As part of Sony’s efforts to rerelease and remaster old, nostalgic video games, you can travel back into the realms of the Playstation 2 in the Scholarship Edition of Bully for the Playstation 4. While Rockstar is known for its successes such as GTA and Red Dead Redemption, it’s games like Bully that often fly under-the-radar.
Bully, originally released in 2006, has a charming storyline. Taking on the role of Jimmy Hopkins, the player is presented with a plethora of issues that are a hilarious exaggeration of real life high school problems. Throughout the game, you’ll find yourself kissing girls to gain health, running from teachers (or “prefects” in Bully terms), all while insults and physical attacks rain down from every angle. Accomplishing Jimmy’s goal of earning respect has many obstacles. First you need to gain the respect of many cliques; wimpy, fly unzipped nerds, stuck-up, trust fund preppies, slicked hair, leather jacket greasers, steroid ridden, dumbed down jocks, and the high school no show townies. The stereotypical nature of these cliques truly make the game great.
Where you might have an issue though, is the lack of connection to any character in the game. Because of the stereotypical nature of the characters, they are often used as comedic relief. The only character I found myself sympathetic for was Petey. The shy, awkward, and good-intentioned Pete gets mercilessly picked on throughout the whole game. Even the nerds think he’s too weird. Pete is the most well developed character in the game.
Archenemy, Gary, does come close, though.
As you continue to play the game, the more you hate Gary. Unlike everyone else at Bullworth Academy, Gary normally doesn’t resort to fighting Jimmy. Instead, he takes every dirty, underhanded route possible to try to destroy Jimmy and Pete, while attempting to take over the school. Gary is not beyond such petty, childish actions as calling Pete gay.
Unfortunately, both of these characters are much more developed than the rather basic protagonist that is Jimmy Hopkins. We truly see no growth in Jimmy from beginning to end and, throughout, we learn very little about his life.
There’s always stuff to do on Bully, in between classes you can play arcade games, get in fights and races, do fun side missions and run around the large map to do many other fun activities. The graphics aren’t great, but that adds to the nostalgia of playing a PS2 game. The difficulty of the game is debatable. It is much more a casual play than a truly difficult and fulfilling game. And once it starts snowing, the game turns into a massively unfocused, blurry mess. The alarm clock in the mornings is one of the worst synced, ear piercing sounds I’ve heard in a game. The mechanics of this game are horrendous. If you can skateboard in a straight line, without veering into walls or other people, you truly are a pro and you probably haven’t seen the outdoors in days.
Overall Bully is a clunky, yet very fun play. At this point of the game’s life, the bugs and glitches are minor enough to where it simply adds to the nostalgia. Bully may not be the most sound game ever, but it is the type of game where the pure hilarity can bring your spirits up on any dark day. It’s almost like a toned down Grand Theft Auto. For that, $15 is a great value for Bully, one of my favourite PS2 games of all time.
– Connor Toffan