Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors
is a 1995 game featuring illusionist duo Penn & Teller
. It was made for the Sega CD
. Although the game was completed, it was unreleased when its publisher, Absolute Entertainment
, went bankrupt, although the game had appeared in gaming publications beforehand. It resurfaced years later when an owner to a website that documents unreleased games received a copy from an initial reviewer.
The game is a collection of minigames, and is intended as a commentary on the perception that video games are harmful. As a Penn and Teller product, the game is humorous, and features their usual mix of illusion and debunking of fraudulent uses of such.
The game consists of the following mini-games:
- Desert Bus: The most well-known among the minigames, where you must drive 360 miles from Tucson, AZ to Las Vegas on a desolate highway, without being able to go faster than 45 MPH, and with the steering bus pulling slightly to the right. Has been a subject of LoadingReadyRun's Desert Bus For Hope charity drive, and has also been ported to iOS and Android devices with proceeds going towards Child's Play.
- Mofo the Psychic Gorilla: A gorilla claims to have psychic powers and asks questions to predict the card a player draws from the deck.
- Buzz Bombers: Claims to be a demo for an "upcoming" two-player arcade shooter.
- What's Your Sign: Penn & Teller uses the Personometer to determine the player's sign as well as his/her birthday.
- Sun Scorcher: A space shooter which involves the use of "thermographics", as well as unskippable disclaimers that such features make the screen dangerous to touch.
- Smoke and Mirrors: An adventure game of sorts where a magical duo called Stinkbomb and Rot claims that magic exists and become sensational. The goal is to have Penn & Teller go around town, make their way through and head back to Las Vegas in order to expose Stinkbomb and Rot as frauds. Comes in Normal and Impossible difficulties.
The minigames contain examples of:
- All There in the Manual: The elements of the game are not immediately obvious to those who just catch a glimpse at the game. The manual is designed so the owner can set up the tricks in order to fool his friends.
- Driving Game: The famous Desert Bus minigame simulating an eight-hour drive from Tucson to Las Vegas — in real time, with no pause button, in a bus with a top speed of 45 mph and a tendency for the steering to drift (which meant that you couldn't just leave it running unattended or the bus would crash — whereupon it would be towed back to Tucson, still in real time, and you'd have to start again).
- Eye Beams: In Smoke and Mirror, the Impossible difficulty setting has the player run into Lou Reed after one screen, who will shoot beams from his eyes at the player, who in turn is instantly killed.
- Full Motion Video: Being made for the Sega CD, the game features live-action cutscenes with Penn and Teller that play between minigames.
- Fun with Acronyms: What's Your Sign has the Cosmetic Research Organization for Clairvoyant Kinetics (CROCK) personometer.
- Pinball Scoring: Inverted in Desert Bus. Driving the full, eight-hour route earns you one point.
- Take That: Several, including buzzwords like "blast processing" (Sun Scorcher with "thermographics") and perceptions of "realistic" video games (Desert Bus)
- Unwinnable Joke Game: In Smoke and Mirrors, hyperbole is not in any way involved in the naming of the "Impossible" difficulty level; Lou Reed appears and kills the duo, then tells the player, "Impossible doesn't mean very difficult. Very difficult is winning the Nobel Prize; impossible is eating the Sun."