Alrighty! Bully Scholarship Edition. I actually have some pretty fond memories of this game from when it came out back in the day. Of course I wasn’t yet a self trained scientist back then, so take that with a grain of salt.
Bully was originally released way back in 2006 for the Playstation 2 and later ported to pretty much everything including PCs and even smartphones, which is pretty wild when you think about it. It’s actually made by Rockstar Vancouver who went on to make Max Payne 3, which will appear in this series some time in the future. Their parent company, Rockstar, is famous for making the Grand Theft Auto games. In fact Bully can be summarized as Grand Theft Auto, but scaled down to a boarding school and the small surrounding town and with the sex and murder was replaced with smooches and kicking people repeatedly on the ground.
You play as Jimmy Hopkins, a tough kid who has been expelled from several schools before landing at Bullworth Academy. The school is filled with stereotypical cliques. Jocks, Preps, Nerds, Greasers, etc. Each hold their own opinions of you that you can influence through your actions. Hand out compliments and you might earn some friends, talk shit and well, get hit.
Right off the bat I have to note that the stock version of this game that you can buy is extremely unstable. Cutscenes won’t display and the game is pretty infamous for crashing. I had to look into finding some unofficial fixes to get the game to run well enough to even play it for its full hour. Funnily enough, this game costs the same $15 as our first subject, Sweet Lily whatever the fuck.
That said, once the fix was in place and I got started into the game proper, I had a blast. The game is fairly well placed, doling out new mechanics fairly quickly. Simple minigames are scattered in as a metaphor for classes. Did I forget to mention that? This is a school and there is a constantly running clock. You have to attend class twice per day or risk being caught while truant. The classes go by pretty quickly and serve well to break up the main missions. Outside of class, you can fight, break into peoples lockers, make out with girls or boys, or tackle any of the story missions. It’s all well themed and quite fun.
There are a few problems with it though. The game certainly shows its age. The controls are just on the other side of feeling modern. The camera in particular is annoying as it centers Jimmy in the frame making it difficult to see past him. The sound design is also noteworthy for how bad it is. Voice samples overlap each other very poorly and cut off abruptly. The music is also way too loud almost all the time. I turned it way down in the settings, but I’m not sure it actually affected anything. Minor problems overall, but something that can’t be overlooked.
Bully is definitely a product of its era, though I’m surprised at how well it holds up. I think the best thing I can say about it is that after my hour timer went off, I wanted to keep playing. Bully Scholarship edition easily takes the first match of the bracket challenge and takes the covated #1 spot in our overall rankings.