Hail Desert Bus, the worst game ever

Simon Parkin on Desert Bus, Penn and Teller’s contribution to the small but magical universe of deliberately-bad video games. “Every few years, video games are blamed in the media for all of the ills in society,” said Teller. “In the early nineteen-nineties, I wrote an article for the New York Times citing all the studies… READ THE REST

TV and newspaper media still hates video games for some reason. You’d think that by this point there would be quite a few journalists that grew up playing video games, but I guess even if they are, the position from on high is that video games are bad.

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So just to be clear, in Low-Altitude Attack Zeppelin you catch fire as the planes pass regardless of whether you were anywhere near their line of fire, yes? There’s not some trick to survive that and get brutally murdered 10 seconds later?

I mean, it’s cool, I get that it’s an unwinnable parody. It just seems like it would be funnier if you died for a reason, however unavoidable. Like, you’re cruising along shooting tanks and OH NOES THE SABOTEUR SETS OFF HIS BOMB, EVERYBODY DIES.

Of course I’ve now spent longer writing this post than I did playing the game, so…eh.

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It’s because video games are new-fangled. These people are still freaked out about rap music; hell, they’re still upset about hippies.


Just to throw in my 2% of a $, Low-Altitude Attack Zeppelin isn’t a bad game so much as a broken one. The difficulty is as such that getting past the first 5 seconds is literally impossible. It doesn’t take the player very long to figure out that fact and move on.

Bad games are the ones that let you keep playing after fighting an uphill battle of attrition against yourself to gain nothing in return other than one more hill. If you wanted to make it a truly bad game, I would give the zep full range of motion, but make the planes come at random times/places and shoot-able. Making the player rely on luck to be in the right place to shoot them or have to restart the level. Even more evil would be to add a (hopefully fake) token system to buy continues/lives/extra hp that comes up when you die. And of course, to get tokens, you have to pay.

I guess after all that, you could add a leader board that connects to facebook with a “Invite your friends!” button and daily scrap giveaway… And well, that pretty much describes every freemium game I have ever played.

Now if only there was a way to get superman in a virtual reality setup in there flying through rings as well.

You are actually getting hit, though the projectiles are invisible and it’s square bounding boxes (i.e. very cruel collision detection) IIRC, you can’t last longer than about 10 seconds.

It was made in a few hours. I have often thought about making a full game with it that is excruciatingly difficult but theoretically winnable.

Hell no! I got a big rig that’ll do all that the Desert Bus claims and more. It’ll pull right then left and then right again. Except if you run off the road, you’ll be lucky if the only thing you have to reset are your shorts. And an id-jit wants to make a game about it? N-a-a-a-a. My signal is on and I’ll pass left.

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The next game I’d planned for this series was ‘realistic shinobi’, like the arcade game excerpt for the fact that bullets travel at 650mph, enemies can shoot directly at you instead of on perfectly-horizontal planes, and you can only jump like 3 ft.


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