After about 22 years, one of the worst video games of all time, desert bus, finally has a sequel. In very good news for everyone who hears and recoils “the infamous sequel of the game”, this new version, called Desert bus VRis now completely free for PC gamers, whether they have a virtual reality headset or not.
My “quick” test of the bizarre game, which launched on November 27, reveals something absolutely worth playing, if only to marvel at the fact that this weird, VR-focused sequel actually exists. .
The original desert bus would have been launched in the mid-90s as a minigame tucked in Penn & Teller: Smoke & Mirrors, a comedy Sega CD game that never saw an official commercial launch. Years later, the finished game leaked out as a download, meaning fans could finally see the many weird minigames, including this horribly boring bus simulator. The latter has since been popularized by Canadian comedy group Loading Ready Run, whose annual “Desert Bus For Hope” campaign raises charitable donations through live streaming of current events. desert bus hours of gaming.
Comedian Penn Jillette appears in this VR version via narration, describing the original ’90s game as a response to former US Attorney General Janet Reno’s claim that video games were “murder simulators.” To mock her claim, he and the original game’s design team simulated the monotony and boredom of driving a giant, empty bus down a straight road for hours on end. The game is set up to take the same amount of time to drive from Las Vegas to Tucson, Arizona, at about 40 mph. (If you’re wondering, that’s about eight hours.)
Funniest use of an EULA ever
Developer Dinosaur Entertainment and publisher Gearbox got the keys to the “franchise” this year and the result is, well, true to the original game’s vision. You wake up at a bus depot in Tucson with three options: fill in a name tag; punch a time card to start driving; or grab a ticket to start driving.
When you become a VR bus driver, you take the driver’s seat of an empty, rickety bus that, for whatever reason, has been fully modeled with detailed textures and geometry for the bus’s luggage racks, seats, handrails and more. By default, no one is back to appreciate it. You can look at the back of the bus by turning your head or looking up into a giant rear-view mirror. Otherwise, you want to keep your eyes on the road.
That’s because, as with the 90’s original, the alignment of this bus is slightly off, always directing the bus to the right side of a straight road. You’ll have to use hand-tracked controllers on the HTC Vive or Oculus Touch (or, outside of VR, WASD keys) to equalize the steering wheel. The alignment is always the tiniest bit off, so even if you keep your hand in a “perfect” spot, the bus will still go a little to one side. Since neither VR system comes with a foot pedal, you have to press a trigger to accelerate; unfortunately the game doesn’t include a menu to remap the controls to, say, an imaginative car simulation setup.
And that’s it. You drive ahead for quite some time, with nothing in the way of curves or oncoming traffic to deal with. If you want to add some “pizzazz” to the gameplay, you can grab a latch with your hands that opens the bus door, or you can drive long enough to see things like the sun rise, the sun set. and the occasional bug bumping into your windshield.
Unlike the usually quiet original, Desert bus VR helps you get through the many, many, many hours of expected monotony with countless weird audio clips. I only tested for 40 minutes before giving up, but in that time I heard an interview with Jillette about the history of desert bus that’s hilarious and intentionally boring, along with the sounds of someone coloring a coloring book while noting about her progress. Based on the game’s credits, this VR version appears to come with over a dozen long, bizarre audio clips. Their titles include ‘Ready Set Puzzles’, ‘English Street Names’ and ‘Gearbox EULA’. (That last one is a pretty good joke, Gearbox.)
My favorite thing about Desert bus VR is the newest feature: online game invasion. You can now choose the “ride bus” option to land on any online player’s bus, no matter how far along they are in their ride, and… just sit there. The driver can see your head and hands, but can’t hear you speak, and you can’t get outside the confines of your assigned seat, so the chance of harassment is minimal. The fact that Dinosaur took the trouble to add passengers and online sessions to this monotonous game (and still managed to make the passenger experience totally boring and monotonous) is impressive.
Think of the kids (no, seriously)
Since this VR game is completely free, there’s little reason not to try it if you already have a VR headset. The 2D version works the same, only you use a computer mouse to aim your view, and it’s fine, although a little more clumsy than in VR.
More important, Desert bus VR includes a giant Desert Bus For Hope sticker on the virtual bus’s dashboard, and the free release is all because of that charitable effort (which I wrote an article about for Polygon many years ago). Whether you can laugh about it now Desert bus VR or enjoy how it trains you for a lifetime of driving through American deserts, consider how it was launched for free as a way to publicize the cause, and, you know, go there and donate a few bucks to its main sponsor , Kinderspel.