Spotlight Game of the Week: Bully

Everyone wants a piece of Jimmy Hopkins.

I was doing some thinking about Bully after I wrote up the recent article on the newest PS2 ports going to the PS4. Bully is a game that’s not only close to my heart, but it’s also very misrepresented. Sure it has a loyal cult following of fans that earned it the redefined version of the original game, Bully: Scholarship Edition, but it never really took off how it should have. That was mostly because of the bad rep that was given to the game from the media, obviously a game called Bully couldn’t possibly be about anything besides a bully simulator, right? All sarcasm aside though, there’s a good reason why Bully has the loyal following that it does and is long overdue for a sequel.

The carnival is just one place stuffed to the brim with mini-games.
The carnival is just one place stuffed to the brim with mini-games.

Essentially, Bully is about a broken kid named Jimmy Hopkins that’s thrown from one bad situation to another throughout his life, never once handling these circumstances in a positive manner. So when he finds himself at the worst school in the world – Bullworth Academy – surrounded by kids and teachers far more corrupt than himself, Jimmy decides to clean up the mess. Jimmy doesn’t always take care of things in the best way, but he has good intentions for the most part and that’s far different than what can be said for most of the Grand Theft Auto protagonists throughout the years.

Sometimes you just have to talk your way put of a situation.
Sometimes you just have to talk your way put of a situation.

It asks the question: Why did Bully cause such an outrage? Bully actually tells a good story about doing the right thing in a place that’s so easy to do the wrong thing. Sure there are people that play the game and act out their every fantasy of being a schoolyard bully, shoving kids into lockers and giving out wedgies, but that’s just one way to play. If Skyrim was looked down on in the same way Bully was initially just because some people go around casually murdering innocents, it wouldn’t have had the chance to become one of the biggest selling RPGs of all time. Think about that for a minute, but also think about this – Grand Theft Auto is Rockstar’s biggest selling hit to date, and no media controversy ever stopped them from making a sequel, so why has Bully been shoved to the back burner for so long?

Many missions affect the different factions - doing something for one generally affects the others.
Many missions affect the different factions – doing something for one generally affects the others.

If I’m going to disregard that whole argument of Bully being a good look at morality and just see it as a game it holds up quite well too. Bully came after Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, so besides a fulfilling story line that stretches across five chapters, it also offers plenty of character customization, mini games and other extra goodies hidden everywhere. Bully is paced very well so the game doesn’t feel like it’s dragging on or that it’s cut short. In other words, it’s great on it’s own and the morality angle gives it an extra boost, so I have to ask again – why did this gem get left in the dust?

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