Do you remember That Trivia Game? I remember That Trivia Game. Undoubtedly the worst thing I’ve played on the PlayStation 4, and right up there with the worst things I’ve ever played in my gaming history, and certainly not the thing you want to be picking up if you need your quiz game urges met. Could The Jackbox Party Pack be the answer?
The Jackbox Party Pack is made up of 5 games; You Don’t Know Jack, Drawful, Word Spud, Lie Swatter and Fibbage XL, with player counts ranging from 1-4 to a massive 1-100 players. Let’s run through them one by one to give you the gist of what each entails.
First of all, you may be wondering how you’re supposed to get so many people playing together at once? The Jackbox Party Pack does away with your console controllers and instead uses your smartphones or tablets. Each participant goes to jackbox.tv on a web browser, enters a code displayed on the TV and their name, and away they go. I thought this was an excellent solution to the inevitable problem of not having enough controllers to go around.
You Don’t Know Jack 2015 is the headline game in the pack, apparently updated for 2015 with a multitude of new questions. At it’s core, YDKJ is a trivia game, although the questions are delivered in a certain abstract way, such as “If Jennifer Lawrence was falling to earth at terminal velocity, what would she say?”. Personally, this did not appeal to me or the people I played with, as on more than one occasion questions came up to which we all looked blankly at each other. Whilst this format of questioning may appeal to some, I found it a constant annoyance. To add to my frustration I found the host, Cookie Masterson, utterly infuriating. His constant jabbering, dreadful jokes and hopeless ‘comedy voices’ constantly bugged me. Much like The Trivia Game, there was also notable focus towards US-based questions. Just so you don’t think it’s just me being grumpy about it, I played this with my girlfriend who, after 3 games, literally beseeched me to turn it off, stating “I can’t take this any more.”
Drawful is, thankfully, a improvement. Essentially a Pictionary-style game, each player uses their device to create a drawing based on a given title, and then the other players need to guess the correct word to describe the drawing. To add some misdirection though, the doodler also gets to create a false answer to attempt to mislead their opponents. It works well, makes good use of the smart device integration, and we had a lot of fun with this game. One small but enjoyable touch is that instead of being labeled by name, each player gets to creature a little doodle of themselves to identify themselves.
Word Spud is one of the two games in the pack which seem to be fillers. This is a word association game, in which a player is given a word and has to add to the end to it by typing on their device. For example, I was given the word ‘clock’ to which I added ‘work’, to make ‘clockwork’. The other players then get to vote on your answer, each positive response awarding a point to you. This just goes back and forth seemingly forever. It’s pretty dull and uneventful, and nothing proves this more than my game with friends descending into each of us typing progressively disgraceful filth.
Lie Swatter is the next of the filler titles. Somehow playable up to 100 players, it’s a true or false game based over 3 rounds of 7 questions, and that’s pretty much all there is to say about it.
Last up we have Fibbage XL and…well, it’s kinda great, surprisingly. Based around bluffing your opponents, each round starts with one of the players being asked to choose a topic, then all players are presented with a statement that misses a word and next you’re asked to type a false answer into your device. When all players have done this all the answers are displayed on the screen and it’s the player’s job to avoid all the bluffs and pick the correct one. Alongside Drawful, this was one of the two games in the pack that were really enjoyable and raised some raucous laughter at the false answers.
The Jackbox Party Pack was a series of peaks and troughs for me. Fibbage XL and Drawful were great fun, while Word Spud and Lie Swatter distinctly feel like they’ve been chucked in for padding. You Don’t Know Jack 2015 is a bit of anomaly though. Personally, I found it pretty detestable for a variety of reasons, but I can see it really appealing to others who’d enjoy both the sense of humour and abstract thinking. I may not be awarding it a high score, but I’d advise readers to check out some videos on Youtube or Twitch and see if the individual aspects of the pack float your boat.