Review: The Jackbox Party Pack (PS4)

jackbox-party-pack-review-banner

Title: The Jackbox Party Pack
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.8 GB)
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Jackbox Games
Developer: Jackbox Games
Original MSRP: $24.99
ESRB Rating: E, T
The Jackbox Party Pack is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and PC. This is a Cross-Buy title.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

When I saw that there was a new You Don’t Know Jack game, I couldn’t wait to play it. When I saw it was a five game pack for just $10 more than Fibbage I just said, “Take my money”.

Note:
Since the Jackbox Party Pack is a multi-game collection we’ve changed up the standard review format to highlight each game individually and without the usual categories found in our reviews. I will still touch on each category for most games, but not break each review out by them. However the score will be for the entire package since you can’t buy the games individually. Before I get into each individual game I will mention some aspects that relate to all of them.

All the Games:
Each game is a multiplayer experience that is played using a smart phone, tablet, or computer as the controller. Each game starts out with you going to jackbox.tv to enter a room code that is displayed on the TV. Then you type in the screen name you want to use and when everybody is ready you start up the game. Every game that I played this process worked flawlessly and was really easy to set up.

You Don’t Know Jack 2015:
You Don’t Know Jack 2015 (YDKJ15) is a couch-based multiplayer trivia game for one to four people. What makes YDKJ15 unique is the comedy flavor to the game; it is more tongue in cheek and adult than Buzz Quiz. Each game is ten rounds where you have to guess the correct answer to a question. The faster you answer the more points you get. You also have the option to force a player to answer a question by playing the screw on them. You can also earn points by guessing the wrong answer of the game that is sponsored by a product that fits into an answer to a question. For example if the sponsor was apples, the wrong answer of the game could be Johnny Appleseed or William Tell. This adds a lot of strategy to the game because for one question it pays to be wrong and you can’t just answer correctly to everything.

The Jackbox Party Pack_20150120225441 The Jackbox Party Pack_20150120225455

The audio for YDKJ15 is what moves this into the great category. The host perfectly times his insults and jokes for maximum laughs. If you have played a YDKJ game in the past you’ll find that this is the best audio version of the series. If you have played Buzz it is similar but more adult. The same goes for the visuals. Just this game alone is almost worth the price of admission.

The Jackbox Party Pack_20150120230103

Fibbage XL:
Fibbage XL is the exact same game as Fibbage but with more questions. I reviewed this game a few months ago and you can read that here. The only change to my review is that they addressed my major concern about the game by adding more questions. Even if you own Fibbage it is still worth getting this bundle.

Drawful:
In this game three to eight people use their controller to draw things. It is very similar to Pictionary where you have to draw something and the other players have to guess what it is. This is a really fun game but it’s very frustrating at the same time. Since each person has a different size screen it makes the game more difficult for those with smaller screens. Drawful would work very well with a dedicated tablet-like device that is passed around for drawing if this package ever came out in retail or on a system like the Wii U.

The Jackbox Party Pack_20141129193933

Since most phones don’t come with a stylus it would be nice to be able erase any mistakes that you make but that functionality is missing. The visuals are totally dependent on the people you are playing with and their drawing skills. Every drawing looks like it is done in crayon which is a nice effect. Don’t worry if you are not a great artist because each drawing has several choices as to what it could be for the other people to guess from. This makes the game a lot more fun to play. One thing that would add to the experience is the ability to pick what you draw from a few multiple choice options. Some of the things we were asked to draw made no sense which made drawing them hard and made guessing them even harder. Other than the two minor issues, we had a great time playing this game and come back to it often.

The Jackbox Party Pack_20141129193913

Word Spud:
Word Spud is a two to eight player word game that is a cross between a word association game, hot potato, and Mad Libs. A word comes on screen and a player has to add a word to it. You try to think of something funny or clever to match it before the timer runs out, then the other players vote on the phrase. If enough people approve of the phrase the next person builds a new phrase starting with the previous player’s word. For example if the starting word was “fun” and the first player added “house” to make “fun house” the next person has to create a phrase that starts with “house.” If the phrase is not approved the game picks a random word that the next person starts with. At the end of the game a sentence is built out of the entered words similar to Mad Libs.

The Jackbox Party Pack_20141129194754

While this is a fun game it is clearly the weakest game in the collection. The scoring is totally random and can easily be influenced to knock the first place person down. It really feels like there is a missed opportunity here. Either they could have kept the scores secret so you didn’t know what they were until the end or changed the game to include a round at the end where each player creates their own sentences for others to vote on. Word Spud also suffers from a lack of instructions so a little explanation would really help to figure this game out.

The Jackbox Party Pack_20141129195414

Lie Swatter:
Lie Swatter is a one to one hundred player game about deciding between the truth and lies shown on screen. The game consists of three rounds where each player is trying to guess whether or not a question is true or false. The first two rounds deal with one question from multiple topics and the final round consists of multiple questions in one category. There are a lot of interesting facts that you have to decide on and while we were going through them it never felt like the smartest person was going to win. While there is not a lot of variation to Lie Swatter it is a fun change of pace game. Lie Swatter is not a game that you will play five times in a row but it is a good way to transition between the other games.

The Jackbox Party Pack_20150120223033

One thing that would have made Lie Swatter better would be the inclusion of user generated answers that players had to swat away from the truth. It could have even been helped by a change in game play where one round you are trying to guess the truth and the next round you are trying to guess the lies.

The Jackbox Party Pack_20150120223110

Conclusion:
The Jackbox Party Pack is an interesting mix of games that can appeal to a wide group of people making it a great party game. Some games are incredible while some are just okay. The two standouts are YDKJ15 and Fibbage XL. They are different enough to play right after one another while sharing some of the same charm. Drawful is a fun game to play and was enjoyable enough for the non-artists. Lie Swatter was enjoyable but not something that you could play multiple rounds in a row. Finally Word Spud had its moments but is something that we will probably only be playing every few months.

The biggest problem with this collection is that it is couch-based multiplayer and doesn’t really offer online multiplayer, which really limits the audience for this pack.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Damon Bullis

Damon Bullis

I’m a gamer from back in the days of Telstar Arcade, Atari 2600, and Intellivision. I currently have a PS4, PS3x2, Vita, PSP, Xbox One, 360, Wii U, Wii, and a N64.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook
  • Gruel

    Finally got to try this out last weekend at a friend’s and had a lot of fun with games I never played before like Fibbage and Drawful YDKJ was also its same awesomeness I played to death last gen. Connecting with my phone was also surprisingly fast and easy. Whenever I upgrade to the new systems this will be one of the first games I will purchase!

    • DB

      If you have a PS3 it is cross buy.

  • Mike Kean

    I tried the demo last night with a friend online (I used Share Play and they connected to it) and it was pretty fun! I think that it would be nice to allow for online play as well, and to give you the option of ACTUALLY USING CONTROLLERS! because not everyone wants to drain their phone’s battery at a party to play a game, and not all devices work that well. It would also be nice if you could turn on an option to speed things up a bit (like the transitions between questions) as well, and maybe add a couple more wrong answers in Fibbage when you are only playing with two people. I have to agree with this review though about Word Spud. It isn’t really much of a game as it is something someone added in last-minute. It really isn’t that much of a game, as you could easily knock someone down on purpose. The ability to hide votes would be better. If the idea was to make a Mad Libbs games, then having short sentences and taking turns adding answers would have been better.
    Still, I laughed a lot playing it with my friend. Even via Share-Play, he had no problem playing using his phone, and he said he had no lag.

    Too bad that there is a HUGE (like… REALLY HUGE) delay with the livestream feature on PS4.. I know because if you watch someone, comments take LONG to show up on the feed you watch, and when I was broadcasting, I asked a friend what they saw, and it was stuff that happened over a minute ago from what I was doing in real time. If the streams could be more like Share-Play where there is little to no lag at all, then this would be a pretty interesting game to play on livestreams.

    • Roger Cannon

      I’m with you, Mike. When someone buys a game like this, couch co-op should be a given. But to disallow controllers in lieu of having to use your phones is completely unacceptable. It’s a decision that was made with money in mind and complete disregard to consumers.

      If I buy a game on the PS4, then I BETTER be allowed to play it with the same controllers I use for EVERY OTHER GAME on that console. It’s absurd.

      My phone is too old to use, so this game was a completely waste of money for me.

    • DB

      Mike, thanks for your response. I think that it would open a can of worms if you could play online since they use the website and room to play, though there could be some way around it.

      Roger and Mike — For using your controller instead of a phone or tablet or computer, I think it would cause a lot of problems. First typing things out on a controller is not ideal and would take a lot longer than a different device. Second you could easily see what other people were writing which would destroy games that you had to guess the truth. Third it would be really hard to do an easy drawing system with a controller. It’s a lot easier to use a touchscreen on a tablet or phone.

      I actually never had any issue playing with my friends using their phones with this game. Most actually enjoyed it more because they were using a device they were familiar with instead of using a controller that they might not be familiar with.