The lights are on
Most gamers appreciate when a brand new installment releases in their favorite series. Despite complaints about “sequelitis,” getting too many entries is better than the alternative: getting too few. In Where’s My Sequel, we look at standalone games and franchises that deserve to continue. In this installment we examine Bully, the prep school romp from Rockstar Games.
What it is:Jimmy Hopkins is a troubled kid with a tough life at home. After getting into trouble at his previous school, he is dropped off at Bullworth Academy. Bullworth is a preparatory school with a strict principle and an array of different cliques. Jocks, nerds, greasers – Bullworth is home to all kinds of crazy characters, and Jimmy needs to carve out a place for himself in the high school social hierarchy. This involves doing favors for (and eventually befriending) the different social groups, exploring Bullworth and the nearby town, and causing all kinds of random and hilarious mischief. Bully is a perfect fit for Rockstar's hallmark open-world formula, whether you're dancing around as the school mascot (shown above), making trouble on Halloween, or laying out your opponents in dogdeball. Jimmy's nemesis, Gary, is a great villain working behind the scenes to ruin Jimmy's reputation, and the other clever characters around the academy help Bully to capture the fun of high school hijinks – without the homework.
When it stopped:Bully first released on the PS2 in 2006. While it is currently a stand-alone title with no sequels or spin-offs, the remastered Bully: Scholarship Edition released on Xbox 360 and Wii in 2008. Most of the content is the same, but Scholarship Edition includes a few extra missions. While there have been some hints about a sequel, nothing substantial has been confirmed.
What comes next:We've already given some thought to what the next Bully would entail, but that was a few years ago – before the certainty that any future releases would be on next-generation hardware. Apart from some of the obvious moves – new school, bigger world, better classes – the next entry should incorporate more recent advances in the genre. A large list of side goals that you're always being rewarded for completing (like Red Dead Redemption), more involved interactions with the supporting cast (like Grand Theft Auto IV), and plenty of character creation/customization options (like Saints Row: The Third) should be a given. Jimmy already had his turn, so it's time for a new student to take the starring role. It might even be cool to start as a freshman and have the game chronicle the character's whole four years of high school, including extracurriculars, falling out with friends, a few love interests, summer jobs, and so forth. Starting as a lowly 9th grader and owning the school as a 12th grader provides a "rise to power" story arc that could be amazing, especially since the passage of time makes it easier to connect to the character's journey (like Ezio from the Assassin's Creed series). If a new Bully were to incorporate those elements while still retaining the freedom and mischievous sense of humor that defined the original, then Rockstar would undoubtedly have another hit on its hands.
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