Desert Bus

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Desert Bus
Desert bus.png
TypeSimulation game
Downloadable via the Homebrew Browser



Desert Bus

In 1995 Penn & Teller produced a video game for the Sega CD called Smoke and Mirrors but the publisher went bankrupt before it could be released. One of the mini-games was called "Desert Bus", which has been faithfully reproduced here for the Wii.

The aim of Desert Bus is to drive from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada. The full trip is 360 miles long, which must be completed without stopping. The bus can only reach 45 miles an hour and pulls to the right ever so slightly. The only things you're likely to see while on the road (besides the desert floras) are a few scattered bus stops, which you can stop at and open the door of the bus. Note that you probably won't find anyone waiting (it's the desert after all). Driving off with the door open is not allowed as it would be a safety violation.

If the bus engine overheats due to running off the road or remaining stationary for too long, a tow truck will be dispatched to collect you. When it arrives it will tow you back to the last starting point, and the game ends.

If you do happen to make it all the way to Las Vegas, you get 1 point. Then you get 12 seconds to decide if you want to attempt the return journey back to Tucson. If you don't push 2 within the 12 second countdown the game will end.

If it sounds boring, that's because it is. More background information can be found in this video of Penn & Teller from Comic-Con 2010, including the minor political events that inspired the game (somebody can now tell Penn the iphone app is on the way).

Desert Bus For Hope

This app is now available for the iPhone/iPod Touch via Cydia (just search for "Desert Bus"). All proceeds will go to Desert Bus For Hope 5.

Every November for the past 4 years, the comedy group LoadingReadyRun has undertaken "Desert Bus For Hope", during which they attempt to play the original Desert Bus game for as long as people keep sending in charity donations for Child's Play. Desert Bus For Hope 4 raised over $200,000. Desert Bus For Hope 5 starts on November 18th. If you enjoy this game please consider making a donation to Child's Play.


Your objective is pretty simple: stay on the road. You can tell if you're too far over the edge by the sound of crunching gravel. Staying there for too long will cause the bus to get bogged and you'll overheat. Likewise, remaining stationary will also cause overheating.

The desert scenery will reflect real-world time - if you play the game at night, you'll be driving at night. It will change as the day goes on (unlike the original, which had a habit of getting stuck in a night->dawn->night loop).

The full trip will take 8 hours, assuming you travel constantly at your top speed.

No, you can't pause the game. At all. If your wiimote batteries die, grab the number two wiimote and use that while you replace the batteries in number one.

The only way to exit the game manually is to use the power button on wii. This prevents accidental wiimote button presses from ruining your high score.


Wiimote.svg Action
Wiimote 2 Button Accelerator / Enter
Wiimote 1 Button Brake
Wiimote D-Pad Up Steer Left
Wiimote D-Pad Down Steer Right
Wiimote A Button Horn
Wiimote B Button Door Handle
Wii RESET Button Reset
Wii POWER Button Exit




Penn & Teller and Eddie Gorodetsky for conceiving/creating the original Desert Bus mini-game as part of Smoke and Mirrors.

Big thanks to RogerExplosion of for letting me use the graphics and sounds from his java port.



  • added gamecube controller support


  • added the original title music
  • fixed some very old Z order rendering issues
  • better handling for overscan
  • remove default wiimote power button callback
  • behind the scenes improvements


  • change the speed of the desert dirt because people thought the road was floating
  • air freshener is more realistic
  • add tow truck sound effects
  • avoid wiiuse crash when a second controller connects


  • initial release