The Jackbox Party Packs have always been the video game for those who don’t play video games. Drawing on the players’ humor and creativity instead of traditional dexterity or critical thinking, the series quickly became popular, as the name might suggest, for casual parties or get-togethers. It has continued to serve as a perfect ice-breaker that lies somewhere between Kahoot and Cards Against Humanity.
Ever since 2014, Jackbox Games have been churning out a new Jackbox Party Pack every year, each containing five party games that are exclusively controlled through the players’ phones, tablets, or computers.
The Jackbox Party Pack 5 continues that tradition with an iteration of a series mainstay, three new games testing different types of creativity, and one that feels more like a traditional video game than anything else in the series.
You Don’t Know Jack: Full Stream
Originating all the way back in 1995 for PC, You Don’t Know Jack has been iterated upon endlessly, also being incorporated into the original Jackbox Party Pack in 2014. As the name suggests, however, Jackbox Games have brought their new streaming optimizations to the game, as well as their ever-increasing standard for polish.
You Don’t Know Jack is, at its core, a trivia game, but it runs a bit differently from more conventional games of the same genre. Each question has four possible answers, one of which is correct, but the framing of these questions is what makes the game unique.
For example, instead of asking the definition of an epitaph, it asks, “What would be written on a Laffy Epitaphy wrapper?” Answers range from “In Loving Memory of Banana” to “Dear consumer, I long for your soft, wet mouth.”
Despite its hilariously irreverent nature, in fact being the only game in the pack where a family-friendly option is not available, most of the humor from You Don’t Know Jack derives from the game itself, not the actual players. Thus, this game is best suited for those wanting to be entertained while doing some trivia, but not for those wishing to entertain others.
Split the Room
Clearly inspired by The Twilight Zone, “Split the Room” gives you a template for an alternate universe in which one thing is different from our own, that difference being whatever the player can think of. There will then be a question asking something to the effect of whether this difference is good or bad. Players will then vote yes or no, and the more divisive the vote is, the more points the scenario’s creator will receive.
Most Jackbox games are essentially comedy competitions: The person with the funniest answers, quips, or drawings is the one who wins. While this is still a factor in “Split the Room,” having controversial scenarios is the real objective. Thus, the objective is not necessarily to have the room full of laughter, but to have it be full of heated debate, with bonus points given for the longer it takes for people to vote.
“Split the Room” is definitely the most psychologically manipulative game in the pack, and relies the most on knowing the preferences and personalities of those you are playing with.
Mad Verse City
In this game, players taking the personas of humanoid robots have one-on-one rap battles against each other. And that’s really all you need to know this game rules.
But there’s a catch. The first and third lines of the rap work like Mad Libs, where you choose a word such as a noun or adjective for an unknown line. You must then work with both the rhyme and context you’re given to create a fire rap that absolutely crushes your friend or family member.
“Mad Verse City” will appeal the most to writers, as it unquestionably requires the most words per prompt. Because of this, the waiting time for people to write in between matches can be significantly long, but the energy in a creative group of people during the rap battles themselves make this well worth the wait.
In this office meeting-themed game, each “inventor” gets a problem to solve from one of the other players. They must then draw an invention to solve that problem, along with a title and slogan. At the end, everyone has a certain amount of money available to invest in any invention of their choosing.
The fun part, however, comes after everyone has submitted their patents. There is an option for the more shy players to have the game’s narrators generically present the patent, but it is far more interesting when players step in front of the TV to actually pitch their inventions to the rest of the room. This can lead to some of the funniest moments within the entire pack, as people in the audience voice their enthusiasm or disapproval for these wacky and often nonsensical inventions.
“Patently Stupid” is most enjoyable for artists, engineers, and even public speakers that have a sense of humor.
By far the most deviating title in the pack, “Zeeple Dome” acts the most like a traditional video game, although it still uses simple swipes on mobile devices as the controls. Players control the Zeeples, cute little colored blobs, by slingshotting them across an arena where they must attack aliens, some of which must be dispatched by Zeeples of coordinating colors. There are multiple levels, power-ups, and enemy types that sell “Zeeple Dome” as a cooperative arena fighter on its own.
However, some phones might have trouble with latency between their swipes and the associated movement on the screen. Enemies stay still long enough to usually account for this, but it’s frustrating to miss one at the last second.
“Zeeple Dome” might be a hard sell for those unfamiliar with traditional game mechanics. Despite this, it’s still simple enough for most people to quickly get a handle for the controls. It’s a frantic yet fun cooperative game that still remains casual enough to earn its “party” description.
- Diversity of fun party games
- Irreverent, zany humor
- Great for those who don’t normally play video games
- Some issues with lag in “Zeeple Dome”
- No family-friendly option for “You Don’t Know Jack”
Most Jackbox Party Packs have that one game that nobody ever seems to want to play. Although certain games in The Jackbox Party Pack 5 will appeal more to different types of environments and people, each one brings something new and fun that will improve just about any party or get-together.