks to charity play-athons of the game. The last such event conducted by Desert Bus For Hope raised over $600,000 during a 159-hour play session.
Gearbox head honcho Randy Pitchford is something of a magician himself, as anyone who follows the man on Twitter will know. He’s known Penn Jillette for years, and once bought his ponytail at a charity auction.