Bully (video game)
North American PlayStation 2 cover art.
|Developer(s)||Rockstar Vancouver (PS2)
Rockstar New England (X360, PC)
Rockstar Toronto (Wii)
Bethesda Softworks (Japan)
Gamebryo (Wii, X360, PC)
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2
|Mode(s)||Single-player, multiplayer (Wii, Xbox 360 only)|
|Distribution||DVD-ROM, Wii Optical Disc, DVD-DL, download|
Bully, also known as Canis Canem Edit (Latin for dog eats dog) for the PAL region PlayStation 2 version, is a 2006 action-adventure open world video game, developed by Rockstar Vancouver and published by Rockstar Games for the PlayStation 2 on 17 October 2006 in North America, and 25 October 2006 in the United Kingdom. An Xbox version was planned but cancelled for undisclosed reasons.
The game was re-released as Bully: Scholarship Edition on 4 March 2008 for the Wii and Xbox 360 and 21 October 2008 on PC (this name is retained in the PAL releases). The PlayStation 2 version of the game is also available in the United States as a special edition that includes a limited edition comic book and a dodgeball of the same style as the ones used in the game, with the word "Bully" embossed on it. On 18 December 2012, the PS2 version of the game was available for download on the PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3.
Bully is an action-adventure open world video game set in a school environment. The player takes control of teenage rebel James "Jimmy" Hopkins, who from the opening cutscene is revealed to be a difficult student with a disruptive background. The game concerns the events that follow Jimmy being dropped off at Bullworth Academy, a New England boarding school. The player is free to explore the school campus in the beginning and, later on in the game, the town, or to complete the main missions. The game makes extensive use of minigames. Some are used to earn money, others to improve Jimmy's abilities or get new items.
School classes themselves are done in the form of minigames, broken into five levels of increasing difficulty. Each completed class brings a benefit to gameplay. English, as an example, is a word scramble minigame, and as Jimmy does well in this minigame, he learns various language-skills, such as the ability to apologize to police for small crimes. Chemistry is a button pushing minigame which rewards Jimmy with the ability to create firecrackers, stink bombs, and other items at his chemistry set in his room at the dorm. He can learn new fighting tricks and can play dodgeball in the Gym class. In the Art class, he has to unveil a painting of Ms. Philips, being wary of the bombs and explosives in the minigame. He can make new bicycles in Shop class and has to complete photography missions in Photography classes. In the scholarship edition, four new subjects- Biology, Maths, Music and Geography are added. He has to dissect animals in Biology, solve multiple choice questions in Maths, press the buttons according to the beat in Music and put the flag to its corresponding country in Geography.
Jimmy has a multitude of weapons available, although they tend to run along the lines of things a school boy might actually attain, such as a slingshot, bags of marbles, itching powder, fire crackers, stink bombs, and, later in the game, a bottle rocket launcher and the spud cannon. He can pick up and use various improvised weapons like bats, sticks, or flowerpots. The weapon Jimmy uses the most are his fists and feet; as the game progresses, Jimmy will be able to learn new moves and combos. Fighting is an integral part of the game; each of the game's five chapters culminates in a battle against the leader or leaders of a given clique. Jimmy, however, has a health bar in which if it gets depleted, he becomes knocked out, causing the mission he is doing to fail and Jimmy to be sent to the nearest medical center.
The game incorporates a crime system, similar to the Grand Theft Auto series. Any criminal actions Jimmy commits will raise his heat level by increments instead of the "star system." Some common criminal actions such as fighting and rule breaking has little effect on Jimmy's heat level. Moderate crimes such as theft, vandalism, and usage of weapons will raise his heat level considerably. However, violence against girls, smaller kids, or adults and authority generally has swift and severe consequences. Jimmy can get busted by the prefects, teachers, police and even some townspeople after he commits crimes. If this happens, the mission he is doing automatically fails, and most of Jimmy's weapons are confiscated. Depending on where and when Jimmy gets busted, he gets sent to the headmaster's office (and possibly detention), his dorm room, the classroom with a class in session, the Bullworth Academy front gate, or the police station.
Jimmy also has an assortment of vehicles to operate—mainly a skateboard, but also a motor scooter, a go-kart, a lawn mower (for money, and also to complete a detention and, towards the end of the game, some missions), and various bicycles. By passing shop classes, Jimmy can build increasingly high-performance BMX bikes, and use them in either races or a bike park. The player can alter Jimmy's physical appearance to their liking by purchasing new clothes, haircuts, masks, or even tattoos.
The game takes place at Bullworth Academy, a fictional independent boarding school in New Hampshire. Jimmy is enrolled at the school when his newly married mother and fifth stepfather go on a year-long honeymoon cruise. The school is located in the also fictional town of Bullworth, which resembles Connecticut (this would also explain the high prevalence of 'Old money' and 'Nouveau Riche' influences). The school itself is a classical neo-gothic design and is similar to many other public schools and colleges in the United Kingdom and New England, in particular Fettes College in Edinburgh. Bully's time setting is unknown but it's suggested to be set sometime in the 1990s due to cars, fashion and major lack of computers.
Jimmy Hopkins is dropped off at Bullworth Academy by his mother and stepfather. Once there, he is given a warning by Dr. Crabblesnitch, the strict headmaster, to behave, as Jimmy has a history of causing trouble in many other schools.
On his first day, Jimmy befriends Gary Smith and Petey Kowalski, while also drawing the attention of the resident lead bully, Russell Northrop. The bullies attack Jimmy every chance they get. Jimmy forms a friendship trio with Gary and Petey. Gary is wildly erratic, mischievous to a malicious extent, and very vocal about his plan to take over the school, while Petey is more submissive, friendly, timid, and a social outcast, almost a willing victim of Gary's harassment. Gary decides to take Jimmy under his wing as a protege. Jimmy spends his early days at Bullworth befriending some of the nerds, fighting Russell's friends, and causing mischief with Gary. After Halloween, however, Gary takes Jimmy to an isolated area called "The Pit" and admits to spreading rumors about Jimmy, showing signs of paranoia and convinced that Jimmy will betray him. In the ensuing fight, Jimmy beats Russel and sets the record straight about the rumors and Russel's reputation for being a jerk. Russel apologizes.
In late fall Jimmy sees himself becoming increasingly popular, having beaten and befriended Russel. He even gets respect from Tad Spencer, one of the "Preppies", a group of arrogant rich kids who exclude the other students from their events. Jimmy saves a depressed and drunken teacher named Mr. Galloway from being fired by the uptight Mr. Hattrick. In gratitude, the preppies invite Jimmy to egg Hattrick's house. Gary crashes the meeting and manipulates Tad into thinking that Jimmy has been spreading incestuous rumors about his family. Now a target of the Preppies, Jimmy finds himself at war with them. As winter rolls in, Petey tells Jimmy that the abuse Jimmy is receiving from the Preppies is no worse than the abuse they are receiving from their families, and the best way to beat them is to prove he is a "better man". Jimmy challenges a preppie named Biff Taylor to a boxing match. Jimmy wins fairly, but Preppie leader Derby Harrington refuses to acknowledge this, forcing Jimmy to chase him down, defeat every member of the Preps, and fight Derby until he gives in, making Jimmy their leader and Derby their second-in-command.
During the Christmas season, Jimmy meets Johnny Vincent, leader of the Greasers, a group of poor, violent delinquents who vandalize property and beat up students for any reason they can find. The Greasers are the enemies of the Preps, as they are their complete opposite. Jimmy helps his teachers, Ms. Phillips (the art teacher) and Mr. Galloway form a relationship. He also helps Mr. Galloway's alcohol addiction and realises that Mr. Hattrick's bullying is the source. Johnny suspects his girlfriend Lola to be cheating on him with a prep named Gord, which turns out to be true. Jimmy helps lead Gord into a trap and the Greasers beat him up. Although he has gained respect from the Greasers, The Preppies are angry at Jimmy for helping their enemies, and test his loyalty by having him vandalize New Coventry, an area at Bullworth considered to be Greaser territory. This puts him in bad standing with the Greasers, and Johnny suspects Jimmy of being sweet on Lola. In their conflict, Jimmy takes over the Greaser's turf and wins the unwanted affection of Lola. Their conflict meets a boiling point when Johnny also suspects Lola of cheating on him with the nerd, Algie (the most unpopular kid in school). Jimmy decides to simply end the rivalry once and for all by personally fighting Johnny. Jimmy chases down Johnny on a bicycle and follows him to a junkyard. The greasers gang fight Jimmy and beat him with metal pipes, but Petey arrives and uses a magnetic machine to stop them. Jimmy, with Petey's help, manages to beat Johnny and the Greasers. Managing to calm him down, Jimmy assures him that he has no interest in Lola.
At spring, the Jocks are still giving kids grief, so Jimmy, now more determined to bring peace to Bullworth, decides to stop them. But before he can get to them, Jimmy must start by gaining the trust of the nerds, who have turned against him. Jimmy is forced to fight nerd leader Earnest Jones at the observatory, who, along with the other nerds, attack Jimmy as though they are at war with him, using several devices, such as a potato launcher. After beating him, Earnest decides to help Jimmy deal with the jocks by sabotaging their reputation. The first step is to embarrass the girls by taking naked photos of them and spreading them around town. After accomplishing this, Jimmy gains sympathy for Mandy, the head cheerleader and chief female bully, and defaces the images for her. The second step is to humiliate the school mascot by louring him into the gym pool and stealing his costume. The third step is to sabotage the jocks during their home football game. After a series of pranks before the game, Jimmy is forced to fight all the jocks on the field, eventually beating their leader, Ted Thompson. Petey tells Jimmy that since he humiliated the jocks in front of the whole school, he practically runs the place now.
Jimmy has finally brought peace to Bullworth, and is recognized as a king. During his popularity, Jimmy is put up to pull a big prank, spray painting "Bullworthless" on the town hall. Afterwards, Jimmy severely declines in popularity and is framed for various cruel and dangerous pranks throughout the school (filling the library with rats, stealing and burning the Prep's trophies, having Johnny sent to an insane asylum, and setting fire to the gym), and despite helping fix the problems these pranks have caused, Jimmy is suddenly so unpopular that even Algie is given more respect than him. He comes to the conclusion that a gang of dropouts called the Townies are behind it. Despite witnessing one escape during the gym fire and having photographic evidence of the townies burning the Prep's trophies, the cliques still show Jimmy no respect. To make matters even worse, Gary snitches to authorities, as well as the school, of Jimmy's prank on town hall. As a result, Jimmy is expelled. Gary thus replaces Jimmy as the king of the school, which is furthered when he convinces Crabblesnitch to make him the school's head boy.
During his time in expulsion, Jimmy is targeted by the Townies, teenagers who have dropped out of school for various reasons. However, he befriends one of them, a girl named Zoe who was expelled from Bullworth when she told Crabblesnitch about the gym teacher, Mr. Burton, sexually harassing her. During the last month of school, he and Zoe have fun pulling revenge-pranks on students and teachers, tipping Mr. Burton in a port-a-potty, breaking business imports from the Preppie Tad Spencer's family, and getting Mr. Hattrick fired after discovering he himself is breaking rules. Eventually, they develop feelings for each other.
Determined to clear his name, Jimmy and Russell break into the industrial complex. When the police arrive, Russell distracts them while Jimmy runs into Zoe, who helps Jimmy confront Townie leader Edgar Munsen. Jimmy beats Edgar and earns his respect, and learns that Gary put the townies up to everything. Later, Zoe tells Jimmy that Gary is running Bullworth with anarchy and chaos, pushing all the cliques to fight one another and taking the school staff hostage. Jimmy decides to put a stop to all of it. With Edgar and Russell's help, Jimmy breaks into Bullworth academy and is forced to fight the clique leaders once again. Jimmy chases Gary to the top of the school's bell tower and confronts him. Gary tells Jimmy he did what he did simply because he can, and arrogantly proclaims he will win no matter what. The two fight, eventually falling through a skylight and into the main office, with Gary knocked out by the fall.
Crabblesnitch, who was tied up in his office, reveals he heard everything Gary said and has him expelled. He tells Jimmy that he is impressed with him and has him reinstated. Jimmy also convinces Crabblesnitch to reinstate Zoe, fire Mr. Burton, and make Petey head boy. The game ends with Zoe and Jimmy kissing at the front door of the outside of the school.
The game focuses on Bullworth's newest student, James "Jimmy" Hopkins. As he advances through his academic career at Bullworth Academy, he may interact with the school's students and teachers, as well as people from the neighboring town, many of whom will give him errands to complete. He is greeted by Gary Smith, a scheming, unstable sociopath, and Pete Kowalski, a shy student who has yet to make any friends. Throughout the first chapter, Gary has Jimmy doing all of his dirty work, while playing continuous mind games with him. Jimmy also has to navigate his way through the five cliques of Bullworth—the Bullies, Nerds, Preppies, Greasers and Jocks, as well as the Townie kids and the mostly corrupt prefects and faculty. Most of the cliques have a sole female member, with whom Jimmy can pursue a romance. However, there are certain female NPCs that Jimmy can share a kiss with, after giving gifts to them, although nothing ever comes of this. There are also a number of students who are not associated with any clique. Unlike other games from Rockstar, no two characters in Bully are the same, and every character has a name and distinct personality.
Early information released by Take-Two Interactive seemed to indicate that the player would be taking the role of a bully, and screenshots printed in Electronic Gaming Monthly showed the player-controlled antagonist administering a "swirlie" and throwing a punch at another student. However, the tone of the final game was different, with the player in the role of a problem student who stood up to and fought back against bullies, in effect, bullying on behalf of the victims, or in self-defense. The player can still control Jimmy to bully helpless students, however.
The PlayStation 2 version of the game uses an advanced Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas engine through Renderware. Rockstar Vancouver also decided to make every student in the school have a unique appearance and personality.
Bully received highly positive reviews from critics. The game received ratings of 8.9/10 from IGN, 9.0/10 from Games Radar, a perfect 10/10 from 1UP.com, 8.7/10 from GameSpot, 5/5 from JIVE Magazine, 8.75/10 from VGRC.net, a 5/5 from X-Play, and made the Top 10 Games of '06 in PlayStation Magazine. Canis Canem Edit also got 9/10 from OPS2 Magazine. Critics generally praised the game's storyline, while they complained about particular stealth missions, as well as the camera.
As of 12 March 2008, the PlayStation 2 version of Bully has sold 1.5 million copies according to Take-Two Interactive. Hypers Daniel Wilks commends the game for its "clever script, some novel missions [and] well constructed characters". However, he criticises it for "time dilation, dodgy camera [and] generic mini-games".
- Won IGN's award for Best PlayStation 2 Action Game.
- Won GameSpot's award for Best Original Music.
- Finalist for GameSpot's Game of the Year 2006
- Gaming Target – 52 Games We'll Still Be Playing From 2006 selection
Bully has caused controversy among parents and educators. Criticisms are due to the adult nature of previous Rockstar games, in particular, the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Hot Coffee minigame controversy and certain aspects of the game including its title. Groups such as Bullying Online and Peaceaholics have criticized the game for glorifying or trivializing school bullying. Most of these criticisms were voiced before the content of the game was available to the public. In 2006, the United States-based Entertainment Software Rating Board officially gave Bully a rating of "T" (suitable for ages 13 and up), the BBFC gave Canis Canem Edit a 15 rating and the New Zealand OFLC restricted it to persons 13 years of age and over. In 2007, Yahoo! Games listed it as one of the top ten controversial games of all time. The OFLC of Australia gave Bully an M rating (recommended for mature audiences) for moderate themes, violence and sexual references.
Sexuality is a present theme throughout Bully, with missions involving a panty raid and photographing a girl in the shower. Throughout chapter one, Gary makes several remarks on Pete's sexuality, and subsequently spreads several homosexual and transsexual rumors about Jimmy. Although these rumors are mostly false, Jimmy can kiss boys and girls in the game. The ESRB stated that they were fully aware of the bisexual content when they gave it a T rating.
Prior to both the ESRB's rating and the release of Bully, Jack Thompson filed a lawsuit attempting to have the game blocked from store shelves in Florida. Thompson declared the game a "nuisance" and "Columbine simulator". He also argued this point on Attack of the Show! with Kevin Pereira on the opposite end on the show's segment "The Loop." Thompson's petition, filed with the 11th Judicial Circuit Court, asked for Wal-Mart and Take-Two to furnish him with an advance copy of Bully so he could have "an independent third party" play the game and determine if it would constitute a public nuisance in the state of Florida, in which case it could be banned. On 11 October 2006, Judge Ronald Friedman ordered Take-Two and Rockstar to provide the court with a copy of the game within 24 hours. On 13 October 2006, Friedman subsequently ruled in favor of shipping the game, noting that there was no content in the game that was not already on late night television. Thompson responded to the ruling with fiery speech directed at the judge, which began the road to disbarment for Thompson.
When given a preview build, the mainstream American media took a generally positive view of the game. Press coverage has described the game as free-form, focusing on building a social network and learning new skills from classes, with strictly enforced punishments for serious misbehavior.
While British Labour MP Keith Vaz argued that Bully be banned or reclassified as rated 18 in the UK before its publication and before the content had been finalised, the game was released rated 15. Currys and PC World, both owned by DSG International, said that they did not wish to sell the game in the UK because it is "not appropriate for Currys' family-friendly image". The official statement lists what Currys believes is "the explicit link between violence and children" as the reason behind the ban, and continues: "We haven't taken this decision lightly, particularly considering the excellent relationship we have with Rockstar." However despite this decision other high street retailers including Game, HMV and Virgin Megastores announced intentions to stock the game. DSG stores still stock other Rockstar games including the GTA series, and other violent games like Manhunt, which both have BBFC 18 ratings, whereas Bully has a BBFC 15 rating.
Bully was banned in Brazil. In April 2008, Brazilian justice prohibited the commerce, import and availability of the game in Brazilian houses. The decision was taken by Judge Flávio Mendes Rabelo from the state of Rio Grande do Sul based on psychological findings by the state psychology society which claims that the game would be potentially harmful to teenagers and adults. Anyone caught selling or even owning the game would face a daily fine of R$1,000.00.
Bully: Scholarship Edition
Bully: Scholarship Edition was released for the Wii and Xbox 360 on 4 March 2008. The game features exclusive content which is unavailable in the PlayStation 2 version, including 8 new missions, 4 new characters, 4 new school classes (Biology, Music, Math and Geography) and new unlockable items and clothing. Some small script changes have been made. The random NPCs also have more lines. In addition, single system 2-player competitive multiplayer minigames have also been added, along with Achievements for the Xbox 360 version and Wii Remote and Nunchuk motion and pointer controls for the Wii version. All ports of the Scholarship Edition use the game engine Gamebryo, rather than Renderware which was used for the PS2 version.
Rockstar Games first announced the game on 19 July 2007. On 6 August 2007, RockstarWatch.net reported on the release of the Australian Bully: Scholarship Edition box art which included artwork of the protagonist, Jimmy Hopkins, and the school principal, Dr. Crabblesnitch. On 3 February 2008, Rockstar announced the game's upcoming release on 4 March 2008 and posted the Scholarship Edition launch trailer at the Bully homepage.
Bully: Scholarship Edition was released in the PAL region under the original Bully title, and not Canis Canem Edit (Latin for "dog eat dog"), as the original game was renamed. The Japanese Xbox 360 version excludes Scholarship Edition from its title. Some retail outlets in Australia have received recall notices for the game on both Wii and Xbox 360. No reason for the recall has been given, but stores have been asked to remove stock from shelves and return it to the distributor.
The Microsoft Windows port was developed by Rockstar New England, the same developers that ported the game to the Xbox 360. The port includes the original soundtrack (created by Shawn Lee) for Bully which was released on CD in 2006. The port was released on 21 October 2008 in the US and 24 October 2008 in the UK. On 28 April 2009, a patch was released to address issues with the game not running properly on 64 bit PCs with more than 2 GB of memory.
Both the Wii and Xbox 360 versions of the game generally received both positive and mixed reviews with IGN giving the Wii version an 8/10, while the Xbox 360 version received 8.7/10. 1UP.com gave the Wii version an A- grade and the Xbox 360 version a B- grade. Gameplasma gave the Wii version a 9/10. The PC version, however, received mixed reviews ranging from a "Good" rating of 7.8 from IGN to a C- from 1UP.com who called it "[a] shoddy, untimely port that, inexplicably – considering its ridiculously long port time – feels like a rush job." GameSpot later rated it with a "fair" rating of 6.0, calling it "[a] lazy porting job [which] hinders Bully's classic classroom hijinks".
The Xbox 360 version of Bully: Scholarship Edition was found to be unstable on some players' consoles, resulting in glitches, crashes and performance issues. Rockstar promised to have a patch addressing these issues by the week of 10 March 2008, however the patch was delayed due to Microsoft Certification. On 20 March, a patch was released via Xbox Live (v1.03), but there are reports which claim the problems have continued or worsened after patching. The problems included audio issues, animation issues, and inability to complete Music classes due to differences between the Wii and Xbox 360 controllers. The most prevalent and common problem with the game is the unexplained freezing of the console, but not music being played on a connected MP3 player or hard drive. GameSpot, a game review website which bases its reviews on the initial public release, took the glitches into account and marked the 360 version of the Scholarship Edition down to a 7/10, a full point lower than the Wii version, which received an 8. The UK magazine NGamer gave the game 90%.
The PC version of Bully: Scholarship Edition was criticized by many, being found by end users to contain problems including textures which were either disappearing or were slow to load, memory leaks, and an endless loop after the initial cut scene in which player speaks with the headmaster when the player had more than 2 GB of memory. However, these issues were addressed in a later patch.
In November 2009, The Gaming Liberty interviewed musician Shawn Lee, who scored Bully, and was asked if he was scoring any more games in the near future; he responded, "Yes. It looks like I will be doing the soundtrack for Bully 2 in the not so distant future...".
In November 2011, in an interview with Gamasutra, Rockstar executive Dan Houser revealed it may return to it for a sequel once Max Payne 3 is released. "Contrary to a lot of people, we like to take a little bit of time at the end of a game before starting a sequel, so we can wait for the excitement or disappointment and everything else of the experience to shake down and really see what we should do in the next game," he said. "So we knew that we didn't want to start doing the Bully sequel instantly at that second with those guys—even though it is a property that, like Max, we adore and might come back to in the future. There was just no impetus to do that then. So we said, 'You can do Max, and then we will see what we can do with Bully."
In July 2013, Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive filed a new trademark application for Bully covering among other things, computer and video game programs and software. The trademark application was filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office on 25 July.
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