There are strange parallels between this game—Bully—and the ZX Spectrum classic, Skool Daze, released two decades ago. First, both are set in a high school where you play a young, none-too-bright, we-don’t-need-no-education type who is always up to no good, who must learn to survive in the school without getting into trouble with the authorities. Second, both the games courted brief controversies in the media due to their topical nature.
However, Bully breaks new ground because it’s an open-ended game in 3D with a hugely varied gameplay, excellent story and well-structured missions. Despite what the name of the game may convey, you don’t actually play the ‘bully’, but rather the fresher at school who is heckled by the seniors. Unlike other freshers, however, Jimmy Hopkins is a kid who gives it back as good as he gets. Your job is to guide Jimmy Hopkins through the challenges he faces as he comes to grips with the heavy-handed school authorities and the typical stereotypes in school, including snobbish seniors, skinny girls, uncaring geeks, loony teachers, et al.
Even though the game gives you missions to complete, you can opt to take on various sub-quests to earn additional bonuses that will aid you in your quest. Whilst being up to no good, it’s also important that you don’t bunk too many classes as attending each class allows you to participate in a simple mini-game that will unlock special items to add to Jimmy’s bag of tricks. For example, the chemistry lab class will unlock a chem set that gives you firecrackers and stink bombs.
There is violence in the game, but it’s all done in good taste (if that’s possible) with no blood, or gore, or killing of any sort for that matter. The worst you can do is beat up some kid till he doesn’t get up. But most of it is harmless, crazy, fun stuff, like raiding the girls’ dormitory or throwing itching powder at some unfortunate kid.
The graphics in the game are top-notch and the sound, especially the voiceovers, are excellent. They really add superb atmosphere to an otherwise brilliantly playable game that always has something new to be explored and discovered. A perfect game to rediscover all those dark childhood fantasies you had in school.
Price: $37.99 (approx. Rs1,600) on amazon.com
Write to Arjun Nair at firstname.lastname@example.org