Rockstar’s Bully, the first game I finished ever, is one of the greatest open-world games among all the open-world titles I have ever known. This little article will tell you about the forgotten, yet beautiful art made by the Rockstar games and its highly anticipated sequel.
Bully is an open-world game developed by Rockstar Vancouver and published by Rockstar Games. Released in October 2006 for the PlayStation 2, Bully was remastered and released as the “Scholarship Edition”, and then was released in March 2008 for Xbox 360 and Wii, and in October that same year for Microsoft Windows. An updated version of the Scholarship Edition, titled Anniversary Edition, was developed by War Drum Studios and released for Android and iOS in December of 2016.
Bully, as we know, a third-person perspective open-world title was set in a fictional town called Bullworth. The protagonist, James “Jimmy” Hopkins, who is involuntarily enrolled at Bullworth Academy for a year, wants to rise through the ranks of the school system in order to put a stop to bullying. Now, you control Jimmy as he attempts to become more popular among the school’s various “cliques”, in addition to attending classes and completing various side missions. Throughout the story, Jimmy rises through the ranks of the school groups, archetypes which include Bullies, Nerds, Preppies, Greasers, and Jocks. Players complete missions—linear scenarios with set objectives—to progress through the story. Missions reward the player with cash, new items, and increase/decrease the respect of certain groups. If a group holds Jimmy in high regard, they will act friendly towards him (and have the option of being hired as “bodyguards” or “muscle”); if a group despises Jimmy, they will attack him on sight. You unlock different parts of the town as you complete chapters. The player can freely roam in the Bullworth town when not doing missions.
Unlike other open-world titles, Bully offers you a different milieu. You don’t go bash the boss with a SPAS-12 in Bully. The game does not give you some serious firepower, instead, it gives you melee weapons like slingshots, rocket launcher guns, potato guns, and other cool stuff because of the setting. The player attends his school classes as side missions. When you complete a class, let’s say chemistry class, you get the recipe of creating a melee weapon like a stink bomb, which you now can make at your dorm room’s chemistry set. Unlike other games, the player has to navigate to the game with skateboards, scooters, bicycles, and go-karts. The player can also grab onto the back of a moving car while on a skateboard, but can’t drive cars themselves. Bus stops located in various locations around the world allow the player to quickly travel back to Bullworth Academy.
The world and the setting make it completely different and unique from other open-world games. Bullies, Nerds, Preppies, Greasers, and Jocks and the mighty Bullworth Academy. The game is a perfect fantasy for high schoolers. You fight for areas, do bicycle races, impress girls, and do anything a high schooler would want to. The nerds hanging out in the observatory near the schools’ football field, the jocks hanging out in the gymnasium, located at the far end of the school, and many more cliques. The storyline is good, can’t say perfect, but you would love it. There really aren’t many games with let you play as a protagonist in high school. That’s the one main reason this game is different from other games.
Now the conclusion. If you want a different experience from other open-world games, or even want to play something old, Bully is well worth your time. Despite the graphics, the game has become a feeling of gamers and will surely make you nostalgic.
In November 2009, The Gaming Liberty interviewed musician Shawn Lee, who scored Bully, and was asked if he was scoring any more games in the near future; he responded, “Yes. It looks like I will be doing the soundtrack for Bully 2 in the not so distant future”.
In November 2011, in an interview with Gamasutra, Rockstar executive Dan Houser revealed that the studio might focus on a sequel for Bully after the release of Max Payne 3. “Contrary to a lot of people, we like to take a little bit of time at the end of a game before starting a sequel, so we can wait for the excitement or disappointment and everything else of the experience to shake down and really see what we should do in the next game,” he said. “So we knew that we didn’t want to start doing the Bully sequel instantly at that second with [Rockstar Vancouver] – even though it is a property that, like [Max Payne], we adore and might come back to in the future. There was just no impetus to do that then. So we said, ‘You can do [Max Payne], and then we will see what we can do with Bully.”
In July 2012, Rockstar Vancouver was merged into Rockstar Toronto, and the staff was offered to join a different Rockstar studio.
In September 2013, Dan Houser said he has many different ideas for a Bully sequel. To date, this is the last official comment on a Bully sequel.
On 28 August 2017, concept art rumored to be from the development of a sequel leaked online; it purported to show new characters and a run-down suburban home along with a few other bits of art; Rockstar Games did not comment.
October 2018, alleged casting calls for a Bully sequel were revealed. These castings are to be auditioned at Spotlight in London, England, and shooting would commence on October 26, 2018, at Pinewood Studios, also located in London, and would be using motion capture technology. Jessica Jefferies, the casting director on this unknown title, confirmed via Twitter that the title she was referring to was not a sequel to Bully.
In July 2019, YouTuber SWEGTA posted a video discussing a leaked conversation with an individual (whose name was initially shown) who allegedly worked at Rockstar New England before being laid off. SWEGTA found the individual’s name credited in Bully: Scholarship Edition, which confirmed his authenticity as a former Rockstar Games employee. According to the ex-employee, Rockstar had worked on a sequel for several months before shutting it down in 2009. He claimed to have worked on various game mechanics in the scrapped project and stated that the story would have featured Jimmy living with his mother and step-siblings in his stepfather’s mansion during summer vacation.
In October 2019, Video Games Chronicle published a story based on inside sources corroborating that Rockstar had indeed worked on Bully 2 for eighteen months before canceling it. Production of the game however began in May 2010, shortly after Red Dead Redemption was released, and eventually was discontinued sometime before the end of 2013 as the project did not get much traction in the studio. During this time, a reported small slice of a working game was built using the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE). According to these sources, the studio had worked out some of the stories but was not sure what period of time it would cover. One source confirmed a previous employee’s claims reported by SWEGTA that the story began with Jimmy spending summer vacation with his mother and stepfamily. Rockstar Games refused to comment on this topic.