By Isaac Espinosa
Whoa! It’s trivia and party games on steroids! Inspired by the “You Don’t Know Jack” games which Rockstar lead writer Dan Houser worked on, “Jackpot Party Pack 5” is created with the purpose of bringing liveliness and fun to any gathering! “You Don’t Know Jack,” “Split the Room,” “Mad-Verse City,” “Patently Stupid” and “Zeeple Dome” present a wide variety for online play. Thankfully, no extra controllers are required no matter the system, because each game uses only the browser and a certain code for each game, which can all be accessed on your phone. Playing livens up the party and bring people together in interesting, creative and…very funny ways. Without further ado, let the party begin!
On the surface, “You Don’t Know Jack” looks like a simple quiz show game that can be played with 1-8 people. To win, you simply collect the most money at the end of the quiz. However, each question truly makes it seem as if you don’t know jack. While the answers are actual facts that can be found in real life, the way the questions are presented varies from simply comedic to downright hilarious remarks, such as making fun of TV shows or even poking fun at real life situations.
And much like any other game show, “You Don’t Know Jack” wouldn’t be complete without a few surprise rounds. Dis or Dat is a segment in which the announcer reads off seven things, and the players must guess if they fall under one of two prompts. The pairing of said prompts can feel completely random; one example I received was “Reindeer or CNN Anchor,” with an answer being Rudolph because it matches with the reindeer prompt. Next, there’s Jack Attack! The announcer offers a prompt, and then the players are given a specific amount of time to pick the words or phrases that fit in with said prompt. Oh, and important to note, with each right answer, you get money (well, fake money). And with each wrong answer, you lose money. The amount of money on the line changes with each question.
“Split the Room” has a compelling design. One of the eight players is given a prompt with a blank. That player can fill in this blank with whatever he or she pleases, even something offensive like swear words, jokes that take on more dark humor, etc. The rest of the players must then debate whether the answer fits the prompt or not. But the purpose of “Split the Room” is not really to come to a consensus. It’s to make each prompt more divisive so that the other players do not reach an agreement. Whoever ends up creating the most divisive prompt ends up claiming victory.
“Zeeple Dome” is simple, but just as much fun. In this game, you take control of a small avatar that’s put into a dome filled with crazy monsters. To gain points, you simply have to fling your avatar into the monsters to damage and eventually defeat them. The monsters grow stronger with each level, so it helps to have a group of players so the monsters can be damaged more easily and you can speed your advance through the levels. The main attraction of this game is that since all the players are in the same dome, facing the same monsters, everyone can strategize to steal power ups, or even kills, from other players.
“Patently Stupid” is my personal favorite since it allows players to express their own form of creativity. In this game, each player is supposed to draw some kind of invention, which can be practical, strange or humorous. Each invention must be designed to solve a certain problem, which gets sent to the artist’s mobile device. The other players must then agree on which invention is the best, and the player whose inventions are chosen most frequently wins the game.
Finally, there’s “Mad-Verse City.” Players are pitted against one another to decide who makes the best raps. As in a tournament, the winner of each round advances to face other winners until one is deemed the ultimate rapper.There are no set themes for the raps; all you need is catchy lyrics, and you’ll be sweeping the competition like dust under the rug!
“The JackBox Party Pack 5” works best when played in groups. In fact, three of the games, “Mad-Verse City,” “Split the Room” and “Patently Stupid,” are exclusively multiplayer. There’s not much for anyone seeking a single player adventure. Still, “The JackBox Party Pack 5” is a generally tight combination of some of the funniest, and more importantly, wonderfully strangest party games I’ve had the good fortune to play. And since players only need a mobile device to play, it’s accessible to nearly everyone who wants to get the party started.
Isaac Espinosa is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern. He’s the founder of the Lehman College Videogame Critics Circle.