If Red Dead Redemption is basically "Grand Theft Horse", then Bully is Rockstar's "Grand Theft Boarding School". Bully was initially released for PlayStation 2 back in 2006 and immediately gained fame and caused controversy - this is a Rockstar title, after all. Now, following the game's 10th anniversary, the game has been made available for mobile devices.
This release follows a recent trend wherein Rockstar releases mobile ports of their more popular games whenever they hit their tenth anniversary. Most 3D era GTA games have been ported to IOS and Android already, all of them upon their 10th anniversary, and some of them even made it to Kindle Fire, albeit with a delay.
Bully takes place in the same fictional universe as the GTA games (and thusly the same universe as Manhunt and Red Dead), though there is little by way of crossovers in the game itself. In terms of gameplay, Bully is very similar to many of Rockstar's other titles, as it is an open-world third-person action-adventure game that satirizes real life and has crass humor.
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The players take control of Jimmy Hopkins, who is enrolled against his will to a private boarding school in the fictional New England town of Bullworth. This school and the surrounding town are the game's open-world and can be freely explored on foot, by skateboard, bike or other vehicles (though the lineup is a lot more limited than in GTA).
In terms of gameplay, you have all the typical Rockstar bells and whistles. There are collectibles, side missions and easter eggs strewn about Bullworth, and the game packs quite a few mechanics for you to mess around with. When not playing a story mission, you need to attend classes in order to level up various skills.
The game's story follows James "Jimmy" Hopkins after he's dumped into the boarding school while his newly-divorced and newly-wed mother goes off on a honeymoon with her new husband. After falling in with a bad group, Jimmy takes it upon himself to deal out justice between the five cliques of Bullworth while his nemesis tries to humiliate him time and again.
The game received much praise for its writing, gameplay and fleshed-out characters which make Bully a truly memorable experience. The game offers an interesting take on the open-world genre, as it is a comparatively low-violence title with no-one dying and fist-fights being the most severe acts of violence.
Nonetheless, the title was written to be appreciated by an adult audience in spite of being about high-school bullies. The game carries all of Rockstar's characteristic markers, including depth in the storyline and well-polished gameplay.
This Anniversary Edition isn't the first re-release of Bully either. Bully: Scholarship Edition was released in 2008 for the Nintendo Wii and the Microsoft Xbox 360. Half a year later, the same edition came to PC, and more recently, the game came to PS4 via digital download earlier this year. The Scholarship Edition expanded the original Bully experience with missions and classes.
While Bully didn't quite achieve the same level of fame as Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead have, it did stir up its share of controversy back in 2006. Prior to release, many groups were worried that, based on Rockstar's track record of releasing highly violent games, Bully would bring this level of violence to a school setting.
Further concerns were raised over potential sexual - and even homosexual (remember, 2006) - content in the game (true enough, the player character may kiss a boy in Bully. Think of the children!) which prompted several campaigns to get it banned. Two stores in the UK refused to carry the title, however, that was the extent of the game's censorship. Al attempts to have it banned fell through, and most retailers shipped Bully.
The Anniversary Edition has been optimized for IOS and Android devices, and include a new control scheme suited to the touch screen as well as marginally improved graphics. In terms of gameplay and story, however, the new version is identical to the Scholarship Edition, which featured additional missions and classes.
This new release also features a number of new friend challenges where you can compete against your mates in turn based minigames optimized for touchscreen devices. However, if you've picked up one of those increasingly commonplace mobile game controllers, you'll be able to experience Bully like it was meant to be on consoles since the game features complete joystick support.
Rockstar packed this port full of features that mobile gaming connoisseurs will welcome. Bully: Anniversary Edition features Apple Taptic Engine support on iPhone 7s, while Android players can enjoy haptic vibration feedback. If you have an iPhone 6 or newer, you'll be able to use ReplayKit to capture gameplay footage to be used in videos later.
Will you be grabbing the new Bully: Anniversary Edition on IOS or Android?