Summer is officially over, the days are getting shorter and the temperature is quickly dropping. It was nice while it lasted that’s for sure but now it’s time to shift gears and turn to warmer indoor activities and wouldn’t you know it, Jackbox Games are back, right on cue with another in their yearly series, The Jackbox Party Pack 9. Yes, it really has been nine entries.
As is always the case, this year’s release comes bundled with five games total, one a sequel and the rest all new. Of course, all are playable using any combination of smartphone, tablet, computer or laptop and all built around the idea of creative thinking, drawing and a general level of ridiculousness. Let’s face it, we wouldn’t want it any other way, to be honest.
Fibbage is this year’s returning entry with its fourth stab at the much-beloved game of facts and lying. While its core remains pretty much identical to the previous three games – receive a fact with a key piece of information missing and fill it in with a plausible answer in hopes of other players choosing it – there are a few new additions to keep things feeling somewhat fresh. Questions introduced with video clips of old strange movies pop up between rounds while the Final Fibbage now has you coming up with an answer that works for two different facts. Rounding things off is the return of Enough About You where players answer facts about each other. All in all, Fibbage 4 is a safe albeit nonetheless still highly entertaining sequel whose new ideas while not bad per se feel relatively minor. Still, it’s always great to hear Cookie Masterson’s voice again.
Quixort is a game all about sorting things into the correct order, everything from ranking the strongest superheroes to ordering Netflix debuts from earliest to latest. Pitting two teams against one another, each will take turns manoeuvring falling blocks containing answers left and right to line them up in what they feel the correct order. The more accurately placed blocks, the more points are awarded to the team. Blocks with answers that don’t belong will try to trip you up while the final round will give teams two chances to nail the exact order. It’s a simple idea executed well that created interesting but frantic discussions amongst our group as we tried to agree on different points. Surely, Hulk is more powerful than Captain America, right?
Junktopia focuses on players trying to be as funny as possible. In it, everyone is turned into frogs by a wizard and only the person able to accumulate the most profit from selling items is turned back into a human. Rounds see everyone first choosing their random object from a shop and then creating a couple of amusing facts or backstories about them that will then be presented to the group and the best voted on. More votes result in your item being worth more. Like other humour-focused games in the series like Quiplash or Survive the Internet, Junktopia is an easy win when it comes to creating laughs. With little to limit players in what facts they want to write, chaos, shock and cries of laughter are in abundance. While it might not have the variation in the round type of Survive the Internet nor the beautiful simplicity of Quiplash, it’s still a great time and easily the funniest offering of the bunch.
Roomerang is perhaps the pack’s weakest game, more complicated than the rest, sometimes confusing and heavily reliant on having a group all on the same page and playing their role. In it, you’ll each take on a persona with a specific trait about them on a Big Brother-style reality show. Every round, players will give a response to a prompt supposedly keeping in mind the one trait they’ve been given. Votes are tallied and the one with the lowest is kicked out of the house… only for another similar-looking replacement to then enter. The idea of a game based on a reality show is an interesting one for sure, however here the idea feels undercooked. Within a round or two, many of the group would splinter away from their traits and instead answer prompts however they wanted (essentially defeating the point). For those that stuck it out, some traits were tougher than others to produce funny answers with like someone who loves gummy vitamins or has never heard of Santa. In the end, the experience feels rather uneven not engaging enough should you play along and not as entertaining as other Jackbox efforts when treated simply as a means to answer with absolutely anything.
For those that have ever played the board game, Wavelength before, Nonsensory should feel immediately familiar. In it, players will do their best to provide examples that relate to a specific point on a scale often ranging from 1 to 10 or 10% to 100%. How confused is a driver if he’s asking where the steering wheel is? How likely is Dwayne Johnson to star in a movie titled ‘Explosions, car chases and smouldering looks’? Of course, the answers to these are a firm nine and ten respectively, but what clue might you provide if you were prompted for a six or five answer? As well as text-based rounds, the game even puts your drawing ability to the test as you attempt to draw a not-so-sassy robot or a super-sassy robot for example. Points are distributed based on performance both as a guesser and for giving good clues. Nonsensory was a surprise hit amongst our group, the guessing and often second-guessing of how to interpret a player’s answer or drawing and assign it a figure a consistently fun and often laugh-out-loud time. It left us high-fiving in agreement one moment and questioning decisions the very next. Surely a bug holding a sword and shield would be at least an eight in terms of bravery right?
All in all, The Jackbox Party Pack 9 is an entertaining package offering decent variation between its five games. Even with the one misfire, there’s plenty of fun still to be had sorting, lying, selling trash and… communicating range through words and images. Nine games in and Jackbox Games has once again proven there are still some decent ideas left in the tank.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Jackbox Games