If you were having a party and wanted a few games that would break the ice and create a room full of laughs, the original Jackbox Party Pack was just the game to do it.
With its ingenious method of multiplayer gameplay – allowing competitors to play simply using their phones instead of controllers – it promoted inclusive fun for a large number of players whether they were sat in the same as you or watching via a stream online. Released a fair while ago, if you’ve played it quite avidly you may find that some of the games have lost a bit of their charm now though due the repetition of questions, but fear not! Here comes a fresh new batch of multiplayer fun and frivolity in the form of Jackbox Party Pack 2.
As a compilation series building on from the success of the popular quiz game You Don’t Know Jack!, it’s strange that this second assortment of oddities drops the title. In the end however, it doesn’t matter, as the five titles that are included are all such an absolute blast to play that you won’t miss it. In fact, it speaks volumes that the biggest let down in the collection is Quiplash XL; not because it isn’t very good – it’s actually probably the best party game we’ve ever played – but because a large number of fans of the original Jackbox Party Pack will have probably already purchased this standalone release. Granted, it includes the new Quip Pack 1 DLC and over 100 additional questions and statements into the mix, but it would have been nice to receive a totally new iteration of the game or perhaps something else entirely.
Another title that may be familiar to some is Fibbage 2, a fiendishly entertaining game for 2-8 players in which your aim is to fool your competitors into thinking the answer you’ve given to any particular question is actually the real one. With the original released as a standalone title in America only, those in Europe will have first experienced this game’s hilarious form of legitimised trolling in the form of Fibbage XL, contained in the original Jackbox Party Pack. Presented here with a whole new batch of questions however, its repeated inclusion is very welcome indeed due to its robust gameplay and clever questions that are bound to promote crudity to get the best laughs.
Three new titles are also included in Jackbox Party Pack 2, and they are all surprisingly unique yet enjoyable. Earwax is the first of the three, tasking each of its 3-8 players to select two sounds from a provided list that best sums up a situation or statement selected by the judge. Once all players have made their choices, it’s up to the judge to listen to them all in turn and decide which one is the most accurate or simply the funniest; it’s entirely up to them. Out of the three new games we found this to be our favourite thanks to the humorous soundbank included and the sheer lunacy of our combinations, although the fact that each contestant gets a different set of sounds to select their answer from means that some may feel at a disadvantage if they get a poor selection. Nevertheless, this is a game that’s all about fun, and Earwax provides it by the shovel-load this is definitely a party game we’ll be playing for a long time.
Perhaps the weakest of the bunch of new games, Bidiots has each of its 3-6 players drawing their own prompted masterpieces before forcing them to engage in auctions to win them. Each player is given a little piece of insider knowledge as to how much a few pictures with certain titles are worth, and so with points awarded for how much any given work of art was won under its valuation price, it’s up to each player to try and figure out which picture is which when deciding whether they should bid big or hold back. Players each start with a set amount of cash, so they must be strategic with how they spend it in order to get the most points, although the artist of each picture receives half of its final auction value to top up their funds and bank loans are also available if you don’t mind paying some interest. Bidiots’ downfall is that whilst it’s still an amusing and comically enjoyable game, it all feels more about luck than judgement due to fact that apart from the three pictures you’re given a clue about you’ve not really got any idea about what the other pictures are worth. Compared to Drawful, the drawing game in the original Jackbox Party Pack, Bidiots feels much weaker and a game that focuses more on the drawings rather than an auction scenario would have been much more enjoyable.
The final game up Jackbox Party Pack 2’s sleeve is Bomb Corp., which is unusual in that it features a story mode that can be wholly played solo. Tasking you to diffuse timed bombs with information given via cryptic clues, it’s enjoyable played on your own but comes into its own when played with up to three other players. When played in multiplayer each player receives one or two clues as to how the bomb should be diffused but only one player is able to actually do it, meaning that a great deal of teamwork is required to stop the bomb going off. Interspersed with all the bomb diffusions are comedic scenes featuring your bomb squad co-workers and also the odd office-based challenge such as organising files in an apparently booby trapped filing cabinet. Whilst Bomb Corp. doesn’t provide the hilarity that the other games in the collection do, it offers a nice diversion for small groups to test their teamwork and also raises a few hairs and smiles along the way.
Just like the original Jackbox Party Pack, the presentation throughout all games is sometimes surreal but always great, and the ability for up to 100 spectators to also participate in some games as audience members cements the title’s inclusivity and suitability for online streaming. In fact, the only real negative I can say about Jackbox Party Pack 2 is that like its predecessor it demands an online connection to be played, as each participant has to access a website on their phone in order to join the game set up via the console. Even with this issue in mind however, there’s no doubt that this is an essential purchase for anyone that wants a laugh with a group of friends, either locally or online.