Rockstar delivered another commercial and critical masterstroke with the release of Red Dead Redemption 2. Whilst some of us are still working our way through its 35-hour narrative those hardcore gamers are finishing off their completion bonuses.
Longtime fans are already anticipating news on Grand Theft Auto 6 but rumour has it, Rockstar could have another game in the pipeline first. According to whispers on the professional grapevine, the American studio is working on a long overdue sequel to Bully.
That’s right we may finally be getting Bully 2 and it could come sooner than we thought. Here’s everything we know so about a potential sequel to the underappreciated classic.
Bully / Canis Canem Edit
Those of us on this side of the Atlantic will be more familiar with the title Canis Canem Edit. A Latin-inspired title roughly translating to Dog Eat Dog. That’s because European markets didn’t want to stock a game called Bully.
Like many Rockstar titles, the game courted immediate controversy for glorifying bullying in schools. Of course, many of those complaints came from watchdog groups who hadn’t even played the game.
The core narrative of the game was quite the opposite with player-character Jimmy Hopkins actually attempting to tackle bullying at his school, Bullworth Academy. Dealing with themes of the playground ‘class’ system divided by cliques harbouring prejudices towards each other.
The end goal of the game was to unite all the cliques by taking out the bullies within them, thus unifying the school. The game received a largely favourable critical response but struggled to shake it’s perceived controversy.
Bans in certain countries and an increased age limit above the target audience hurt sales of the game worldwide. Those who did play Bully, remember it as an underappreciated gem that was unfortunately cast into the history books. Until now it seems.
Rockstar Bully Revival
The original title came out in 2006 and rumours of a sequel have dated all the way back to 2009. It was that year when the game’s composer Shawn Lee announced he was working on a score for a sequel.
That was the last fans heard about a sequel until 2011 when Rockstar executive Dan Houser confirmed they were still thinking about a sequel to Bully. Houser teased the sequel at subsequent opportunities for a further two years before rumours went quiet again.
“We didn’t want to start doing the Bully sequel instantly with [Rockstar Vancouver] – even though it is a property that we adore and might come back to in the future. So we said, ‘You can do [Max Payne], and then we will see what we can do with Bully.” – Dan Houser in 2011
Then late last year eagle-eyed fans spotted a casting call on Spotlight that seemed to confirm the game’s development. Further rumours suggested a motion capture shooting took place for the project at Pinewood studios in October. The rumour is also supported by some supposed leaked concept art for characters from 2017.
There was no name attached to the casting call but we do know a major studio was behind the project. The recruitment drive was split between two categories ‘teens/ young people’ and ‘college professor’ types.
“Mild violence and profanity will be used in scenes with the young performer. The project itself is a thriller/drama and all scenes with the young performer will be handled with sensitivity.” – Casting call description on Spotlight
Bully 2: What We Know
Whilst details of the project are unknown there are educated guesses we can make about the proposed sequel. Based on the costumes in the leaked concept art it’s safe to assume that the game doesn’t take place in present day. There is much debate as to when Bully takes place but the accepted theory is the 1980s.
The lack of technology and the presence of signage from the 1970s around the school supports the theory. It also helps Bully fit into the proposed Rockstar universe theory. And we’re going to guess that Bully 2 will also take place in the 1980s because of those aforementioned costumes.
The tennis character’s outfit seems to be synonymous with the 80’s era which was a highlight for the sport. Featuring some of the best-known names in the history of the sport like Bjorn Borg, Boris Becker and Martina Navratilova.
One of the cliques also appears to be a goth which was a culture that emerged in that same decade. The emergence of goth culture could play a role in the story leading us to believe the game will take place in England.
Goth was sub-genre of post-punk that originated in England, popularised by bands like The Cure and Joy Division. The aforementioned casting call also took place in London with the rumoured shoot at English studio Pinewood.
The correlation between the leaked art and casting call rumours seem to point to a sequel being in the works. And it could also be the first Rockstar game set in England since GTA London 1961, way back in 1999.