The Jackbox Party Packs have long been a staple for many a house party, family gathering or even just an alcohol-fueled night at the end of a long week. The Nintendo Switch was lucky enough to receive the excellent The Jackbox Party Pack 3 not too long ago and now Jackbox Games have decided to bring over its predecessors as well. The question begs, are they still worth a venture? Let’s take a look at the one that kicked it all off.
For those new to Jackbox, each pack includes five party-style games that are entirely played with your mobile phone, tablet or laptop as the controller. That’s right, no longer will you need to fork out hundreds of hard earned pounds buying extra Nintendo Switch Pro Controllers or Joy-Con. It’s an excellent way to play these games as in this day and age nearly everyone has some sort of smartphone or tablet to hand. Furthermore, the touch screen adds some inventive options that would otherwise be impossible on a regular controller. So, how are the games?
You Don’t Know Jack may appear like your typical quiz on the first impression, but after the very first question, you quickly realise that couldn’t be further from the truth. Taking on the shape of a dodgy game show and hosted by the always excitable, constantly mocking and regularly funny Cookie Masterson, up to four players answer a series of ten questions trying to earn the most money possible. The quicker you answer the higher the prize or deduction depending on if you’re correct or not.
The way the game presents you with questions is where the game truly shines, rounds often shook up with a mixture of musical numbers, sarcastic jokes and obtuse, roundabout wording. Why ask how much of a human brain is made up of water when you can throw a random Kim Kardashian reference in complete with a punchline? While most rounds are no more than multiple choice questions there are a few curveballs that keep you on your toes like putting a list in order or matching words that make a link. With fifty episodes to work your way through the amount of content on offer here is very impressive.
Fibbage is another winner that puts up to eight player’s ability to think on the spot to the test. A random and bizarre fact will pop-up on the screen with a vital piece of information missing – “The first thing ever eaten in outer space was _____” for example. Players then must enter a convincing bluff that fits the theme and hopefully tricks others into believing it to be true. In this case, I might put an apple. Everyone’s suggestions are then gathered and then displayed along with the actual truth. Now it’s a case of picking one from the bunch you think is actually right. Find the correct option and you gain points, while tricking others into picking your lie awards you as well. Again all this is hosted by Cookie Masterson, another big plus.
The facts themselves are equal measures of interesting and downright disturbing and you’ll soon learn that the obvious answer may not always be the best one. It’s a very satisfying feeling when you manage to trick half the room into thinking your lie is the truth and just as satisfying to hunt it down yourself too. One slight issue I found with the game is that there are only so many facts to work your way through before you start seeing repeats. It’s expected with any game like this and one that is improved on in its sequel but still worth noting here.
Drawful is a fantastic little gem that plays out in a similar fashion to Fibbage, the main difference being that instead of peculiar facts you’re now dealing with hand-drawn pictures. Up to eight players are each assigned a random prompt that they must then attempt to draw accurately using just their finger as a single coloured pencil.
The prompts themselves are completely random and obscure – from something very specific like “the paperclip guy from Microsoft Word” to very simple examples like “four lines”. Sixty seconds later and pictures submitted, every “work of art” is then displayed on the TV one by one. It’s here where the group then try to deduce what the crude attempts actually are. Much like Fibbage, everyone must then decipher the real prompt from the nonsense – a task that’s easier said than done. If someone picks your guess, you win points and if you happen to be lucky enough to find the real answer then you’re treated to a nice fat bonus.
Lie Swatter and Word Spud are easily the weakest of the group delivering few smiles and even fewer laughs. The latter is a word association game of sorts that more often than not devolves into players growing bored and simply adding random curse words. Lie Swatter meanwhile is a true or false quiz that can house up to 100 players. While the figure is impressive the game itself lacks the imagination and creativity of the other three.
The Jackbox Party Pack series may be closing in on its fourth entry later this year, but that doesn’t mean you should skip out on the one that started it all. Sure, two of the games included are duds, but the three that work are truly something special and among some the most fun multiplayer experiences I’ve had in a long time.