We’re back once again with another entry in the Jackbox Party Pack series. It’s become somewhat of a tradition now, each year gathering friends and family at our place and putting each of the five games to the test. For The Jackbox Party Pack 7 we’ve had to take a slightly different approach though, using the likes of Skype and screenshares to get the crew back together for another rousing session. Not only are we now judging how fun the selection of games The Jackbox Party Pack 7 offers but also well it they work when players aren’t in the same room.
Let’s start with an old favourite. Quiplash returns once again with its core remaining largely unchanged from the previous two entries. In its players enter responses to prompts that then go head to head with someone else’s for the rest of the group to then vote on their favourite. The beauty of the Quiplash games has always been the freedom you have to literally enter anything you like no matter how random, rude or ridiculous it is. The key is in knowing your audience. Is a clever joke going to score big or are you playing with a bunch of friends who appreciate a simple (but crude) penis comment? The Claymation visuals of the game is rather striking and further evidence of Jackbox Games’ continued ability to surprise when it comes to presentation. The other bigger change comes in the final round – named ‘Thriplash’ – which now pushes you for three answers to go up against another player’s trio. Custom made rounds also make a return along with Jackbox made ones that should keep things fresh and exciting. Overall Quiplash 3 is really a case of ‘if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it’ with a few welcome additions.
Talking Points is essentially an improv game where players are tasked with giving presentations on a random topic. To make things even more unpredictable, your slides will be controlled by another player as they select random text or images to try and throw you off. Spectators can offer likes and dislikes throughout the presentation and even comments that make for funny reading when revealed post game. If you really lean into playing the role of presenter and selling your ridiculous topic to the group, then Talking Points can deliver some of the pack’s funniest moments. Those a little shyer may be intimidated by the added spotlight and focus on talking though.
The Devil and the Details is perhaps my least liked of the five games and the only one that doesn’t really translate well when playing remotely. In it each player takes on a role of adult, teen or child in a family of demons trying to blend in with the neighbourhood. How you go about keeping your head down is by completing everyday chores – some individual and some requiring other players to help – and accumulating enough points as a team. With bigger bonuses awarded for completing tasks that require someone else’s input, you can imagine the level of chaos that follows with everyone trying to gain the attention of everyone else. Selfish tasks also make things even more frantic and complicated as these score major points for the player that completes them but at the same time can stop the whole family from completing other tasks for a few moments. The Devil in the Details works better played locally but even then, we rarely found ourselves wanting to return in a hurry. The mini-games are fine at best (maybe that’s the point since they are chores) and the confusing messaging of working together but also looking out for yourself result in a game that’s frantic and loud but not necessarily in the best ways.
Champ’d Up is brilliant fun and a sure-fire hit for those who enjoyed the likes of Tee K.O. in the past. In the first round, players are tasked with drawing two characters – a champion and a challenger. Your champion will be based on a prompt you are given (such as ‘The Champion of Being Naughty’) while your challenger will have to rely solely on looking at the character another player has created leaving you to attempt to guess what their prompt may have been. It’s this disadvantage the challengers have that creates some truly great moments as players can completely misread what their opponent’s prompt could have been. Champions and challengers go head to head and the rest of the group vote on their winner. The final round then mixes things up a little by allowing players to tag in previous characters. While this game is perhaps slower to get going than the rest in the pack (what with the longer drawing time), once you get to the reveals it proves well worth the wait.
Blathers ‘Round may not revolve around creating big laughs – like so many other games in the series – but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Players each get a single prompt (it could be a place, person or story) which they then have to get the rest of the group to guess using limited words to describe it. Any guesses made can also be used to advise players that the real answer is similar or quite the opposite. Blathers ‘Round isn’t the most original idea (there are many variations of describing and guessing games out there), but the fact you’re limited in what words you can use definitely adds in some extra challenge that I appreciate.
The Jackbox Party Pack series has always been at its best with everyone in the same room but right now we find ourselves in a position where this isn’t really an option. Most of the games in The Jackbox Party Pack 7 work totally fine playing remotely though with The Devil and the Details being the one exception here, the manic shouting and emphasis on teamwork much tougher to manage through webcams and dodgy connections. Aside from that though, the magic still remains. I will say since the Switch doesn’t offer an easy way to play remotely with others, it does make this version somewhat less appealing than the other console and PC versions. We tried pointing a webcam at the screen while using Skype and while it did work for the most part it’s hardly the most elegant way to go about things. It’s definitely something to consider if you’re hoping to break this out over the Christmas period as it’s not as simple as hitting a ‘Share’ button or screen-sharing. While it’s possible even if you don’t possess the technical gear, I’d argue the other versions may be a better shout – at least while lockdown is keeping us all separated.
The Jackbox Party Pack 7 manages to deliver another selection of hilarious and silly games. While the Switch version may not be the best when it comes to remote play, there’s no denying both the variety and quality on display here. Franchises lucky enough to see this many sequels can fall victim to fatigue and a lack of fresh ideas but The Jackbox Party Pack 7 manages to avoid such pitfalls and provide a much-needed dose of laughter and silliness.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Jackbox Games