Classic game appreciation section: Bully

One of the greatest aspects of Bully is the fighting mechanics. To this day, I’ll still argue that Jimmy Hopkins would kick Niko Bellic’s ass. The robust fisticuffs in Bully are as meaty as a cow’s backside and every head-butt, uppercut and kick packs a satisfying punch that just isn’t found in the GTA series. Honing your skills in compulsory, yet entertaining, gym classes to improve combos and discovering new moves is also another neat trick of slipping some teachings in there.

Above: BOCK! How'd you like that kick to the hip, chum? Plenty more where that came from

Obviously, throwing hands – or heads – isn’t the only way to deal with the bigger kids around Bullworth Academy – smashing them on the head with a sledgehammer is another, more brutal, yet efficient way. Or for kicks, I love slinging snowballs at prefects and then legging it as they chase you across the playing fields. It’s all puerile fun, but this level of humour created a clear distinction between Bully and other games of a more serious nature.

Seasons greetings

Another memory that shines bright in my mind are the changing seasons within the game. They add a charm to the proceedings and do a decent job highlighting how time is progressing. I still remember getting excited about the present Jimmy’s gallivanting mother had sent him for Christmas as I made my way to the principle’s office. But as he frowned at the Christmas jumper he unwrapped, complete with a garish red nose reindeer, I was laughing my head off at the crumbiness of it.

Above: The offending Christmas sweater in all it's hideous glory

The way the whole city transforms with snow in winter and the how autumn homes are dressed for Halloween gives a fresh feel to what is essentially the same area you’ve been banging around throughout the game.

One concern I had before I’d even played Bully was what type of vehicles you’d get. Obviously, Jimmy is too young to get behind the wheel of a car and he’d surely get his ass handed to him if he tried to car-jack an adult. But Rockstar do a great job of delivering less predictable but equally fun ways of getting around including the chance to build faster BMX bikes by – you guessed it – going to shop classes. I much preferred to ride the bike than the mopeds that are unlocked later, but when you’re finally given the go-kart to spin around in it’s like the first time you find a Banshee in GTA III. Amazing scenes.

All the fun of the fair

The enjoyment from Bully – for me anyway - comes in the amount of things you can do away from the story. Neat touches like the skate park where you can practice skateboard or BMX back-flip skills captured more hours of my time than I care to admit. The carnival area, with it’s working rollercoaster and the many games, like the dunk tank where you soak a man by flinging balls at a target, stole a lot of my time as I tried to win tickets to buy a piece of clothing for Jimmy.

Above: Sure it wasn't exactly Tony Hawk's but the skateboard mini-games were sound

While the clamour for Rockstar sequels rumbles on with wild abandon it’s the follow-up to Bully that seems the quietest. Yet, with Jimmy only being 15 years old there’s perfect scope to follow him to university and beyond so a second run at it would make sense. But regardless of whether we’ll ever meet little Hopkins again, I’ll always remember his game for being a riot of fun times. 

September 8, 2011

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Appreciation Section: Timesplitters 2
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  • AuthorityFigure - September 11, 2011 4:38 a.m.

    I prefer Bully to GTAIII/IV because by limiting what you can do a little, you feel a bit more a part of the city/town, not just a visitor with a sociopathic attitude. Also, the BMX parts were fun too.
  • Rezindez - September 9, 2011 4:37 p.m.

    You know what? If someone somehow combined Bully with Persona, then they would make the best game of all time.
  • SolidEye - September 9, 2011 4:34 p.m.

    Yeah, I've been hoping for a new Bully for ages. The college based sequel sounds good. I agree more mature themes and content. (Alittle more along the lines of college comedies (American Pie) than Harry Potter.
  • theinvinciblemick - September 9, 2011 4:20 a.m.

    I miss Jimmy Hopkins
  • 435 - September 9, 2011 3:38 a.m.

    FC'd it three times. Once on the PS2, once on the v1 Xbox, and once on the 360. First game I'd gotten the whole thousand on with Gamerscore, too. Most of the way through my fourth playthrough, too, on another account. So much Bully. So good a time.
  • GTA_enthusiast - September 8, 2011 7:20 p.m.

    Bully is one of my top 5 favoutie games of all time. I really hope Rockstar makes a sequel.
  • Yeager1122 - September 8, 2011 7:01 p.m.

    Thsi makes me want to go replay bully.
  • LeSieg - September 8, 2011 4:21 p.m.

    One of the last games I played on the PS2. Back in the day, I only had like a..."12 TV at the time and it was positioned awkwardly far away from my bed, so in order to play anything I had to stand up and right in front of the TV. Naturally, this position made playing games something of a chore, but never once did it bother me when I played Bully. Everything Mr. Irvine mentioned in this article helps me to remember all the fun and hilarious moments I had playing the absolute bananas out of this game. Long live the potato gun!
  • c1nd3rcell - September 8, 2011 3:52 p.m.

    Sorry about the double post, but I totally agree on the soundtrack for Bully. The best I have ever heard!
  • c1nd3rcell - September 8, 2011 3:50 p.m.

    Canis Canum Edit! I remember pre-ordering this as a substitute for an M rated game, a replacement for GTA, if you will. Now that I've been playing them for quite a few years, I have forgotten all about this game. One of the few that got into my "Platinum" category, a truly remarkable game. However, it is in no way better than RDR. But it comes close...
  • UsernameLoser - September 8, 2011 3:42 p.m.

    I never played it, but it sounds a lot better than GTA.
  • LiaraLoveSlave - September 8, 2011 3:33 p.m.

    I love all the GTAs and RDR is an an amazing experience but there is something about Bully that makes it tops from R* in my book. How Jimmy's room accumulates various items, the sound of the chalk on the tablet in English class, or when the music gets trippy before you pass out at 2am...I could go on and on. Classic game indeed. Great job Nath! PS: HD remake would make me happier than a nerd with a new pack of G&G cards
  • GrandmaSlayer - September 8, 2011 1:01 p.m.

    one of my favourite games!loved everything about it! :')
  • CitizenWolfie - September 8, 2011 12:33 p.m.

    This is still my favourite Rockstar game even over San Andreas, Red Dead and LA Noire. Hell, it's probably in my top 5 games of all time. Sometimes I'd play for hours just rugby tackling people and kneeing them in the balls. It's a shame you couldn't change the seasons during free roam after completion; I loved the Halloween missions! If anything deserved a HD update or a sequel, it's Bully.
  • Crypto140 - September 8, 2011 11:56 a.m.

    moar Bully plses!!!
  • Money - September 8, 2011 11:06 a.m.

    This game was terible and doesn't deserve appreciation
  • therawski - September 8, 2011 10:18 a.m.

    Which version do you think is best, PS2, 360, or Wii?... I'm hearing even after patches the 360 version is still glitchy, but I don't want a Nintendo censored version either.
  • Personamanxx - September 8, 2011 9:45 a.m.

    Man... I loved this game the few times I rented it... I think they have it in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart for 360. Christ, may as well get it.
  • XanderGC - September 8, 2011 9:39 a.m.

    Rockstar is definitely one of my fave publishers of now and then. While I may have finished each of the GTA III and IV era games, I somehow overlooked Bully. After I finish Mafia II and then RDR, I plan to pick up Bully: Scholarship Edition for the 360. As a side note, thank you GR for making these Classic Game Appreciation posts, most entertaining and informative. :D
  • egregious - September 8, 2011 9:27 a.m.

    Yes, even after Red Dead Redemption, Bully remains the best game Rockstar has ever delivered.

Showing 1-20 of 32 comments

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