Monday, October 23, 2017

Review: Jackbox Party Pack 4


If you own a Nintendo Switch once again you have no excuse for a party with nothing fun to do because Jackbox Party Pack 4 is now available and, as always, it’s quite a lot of fun. The overall format remains the same as ever, with the Switch acting as a hub for running the game and everyone playing on their cell phones. While the majority of games are for from 3 to 8 players the beauty of them is scalability as additional people are always able to participate and vote as the audience. Rather than dilly dally on the basics we’ll just get right into the games inside since that’s always what makes the Party Packs so special!

We’ll open with the only returning game from previous incarnations, Fibbage 3, which is actually one of my family’s favorites. As before it manages to mix unusual trivia with people’s ability to deceive their friends to set the stage for some laughs. One player will choose the topic from a usually odd list and that will prompt a trivia question. The goal is to come up with an answer that will hopefully fool your friends and then to try to figure out which answer is the real one. This always tends to keep people on their toes as the questions range through all sorts of topics and if you find yourself falling into patterns with your answers the likelihood is that your friends will notice this as well. A novel twist on this formula is a new variant called Fibbage: Enough About You where instead of answering trivia questions you’ll be prompted to reveal a truth about yourself. Prompts are generally pretty innocuous like perhaps “What sort of food you can’t stop eating until it’s gone once you open the package” and as with the normal game people will then first try to come up with a plausible lie and then vote on which one they think is the truth. The one struggle my family had with this one is that we honestly know each other a little too thoroughly for some of these questions to be hard to spot the truth in but among more casual friends this could be a lot of fun or even an excellent ice breaker of sorts!


Next up is probably my family’s favorite game in the new pack, Survive the Internet. In this one everyone will first be given a prompt of some kind that you would typically see on certain types of websites to comment on. Those comments, without their original context, will then be given to someone else to then try to make sound awful or silly by pairing them with a new prompt you make up. So, for instance, my daughter couldn’t come up with a response for a video she was given and just responded with “Huh?” It wasn’t a lot to work with but I made the title of the video ‘Morons who watch this video will probably be left saying, “Huh?”’ Not very subtle, but in this round it worked. What’s interesting is that you can at least try to be strategic with your comments. In some ways going as simple and nondescript as possible could work but that also gives your opponent a blank slate to work with and can backfire. You could attempt to sabotage the person by giving a narrow or specific comment to try to throw them off or railroad them but someone savvy may also be able to turn that around. As always the other challenge can be knowing your audience, so if there are in-jokes that get laughs you may want to move in that direction. Keep in mind, though, that if people go to the well too often that can also backfire so you really need to exercise some strategy as well as your creative chops to get people laughing. It’s the somewhat unpredictable nature of it all that had everyone asking to play this one several times as everyone seemed to have fun with it.


The next up steers into new territory with a game built around dating apps and it is called Monster Seeking Monster. Each person will be given the type of monster that they are and an associated power that you’ll need to consider in how you interact with people and play the game. With my particular monster my goal was to lure people into trying to go out on a date with them but to then reject them so I’d get double points. Each person had their own specific type of monster that then informed their overall strategies as well. Each round everyone would have a limited number of times they could choose to text other monsters, trying to convince them to take them on a date. At the end of each round everyone gets to make their choice, no doubt informed with a strategy based on their monster type, and the scores are then tallied. Out of the pack I think this one will be the toughest to find a way to play as certainly in multi-generational family settings it all feels really creepy and weird. Even among couples I could see things either being very pointlessly predictable or ripe for drama of some kind (“It’s just a game honey, I’m just trying to win!”) so I’m thinking parties with primarily single friends and some alcohol may be necessary for this one to reach its full potential. Credit to Jackbox for going off the board for this one though to try something very different!


Bracketology is the game in the pack that will support the most players, up to 16, and it may be the easiest concept of the bunch to grasp as well. Things start out pretty simply with everyone being given a specific prompt (or two, depending on how many people you have playing) to provide a simple answer for. Once everyone’s answers are in the game will pair them all up into a tournament-style bracket and the betting and fun begins. People will first be individually shown a specific pairing from the brackets to place a wager on which answer they think will win and then the bracket will be walked through, with people voting on their favorite answers until a winner is chosen. Points will go to the people who provided the best answers but if your predicted pick is correct you’ll also stand to rack up points as well. Things get a bit more crazy is the second and third rounds as between rounds the criteria you’re voting on will change. So you’ll start with a much more generic prompt like naming a favorite actor, but once voting begins it changes to which one would be the best on Dancing with the Stars. In the final round there would even be an additional change after that so there’s a degree of luck involved but if you’re aware of how things can change between rounds you can at least try to come up with answers that could seem versatile perhaps. It’s a relatively quick and easy game, and since the voting phase remains open and people can see what has gotten votes and can change them for a limited time it makes for lively discussion as people try to convince each other which answer is better. It’s fun!


Last, but not least, is a game dear to my heart for two reasons: Civic Doodle. First, everyone in the family generally enjoys the Jackbox drawing games for their just being very different and generally funny. Second, this is actually very similar to a game my family used to play drawing on our placemats while we’d wait at a restaurant. It will all start with a random sort of squiggle, and 2 people will be given a relatively short amount of time to run with trying to draw things to go with it to start having it make sense. What’s fun is that everyone else is able to watch both being drawn in real time and can respond to the “art” in real time with a variety of emojis so pretty well everyone remains engaged in this one almost constantly. At the end of each round a winner is chosen and that will then become the core art that the next two people will then add to. After a few rounds you’ll have your winning collective “masterpiece” and the only thing left to do will be to have people come up with a slogan to describe it! This will be repeated for a second round, and then for the third things will change up again as people will need to work together to create a portrait element by element. This time more than 2 people will be working in parallel so it steps up the challenge and the composite person you end up with at the end can be really unusual to say the least. Overall this one is a lot of fun and has a tendency to meander all over the place in terms of theme, and there’s not necessarily a great advantage to being artistically inclined since, as always, drawing on your phone or tablet with the tools provided is only so accurate.


Overall there’s quite a lot of diverse fun to be had with Party Pack 4 and it may actually be the strongest one yet in terms of the average strength of all games included. Monster Seeking Monster is definitely the outlier, not because it is a bad idea but because it is so heavily dependent on the group playing it. While my tendency would still be to gravitate towards one of the Party Packs (2 or 3) that includes Quiplash, still my overall favorite Jackbox mini game, Survive the Internet is extremely strong, Civic Doodle may now be my favorite Jackbox drawing game, and the inclusion of Fibbage is always a plus. In the end you’ll need to read over the various games and choose which Pack works best for you but if the question were which 2 Packs were the best to buy I’d automatically make Party Pack 4 my second without question.

Score: 8.5

Pros:
  • Survive the Internet shines as a great new idea for the series
  • Civic Doodle is a lot of fun and may be my new favorite Jackbox drawing game
  • As always generally a lot of fun for family and friends of all ages (make use of that filter on games that include it!)

Cons:
  • Monster Seeking Monster is 100% dependent on the group you’re playing with
  • I’d still consider Quiplash the best overall Jackbox mini game and it’s in Packs 2 and 3


No comments:

Post a Comment