|Platform||PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, XBox, Switch (Reviewed), Amazon Fire TV, iPad, Apple TV, Android TV|
|Publisher||Jackbox Games Inc. (Website)|
|Developer||Jackbox Games Inc. (Website)|
|Players||Usually 3-8 plus audience – recommend at least 5 players|
Sometimes, all you want to do is sit and mess with your friends. And Jackbox Party helps you do this ;D
I have plenty of party type board games in my collection, but most share a common flaw. They are all niche in some way. Geek trivia, Pop Culture, Dexterity or ‘gamey’ games. Whatever the niche, you are setting yourself up for just that game for a while.
None are bad games, but there are usually people that don’t want to join in because they feel they can’t win. The other issue can be the judging of answers. Even going with the written response, people can argue because there is a person to contend with.
This is where the Jackbox Party Pack shines. There is a central app that controls a series of different games, so any rules disputes are typically written off as ‘bugs’. It’s incredible how much this changes the focus of the group, and makes organisation and hosting game nights a breeze.
So it’s a trivia game? Pass
Like so many simple games, it sounds too simple to be any fun. But that isn’t where the Jackbox Party games shine.
Yes, there are trivia games. Word games. There are even drawing games. Each set features a unique host that has a series of jokes and quips that gets laughs as the game continues. The games each feel unique, even when using tried and true mechanics.
Having a host or forcing a player to get up and read a bunch of questions can make or break a games night. We have all been there. A great host can elevate Even a standard pub trivia night. Here is where Jackbox shines – you genuinely want to know what is going to be said next.
But why would I want to play a video game with a heap of people? No one has that many controllers!
One of the great features of Jackbox Party Packs is that almost everyone already has their own controller.
You need a device that ‘hosts’ the games sure, and in a party environment this works brilliantly on consoles as everyone can see the game on their TV.
The players need a web browser to join in. And as almost everyone has a smartphone these days, everyone gets to play on a device they are already comfortable using. No mixing up XBox and Dual Shock buttons here!
OK, but how does this help with people that don’t want to play?
Say you are playing a game where you need to come up with clever wordplay. Some people do not enjoy this, and wouldn’t want to participate.
A great feature of Jackbox Party Packs is the Audience feature. You can have a few players competing, but everyone else can still be a part of the game by voting on the winning answers. Everyone always gets to play, and the audience has a vital role to play in picking winners.
The Audience feature is great for everyone at a party, but it has another bonus. If you are into streaming, you can stream your Jackbox game and have the room code as a part of the stream, including all of your viewers as well.
Playing like this has made the Jackbox panels at PAX Aus one of my ‘must-do’ panels each year – it’s so much fun watching the panellists playing, while at the same time participating in picking winners.
Well, that all sounds alright, but what do you play?
Each party pack comes with about five mini-games, each unique in their way. As you can tell from the title, this is the 6th such collection of games, with new packs coming out every year.
There is never the same type of game in each pack. As with every compilation, some that are gems, and some that aren’t.
Dictionarium is a fun and fast word game. Players are given a word, and then everyone comes up with a definition of their device. Once everyone is finished (or the time is up), everyone, including the audience votes on their favourite.,
Round 2 has players writing a synonym based on the winning response. Once again, everyone votes for the winner.
The final round has players then using their synonyms in a sentence. Once again, the winner is voted for by everyone. Finally, you end up with a definition and usage of a completely new word!
Dictionarium is a great quick game that can start the night or a quick reset between some of the bigger games. While fun, it’s not a game I would want to play multiple rounds of back to back.
Role models is a great game for a group of friends or at least people that know about each other. Players vote on a category (e.g. Olympic Sports, Heist Jobs, Girl Scout Cookies), and everyone chooses who in the group would suit roles in that category.
When everyone finishes voting, the votes are counted, and a player is assigned that role. If there is a tie for the part, a mini-game between the players plays out to pick a single winner.
‘Correctly’ guess the player for the role, and you can win the game! But really for party games like this, the end score is usually an oversite.
While this is a fun diversion, I think its more fun when players know a bit more about each other. Most of the fun is seeing peoples reactions to what the group thinks of them. For example, why am I better suited to Curling that Synchronised Swimming? You need to know the people to get the most out of this. Randomly assigning players because you have to isn’t as fun.
For all of those aspiring comedians out there, Joke Boat is here to let you shine. It is also a great way to get a room of people laughing at Dad jokes 😀
There are three rounds in total, with each round mostly sharing the same steps. First, you have the brainstorming round. Enter a bunch of subjects for people to write a joke about.
Next, players select a setup that includes the topics from the brainstorming. Finally, you write the punchline. Simple, right?
Players get to deliver their joke, and players vote on the best. Do all of this twice, with the final round having players trying to write a better punchline for other players jokes.
Joke Boat sounds like a lot of fun, and it was enjoyable, but again not a game you will want to play over and over again.
Push The Button
Push the button is a different Jackbox game in that it doesn’t include audience participation. Every player is a player, and each round is a different mini-game on its own.
The setup of the game is relatively standard social deduction fair. Players are all crew on a space ship, but some players are aliens in disguise. The humans must work out who the aliens are and eject them to win.
The time limit is worked nicely into Press The Button as well. The aliens have uploaded a virus into the ships AI and will delete it entirely in 15 minutes.
Each round, a different player takes the role of the captain and picks a mini-game and crew members to participate. Most of the games have the same kind of setup – answer a question. The catch is the humans get one question, and aliens get a different one. You need to look out for the outlandish answers and responses to determine who the aliens are.
As the game progresses, aliens also get the ability to hack the games and can give the humans ‘alien’ answers, or aliens ‘human’ answers. Because everyone is on their phones, it leads to some exciting experiences.
Anyone can vote to ‘Push The Button’ at any time to vote out aliens. The player that pushes the button then nominates who they think are aliens, and everyone not being accused votes if they agree. If the vote passes, the unlucky players are ejected into space!
If one alien remains on the ship, the aliens win. By far the most complex Jackbox game I have ever played, but one of the smoothest social deduction experiences I have ever played.
Murder Mystery Party 2
Murder Mystery Party is probably my favourite of the games in this pack. It’s a typical trivia game, but with a very dark humoured twist.
Players are guests at a spooky hotel, and the host happens to be a serial killer. Each round, players answer general trivia questions for cash prizes. Get the questions right, and everyone continues.
Get the answer wrong, and the host will get to have fun with you with fatal consequences. ‘Losers’ get to play a random mini-game with the host and safe players/the audience. For example, losing players must drink from a goblet. The catch is the safe players have added poison to the drinks!
If you lost the mini-games, you are not out of the game. You become a ghost and continue playing, so no player elimination in the real sense.
When there is one player left, you can then try and escape the hotel. This is done by answering more trivia questions, with each correct answer moving you closer to the exit.
The other players are still playing, and the higher their score, the closer to the exit they are. There is another catch – if you are in the lead, you can only choose two of the three choices, giving the others a better chance of catching up.
If you take the lead as a ghost, you steal the life force of the other player and then everyone is against you. Also, just reaching the exit isn’t quite enough. You have to answer the final question perfectly to win.
Murder Trivia Party 2 was by far our most favourite game of the pack.
They all sound pretty good, what is the downside?
Overall there isn’t too much wrong with any of the games. There were some localisation issues as the questions have a significant US bias, but that increased the ‘us vs the game’ mentality of the group.
On the Switch, there were also a couple of times that I had to close the game and start again. Far from the end of the world, but when trying to change games, having it hang was a bit jarring.
Overall though, if Jackbox Party Pack sounds like something you would like to try, grab one of the older packs for cheaper and give it a go. Each iteration has had a standout game for me that has made the cost worth it!
Until next time,