Bully: Scholarship Edition for Wii is a great game

Bully: Scholarship Edition for Wii

I was at EBGames last week and they were having a sale. Many of the titles with the red-discount mark (of shame?) were laughable and typical of the “shovelware” companies throw out just to capitalize on a popular gaming system like the Nintendo Wii. However, one caught my eye: Bully: Scholarship Edition for Wii was only $24.99 CAD. It’s easy to justify an impulse buy like that, especially when I had heard great things about the original, which was released for PS2-only back in 2006. (The “Scholarship Edition” is a re-released version for the Xbox 360 and Wii and contains additional content; it debuted on March 4th, 2008)

Turns out this “bargain-bin” game has been one of my better purchases for Wii. If you like the GTA-style of games, you’ll probably like Bully, as I learned.

Bully is not all about bullying

With a name like Bully you’d expect the game to be all about tormenting the helpless and the weak. However, that’s far from the truth. While the game’s does give you the freedom to be a tyrannical bully, your main objective is to rise in the social hierarchy by gaining the respect of your classmates, and the first group you’ll be courting are the nerds.

Make no mistake: Despite the original PS2 version being released almost two years ago, the Wii-port of Bully is no half-baked attempt to milk revenue from another platform. The control scheme has been completely redesigned to suit the Wii-remote and Nunchuk’s motion sensing capabilities. Find yourself in a fight? Start punching to defend yourself, in almost the same manner as boxing for Wii Sports.

The missions are varied enough to keep you interested; not every one is about transporting item ‘X’ from point A to B. (Though quite a few of them are) You might find yourself providing VIP protection to a member of the nerd clique so that he can safely get to the library. Or, you might find yourself trying to pull off the most ridiculous prank on unsuspecting classmates in the nighttime past curfew. Add in the bevy of classes you are to attend (you are at school, after all), and you’ll almost never find yourself with nothing to do. As is usual with Rockstar games, the game play is well-scripted and the voice acting superb.

An A- for gameplay

Some minor complaints are warranted, though. Firstly, the day-to-day routine of classes and curfew do get tedious at times. After all, it’s supposed to be a sandbox environment, but the rules do make you feel caged in at times. However, the sandbox mode is balanced with realism: You are at a strict preparatory school, after all – and it’s not as if you can’t skip class (truancy) or defy curfew, but such actions won’t go unnoticed by the patrolling prefects of the school – these are the Bully equivalent of the police in the GTA-series of games. Like GTA, you’ll find yourself frequently running from these authority figures.

It’s hard for me to define exactly what makes Bully: Scholarship Edition and other similar Rockstar games so great. Maybe it’s the sandbox-style environment or maybe it’s the right amount of realism coupled with just enough zany characters and over-the-top situations. Or, maybe it’s the attention to detail and great variety of game play offered (from the various mini-games) that make it never seem too boring. But, more than likely, Bully succeeds because it offers the perfect blend of these elements.

Bully has turned out to be one of my favourite games for Wii. While it’s true that Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart and Guitar Hero 3 have used up a lot of my time, Bully provides a refreshing break from the norm. If you’re looking to escape from the Mario-esque universe and pick up a more mature title, Bully is up for serious consideration, especially if you can find it at a good price.

Addendum: Memories of Skool Daze, anyone?

When I first started playing Bully, I was immediately reminded of an old Commodore-64 game I’d played in my younger years called Skool Daze. More than one person has also noticed the similarities. Bully is a modern-day incarnation of Skool Daze and worthy of the title; like the old game it features a good non-linear sandbox-style of gameplay that reveals excellent game design.

Addendum #2: Bully Soundtrack

The music in Bully is really quite great, one of the few soundtracks that’s made me interested, so I did a quick search. Turns out the soundtrack was composed by Shawn Lee and the entire track listing is available for free on eMusic. I do encourage you to download them and give them a listen!

One Comment »

  1. I totally I agreed. I loved this game.
    It was disheartening when it ended.

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