You know all of the controversies that surrounded Rockstar two generations ago during the PS2 and Xbox era and that included Bully and it was banned in Brazil and in England, they didn’t want to sell the game and here in America, Jack Thompson who had a bone to pick with Rockstar tried to get the game to go off shelves in Florida. You’ve heard of how numerous groups spoke up and criticized the game once it was on shelves and you didn’t care, you wanted to play in the dirt and wanted to see what was everybody talking about in school, and now it is time to fall into the dirt and experience Bully.
I adore 2006’s Bully, much like how I adore L.A Noire and Red Dead Redemption in 2011 and 2010 respectively, first released on PS2 in 2006 but later coming to Xbox 360, PC, and the Wii in 2008. When I first played it, I adored it because it made me feel I was rebelling against everyone, it made people think that the game was legitimately about bullying other kids and it made people nervous that I was playing a game about bullying but to much of their dismay, the game wasn’t about bullying other kids, it was about standing up to the bullies and doing school related activities. The game turned out to be a complete cult classic with that classic Rockstar storytelling that they’re known for, this game was a complete masterpiece.
Now an adult myself, I love Bully because it’s classic Rockstar and because it’s funny, serious, and entertaining to play a game that you’ve never played before. Some moments were funny, you could engage in relationships with students and can give them gifts and kisses, it was very school-like.
Bully, much like Manhunt is complete cult classic. Manhunt was sleazy and Bully wasn’t a sleaze fest, it wasn’t grimy or dark like Manhunt was but it was more in tone with what Grand Theft Auto is, it was a sarcastic tone and a letter to adolescents in High School or Middle School, it was fantastic. I believe that Rockstar’s strongest title is Bully, and for so many good reasons.
The game is so original and so unique that there was really nothing like it, the plot is very simple with that classic Rockstar writing that they’re known for. Bully had a great setting, great characters, good gameplay, and very good story that I’ve never seen before. The characters had depth and redeeming qualities, the setting Bullworth Academy was set in New England and was set in the same world as Grand Theft Auto- everyone is a jerk, PE teachers hit on female students, the principal thinks that the unpopular kids all deserve the hate that the popular kids give them, it was very school-like and I guess that’s why I look at Bully with so much fondness.
Secondly, why I adore Bully is because of the setting. Bully began as a linear game, at the beginning, the game was limited in scope and as you progressed further into the story, the world opened up and was an open world. The reason for this is because that the game had a rigid schedule, you must wake up at 8 am and go to class or skip class, and must evade the cops. Evenings and nights were free but like everybody, Jimmy must go to sleep eventually and he passes out if he doesn’t return to his dorm. When you entered class, it was basically a minigame and if you passed five minigames in that certain game, attendance ceases to exist and as you finish more missions, the world will open up. The game was a transition from being linear to a true sandbox game was pretty cool and it kept me invested.
Thirdly, was the gameplay of Bully. The controls were less clunky then in the GTA games at the time, Rockstar Vancouver basically ripped the controls from GTA and finer tuned them to Bully, the controls were polished and with far less emphasis on the shooting mechanics which I always thought was the weakest mechanic in any GTA game.
Much like L.A Noire and Red Dead Redemption, two games that would come later on the new generation of hardware, Bully is proof that Rockstar is at it’s best when they do original ideas and push for originality, that’s why Red Dead Redemption is so beloved as well as Bully, this game was the most original game to come out of the era two generations ago. Bully is focused and this is something that I would like to see Rockstar pursue more frequently. Much like my wish for a L.A Noire 2, I would love for Rockstar to do a Bully 2 since that is one of the most requested games that fans ask them for, other then Red Dead but I don’t think we’ll ever get a Bully 2, it wouldn’t work in this day and age but wishful thinking didn’t hurt anyone.