If you're familiar with mid-90s video game history, then you might remember a not-quite-released title by the name of Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors. The game was an odd puzzle platforming affair starring the famous comedian magician duo, as well as a collection of mini-games that were designed for pranking your friends. Originally slated to arrive on the Sega CD in 1995, the publisher of the title went out of business that year. That effectively shelved the release for good even though it was basically in a complete state, however, the unreleased game did eventually leak out into the wild.

Easily the most notorious mini-game from Smoke and Mirrors is Desert Bus, which tasked you with driving from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada… in real time. The feat takes about 8 real world hours, and since the game can't be paused, the trip must be completed in one sitting. If you manage to accomplish this, you receive… one point. One measly point. Then, you're given the option to drive back to Tucson, which takes another 8 hours, in order to get… another point! You can keep going like this as long as you're able to, until you reach the maximum 99 point limit. Which would take about 41 actual days of non-stop virtual driving. Right, let me get right on that.

While I don't have the gumption to sit and play the most mundane video game ever created for hours on end, better people than I have come up with a brilliant idea called Desert Bus for Hope. This is a marathon gaming session of Desert Bus put together by the group LoadingReadyRun, where people can donate money to force the members of the group to play Desert Bus for extended periods of time, with all proceeds going to Child's Play charity. Since the first marathon in 2007, Desert Bus for Hope has raised over half a million dollars for Child's Play, and this year's marathon is happening as we speak.

In support of Desert Bus for Hope, developer Amateur Pixels has released a port of Desert Bus [99¢] for iOS and Android, and all the profits from selling the game on the Apple App Store and Android Marketplace will go to the Child's Play charity along with the money raised during the marathon. Just think, you can fit all the action of driving in a straight line for 360 virtual miles in your pocket to enjoy anytime, anywhere – even while you're actually driving from Tucson to Las Vegas in real life! The future!

Desert Bus on iOS is a pretty faithful port of the original, and it is almost like having a little piece of strange gaming history in your pocket. While not exactly a fun game, I think the novelty factor is well worth the price, and still think the concept itself is just brilliant. Plus, you can feel confident that your hard earned monies are going to a good cause, helping children through Child's Play. Definitely check it out, and if you're feeling especially sadistic, swing by the Desert Bus for Hope donation page and throw a few dollars their way to help force some schmuck into yet another straight hour of Desert Bus torture.

  • Anonymous

    Can't be any more boring than Forever Drive!

    • Adams Immersive

      Forever Drive is one of the few racing games I keep coming back to :) But then, it’s so different, it’s bound to appeal to a different set of people than more conventional racers. Thank goodness the App Store caters to all tastes, not just the majority!

      P.S. I’m eagerly awaiting iOS Desert Bus walkthroughs on YouTube. In realtime. 80 uploads should about do it.

  • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

    I don't know why, but this sounds awesome. I always wanted to be a bus driver!

  • Bill Harper

    This game, and Loading Ready Run's telethon, was looked at in the episode titled "Help" from the short-lived (but excellent) videogame podcast "A Life Well Wasted"

    they also interview Penn Jillette about the origins of the game, it's a really good listen

  • http://www.facebook.com/OoOoOomonkey John Usher

    Bought. I love the crayness you can but on iOS

  • Sami Saarikoski

    You failed to mention the buss drifts right all the time so you have to keep correcting it and if you crash, you will stall and be towed back to Tucson, also in real time. I almost want to buy this just so I can say I have played it.

  • Daniel Wood

    I hope by 'all profit' they really mean 'all revenue' otherwise knowing the iOS market the charity will end up with nothing.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

    Only reason I would ever be in Tuscon is if my bus was full of explosives. I can see LEAVING Tuscon to go to Vegas but I would never come back. Tuscon is the (Mexican) Jersey of Arizona.