When you are looking for party games, that you can play with pretty much everyone, there is hardly anything to choose from. Most of the time you have splitscreen or online based games in a setting that some people like and some don’t. All those games where you’re sitting in front of your TV (or PC-screen) with 4 or more players seem to require a Nintendo console. Well, the situation is getting better but there is one series out there for quite some time now. I mean, it’s the fifth part we’re testing here. But what kind of party game is Jackbox exactly?
Jackbox Party Packs are Bundles of 4-5 games, where everyone is looking at one screen but the “controller” is your mobile phone. So almost every game doesn’t require amazing skills with a controller, but rather typing and drawing on your own device. And of course, only one player has to buy the game while the rest doesn’t even need an app to participate, they just go to the mobile website “Jackbox.tv”, enter the room code that is shown on the TV, enter a username for the round and that’s it, you can start playing.
As I said, the games require typing and drawing, therefore you need to be a bit creative. The game’s fun factor overall though depends on the humour and creativity of the group. If you and your friends have these two more or less in common (which is most of the times the case) you’ll have plenty of fun, even if all your friends are pulling the great jokes and you are the tiniest candle on the creativity cake. And hey, every Jackbox Party Pack has a trivia game so far, so if you’ve got brains then that’s your moment to shine.
All games have pretty much the same playtime, which is rather short, which is good. So one playthrough is divided in mostly three rounds with some special changes each round (depends on the game of course), so you don’t get bored by playing one game for half an hour and the jokes get repetitive. If you and your friends have found the perfect game, then of course you can restart it over and over again. But one evening should be enough to play all the games of one Party Pack and play the favorites at least twice.
Now, Jackbox Party Pack 5. The fifth one. Are the games still new and creative?
This part has some very funny new ideas and even tries something completely new with Zeeple Dome (more below). 5 games with the same basic variety: The trivia one, the drawing one and the “Get to know your friends better” one. But as I said, all of them with a new game concept. Except for one.
You Don’t Know Jack:
Because the first game actually DID appear before. Way back as a standalone version, this trivia game is now included in the Party Pack family and is hasn’t changed that much. But that’s not bad, because why should you change a good concept that much? You answer trivia questions and get points for that. Specials are a quick round where you have two categories and select on of them for upcoming objects/names etc. Like the categories are “Fruit and vegetable” and you have to decide which of the upcoming foods is which. Smart people might have an advantage, but the questions are so random that most of the time all players are on the same level of “having no idea”.
Split the room:
This game is good for group of people who know each other well. It’s basically a version of “Would you rather”. Everyone will see a short text describing the scenario on screen which ends in a “would you do it” kinda question. The scenarios have a blank space for you to fill in the key word. Everyone gets their own scenario, type in what they think works best and then the finished scenarios are shown on screen. Then you basically select “Yes” or “No” on your phone without knowing the others’ picks of course. Finally everyone will see who voted for “Yes” and who for “No” and you will know how twisted and weird your friends are. But more importantly you get points. And not for everyone giving the same answer but to have some people agree and some people don’t, you have to “split the room” to get the most points. So you have to be creative when making your scenario, creating something everyone disagrees with won’t get you far. Final round makes you choose between two names/objects etc. and not just “Yes” and “No”, but the concept stays the same of course.
Mad Verse City:
A complete new concept, where you participate in a giant robot rap battle (don’t question it). Rules are simple. You select your robot and face one randomly selected other player to battle against. For a rap battle you obviously have to rhyme and it obviously has to diss the opponinent. Put all that “We are friends” stuff aside and stop saying “please” and “thank you”, just destroy your friends. And don’t worry, you don’t have to write a whole battle rap text on your own. The game gives you the first sentence and leaves the last word for you to fill in. Then you have to write the second sentence which rhymes with the first on of course. Doing that once more and you have your two sick rhymes to wreck that weak enemy robot. After the robots read out their battle rhymes on screen with a voice like Google Translate, you can vote for the winner. After three rounds it’s over and you are hopefully the final champion.
This one is the drawing game of Party Pack 5. Here you have to create and pitch you own product and collect money for it to fund it. It starts with everyone typing down two different problems that require a new invention. The problems are randomly sent to other players, who have to create the perfect device for the problem. First, you draw your product then you come up with a name and a slogan or small description and finally you have to present it. The presenting is actually a very nice idea, because the game gives you over a minute to just talk about your invention and present it. So it’s not just reading from the screen, your business performance can be the cherry on top. After everyone has presented you can vote for the best product by giving money tokens to the other players. You need to collect a certain amount of money to get funded and therefore get the points to win.
A completely new game for Jackbox where you don’t type or draw or anything but fight flying monsters with your own avatar on screen. Your phonescreen will have something like a slingshot to aim and shoot minion around, trying to hit all the monsters and avoid hostile attacks thrown at you. It is a coop game, so every player fights together and you can push your teammates into the right direction by bouncing against them. The monsters change color so that only one player can damage them, which means players really have to work together. The slingshot gameplay reminds of “Angry Birds” but much faster but also much more simple. To win you have to defeat all the monsters from each wave while it gets more difficult each wave of course.
Overall I really like this Jackbox Party Pack as I liked the ones before that. It’s difficult to say if this one is my favorite because my favorite Jackbox Party Pack would be a mix of games from each Party Pack. Therefore I still think if would be great if there was a way to combine all the Jackbox Games you own into one complete edition, because if you’re done playing one game and you want to play one that is on another Party Pack you have to exit the first Party Pack and start the other one. It doesn’t take forever of course, but it still takes some time and it would be so much easier if there was a menu with all the games from all the Party Packs to select.
It really depends on your taste which games you like the most, I would say my personal favorite is Patently Stupid, because presenting your product in the group I was playing with was just hilarious.
As many others I have to say that Zeeple Dome is the weakest one. But nevertheless I want to give the devs credit for trying something completely new, but Jackbox is made for those texting and drawing games we know and love. Zeeple Dome is something you can play on mobile for free and not fitting for a great party game evening with a group of friends.
The other four games on the other hand are all great and as I said in the beginning, it’s the perfect game for a group where not everyone is a gamer. Just invite a mix of friends, buy snacks and beer and go for it. Your guests don’t need to buy or install anything, they just need their phones. And I mean, don’t you guys have phones? (HAH! BlizzCon 2018 reference right there #souptodate)
So grab your working colleagues, your family, random people from the streets and just spend an evening playing Jackbox together. And with Party Pack 5 I guarantee you, it will be as hilarious as it is with the other Packs.