Jackbox Games caught lightning in a bottle with the Party Pack concept. Bundling a set of party games that are played with smartphones has livened up countless get-togethers the world over, including a few parties I’ve attended or hosted. The latest edition of the series marks the return of its flagship game You Don’t Know Jack, as well as four new titles to enjoy. Is this a worthy addition to the series or your next party?
The one returning game should be a familiar favourite to many. You Don’t Know Jack is back with new questions and a revamped look, though the core concept of the game is the same. For the most part, you’ll be answering tough trivia questions that are worded in such a way to make the question even more difficult to comprehend. There are many who love classic You Don’t Know Jack, but I think it’s just okay. I find the questions they use to be overly-difficult to begin with. Paired up with the tricky writing and I’m essentially guaranteed to lose every time. Still, it seems to be a hit every time I play it with friends, so it’s a net-positive in the end.
The second game on the list might be the best overall. Split the Room is a clever take on the Madlibs formula where players must fill in the blanks to a hypothetical question. Your goal is to create a question that causes the room to be divided in their answers, with the most evenly-split questions getting the most points. This framework creates a lot of silly moments and interesting conversation starters, while also testing your ability to read the audience to see what would be divisive.
My personal favourite is Mad Verse City. This time, the game will give you the framework to write your own battle raps, which will then be pitted against others in the group. Where this game gets tricky is that you can’t just fill in the blank with the most shocking answers. You’ll want to make them rhyme too for maximum effect. Even with players who aren’t into rapping or writing poetry, this one consistently generated the most laughs.
Market Research is another strong addition to this package. Players write out a host of problems for others to creatively solve. You’ll come up with a name for your solution, a tagline, and pitch it to the group. The player who is able to generate the most venture capital from their ideas wins. You’ll get the most out of this one if you’re comfortable enough to pitch the idea yourself, but you can also let the computer do it for you with generic phrases.
The final game is a groaner. Zeeple Dome is the first “action” game in the series, and it kind of sucks. Working as a group, you’ll slingshot your characters around the screen to hit stationary and moving targets. While I applaud Jackbox Games for trying different things, this experiment really didn’t work. Even with traditional controllers, this game wouldn’t have been all that entertaining.
Taken as a whole, you’re getting one dud, one refresh on a classic, and three of the best games to appear on a Jackbox package to-date. Jackbox Party Pack 5 is roughly on par with the others, making it a great choice for your next jam. Don’t worry if you haven’t played the first four, either. Feel free to start anywhere in the series, though I bet you’ll want to pick them all up after getting your first!
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