Whenever sister and her boyfriend pop round, you can guarantee that brother will grab his laptop and dig out one of the Jackbox Party Packs. Quiplash, Drawful and Survive the Internet are all favourites in this household, but recently, brother announced that he had a new game: The Jackbox Party Pack 5.
Of course, hilarity followed as we tried all the games in the pack.
First off was You Don’t Know Jack. It’s your standard quiz game, with players winning money for correct answers and losing money for wrong ones. The 5th Party Pack’s version of You Don’t Know Jack is set up in a browsing-TV-channels sort of way, and honestly it’s kinda annoying. It felt like more time was spent on the bits in between questions than the questions themselves. I don’t remember the previous renditions being repetitive, but You Don’t Know Jack in this version was too reliant on social media memes and repetition. In the one game we played, Jurassic Park and Parks and Recreations were both mentioned 3 times each.
Split the Room was played next. Basically, you have to write in an answer that will split the players in the room 50-50 on whether they vote yes or no. For example, you get a prompt that says “You win 10K if you do ___”, someone enters “karaoke” as the answer and they get the most points if the number of players who vote yes or no is 50-50. It’s an interesting idea but I think you need a full party, plus an audience, to make the most of it. Split the Room gets bonus points though for having a Twilight Zone vibe to it and a really nice art style.
Up next is Patently Stupid.
I’ll be honest, I’m a little biased because I accidentally nearly made everyone wet themselves with laughter, but Patently Stupid is a genuinely good game with the right audience. Basically, you’re given a stupid problem (partially chosen by other players) and have to draw a picture of a product in order to solve said problem. You give the product a title and a tag line, then present it to other players. Whoever gets the most funding (i.e. votes) wins.
There IS a trick here though. When you present your product, it’s best to do it yourself. Because the AI can’t really tell what the fuck it’s looking at. The ability to improvise is required here, and if you can’t do that, then the game falls flat and the AI doesn’t have nearly enough lines to present your product for you.
But you can get some incredibly insane prompts, thanks to the fact that players fill in the gaps. Problem prompts included “Help, I think my parents are fingering!”, “I don’t want to go to the bathroom anymore!” and “My cat won’t stop licking its schlong!”, to which I suggested Cants – pants for cats. Complete with a badly drawn picture of an angry cat.
Patently Stupid does have a problem though. When you try to share the results, the game doesn’t show you the problem you were trying to solve, meaning the shared images lose all their context and aren’t nearly as funny.
Next on the list is Mad Verse City, which I prefer calling Robot Rap Battles. Because that’s kinda what it is.
The concept is simple. You write a word matching a prompt, the game gives you a line using that word and you need to write a lyric to match up with it, creating an epic 4-line rap, which gets spoken by a robotic AI voice against your rap opponent. The bigger the burn, the better.
I really like everything about Mad Verse City. The aesthetic, with robots designed around old school technology, combined with the fact that you need to think on your feet, you can boo and cheer performers and destroy buildings while you wait for people to finish all combine into a great game. A word of caution though, it’s easy to screw yourself up. While the game will suggest prompts like “Adjective – negative”, sometimes it doesn’t. So you can end up with a line that accidentally complements your opponent or burns yourself, so you have to quickly turn that around.
Still, combined with Patently Stupid, it’s a great way to work on your improvising skills.
The only other downside to Mad Verse City is that the AI character given if there’s an odd number of players is pretty shit. Gene, the AI robot, burns itself more than it burns other players, so it’s basically a free win if you’re matched against them.
Finally, there’s Zeeple Dome.
Zeeple Dome is an odd one as it’s a physics-based game where you slingshot your little characters across the screen, bashing them into enemies and avoiding being blown up by bombs.
In theory, it’s a good game, but latency problems and more than just a couple of players make the game too hectic to play, especially since everyone has to work together. You also find yourself looking at two screens – your phone and the main screen the game is being played on, which makes it REALLY hard to orientate yourself.
Zeeple Dome has potential and it can be fun, but it’s by far the most awkward game of the pack.
Overall, I really, really enjoyed this iteration of the Jackbox Party Pack. But the game’s success really depends on your audience. You Don’t Know Jack for example probably works better for streamers, Mad Verse City works best with close friends and Zeeple Dome doesn’t work for streams at all.