I am a diehard fan of Jackbox Games. Without fail, if people come over to the house, it’s time to crack out one Jackbox game or another.
Even before the games were widely available in the UK, I’d imported a copy of You Don’t Know Jack for PS3 from America. And despite the games remaining overtly American (how the hell am I, a British person, meant to know what colour a Tylenol tablet is?), there’s no denying just how much fun they are. I think Quiplash still remains my favourite single game of all time, but as a collection, The Jackbox Party Pack 5 is as impressive as the series has ever been. Every game has its own merits – there are no duds here.
Of the five games in the new collection, You Don’t Know Jack: Full Stream seems to be the leading title. It follows the same formula that we’ve seen in the last few iterations of You Don’t Know Jack – ten hilariously-phrased pop culture questions, including a fast-paced ‘Dis or Dat’ round and ‘Jack Attack’, both of which have always been the highlights of the game. There’s not much new – the farcical Cookie Masterson is back as host, with the same brand of humour that we’ve grown to love. But if you’ve played earlier version of You Don’t Know Jack to death, you’ll be at least relieved to know that Full Stream is, of course, made up of entirely new questions.
While Full Steam is just as good as You Don’t Know Jack has ever been, it’s probably not the stand-out game in The Jackbox Party Pack 5. For me, that accolade has to go to the incredible Mad Verse City – a game in which you become a giant, rap-battling robot.
Mad Verse City puts you head-to-head against another player, first giving you a single prompt to come up with one word. Then, using that one word it’ll give you the first line of your ‘rap’. It’s up to you to come up with a full line – ideally that rhymes – to follow on from it. You then repeat the process, finishing up with a four-line rap which your robot will then perform for you. This is a first for Jackbox – using text-to-speech technology to repeat exactly what you’ve typed in, rather than skirting around your “blanks”. With each robot having its own unique electronic-sounding voice, it makes for some serious hilarity.
Closely behind Mad Verse City in terms of potential hilarity is Patently Stupid. It’s a game that combines funny wordplay with drawing – think Drawful with added meaning. Essentially, each player is an inventor. By inputting random words, the game will generate a ‘problem’ that needs to be solved with a new invention. As expected from any Jackbox Game, it’s a good excuse for vulgarity – one problem we had to solve was “I have too many ballbags”. (Yes, maturity rules in my household!) Here followed a number of ridiculous designs, including some specially-designed underpants and a Balls-be-Gone pair of scissors. Ouch. Drawing is as awkward as ever on your touchscreen device, but then that’s always been part of the fun.
Next up is Split the Room, a game that’s all about dividing opinion. The game generates a partially-completed scenario, and it’s up to you to add the last word or two to finish it. It’ll be a yes or no question, and players will need to vote on what they’d do in that situation. The idea is to come up with something that will split opinion – the more divisive, the more points you’ll score. It’s one of the quickest games to get through in The Jackbox Party Pack 5, but it can be pretty fun, providing you’re playing with a group of people with enough ingenuity to come up with interesting scenarios.
Last up is the unusual Zeeple Dome, which is one of the most ‘gamey’ games to be featured in a Jackbox Party Pack. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it just makes a change. Zeeple Dome is a little like a multiplayer Angry Birds; each player has their own avatar, and using their smartphone screen, they need to drag a line to ‘fling’ themselves to hit various targets. All working together, the aim is to get the best score possible.
Zeeple Dome is the only game that can be played in single-player. Aside from You Don’t Know Jack (which has a minimum requirement of two), the other three games all need three players. But play with an odd number in Mad Verse City or Patently Stupid, and the game will put a bot in your game. It spoils the fun a little, as the bots aren’t very intelligent – most noticeably in Patently Stupid. While some of the raps that the bot generated in Mad Verse City had us chuckling, it was unable to read invention cues in Patently Stupid, meaning that the creations it came up with had nothing to do with the topic. It’s a bit disappointing, so just make sure you play with an even number of players.
Overall though, the variety on offer in The Jackbox Party Pack 5 is excellent. While it’s a departure from some of the Jackbox classics – Fibbage, Quiplash, Drawful – it’s a fantastic and inventive range of new titles, all rounded off with another solid entry of the much-loved You Don’t Know Jack. It’s probably the best Party Pack so far, and will no doubt be the go-to collection whenever friends are over. If you’ve enjoyed anything that Jackbox Games has put out before, you’ll be sure to find something to like here. After a somewhat disappointing fourth entry into the series, Jackbox is back on top form. Any game that encourages you to come up with comedic raps is surely a win in my book.