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Desert Bus - Angry Video Game Nerd - Episode 119

(Words pop up saying "May 2004" and then shows the very first episode of Angry Video Game Nerd: "Castlevania II: Simon's Quest")

The Nerd: This game sucks.

(Words pop up saying "10 Years Later...")

("Angry Video Game Nerd Theme" plays and then we see all of the Angry Video Game Nerd episodes and a calendar in the intro)

(The Nerd sits on his couch, staring at the camera)

The Nerd: There is a game that is said to be even worse than Big Rigs. It is also a driving game, and it's called Desert Bus. It was so unspeakably dreadful, that it was cancelled before it was ever released.

(Intro to Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors is shown)

The Nerd: It was one of six games included in Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors for the Sega CD. That's right. Penn & Teller were behind this.

The Nerd: And if ya haven't heard of them, well, how do I sum it up? Basically, they're two of the greatest entertainers of our time. They mix magic and comedy, they perform it live, they defy physics, they're funny as hell, they attack bullshit and they've been doing it for nearly 40 years. 

(Full Motion Video clips are shown from the "Smoke and Mirrors" game) 

The Nerd: So, their first attempt at a video game in 1995 was a very interesting one, and something that only they could have made.

Penn: (Speaks to Teller) See? See-see-see-s-see? You gotta be careful, those thermographics!

The Nerd: Smoke and Mirrors is like the anti-video game. It's made up of six mini-games that exist for no other reason than to play jokes on your friends. Explaining them all in detail would be a disservice for anyone wanting to try them out for themselves.

The Nerd: Of course the game was never released, but prior to its cancellation, it appeared in Sega Visions magazine and even made the front cover.

(Developer intro for Smoke and Mirrors shows)

The Nerd: The true reason it was cancelled was because the company, Absolute, went out of business. But like anything, the game found its way onto the Internet and has been circulated, people have played it, and it's become sort of a cult hit.

The Nerd: It's one of the strangest collections of games you might ever play. There's a traditional side-scroller where you actually play as Penn & Teller themselves. It's insanely frustrating to figure out what you're supposed to do, but it's hilarious just for the idea that they made their in-game characters so useless.

The Nerd: There's a part where an enemy magician is throwing straitjackets at you, and ya have to bounce them back using an umbrella. Tryin' to hit this guy, is just as much of a trick as anything Penn & Teller have pulled off themselves. The straitjackets always bounce in the wrong direction.

(The Nerd finally gets the strait-jacket to bounce onto the magician, but it goes right through.)

The Nerd: Oh, come on! That didn't count? Overall, the whole game is worth it just for the abundance of Penn & Teller clips. Watching these guys, you can't go wrong.

Penn: (Shouts to Teller who is playing with two action figures in a deathmatch) Death move! Death move! Death move! Death move! Death move! Death move! (The action figures begin to pour blood) Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!

The Nerd: (continues his previous statement) But then, there's Desert Bus. How bad could it be? Let's find out.

(Desert Bus intro comes on)

The Nerd: From Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada. Are we goin' to Las Vegas to see a Penn & Teller show? I hope. Okay, I'm drivin' the bus. Come on, bus. (The Nerd begins impatiently pressing the A button on the Genesis controller) Come on, bus. Come on... (The bus begins to drive) Okay, slowly but surely, here we go. (The Nerd stares in disbelief at the game for a while before shaking his head in disappointment)

The Nerd: This is the game. You drive... drive... and drive. There is nothing out there, except road and sand. Occasionally there's a rock, or a sign... but that's it. There's no passengers to interact with, no music on the radio, nothing to keep you occupied. The road never turns, there's no other vehicles... there is absolutely nothing.

The Nerd: You can open the door with the B button. Basically, it makes a sound effect. That's a little somethin' you can do to entertain yourself.

(The Nerd hits the B button, and places his hand at his ear in excitement to hear the sound effect of the door opening)

The Nerd: The bus can't go any faster than 45 miles per hour. I don't know why. Maybe Dennis Hopper has a bomb on it or something, so, there's no hope of speeding up this test of human attention span.

The Nerd: So, how long is this trip? It's 360 miles to Las Vegas; at 45 miles per hour, that would mean eight hours. (The Nerd is shown holding the Genesis controller with his jaw dropped) THIS IS A FUCKING EIGHT HOUR GAME! Whoever needs to take a road trip when you can simulate the whole experience in real-time on your Sega CD! (Chuckles and groans) Aw, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!

(Scene shows an FMV of Penn & Teller playing Desert Bus)

The Nerd: Well this time, we have an answer: Penn & Teller make it clear right before the game starts, that the whole joke was to make a game that's just like real life. 

Penn: Verisimulators: games stupefyingly like reality. 

The Nerd: (he continues previous statements) I've read in various interviews with Penn, that this was in response to all the controversies at the time about all the hyper-violent video games. So, instead of something imaginary and fun, here's the real-life, mundane task of DRIVIN' A FUCKIN' BUS FOR EIGHT HOURS!

The Nerd: Well if we're gonna do this, we're gonna need several bathroom breaks. Let's pause it. (The Nerd tries pausing the game, but it honks the bus horn) What? The Start button blows the horn. (The Nerd stares in disbelief as he presses Start again, and it honks the bus horn again.) There is no pause. You just have to keep driving! I-I wonder how many people have pissed their pants while playing this?! You can't even stop to get something to eat!

The Nerd: The manual - and yes, there is a manual - says "No, it's not an oversight. Does your life have a pause control?"

(The Nerd chuckles weakly, groans angrily and is about to drink a Rolling Rock, but puts it away)

The Nerd: I'm driving.

(The Nerd hangs an air freshener on the camera)

The Nerd: What happens at the end when you get to Las Vegas? Imagine, if after the eight hours, you get to play casino games and have fun, and all of a sudden the game becomes awesome. Well, I looked into it. You wanna know what happens? You get a point. (The Nerd stares in disbelief) A point. ONE FUCKING POINT! And then you gotta drive all the way back! Every eight hours, a point! Those are the slowest points in video game history! Did Penn & Teller really make this game, or did Andy Warhol rise from the dead?! Yeah, you know the Andy Warhol film, Empire? It's an eight-hour movie that's nothing but a shot of the Empire State Building. Yeah.

The Nerd: Who could ever sit through this?! Well, there was going to be prizes. Penn & Teller were actually planning to have a Desert Bus contest. You send in your score, and the grand prize was a trip on an actual bus from Tucson to Las Vegas, but you'll get to see a show and have a four-night stay at Bally's. That only begs the question: who has the high score in Desert Bus? Well apparently, the highest you can get is 99, which would mean putting in 792 hours or 33 days of continuous game-play. And speaking of long hours, I just found out there's a group who do an annual marathon of the game for charity. It's called "Desert Bus for Hope", and it's been very successful in raising money for children. So at least something good has come of this game. They must be some serious troopers. I can't sit through ten minutes of this shit!

The Nerd: I've heard that every once in a while, a bug will splat on your windshield. I'd be happy just to see that. I'm suffering from so much sensory deprivation that anything to break up the monotony would be amazing. If a bug came and splat on this windshield, that would blow my fucking mind!

The Nerd: But I'll never have the patience to get that far; I'll never even get a single point. Just gotta hold your thumb on this button for so long. (The Nerd gets an idea) Wait... (Exclaims and uses a clamp to hold down the A button, just like in The Terminator (NES) episode) How do ya like that trick, Penn & Teller? If ya can't beat the game, let the game beat itself!

(The Nerd walks away, and the bus is still driving, but his trick backfires, as the bus gradually begins to veer off the right side of the road. The Nerd returns and sees what is going on)

The Nerd: What? What? What the fuck?! (tries to continue driving the bus, but is unable to) It's stuck! The bus is stuck in the sand.

(The Nerd looks at the screen in disbelief and sighs deeply.)

The Nerd: They made the bus veer to the right on purpose. (groans) Ugh, they thought of everything. Goddamn you, Penn & Teller!

(the bus runs out of gas.)

The Nerd: You have to sit here and drive the bus, just like in real-life, and real-life fuckin' sucks. (Tow truck noises are heard)  Now I'm getting towed. Oh boy.

The Nerd: The towing... is in real-time also! So if you've driven seven hours, does it take seven hours for the game to start over? This is the most sadistic thing ever!

The Nerd: There's no fun factor whatsoever. This makes Big Rigs look like a fuckin' party. Big Rigs isn't even a game; it has no challenge whatsoever but, here the challenge comes from tryin' to stay awake from boredom!

The Nerd: For the past ten years, I've been on a mission to warn the world of shitty games. And in all those years, this one takes the cake. I think I've finally hit the bottom of the barrel! (The Nerd swats away the air freshener)

The Nerd: The fact that a game like this could come into existence and that people have played it and suffered through it and even adapted it into an Atari 2600 game, means that I failed. (He throws the Sega Genesis controller) I've done everything I can. It's time to retire.

(A black and white montage is shown of various clips from previous Angry Video Game Nerd episodes, while a piano version of the Angry Video Game Nerd Theme plays. The Nerd goes to his NES collection and pulls out "Castlevania II: Simon's Quest", but puts it back and pulls out a game, which says "Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Redaction", beside it. The Nerd shrugs.)

The Nerd: One more. For old time's sake.

(The Nerd begins playing Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Redaction)

The Nerd: This game is a hack of Castlevania II by TheAlmightyGuru. As I said ten years ago, the original game is full of problems.

The Nerd from his Castlevania II: Simon's Quest review: How would you ever figure out that you're supposed to throw an Oak Stake at that orb?

The Nerd: One of the biggest problems in the game is how cryptic it is, and how none of the townspeople tell you anything that's useful. Instead of giving you clues like any other kind of adventure or RPG game, they just give you a bunch of nonsensical riddles. But here, in Castlevania II: Redaction, we have... real clues! Yeah! All the dialogue's been fixed, and now, it actually makes sense.

The Nerd: I can't believe that somebody's actually been tryin' to fix this shitload of fuck. But what about the day-to-night transitions?

The Nerd from his Castlevania II: Simon's Quest review: Why did they think that that would be a good idea and interrupt the gameplay? Did they think it would be more realistic? I mean, in real-life I don't have to stop in my tracks when the sun sets and a fuckin' box doesn't pop up in the air.

(In "Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Redaction", the box, which says, "THE MORNING SUN HAS VANQUISHED THE HORRIBLE NIGHT." appears, and the text moves faster, and so does the day-to-night transition. The Nerd is stunned.)

The Nerd: Wow. That was fast. I wish it was that fast in the original game. I wish it didn't happen at all, but hey, that's an improvement.

The Nerd: In general, all the text moves a lot faster. I'm really digging the clues. It even tells me stuff I never even knew, like using Dracula's nail to take out blocks. I had no idea you could do that.

The Nerd from his Castlevania II: Simon's Quest review: He doesn't look anything like Dracula; instead, he looks like a Grim Reaper.

The Nerd: Even Dracula's face has been changed. It's still annoying how long it takes to collect hearts to buy stuff, and also those annoying invisible platforms are still there, but all these improvements are a good start.

The Nerd: The most annoying cryptic thing of all, is how it never tells ya how to pass through the wall.

The Nerd from his Castlevania II: Simon's Quest review: Would you guess that you're supposed to pass through this wall? You need to have a red crystal selected, and be kneeling down, and wait a little while before this magic tornado comes and takes you to the next part of the game.

(In "Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Redaction", the Nerd breaks a wall to find a clue, which says, "KNEEL AT THE END OF THE WASTES WITH THE RED CRYSTAL.", leaving him stunned. Then he drops the controller in happiness and shock.)

The Nerd: I've wanted to see that clue, ever since I first played this. I've complained about it. Did uh... Did... my, my complaints... ring a bell? Did, did... did, uh.. Was.. w-- has the word of the Nerd been heard?! Have I contributed to how we look back at bad games?

The Nerd: I've done it! It's not in vain! There is no retirement; the show must go on! I must continue reviewing shitty games because, that's what the world needs! But, where do I go from here? 

(Another montage of previous Angry Video Game Nerd clips are shown)

The Nerd: I've had so many adventures, within these four walls. I need to take the adventure outside! I need to go do somethin' bigger, somethin' to top everything that I've already done! (Sighs) But how do I do that?

(The Nerd thinks, then stares into the camera and nods as the episode ends, hinting at Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie)


  • In a similar manner to when he played The Terminator for the NES, the Nerd clamps down the A button on the NES controller and leaves the room. 
  • This is the first episode to be posted following the 10-year anniversary of the AVGN series on May 25th, 2014. This episode also featured a 10-year anniversary intro featuring clips of games the Nerd reviewed, as well as the Nerd flipping through a Nintendo calendar.