A Brief Aside: Bully

I was just having a conversation with a couple of comics bloggers that started out being about Bully the Little Stuffed Bull, and eventually turned into being about Rockstar Games’ classic prep school epic, Bully, mostly because I don’t often go a full day without thinking about Bully.

Anyway, he asked me to sell him on the game, so I wrote up a completely unwarranted sales pitch that might be of use to any of you out there who have not enjoyed this masterpiece:



YOU ARE Jimmy Hopkins, a teenage cretin dumped off by his gold-digging absentee mother at the gates of Bullworth Academy, a private school in New England designed to Pink Floyd the delinquency right out of you. You’re immediately set upon by Machiavellian asshole Gary–who is seriously one of my favorite villains since Cobra Commander–and as the New Kid, everyone in school totally hates you.

Thus, your mission is clear: You must… RULE THIS SCHOOL.

So you start doing missions ranging from helping out your teachers with their alcoholism and sordid love lives to keeping the nerds from getting beaten up, all while taking classes, dodging curfew, and trying to solidify your domination of the school.

The depth to it is pretty amazing: You actually do take classes, and if you don’t get some sleep, you eventually just pass out at two AM, sleeping wherever you fall down after the screen gets blurry and you start to slow down and nod off. You can change your clothes to whatever you want, but if you’re not wearing approved Bullworth Academy uniform attire, you’ll get in trouble from the prefects and teachers. And once you get to a certain point, the gates of the school open up and you get a whole city’s worth of missions to explore, complete with bike races, paper routes, and townies that resent private school kids.

The other characters, of course, are the one-dimensional stereotypes you’ve come to expect from Rockstar: The nerds are into D&D and comics but can make molotov cocktails and stink bombs, and then there’s the big dumb jocks, the incestuous, aristocratic preppies, and the awesomely anachronistic greasers. There’s not a whole lot to them, but they all have individual names and designs, which I know because you have to take pictures of every single one of them to complete your yearbook.

There is no–yes, NO–game-breaking mission like there is in GTASA, and the minigames are actually fun and exciting, and often worth completing just for fun rather than getting a percentage point.

Also, Jimmy Hopkins is a badass.

Also, best Final Boss fight ever.

The only way it could be better is if Jimmy Hopkins had to hire Phoenix Wright.



And that was that. So trust me on this one and if you haven’t experienced already, get a copy of your own. Or, y’know, wait until next year when the Scholarship Edition comes out for the next-gen consoles, but really: It’s twenty bucks, and worth three times that.

23 thoughts on “A Brief Aside: Bully

  1. What struck me about the game is how it further refined the “real life” aspects of San Andreas; clothes, items, every place feels real and lived in. The town has just as much personality as GTA, if not more. And there’s so much to DO. I can’t wait for the Scholarship Edition.

  2. It’s only on PS2 as far as I know, but the new version will hit Wii and 360.

    And yeah, whereas changing your clothes and getting haircuts was neat in San Andreas, I ended up putting Jimmy in a different set of clothes every day. I mean, since things actually work on a daily cycle, it makes it a lot easier to do it, but it felt like something that added a little to the game.

    Plus it made him look bad. Real bad.

  3. This is very odd.

    I just had this game from Gamefly and loved it so much I bought it. Its the only game I’ve been playing lately. .


  4. Yeah, I just started playing it the other day, actually.

    I have spent a ridiculous amount of time beating the jocks with baseball bats. And a homeless guy out back (“Boy, it’s great that we have a violent homeless guy right here on campus.”) taught me how to punch real good. So now I can punch them in the head, too. It’s loads of fun. Plus I made friends with the nerdy girls and can smooch them at will. Yeah!

    Why no, I don’t have any repressed issues. Why do you ask?

  5. This game is stupid.

    I don’t play video games, but it always screws up my searches for the REAL Bully.

    Therefore (To quote the Comics Curmudgeon) I hate it and it should die.

  6. Gary was such a cool villain. It’s a damn shame that he only appears at the begining and end of the game.

  7. Are there any other games starring a villain named Gary? Extra points if it’s a cyborg Gary, as those are the worst kind.

  8. I’m playing through the game through the, I believe, third time and I can give an example of why the game is awesome.

    When you’re attacked by somebody else and anybody whom you have a high enough faction rating with will come to your defense. So, I had Jimmy wandering New Coventry, the greaser hang-out, looking for trouble to get into. From nowhere came three vicious, firecracker-lobbing townie kids! Master Hopkins was doomed! Then three of the Greasers rushed to his defense and a melee ensued. Then an adult got hit and the cops showed up.

    Just another Friday night in Bullworth, baby.

  9. I bought Bully the day it came out, and I love it. I think it should have been a contender for game of the year, along with Okami. Both got slighted due to Zelda, a fine game in its own right, but not nearly as original this time around.

    The collector’s edition even came with a graphic novel! (Though don’t get too excited; it was mainly the art you see in the game anyhow).

  10. BTW, I notice Chris is also watching “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” a show I was just introduced to a couple of weeks back. I’m about to watch tonight’s episode as I write this.

    So he’s either got uncanny good taste or a network of spies.

  11. It’s fun, it’s stylized, the gameplay is strong . . . but I felt that it significantly dropped off after the first couple hours, when the game opens up and becomes Grand Theft Auto: Bikes Only. I wanted something different, and when it comes to personality and story, the game delivers, but sheesh, can we accuse Rockstar of making GTA clones?


    Michael: That really didn’t bother me too much because the town felt so different from, say, Liberty City or Los Santos. A sleepy New England Shoreburg.

  13. This game (which I just bought the other day too…weird) is one of the coolest ever. Chris, did you try to buy all the clothes/win all the carnival prizes/get all the bikes too?

  14. I got the collector’s edition with the dodgeball and the comic that made absolutely no sense whatsoever, but I loved the game enough that paying the extra ten didn’t feel so bad.

  15. Dan: Well, I thought Vice City was very different from Los Santos, but that didn’t really make it a different game.

    Also, was I the only one really disappointed in the fact that Jimmy spends the whole game complaining about Gary’s manipulations, meanwhile Gary disappears after the first chapter and doesn’t show up again the end . . . only to be responsible for everything, exactly as Jimmy had thought? I wanted some twist, like maybe Petey was behind everything.

  16. Michael: The bizarreness of the final chapter, where Gary has been off screen for a while, no one’s seen him, yet somehow Jimmy is blamed for everything he’s done was a serious story flaw. I definitely agree on that. Also, a confrontation with the gym teacher might have been nice, given what he did to Jimmy’s girl.

    Anyone know what the Scholarship Edition will actually have in it? because by the time it comes out I know I’ll probably own a 360 and/or Wii.

  17. Dan: I think the Scholarship Edition is just a re-release, but don’t quote me on that. It might very well have some bonus goodies packaged with it.

    I loved Bully. Fantastic story (except for the very valid flaws that have been pointed out), great design, and perhaps one of the finest premises a game has ever been built around. It’s not as difficult as GTA can be, which is a blessing and a curse (the missions don’t get to be hair-pullingly difficult, but if you’ve played through GTA you can finish most Bully missions with a fair amount of ease).

    A fine, fine review indeed, Mr. Sims. And perhaps someday we’ll get that Jimmy Hopkins/Phoenix Wright/Matt Murdock crossover we’ve all been waiting for.


  18. The local Hollywood video is closing down and I picked this game up for $10. I’ve only been playing since last night, but it’s already well worth it. I also picked up the Sopranos game for $8 and that one is not worth it.