The Jackbox Party Pack 6

$30.86

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Description

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Complete Review & Description

Originally released on PC in 1995, You Don’t Know Jack (YDKJ) was an irreverent trivia game show that combined high culture with pop culture, using a twisted sense of humour to ask questions and allow players to either answer questions or “screw” with other players. The game’s toilet humour tickled my funny bone and resonated with me to this day (Hey, I’m a bloke, toilet humour always resonates with me).

So when The Jackbox Party Pack released – consisting of YDKJ, Drawful, Fibbage XL, Word Spud and Lie Swatter – I was excited to see what Jackbox games have in store for me. While YDKJ remained faithful to the original, and Drawful and Fibbage were delightful, the other two games lacked originality and really let The Jackbox Party Pack down as a whole.

(At its core, The Jackbox Party Pack is a collection of party games and it encourages you to play with others; whether or not you want to play nice with others is up to you – I managed to rope in my family to join me, all the while crossing my fingers and hoping this game night doesn’t end in a divorce.)

Right off the bat, The Jackbox Party Pack introduces its unique control scheme: each player opens up a browser on their mobile device or tablet, log on to the Jackbox website, and using the unique code associated with that game room on the TV screen, logs into the game and uses said mobile device or tablet as the buzzer, to draw, or to enter text-based answers. It eliminates the need for a controller for each person and since nearly everyone has a smartphone in this day and age, it’s a clever way to get gaming novices to play this game without forcing a controller in their hands – a process they might find daunting.

It’s not perfect, though: my biggest gripes about this control scheme are two-fold: The input responsiveness is really average, sending the input signal through your local Wi-Fi network, to the website, then to the game, resulting in lags occurring for everyone at some point, and especially prevalent in the lightning rounds during YDKJ. Secondly, when my phone screen timed out, I was automatically logged out of the game. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but for one or two games (Drawful, for instance), I was not allowed to log back in, which put a spanner in the works for the whole game, affecting everyone else’s experience in playing the game.

The flagship game of the pack is YDKJ, which sticks to the original formula by adding a pop culture twist and mature humour to the trivia questions, with questions like “If KISS singer Gene Simmons’ tongue grew to the average length of an adult giraffe’s, how deep into a woman’s mouth could he stick it when he kissed her?”, or “Arrange these Sesame Street characters in order of fewest to most eyebrows: Bert, Ernie, The Count”.

Players answer questions in each round; the faster they answer, the more points they get when they are correct. However, if they get the question wrong, they will lose more if they answer the question faster. Furthermore, should a player decide to be devious, they can use the one “screw” they have in each game and force another player of their choosing to answer the question. This was an element of the game I highly enjoyed, as I thrived off making people curse me for making them answer a question I knew they didn’t know. There was an eclectic mix of questions each game played, and the different mix of questioning methods made the game interesting. After a few games though, I did notice some questions start to repeat, which shows the limitations of the number of questions available.

I thrived off making people curse me for making them answer a question I knew they didn’t know.

Drawful is a twist on the classic game Pictionary: To start each round, every player is given a clue each to draw a picture of on their device, and then everyone takes guesses at what each picture is. Once everyone has given the answer, they pick the answer they think is correct. The beauty with this game is how random the clues are – how in the world do you draw “laundry night” into a picture? Trying to decipher somebody else’s awful drawings as if they are hieroglyphic is just as fun.

Drawful allows players to exercise their creative muscle, not only in drawing silly pictures but also coming up with possible decoy answers that could lead others astray. In order for the game to be successful, Drawful hinges on the creativity of everyone participating, which can be a glaring issue when one or more players lack the creativity to draw pictures and/or fail to come up with convincing answers, allowing the correct answer to stick out like a sore thumb.

Speaking of decoy answers, Fibbage XL takes the decoy answer component of Drawful and makes a full game out of it. A trivia question is asked on screen; each player writes down a plausible (but false) answer then proceeds to try and eliminate everyone else’s lies in order to select the correct answer. As with Drawful, bonus points can be given to others for coming up with clever answers. It becomes a game where you try to fool others, all the while trying to outsmart them by sifting through the bogus answers to find the correct answer.

Word Spud is a fairly straightforward word game: Each player takes the previous word and makes a phrase, everyone else votes on whether the answer is points-worthy; if the overall votes are positive, the player scores points and then passes the final word of their phrase to the next player, and so on. Your chances of scoring rely solely on the other players, so if every player decides to troll everyone else by voting negatively, then no one gets points, and a new word pops up. It feels like the most co-operative game of the pack, yet the scoring system devolves the game into a competitive one, thus creating a catch-22 scenario.

Lie Swatter, a true/false game, was added to the pack more so to show off the capability of the game supporting up to 100 players playing the game at once. Unfortunately, a simple true/false game about trivial knowledge does not have lasting appeal, regardless of how many players can play the game.

Overall, The Jackbox Party Pack is a mixed bag of shenanigans: You Don’t Know Jack, Drawful and Fibbage XL are great party games that have wicked jokes mixed in with trivia questions. Some jokes and one-liners can be so random that you can’t help but applaud at the minds behind the writers. The other two games, Word Spud and Lie Swatter, are one-dimensional and let the rest of The Jackbox Party Pack down: If they released this party pack with the first three games instead of the five, I would have looked back on this game in a more positive light.

While a novel control scheme was designed to make it easier for everyone to pick up and play, it falls short due to an over-reliance on your local network and can result in lags. If you have a group of like-minded friends or family that enjoy mature humour and trivia, The Jackbox Party Pack has a solid trio of games that can be a staple for those game nights.

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