Power-mad modder puts Sonic the Hedgehog at the heart of the most tedious game ever made, so you can speed boost to the end in 3 straight hours instead of 8

Sonic stands on an infinite highway in the Desert Bus Frontiers mod.
(Image credit: Weezley / Sega)

Some dreams cannot be denied, even though they absolutely should be. A modder named Weezley has taken the time and energy to recreate 1994's Desert Bus—widely regarded as one of the worst and most tedious games ever made—entirely within the confines of Sonic Frontiers. Why? Great question, my friend, great question.

If you're not in the know, Desert Bus is one of six minigames off the '94 Sega CD compilation Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors, a collection of deliberately terrible games intended for you to spring on unwitting friends. Although Smoke and Mirrors never actually released, unearthed review copies mean that the games have circulated anyway, with Desert Bus in particular—a game about an eight-hour drive between Tucson and Las Vegas—garnering notoriety both for how much it sucks and for the role it plays in the annual Desert Bus for Hope charity streaming marathon.

Desert Bus Frontiers is Weezley's version of the classic, and recreates the Sega game almost to a tee, save for the presence of a hedgehog with attitude instead of a bus. "Welcome to Desert Bus Frontiers," reads the description, "the action-packed 580 km long trip from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, where Literally Nothing Interesting happens."

The original Desert Bus was fiendish. Although the entire trip took place on a straight road, you couldn't just weigh down the accelerator button and leave. The bus veered slightly to the right at all times, and the second your tyres left the road was game over. That meant you had to stay there, nudging the bus left, for the full eight-hour journey.

The Frontiers version is much the same way. "Just like in the original Desert Bus, Sonic will move slightly right over time. Make sure to correct Sonic's position every once in a while so as to not run off the road!" Weezley has also nixed the game's usual background music, replacing it with desert wind ambience. All the better to not distract you from your task.

But it is 2024, so generous Weezley has allowed us a few modern comforts. For instance, the Frontiers take on Desert Bus has a checkpoint every 50 kilometres where the original forced you to start from the beginning the second anything went wrong. The biggest convenience, though, is Sonic's boost capability. Real-life buses are not as fast as Sonic the Hedgehog, you see, meaning the original Desert Bus took eight hours to complete at the bus' default top speed. Sonic's powers mean he can cover the same distance in three hours.

That might upset the purists out there, in which case you can simply not use the boost and experience the journey as Penn & Teller originally intended. "If you want the true Desert Bus experience, complete the entire thing without boosting," says Weezley, "as Sonic's non-boost speed is the exact same speed as the original bus in Desert Bus. You won't get anything extra, just the satisfaction of going straight for 8 hours." Well, straight and slightly to the right, anyway.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.