Reviewing a “party game” such as the Jackbox Party Pack 2 is no easy task, you need the right number of people, people willing to play these games, and then you have to garnish everyone’s feedback and put it in to the written word, so here we go, does this collection of party games tick all the boxes you would want?
The best way to review the package as a whole is to review and detail each game in the collection, so I will break the review down into smaller sections, if one particular game interests you more, skip ahead!
The Jackbox Party Pack 2 contains the following games for you to enjoy, Fibbage 2, Earwax, Quiplash XL, Bomb Corp & Bidiots, each is meant for either 2-8 players or 3-8 players, but with all the games, more players = more fun, so bare that in mind (it will come up a lot).
Before we get going, the scenario, I had a few solid evenings of play on each game in the collection, at first with 3 of us (myself, the wife and daughter), but it was quite obvious you need more to get the most out of the game, so queue another night and some invites and we were up to 6 players total, made the whole experience much more enjoyable.
Finally, the way this game is played, could have serious issues for some people, no controllers here, much like Scene It from the Xbox 360, instead, everyone needs to use either a smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC to connect to the Jackbox server, as you use your “Room Code” to access the game and play (and for others to connect as “viewers” to interact, great twitch potential). If they could only add online play for the main game over multiple screens (and not just as viewers), then this would be great.
The concept of Fibbage 2 (to be called just Fibbage from now on), is for you to take turns picking a topic, the other players in the group then have to fabricate an answer for everyone to pick, if you manage to get someone to pick your “fib” you gain points, if they pick the hosts lie, they lose points. With the winner the person with the most points after 3 rounds. This is where the minimum suggested 2 players, just doesn’t work.
I would pick the topic, both my wife and I would create a fib, the host would then create their fib, and there would be the truthful option, giving you 4 options overall, as we both know each other’s sense of humour, we could tell each other’s lie a mile away, so we would pretty much either pick the truth or hosts fib each time, and with only 3 rounds the game is over pretty quick.
Queue another night and 6 players, and this game is a riot, with some amazing fibs being thrown around left, right and centre that we just couldn’t see through causing some major hilarity, the host of the show is simply brilliant, if you have ever played “Scene It” from the Xbox 360 days or the DVD version, you know how old the host gets, but since this game is seemingly connected to the internet all the time, it seems to be very up to date, and I would assume, always being updated. He is really interactive, commenting on everyone’s fibs and choices and where they are placed in the game.
Overall, a great party game, definitely not suitable for the 2 players suggested, I would think a minimum as 4 to be safe, but if you can get all 8 in, you will in for a great time.
The concept of Earwax is for someone to pick a scenario or topic, then for everyone else to create an answer using 2 sound clips, the person who picked the scenario then judges the sound clips and picks a winner, again a massive flaw with the minimum suggested 3 players, an example being I would be the judge and my wife and daughter will make their sounds, and as before, we all know each other so it was pretty easy to guess who did what, especially with a giggling 10 year old! Once we had the 6 of us playing, there were some crazy sounds flying around, we had a few games and over the time we didn’t encounter the same topic, and only a few sounds everyone now and then, so a great selection of sounds for people to get creative.
Again, a really fun game and the more people you can get in on it, the better, probably doesn’t have the longevity of Fibbage, but still good fun.
Ah, drawing, not everyone’s strong point, and Bidiots certainly proves it, the concept here, you all draw 2 paintings at the start (you are told what to draw), it then turns into an auction simulator, and you are all given 3 of the paintings values and told by members of the art community what to buy if possible.
Each round, a painting is put up for sale (either one drawn by one of you or the hosts pictures), everyone has made two, so on our playthrough at the start, 8 rounds overall. You then bid on the paintings, once you win the painting you are told how much it was worth (remember everyone knows how much some are worth), and you either lose or make money, if you happen to buy one of the other players paintings, they get ½ the money put on their final score, so if you know it is your painting, you potentially will want to bid someone up to make more money at the end, (if you win your own painting you don’t get ½ the money).
Where the game comes into its own and what we enjoyed the most was the “adverts”, between each auction, these adverts, for a Loan Shark “Predatory Loans”, each advert game with its own jingle (we didn’t hear one that was repeated), such as “Predatory Loans, we really hope that you don’t read the fine print” in a really pleasing classic jingle. With them, you essentially loan $1000, then at the end of the game you lose $1500 of your final score as interest.
This is probably the only game where the suggested minimum 3 players is completely acceptable, as with 3 players you have 8 lots and the game lasts long enough to have fun. With our 6 player game, we had 12 paintings (no game created ones this time), and it did go on quite long.
The other thing that is obvious about Bidiots, where you can easily play the other games on a phone, it is quite difficult to draw on your phone and a tablet, laptop or PC would be better. Still, overall a really great game and loads of fun.
One word about this game, Amazing. By far the most fun we had, can be played 1-4 players, so the only one you can play solo if you want, but with 4 of you playing is utter carnage, will cause arguments galore and could become the “monopoly rage” creator the collection.
If you don’t know about a recently released game called “Keep talking and nobody explodes”, it is essentially a 2d Retro recreation of that, you are given a bomb to explode (and on the basis of 4 players), someone is given the numbers of the wires on their screen, and either some or all of you will have the instruction pages on how to disarm the device
An example of this, you have a bomb with 5 wires, in this order, RED-RED-BLACK-WHITE-YELLOW, then on everyone’s screens will be some instructions and on one or two screens the details of Wire 1 etc… to decide which order to cut the wire, with some great instructions across the screens such as “If there are no RED wires cut the WHITE wire” and “If the 4th wire is WHITE, cut the first wire” along with a great one that we encountered going “Only user 2 can cut the wires”, causing some great misinterpretation between all of us, and we had to build a real structure where we would all say our rules and one person would be the “brain” and decipher which wire or wires to cut.
You also get additional mini games to unlock, we only seemed to unlock one “Exploding Filing” where we had to file employee records in surname order or the filing cabinet would explode (of course), from what I understand there are more mini games out there, but we didn’t unlock any (but to be honest we only got to about day 4 before the game became really hard, and the 4 of us playing wouldn’t stop arguing over who was wrong… Monopoly Rage in its finest.
Again, the host of the show (or your employer in this, is a great voice in your ear when you are trying to get stuff done, and really lightens the mood).
The final game in the pack, previously released already as Quiplash, this is now included as the “XL” version with the extra question pack DLC included. Another one of the games that struggles with the minimum 3 player suggestion. The concept, quick rapid round gameplay, one person picks the “Quip” such as “Most Inappropriate Doctors Name” and then the other 2 players creates their own suggestion and the original decider picks the winner, so much like Earwax and Fibbage if you only have the 3 of you, it becomes quite easy to know who wrote what.
Queue 6 players, and madness ensues, with some truly hilarious quips going around such as “Best way to get rid of Head lice”, “A Double Rainbow doesn’t have gold at the end, it has….” And many more, with this, you can literally write anything as a response and answer, so it can get very rude with a room full of adults and alcohol.
Probably the easiest game to describe, but also probably the longest game in the pack, as you can create your own answers and they are pretty much limitless, a really fun conclusion to the pack, and even if you own Quiplash, it is still worth the purchase.
The Jackbox Party Pack, is a great selection of games for a great price of £19.99, this might not be for everyone, as with no online play and the only way to play the game being with Phones, Tablets, Laptops and PC’s might be a bit limiting for some, but in the modern age the people that want the game probably have the tech to play (Kids might be the exception), in our play test with the 3 of us, the wife and I used our phones and our daughter used our iPad, when it was the 6 of us, it was 5 phones and the iPad again.
Where this game will be most effective is at Christmas (which is coming up didn’t you know!), this could easily replace the standard after Christmas Dinner board game session (at least in my house), and we are already planning on taking my Xbox One to whoever is hosting Christmas this year and playing the game in the evening.
If the developers take advantage of the “always on” connected internet and can post some backend updates regularly with new questions etc., this collection of games could be pretty much limitless and last for a long time.
I had an absolute blast playing the collection, and getting some family members involved that had never played this sort of game before, it was delightful to see their faces with pure bewilderment at what was going on some times, and utter disgust when one of the “older” kids turned an innocent game completely blue and rude! Finally, if I could get a sound file with all the “Predatory Loans” adverts, I would be a happy person, by far the funniest part of the entire collection.
At £19.99, with the Jackbox Party Pack 2, you are getting immense value, 5 great party games for all the family, hours of fun to be had with a variety of games, you will find the one you enjoy the most (Bomb Corp for myself) and you will want to play it all night. Perfect for Christmas and Family Gatherings, I highly suggest you pick it up and take a look. Now…