Why Jackbox Party Pack is Your New Favorite Party Game
You Don’t Know Jack has been turning friends against each other since the mid-1990s, and the zany PC trivia series recently got a revival on modern consoles. While the four-player base game is always sure to bring out the best (and worst) in your guests at gatherings, Jackbox Games has found a way to make that experience more inclusive, easier to jump into, and possibly even more fun. I know this because I tested it out with a group last night, and what was meant to be a short session to kill time before the pizza showed up turned into an all-night affair that had all six of us laughing, yelling, and draining our smartphone batteries for hours.
The Jackbox Party Pack is a compilation of five games, one of which is the 2015 edition of You Don’t Know Jack. For the uninitiated, You Don’t Know Jack tasks players’ knowledge of useless pop culture and reflexes by challenging them to answer questions before other players, rack up points, and occasionally screw over their friends. Jack’s always a good time, but the four-player limit didn’t suit my group’s needs last night, so we skipped over it and went right to Drawful. At its most basic, Drawful can be explained as a game that tasks you with drawing things and guessing what other players’ drawings are. How are you drawing things on Xbox One or PS4, you ask? By using your smartphone or tablet as a controller.
By going to jackbox.tv and entering the room code that appears on the TV screen, up to the designated number of players (eight, for most of the Party Pack games that we played), your device becomes a controller. This process works surprisingly well--it’s super quick and easy to get connected and get playing. Even if your screen goes idle, disconnecting you from the room, you can jump right back in by re-entering the room code, so you won’t be kicked out if you get up to pee. In the case of my Saturday night party group, all six of us used iPhones; Arcade Sushi Editor-in-Chief Luke Brown had the distinct advantage of being the only one with a 5.5” iPhone 6+, but all the models in the room worked fine.
So, back to Drawful. First you have to draw an avatar to represent yourself, and you can imagine how that went with a group of adults who got progressively tipsier as the night wore on--butts and dicks as far as the eye could see. You’re awarded points if players correctly guess your drawing, and if you correctly guess what someone else’s ridiculous scribbles are supposed to be. Most points wins, and the games go pretty quickly, making Drawful great for short or long sessions.
The other eight-player favorite in the Jackbox was Fibbage XL, which is kind of like Balderdash in that you have to convince other people to pick your silly lies, only in this case it’s completing a sentence instead of making up word definitions. Once again, something so simple in concept worked wonderfully in our group setting, and it was great not to have to worry about having enough controllers to go around. The actual fun factor of Fibbage will depend on the creativity and vulgarity of your group; I couldn’t resist slipping a few obviously-fake-but-hilarious responses in there, and actually got the most likes one game--they don’t count for any points, but it’s still nice to be liked.
Word Spud and Lie Swatter were less popular, and we only attempted them once apiece. Lie Swatter supports up to 100 players, which is nuts, and may have been more fun in a bigger group, but the six of us didn’t particularly enjoy rushing to be the first to hit “true” or “false.” Still, even if you never touch those two games, the Jackbox Party Pack is an insane value at $25 (around the cost of one board game). What’s fantastic about Drawful and Fibbage, aside from the potential for hilarity, is how accessible they are--I’m guessing just about everyone you know has a touchscreen device of some kind.
Relying on a smartphone’s internet browser could have been a disaster for the Party Pack, but instead it’s one of the compilation’s biggest selling features. You don’t have to worry about buying extra pricey controllers before having people over, and you don’t have to show your dad how to use all the goofy buttons--I’m sure your parents are perfectly capable of making crude dick pics on their own smartphones. If you’re looking for an easy-to-get-into, tough-to-stop-playing party game, the Jackbox Party Pack is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. Protip: drinking makes it more fun.