Desert Bus: Drive straight for eight hours – inside the worst game ever

 

“One man. One Bus. Three hundred and sixty miles of simulated post-apocalyptic desert and the endless struggle between man and nature personified.” The tagline for computer game Desert Bus makes it sound pretty exciting. It isn’t.

First created in 1995 for the Sega Genesis and now – finally! – launched as a smartphone app, the game requires players to drive a bus along a desert road from Tucson to Las Vegas. The real time journey takes eight hours. If you go off the road, you need to start the journey from the beginning. The bus, which gently veers to the right as it drives at a comfortable (though frustratingly limited) 45mph, requires your constant attention. Each completed journey is awarded with one point. The only challenge is to stay conscious.

The game was developed by American illusionists Penn and Teller in reaction to the anti-video game lobby who spent much of the mid-1990s complaining that computer games were damaging young minds. The pair decided to make a truly life-like game, to prove how utterly pointless a game that reflects reality would be. “Desert Bus was a game we thought would really appeal to people who didn’t like unrealistic games and didn’t like violence in their games. It was just like real, loving life,” Penn Jilette later explained, while discussing it on his daily podcast.

Still, before the game could be launched, the Sega Genesis console became obsolete. Desert Bus seemed relegated to the history books until a copy made its way into the hands of Frank Cifaldi, the founder of Lost Levels, a blog that documents video games that never quite made it.

He reviewed the game on the site and describes his role in bringing the Desert Bus back into the limelight as merely the “guy who torrented it on the internet.”

But mundane as it may seem, the mind-numbing marathon that is Desert Bus has more recently become a force for good. In 2007 the internet sketch comedy group LoadingReadyRun spotted the game and decided to turn the pixelated ordeal into a sponsored race. They founded the Desert Bus for Hope event, in which the more donations they receive, the longer they play. Last year, the group managed to stay on the road for around 10 days, raising $383,125 for Child’s Play, a charity that buys toys for young people in hospital. As they explain: “We here at  Desert Bus are really willing to suffer for the children.”

As for whether Desert Bus can claim to be the most boring computer game of all time, Joseph Dowling, co-owner of the Retro Game Base store is not so sure.

“There are many more average, below average and simply dreadful retro games than there are great ones,” he told Trending.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has 30 years of ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Account Manager

    £27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...

    Recruitment Genius: Front End Web Developer - Magento

    £28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

    SThree: IT Recruitment Consultant

    £22500 - £30000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking for experie...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?