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Bully, also known as Canis Canem Edit, is a third person action-adventure video game released by Rockstar Vancouver for the PlayStation 2 on October 17, 2006 in the United States, and October 25, 2006 in the United Kingdom. An Xbox version was planned but was cancelled for undisclosed reasons. The game was re-released as Bully: Scholarship Edition on March 4, 2008 for the Wii and Xbox 360 and October 24, 2008 on the PC. The PlayStation 2 version of the game is also available in the United States as a special edition that includes a limited edition comic book and a dodgeball of the same style as the ones used in the game, with the word Bully embossed on it.
Bully is a sandbox game set in a school environment. The player takes control of teenage rebel James "Jimmy" Hopkins, who from the opening cutscene is revealed to be a difficult student with a turbulent background. The game concerns the events that follow Jimmy being dropped off at Bullworth Academy, a fictional boarding school. The player is free to explore the school campus and town, or to complete the main missions. The game makes extensive use of minigames. Some are used to earn money, others to improve Jimmy's abilities.
School classes themselves are done in the form of minigames, broken into five levels of increasing difficulty. English, for example, is a word scramble minigame, and as Jimmy completes the level, he learns to apologize to bullies, deliver better taunts, apologize to Prefects and finally to apologize to the police.
Jimmy has a multitude of weapons available, although they tend to run along the lines of things a school boy might actually attain, such as slingshots, bags of marbles, stink bombs, and later in the game, a bottle rocket launcher and a spud cannon. He also has an assortment of vehicles to operate — mainly bicycles with different abilities, but also a moped, a go-kart, a skateboard and on rare occasions, a lawn mower.
The game takes place at Bullworth Academy, a fictional independent boarding school in the New England area of the United States. Jimmy ends up enrolled in the school when his newly married mother and fifth stepfather go on a year-long honeymoon cruise. The school is located in the also fictional town of Bullworth, which resembles Connecticut (this would also explain the high prevalence of 'Old money' and 'Nouveau Riche' influences). The school itself is a classical neo-gothic design and is similar to many other public schools and colleges in the United Kingdom and New England, in particular Fettes College in Edinburgh.
The timeline of the game is vastly unclear. Design influences (of cars and architecture) point to a possible setting in the 1980s or 1990s, but there are also other objects hinting at a setting in 2006, 2007 or 2008.
- A reference to the year being 1992-1995 as the setting can be seen in one of the various arcade machine minigames
- School sports flags show the school as champions as recently as 1998-1999.
- On their website they say it is fall 2006.
- A poster can be seen in the Jock Clubhouse that dates to 2005, and another to 2007.
- The year 2007 can be seen on notices on the wall of the Boys' Dorm.
- Mr Galloway alludes to surfing "dubious sites" on the internet. Additionally, two modern computers can be found in the basement bedroom of Dragon's Wing Comics.
- In contrast to the above, the School Library has a couple of vintage, 70s-80's-esque monochrome-screen computers.
- Chapter 1: Making New Friends and Enemies: Jimmy comes to Bullworth Academy and immediately runs into trouble with the Bullies.
- Chapter 2: Rich Kid Blues: Jimmy is now more popular, but he must deal with the spoiled Preppies.
- Chapter 3: Love Makes the World Go Around: Jimmy gets mixed in with the love affairs of Johnny Vincent, leader of the Greasers, and his girlfriend Lola Lombardi.
- Chapter 4: A Healthy Mind is a Healthy Body and Other Lies: Jimmy decides to take on the Jocks, but he first needs to convince the Nerds to help him.
- Chapter 5: The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hopkins, Aged 15: Jimmy, after briefly enjoying his power as king of Bullworth Academy, is expelled. He has to clear his name and get re-enrolled back into the Academy while regaining control of the cliques.
- Chapter 6: Endless Summer: Jimmy can tie up any loose ends, such as finishing races, finding collectibles, etc.
- See Characters
Early information released by Take-Two Interactive seemed to indicate that the player would be taking the role of a bully, and screenshots printed in Electronic Gaming Monthly showed the player-controlled antagonist administering a swirlie and throwing a punch at another student. The game uses an advanced Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas engine through Renderware. Rockstar Vancouver also decided to make every student in the school have a unique appearance and, within programming limitations, personality.
Bully has received generally positive reviews from critics. The game received ratings of 8.9/10 from IGN, 9.0/10 from Games Radar, a perfect 10/10 from 1UP.com, 8.7/10 from GameSpot, 5/5 from JIVE Magazine, 8.75/10 from VGRC.net, a 5/5 from X-Play, and made the Top 10 Games of '06 in PlayStation Magazine. Canis Canem Edit also got 9/10 from OPS2 Magazine. Critics generally praised the game's storyline, while they complained about particular stealth missions, as well as the camera. Critics also noted that the game is substantially easier than veterans of the Grand Theft Auto series (Rockstar's flagship titles) would expect.
- Won IGN's award for Best PlayStation 2 Action Game.
- Won GameSpot's award for Best Original Music.
- Finalist for GameSpot's Game of the Year 2006
- Gaming Target - 52 Games We'll Still Be Playing From 2006 selection
- Came in top ten of best PlayStation 2 game of the year.
- Became number #43 in the top 100 games of all time in IGN.
Both versions of the game generally received positive reviews with IGN giving the Wii version an 8/10, while the Xbox 360 version received 8.7/10. 1up.com gave the Wii version an A grade.
The Xbox 360 version of Bully: Scholarship Edition was found to be unstable on some players' consoles, resulting in glitches, crashes and performance issues. Rockstar have promised to have a patch addressing these issues by the week of March 10, 2008. On Thursday March 20th, a patch was released via Xbox Live, but some initial reports claim to have continued or worsened problems. GameSpot, a game review website which bases its reviews on the initial public release, took the glitches into account and marked the 360 version of the Scholarship Edition down to a 7/10, a full point lower than the Wii version, which received an 8.
- Main article: Bully 2
- Official Bully Homepage
- Official Canis Canem Edit Homepage
- Press Release by Take Two Interactive
- Website with videos of missions in Bully and Bully: SE
- BBC News article about the controversy
- Youth Council of Ireland wants boycott of “shocking" game
- Information about the Bully Soundtrack album, composed by Shawn Lee
- Voices and Choices: A Conversation with Shawn Lee