A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Players take on the role of a school outcast who decides to stand up to those who bully him and his friends. Still, there is plenty of mischief available should you go looking for it. Players can initiate fistfights, pull fire alarms, break into lockers, egg people's houses, push kids' heads into toilets, and throw firecrackers and stink bombs.
Violence & Scariness
Mainly fistfights, but you can also use weapons such as slingshots, baseball bats, fire extinguishers, trash can lids, and bricks. You can push a kids' head in the toilet and flush it. Most of the violence is sparked by other characters, and there is no guns, gore, or killing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual innuendo, occasional remarks, and sexual pranks including sneaking into a bathroom while a girl is showering to try to get a photo -- all you see is steam and feet. There is kissing -- including a homosexual smooch between two boys -- but nothing graphic. While in front of an adult book store, a gym teacher requests the main character to sneak into the girls dorm to steal panties from laundry.
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Some occasional swearing (such as "ass," "damn," "b---h" and "hell") and plenty of taunting by calling someone a "loser" or calling a guy a "girl" (implying he might be gay).
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Products & Purchases
This is an expansion of the original Bully game.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some characters, such as a homeless man and a down-on-his-luck Santa actor, are inebriated in the game, and you can collect empty liquor bottles. The school cook is a chain smoker. Drugs are alluded to, but never seen or used.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this game is an expansion of the original 2006 Bully game offered on newer platforms, and that it depicts antisocial behavior and violence within a school environment. At its heart it is a simulation about bullying behavior in a school setting and therefore -- given the sad state of school violence -- a hot-button topic for parents. There is plenty of psychological mischief and physical violence, including fistfighting, kicking, humiliating taunts and insults. Weapons include a slingshot, firecracker launcher, baseball bat, garbage can lid, and fire extinguisher, but there are no guns or bombs, nor is there any gore, serious injuries, or deaths. The Wii edition makes use of the console's motion sensitive controls to punch, but doesn't make players engage in the physical act of punching. The game contains some sexual remarks, sexual pranks (stealing girls' underwear and sneaking into a bathroom to try to get a photo of a girl in the shower (all you see is steam), and alcohol references. And depending on the path taken, the main character, Jimmy Hopkins, can kiss another boy. Pranks include pushing kids into toilets, tossing stinkbombs, firecrackers, and itching powder at pedestrians, and throwing marbles on the ground for others to trip over. The game does include consequences for misdeeds.
Is It Any Good?
Thanks to the game's wide gamut of bullying behavior, both physical (fistfights) and psychological (taunts, insults, and humiliation), some parents will be tempted to ban Bully on principle. But in the end, there's little here that most teens won't witness at some point in their day-to-day school lives. In fact, standing up to these video game bullies might even prove somewhat cathartic for kids who suffer bullying in their real lives. Yes, Billy uses excessive violence to accomplish many of his objectives, but he never goes too far--there are no guns, bombs, deaths, or serious injuries in the game. And he does end up accomplishing plenty of good. By the time the game's credits roll, there's peace at Bullworth Academy; all of the school's cliques are friends with one another and the game's most immoral characters have been suitably punished (the main bully is expelled, and a perverted and abusive teacher is fired). Of course, players are free to experiment outside the narrative and start bullying innocents, but there are consequences to these actions--such as being "busted" by ever-present school prefects, losing mission progress, and being forced back to class to play learning mini-games.
Just keep in mind that Bully isn't a game intended for younger kids. While most teens will be able to handle the game's events, younger kids aren't prepared to deal with some of the psychological bombshells this game unleashes (prominent among the high jinx are missions that see the player going on a panty raid for a perverted teacher, shoving an occupied outhouse down a hill, and taking a picture of a bathroom in which a girl is taking a shower – though all we see is steam). It's also worth noting that, thanks in part to the game's spot-on high school humor and surprisingly engaging story, many gaming parents might want to check Bully out -- especially those who remember having been on the receiving end of many a high school prank (and who wouldn't mind a little fantasy payback).
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