Think Flight Simulator 2020 is realistic? Try THIS instead!

Flight Simulator may be one of the best looking games ever released, and it certainly has oodles of realistic details, but honestly how many of us will ever fly a plane over the Maldives?

Realistic looking? …certainly

Skills you’ll ever use in real life?…not likely

However, how about an 8 hr road trip from Tucson, AZ to Las Vegas, NV …at 45 mph?

Now THAT is real life.

presenting…Desert Bus!

Desert Bus is a genius game for the Sega CD from the masters of comedy, Penn & Teller.

…well, it almost was

Truth is, Desert Bus was part of a collection of mini games contained within Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors, a Sega CD game which was never released.

Sadly the developer, Absolute Software, went out of business prior to the game’s release. Luckily though, the game has found new life through the magic of emulation and the game has become somewhat notorious for being… awesome?

Considered by Penn to be the “best part” of Smoke & Mirrors, Desert Bus is a simulation truck minigame. The objective of the game is to drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas, Nevada, in real time, at a maximum speed of 45 mph (72 km/h). The feat requires eight hours of continuous play to complete.

The road is long

The bus contains no passengers, there is little scenery aside from an occasional rock or bus stop sign, and there is no traffic. The road between Tucson and Las Vegas is completely straight. The bus veers to the right slightly, and thus requires the player’s constant attention.

If the bus veers off the road it will stall and be towed back to Tucson, also in real time. If the player makes it to Las Vegas, one point is scored.

Congratulations you made it. Want to keep going?

The player has the option to make the return trip to Tucson for another point, a decision which must be made in a few seconds or the game ends.

Players may continue to make trips and score points as long as their endurance lasts. Although the landscape never changes, an insect splats on the windshield about five hours through the first trip.

An occasional bug splat provides a momentary break from the (awesome) monotony

On the return trip the light fades, with differences at dusk, and later a pitch black road where the player is guided only with headlights.

On the return trip, the evening sky turns red
Then it turns pitch black. No street lights in the desert!
Congrats. You made it back to Tucson! Go again?
For anyone dedicated enough to make three consecutive trips, the sky eventually lightens again as dawn breaks.

Did we forget to mention, the game cannot be paused?


Yep that’s right. The start button simply honks the horn. There are no breaks in life on the road.

Awesome, right!?!


For some additional commentary on the awesomeness of Desert Bus, the Angry Video Game Nerd’s playthrough and commentary are worth watching. You can also witness the tow truck mechanic when he attempts to put the truck on auto pilot, and ends up veering off the road. It’s great stuff.


Thanks to the YouTube masters at NintendoComplete you can experience the mega amazing awesomeness of Desert Bus much faster than God (aka Penn) intended. Just use your finger to scroll forward and watch the entire 24 hour gameplay in 5 minutes or less.


Believe it or not there is even more to the Desert Bus saga and it has inspired remakes and helped raise money for charity. More to come on Desert Bus in a future post.


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