A game you really shouldn’t take at face value.
The title “Bully” is a bit misleading for a game like this.
This game was developed by Rockstar Vancouver and published by Rockstar in 2006. Cautious parents will realize this is the same company who makes the infamous Grand Theft Auto series. Now, before you rush to unfortunate comparisons between the two games, there’s things you have to consider.
One, I wouldn’t recommend this game for younger audiences. It is a “mature” game in a sense, make no mistake. But there is no explicit blood, sex, or drug doing of the sort. What there REALLY is, is comic violence, kissing and mild suggestive themes, adults drinking and smoking (the main character never partakes), stealing, trespassing, vandalism, and infrequent swearing (b**ch, sl*t, and a** are used here and there). But to be honest, if you’d let your kid watch Grease, you should let them play this game. If anything, something like Grease is more explicit than this game.
Two, like GTA, this game takes place in an open world setting. The player controls a 15-year old juvenile delinquent forced to go to a boarding academy. The game takes place mostly in said academy, but the game later expands to the surrounding town. Also like GTA, if you commit crimes you will actively be pursued and punished by authority. These crimes include vandalism, trespassing, fighting, stealing, truancy, and violating curfew. Yes, this game requires the player to keep in a schedule while progressing through the main story. Going to and passing classes is something the game expects of you, and skipping class will have consequences if you’re seen by a school official or a police officer. Sexual themes get as intense as kissing, taking out-of-context pictures of a cheerleader, and stealing panties from a locker because a gym teacher forgot to do laundry (no joke). Several weapons can be used throughout the game, like slingshots, stink bombs, firecrackers, baseball bats, and other juvenile tools such as “itching powder” and marbles that characters can trip on. The closest thing to a gun this game has is a potato launcher. Characters can be knocked out, but there is no blood or death present in the game at all. It is basically glorified cartoon violence. The character trespasses on private property at some points in the game. Vandalism and stealing is present, the worst it gets is smashing windows, graffiti, and stealing bikes. There are in-game shops that let the character buy new clothes, gifts, and materials but the character gets a large payout at the end of nearly every mission. It is almost impossible to run out of money in this game.
Three, despite all of this, “Bully” is the tale of a kid who’s had enough of doing bad things and uses his skills to help those who need help. One common trope throughout the game is helping “nerds” defend themselves from “jocks”, and turning the tables on the actual bullies who go to the school. The player goes against several cliques and their leaders to stop them from terrorizing those beneath them (and stops a riot or two). Overall, the games sends a well-meaning message to those who play it. Although Bully definitely has a jagged, mature edge to it that makes it unsuitable for younger audiences, it’s perfect for teens. Trust me parents, your teens already know about every theme Bully brings up. It’s suitable for them, almost even feels like it was meant for teens. However, that doesn’t stop the game from being really enjoyable. Aside from the main story, there’s collectibles to find, jobs to take up, bike races to participate in, errands to do, and a whole carnival to play in. The game balances the player’s responsibilities and extra activities very nicely, making said activities rapidly accessible while not taking up too much time. Your character always has access to a skateboard, making traversing the map really fun and fast. The combat is way deeper than you’d imagine, being able to chain different combos together and use different moves. The main story is really something, having a few great missions that will really entertain the average player. The only thing that holds this game back is it’s age, but then again, every thing but it’s graphics have aged perfectly.
TL;DR: A fun GTA-like game suitable for teens that takes place in a school. You fight bullies and do a few questionable things on the way, but it’s nothing you don’t see on daytime television.
This title contains:
Violence & scariness
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking