This week on Spiffing Reads, we discover not one, but TWO games we never knew existed…
Desert Bus: The Very Worst Video Game Ever Created (The New Yorker)
Desert Bus comes to VR at long last (Polygon)
I’d never heard of Desert Bus until Polygon announced this week that there’s a new VR version. But wow, I’m so glad that it exists. It turns out that Desert Bus was part of a collection of spoof games for a cancelled Mega CD/Sega CD compilation that was created in partnership with the magicians Penn and Teller. The duo wanted to poke fun at a politician suggesting that games should be more like real life – so in Desert Bus, you simply drive a bus from Tucson to Las Vegas. The road is arrow straight, and the trip takes the same time it would in real life – 8 HOURS. And you can’t take your hands off the wheel, either, as the bus continually drifts to the right. If you leave the road, you’re towed straight back to Tucson and have to start all over again. If you finish the trip, you score 1 point – and are given the option to drive straight back the way you came. Absolutely nothing happens – save for a fly hitting the windscreen several hours in.
It’s mind-blowing in its mediocrity, and I’m still in awe that it was created at all. Best of all, the game has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity as a result of annual Desert Bus marathons.
Occasionally I worry that gaming has become too toxic (see my post earlier this week) or that mainstream games have become too safe and boring. But then I read stories like this, and I’m reminded that the scope of video gaming is as wide and deep as our collective imagination. Lucius P. Merriweather
The curse of Space Station 13 (Eurogamer)
And here’s another game I hadn’t heard of until this week, but that sounds utterly astounding – although unlike Desert Bus, Space Station 13 is a game that actually sounds like a lot of fun to play. The premise is that you’re trapped on a space station with several other real-life players, but while most of you are simply trying to keep the space station running, one of you has a secret, nefarious objective. It sounds a bit like a cross between hidden-role card games, like Spyfall or The Resistance, and a pen-and-paper RPG where absolutely anything can happen.
From the sounds of it, the game’s deep simulation systems let you pretty much do anything you can think of. But that’s also the reason why so many people have tried and failed to remake Space Station 13 for modern systems – it’s just too damn complicated. I hope someone eventually succeeds though, it sounds like a wonderful idea that deserves a wider audience. LPM
More Death Stranding, From Software’s new game finally teased, but still not revealed, one more good reason to maybe finally buy a Switch someday with Bayonetta 3 (and Switch re-releases of 1 and 2), and more. Baron Richenbaum Fotchenstein
Can I just pop in here and say BAYONETTA 3. Holy hand grenades, BAYONETTA 3! Can’t bloody wait. I wasn’t sure whether we’d ever see another sequel, as I’m fairly sure the last one wasn’t a big seller, but I’m very glad they gave the green light on this one. Hard-as-nails fighting games aren’t usually my cup of tea, but Bayonetta is a big exception – seeing the sheer imagination of the enemy and level designs is worth the entry price alone. LPM
I wrote about the wonderful episode of toco toco TV featuring the creator of Doshin the Giant a little while back, and the latest episode features the dude behind the amazing Little King’s Story, Yoshiro Kimura. It’s fascinating to hear about his influences, as well as to find out about the other games he’s had a role in – the bizarre Rule of Rose in particular looks like one I might have to hunt down. LPM
Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.