Title: The Jackbox Party Pack 2
Where To Buy: Xbox Live, PSN Store, Steam, Apple Store, Amazon Store, Local Retailer
The Jackbox Party Pack 2 caught me off guard. I have played quiz games before and felt the genre had become stale and predictable; however The Jackbox Party Pack 2 changed this. Gone is the need for novelty peripherals, as smart devices are the only controllers you will need. With highly amusing questions, engaging commentary and a great mix of game modes, The Jackbox Party Pack 2 is the perfect game to play with family and friends.
The use of smart device controllers has revolutionized the series. Whether you have a PC, Tablet or Smartphone you can simply connect through a browser on a local network and you have a sophisticated tool in your hands. The games included are more innovative than simple multiple choice questions; you will be able to type and draw which then allows more creative freedom within each of the game modes. Connecting to a lobby is effortless and I only ever encountered one issue with a device freezing but it was easily rectified by refreshing the page. On most games, you can play with 8 players and chances are you’ll have enough devices between you to guarantee everyone a spot.
The more players you have the better, so call your friends and get them to come over. There is no single player option included here and no matchmaking over the internet either. Although the game is far more enjoyable in a group, it is always frustrating not being able to play a game if you are alone. Having only two players is okay, but as the AI never compensates for missing players, the thrill of the experience is lost.
The games modes are varied and all take advantage of the controllers you possess. Fibbage asks you a true yet bizarre question and you are tasked with devising a believable answer to trick your opponents. Typing is as easy as writing a text message so you can enter a simple or complex reply within seconds. Once all retorts have been collected, you are given the opportunity to select from all the responses were given and one correct solution provided by the AI. You gain points for not only guessing the correct one but by luring others towards yours. A nice touch which I appreciated was that if you input a duplicate answer, the AI will automatically insert a different response for you. As you play the game, you adapt to becoming more inventive with your replies. You have a parental guide setting which you can use in all modes. This will remove any risqué content for children but keep the mature themed and more amusing questions for the adults.
Quiplash XL follows a similar theme as the previous game, but there are no correct answers. You simply have to construct an appealing and witty answer to a question with no definite response. Players will then decide on their favorite retort and this is how you score the game. The questions are open-ended and evoke you to use your imagination. ‘What is the tagline for holidays to Russia’ allowed me to put ‘Communist free for 20 years’ as my response.
Bidiots is an interesting game which is poorly explained but has great potential. You are given a phrase such as ‘The Man and The Sea’ and are asked to draw a picture to correlate with this. By using an Ipad or tablet, the drawing is far easier than on a phone or laptop, but you are not expected to create a work of art. Everyone submits two painting and the auction begins. You are given the price of three paintings on your personal screen. Some of the paintings can end up looking visually similar so the catch is you do not necessarily know which painting is which. The winner is decided by who has the most money left which is a combination of your remaining finances, profits, and income from your paintings. It is a tricky concept to describe but having played through it once it became clearer. The participants soon became more competitive and ruthless with their bidding whilst becoming more cunning with their drawings.
The weakest game in the collection is earwax, not because of the idea but due to the execution. You are given a scenario and you must choose two sounds to play consecutively as your submission. One player becomes the judge for each round and chooses the winner. The issues with this game are the fact that you cannot hear the sounds in advance; you are simply given a written description. Having the opportunity to utilize headphones on each device is an oversight. The other fault lies in the issue with every player having different sounds at their disposal. It makes for an uneven playing field as some sounds are much funnier than others and chances are they will win the round. Noises such as a deflating balloon or a female scream can create some hilarious scenarios, but other sounds can feel irrelevant and mundane.
Bomb Corp could be its own standalone game. Two to four players can play together and the aim is to diffuse a bomb. The whole game has wonderful pixel art and is incredibly funny. The dialogue is brilliantly written and would feel at home in Family Guy as every one-liner had me laughing. The premise is that you are an intern at a bomb-making facility and due to the incompetent staff; you have to disarm the explosives. This game takes full use of the individual screens as you will see the bomb on the TV but on your device, you will be given stipulations to diffuse it. The complexity arises as the manual is shared between each player. Communication and teamwork are essential and each success feels empowering. The bombs start easy with simple rules such as, ‘cut the second wire if it is black’ but soon the difficulty spikes. You will have typos which are rectified on another device, rules written by children and times when only certain players can cut particular wires. It is impossible to stop the explosion without everyone’s input which makes each individual feel important. This game is incredible and we found ourselves playing it for hours. There is no greater feeling than cutting the agreed wire to then see the countdown timer still ticking and everyone looking at each other, frantically sharing their clues to see what they missed.
The Jackbox Party Pack 2 is a great value and the ultimate party game. With great voice over’s throughout the modes and engaging visuals, the attention to detail is unrivaled by anything else on the market. We’ve seen smaller, less ambitious examples on smart devices before but having the core game run on a console and then using phones or tablets as the controllers are the best combination. All of the games here encourage creativity and socializing which is key when playing with friends.