Bully (video game)

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Bully
Bully frontcover.jpg
North American PlayStation 2 cover art.
Developer(s) Rockstar Vancouver (PS2)
Rockstar New England (X360, PC)[1]
Rockstar Toronto (Wii)
Publisher(s) Rockstar Games
Bethesda Softworks (Japan)[2]
Distributor(s) Take-Two Interactive
Producer(s) Jeronimo Barrera
Steve Martin
Designer(s) Mike Skupa
Sergei Kuprejanov
Programmer(s) Mike Slett
Peter Grant
Artist(s) Steven Olds
Writer(s) Dan Houser
Jacob Krarup
Composer(s) Shawn Lee
Engine RenderWare (PS2)
Gamebryo (Wii, X360, PC)[3]
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Wii, Xbox 360
Release date(s) PlayStation 2
  • NA 17 October 2006
  • EU 25 October 2006
  • AUS 27 October 2006[4]
  • JP 24 July 2008
Wii & Xbox 360
  • NA 4 March 2008
  • EU 7 March 2008[5]
  • AUS 7 March 2008
  • JP 24 July 2008
Microsoft Windows
  • NA 21 October 2008
  • EU 31 October 2008[6]
  • JP 4 December 2008
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer (Wii, Xbox 360 only)
Distribution Optical Disc, download

Bully, also known as Canis Canem Edit for the PAL region PlayStation 2 version,[7] is an action-adventure open world video game released by Rockstar Vancouver 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.[8]

The game was re-released as Bully: Scholarship Edition on 4 March 2008 for the Wii and Xbox 360 and 24 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.[9]

Gameplay[edit]

Bully is a subtle 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 fictional 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 if 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, and if Jimmy does well, he gains the ability to create firecrackers, stink bombs, and other items at his chemistry set in his room at the dorm.

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 culminate 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. 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 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.

Plot[edit]

Chapters[edit]

  • Chapter 1: Making New Friends and Enemies: Jimmy arrives at Bullworth Academy and immediately runs into trouble with the Bullies.
  • Chapter 2: Rich Kid Blues: Jimmy is now more popular, but he must deal with the spoiled Preppies.
  • Chapter 3: Love Makes the World Go Around: As Christmas time comes around the corner, Jimmy gets mixed in with the love affairs of Johnny Vincent, leader of the Greasers, and his promiscuous girlfriend Lola.
  • Chapter 4: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body and Other Lies: Jimmy decides to take on the Jocks, but he first needs to convince the Nerds to help him.
  • Chapter 5: The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hopkins, Aged 15: Jimmy, after briefly enjoying his power as king of Bullworth Academy, is expelled. He has to clear his name and get re-enrolled back into the Academy.
  • Chapter 6: Endless Summer: Jimmy can tie up any loose ends, such as finishing races, finding collectibles, exploring Bullworth town, etc.

Setting[edit]

The game takes place at Bullworth Academy, a fictional independent boarding school in the New England area of the United States. Jimmy ends up enrolled in the school when his newly married mother and stepfather go on a year-long honeymoon cruise. The school is located in the fictional town of Bullworth, which appears to exist in the same fictional universe as the Grand Theft Auto series.[10] The school itself is a neo-gothic design and is similar to many other public schools and colleges in the United Kingdom and New England, in particular Fettes School in Edinburgh.

Characters[edit]

Artwork of Jimmy Hopkins, the main character (left) and Gary Smith, the main antagonist (right).

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, as well as the Townie kids and the mostly corrupt prefects and faculty. 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 is unique.

Main characters[edit]

  • Jimmy Hopkins: James "Jimmy" Hopkins is a 15 year old boy, and is the main protagonist of Bully. Jimmy comes from a troubled background, having been expelled from every school he ever attended, for a wide variety of offenses. His mother has just started her sixth marriage, this one with a man old enough to be Jimmy's grandfather. Unwilling to deal with Jimmy, they dump him on the steps of Bullworth Academy before leaving for a year-long honeymoon cruise. Stuck in a school where everyone wants to beat him up, Jimmy has no choice but to fight his way through all the cliques. Jimmy was designed to be an 'everykid'. Lead Producer of Bully, Jeronimo Barerra, claimed that what he wanted to do with Bully was to recreate the state of being a kid, and to make it fun.[11] Parallels were also made between Jimmy and Holden Caulfield, the main character of Catcher in the Rye.[12] Jimmy and Holden share a background of a difficult homelife and being thrown out of multiple private schools. Jimmy even uses Holden's favorite derogatory term, "phony", to describe his new stepfather.[13]
  • Gary Smith: The main antagonist of the game, Gary is described by other characters as a sociopath.[14] He admits that he suffers from attention-deficit disorder. He considers himself smarter and better than everyone,[15] and wants to run the school. Initially Jimmy's friend, he turns on him early in the school year and spends the rest of the game behind the scenes, manipulating the cliques into fighting Jimmy for him.
  • Pete Kowalski: Pete, usually called "Petey", is a shy, smaller than average student who has trouble fitting in with any group and making friends. Pete is the second student to introduce himself to Jimmy, and becomes the closest thing to a friend Jimmy has at Bullworth. The two of them and Gary form a friendship of sorts, although Gary picks on Pete constantly. When Gary turns on Jimmy, Pete stays loyal to Jimmy and continues to for the rest of the school year. Although he doesn't have physical capabilities matching Jimmy's, he has a good tactical mind, and his advice helps Jimmy throughout the course of the game.
  • Dr. Crabblesnitch: The pompous principal of Bullworth Academy and all-around killjoy, Crabblesnitch believes that "rehabilitating" problem children is his calling in life. Crabblesnitch was originally introduced as the main nemesis,[16] a corrupt, authoritarian bully. The character was changed by the time the game was released, leaving Crabblesnitch more self-righteous and oblivious than malignant. Crabblesnitch refers to the bullying taking place as "school spirit". He refuses to hear ill of his staff, even expelling Zoe for complaining about the gym teacher Mr. Burton hitting on her. He does, however, take appropriate action when confronted with undeniable truth, and fires two different teachers for misdeeds and corruption over the course of the game.
  • Russell Northrop: The leader of the Bullies clique. Russell isn't the smartest student at Bullworth Academy by a long shot. However, he is huge, very tough, and so strong that even the school's brutal and corrupt prefects are afraid of him. Early in the game, Gary manipulates him into fighting Jimmy. After Jimmy beats him, he becomes Jimmy's staunchest ally, assisting him with several important missions.
  • Zoe Taylor: A townie girl who was expelled from Bullworth Academy by Dr. Crabblesnitch for complaining that the gym teacher was hitting on her. In addition to serving as a primary love interest for Jimmy in the game, she helps him carry out an important mission near the end. After Jimmy defeats Gary, she is re-enrolled at the Academy.

Development[edit]

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 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.

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 87.32%[21]
Metacritic 87/100[22]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A+[17]
GamesMaster 90%[18]
GameSpot 8.7/10[19]
IGN 8.9/10[20]

Bully received highly positive reviews from critics.[22] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

As of 12 March 2008, the PlayStation 2 version of Bully has sold 1.5 million copies according to Take-Two Interactive.[23][24] Hyper's 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".[25]

Awards[edit]

In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.[27]

Controversy[edit]

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[28] 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.[29]

Sexuality[edit]

Sexuality is a present theme throughout Bully. 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.[30]

Brazil[edit]

Bully was banned in Brazil.[31] In April 2008, Brazilian justice prohibited the commerce, import and availability of the game in Brazilian houses.[32] 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.[33]

United Kingdom[edit]

Whilst 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 finalized,[34] the game was released rated 15.[35] 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.[36] 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.

United States[edit]

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."[37] 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.[38][39] 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.[40]

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 misbehaviour.[41]

Bully: Scholarship Edition[edit]

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, and the highly compressed voice files of the PS2 original have been replaced with higher-quality versions. 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.[3]

Rockstar Games first announced the game on 19 July 2007.[42] 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.[43] 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.[43] 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.[citation needed]

Windows version[edit]

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.[44] On 28 April 2009, a patch was released to address issues with the game not running properly on PCs with more than 2 GB of memory.[45]

Reception[edit]

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,[46] while the Xbox 360 version received 8.7/10.[47] 1UP.com gave the Wii version an A- grade[48] and the Xbox 360 version a B- grade.[49] Gameplasma gave the Wii version a 9/10.[50] The PC version, however, received mixed reviews ranging from a "Good" rating of 7.8 from IGN[51] to a C- from 1UP.com[52] 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,[53] 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.[54] 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.[55] 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,[56] a full point lower than the Wii version, which received an 8.[57] The UK magazine NGamer gave the game 90%.[citation needed]

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.[58] However, these issues were addressed in a later patch.[45]

Awards[edit]

  • IGN Best of 2008:
    • Nominated: Best Voice Acting (Xbox 360)

Sequel[edit]

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...".[59]

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." [60][61]

On 9 July 2012, Rockstar Games announced that Rockstar Vancouver would be closed.

In a September 2013 interview, Dan Houser said he has many different ideas for Bully. Even so, Houser has stated that there will be no "Grand Theft Auto" game featuring Jimmy Hopkins as he is not enough of a degenerate.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Reports Strong Second Quarter Fiscal 2008 Financial Results" (Press release). Take-Two Interactive. 5 June 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2008. 
  2. ^ "Bully". Rockstar Games. 29 June 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Gamebryo Games List[dead link]
  4. ^ "Bully Game Info". GameFAQs. Retrieved 23 July 2007. 
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  6. ^ Onyett, Charles (20 August 2008). "Bully: Scholarship Edition Confirmed for PC". IGN. Retrieved 20 August 2008. 
  7. ^ Richardson, Ben (1 September 2006). "Bully in name change shock". Gamesradar.com. Retrieved 1 September 2006. 
  8. ^ "Bully for Xbox canceled". ign.com. Retrieved 19 March 2007. 
  9. ^ EGM Staff (11 December 2006). "Rockstar's Bully Afterthoughts from 1UP.com". 1UP.com. Retrieved 22 August 2008. "He's a fascinating character, definitely, and Bullworth is a fascinating place, so obviously we would love to explore, but we have no plans right now for it." 
  10. ^ Grand Theft Auto IV features a number of in-game TV stations. The fake TV show I'm Rich shows a character being sent to Bullworth Academy
  11. ^ EGM Staff (12/11/06). "Rockstar's Bully Afterthoughts from 1up". Retrieved 17 February 2009. "It's kind of the same idea that our designers had with Bully -- like, what happened to you as a kid, and let's figure out how to make it fun." 
  12. ^ "Publisher: 'Bully' Video Game Has Positive Message". Fox News (Associated Press). 17 October 2006. Retrieved 21 May 2007. ""Bully" influences came from Hollywood movies [...] and novels like J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" — a coming-of-age book that has been one of the most banned since it was first published more than 50 years ago." 
  13. ^ Jimmy:Mom, why did you marry that phony?Rockstar Vancouver (17 October 2006). Bully. Playstation 2. Rockstar Games. 
  14. ^ Algernon: Nothing... just that you are friends with that sociopath Gary. Rockstar Vancouver (17 October 2006). Bully. Playstation 2. Rockstar Games. 
  15. ^ Gary: I'm a genius! Geniuses don't NEED medication! Rockstar Vancouver (17 October 2006). Bully. Playstation 2. Rockstar Games. 
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  27. ^ Mott, Tony (2010). 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. London: Quintessence Editions Ltd. p. 660. ISBN 978-1-74173-076-0. 
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  48. ^ Reviews: Bully: SE (Wii) 1up.com
  49. ^ Reviews: Bully: SE (Xbox) 1up.com
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  61. ^ http://www.computerandvideogames.com/326621/rockstar-hints-at-bully-2/

External links[edit]