A virtual reality take on Pen & Teller’s cult mini-game Desert Bus has been released on Steam’s VR platform. The title is available free of charge, is compatible with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and while it retains the same basic gameplay as the original Desert Bus mini-game from the '90s, it features entirely new graphics and an interface suitable for immersive VR gaming.
The new Desert Bus VR was developed by Dinosaur Games and published by Gearbox Software responsible for Borderlands and Brothers In Arms franchises. The title seems to be a faithful recreation of the original Desert Bus mini-game which was featured on an unreleased Sega CD game called Penn & Teller Smoke and Mirrors. The title was originally set to launch in April of 1995 but this never came to pass, however, the Desert Bus mini-game which is considered the best part of the entire Penn & Teller Smoke and Mirrors game became a cult hit. Desert Bus is as straightforward as a video game can be; the player takes the role of a bus driver and the only goal is to drive a bus in a straight line for roughly eight hours in a virtual route between Arizona and Nevada. After an eight-hour drive, the player would be awarded one measly point and would be given the option to drive back on the same route. So what’s the catch? Well, Desert Bus was never meant to be taken seriously, and in fact, it was initially designed to be as inoffensive as possible, mainly as a response to the violent video game controversies of the 1990s; the point being that an overly realistic video game – in this case revolving around the daily life of a bus driver – would become very boring, very fast.
Desert Bus was also released on mobile platforms in November 2011 with the proceeds going to the Child’s Play charity, and in fact, it has become the go-to title for charity live streams in general. Remaining true to its nature, Desert Bus VR was made in part to support Desert Bus for Hope – a volunteer organization that holds yearly events to raise money for Child’s Play – and the new VR title is available for free on the Steam VR platform. It’s also worth noting that the VR title offers a number of updated features including better graphics and even a new multiplayer mode allowing friends to take the role of passengers, so long as sitting around doing nothing sounds like their idea of a good time.