STAFF REVIEW of Jackbox Party Pack 5, The (Xbox One)

Sunday, October 28, 2018.
by John Elliott

Jackbox Party Pack 5, The Box art It's that time of year where the nights becomes more crisp, the leaves turn color and the snow flurries trickle through the air. This can only mean that the newest Jackbox Party Pack has arrived just in time for the frigid Canadian winter so we don't have to go outside and deal with all that crap! It is quite nice for the Jackbox Games to release Jackbox Party Pack 5 (JBPP5 for short) at the perfect moment to coincide with hibernation time. Oh, and below you will find my thoughts on this party game which I am fairly sure it will be pretty awesome.

Bundled within JBPP5 are five games: You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream, Split The Room, Mad Verse City, Patently Stupid and Zeeple Dome. Briefly glancing at the bundled titles I am happy to see four brand new titles and an updated version of You Don't Know Jack (YDKJ), which is a fan favorite. Now for those of you out there who aren't too familiar with the series should probably know the basics of Jackbox Party Packs in general. First and foremost, is it is a party game that doesn't require controllers or for everyone to own the game. Only one game needs to be loaded up on your screen, or in some cases, over a stream. What everyone needs to play is a device that can log into to enter the room code for the game you are playing to jump in. Everything you need to do within the game is controlled by your phone, be it entering an answer, drawing or controlling a sprite. Don't worry about knowing how to play each game either, as there is a tutorial of how to play each beforehand to explain the rules of the game.

As a fan of the series, I had to jump into YDKJ from the get go, as I love trivia games, and this is one of those trivia games I have always gravitated towards. It works like game show with host Cookie Masterson asking the questions, and in Jeopardy fashion, correct answers earn you cash and wrong answers take it away. Some of the questions are just straight up knowledge questions where you are presented with multiple choice answers. Dis or Dat is where you're given two categories like X-Men Characters (Dis) or Game of Thrones Characters (Dat), and they spit out the names of the characters where you select Dis or Dat to score some cash. There are many ways Cookie presents his questions, but he does have a new medium that he presents it on. This time Cookie is streaming through the their made up service called BinjPipe, which really just changes his delivery and the addition of some fake BinjPipe commercials. Overall YDKJ hasn't changed up that much except for some new questions and new jokes from Cookie.

Split The Room is a new game to the Jackbox series that is pretty hilarious, depending on how inventive and/or crude that your friends can be. Basically, you pick two situations like Having Wet Socks For Life or Constantly Having a _______. However, the situations are user entered in that blank, with the sole purpose of creating a split vote between all of the people playing. The closer to a split vote you get the more points you get. As you can imagine, this game is better with larger groups and definitely produces some great laughs. Did I mention this game is hosted by talking cats? How can a game be horrible if it's hosted by a talking cat? Overall, this was a great game to play with friends and is more about how well you can read a room to guess what that group would choose to achieve greater success.

Mad Verse City is definitely the best addition to the Jackbox line up with Mad Libs mashed up with Rap Battles and the 90's. Who can really ask for more when it comes to a game? My kids have been playing with the Mad Libs feature on our Google Home, so I can't wait to try this out with them. Basically, the story has gigantic robots invade Mad Verse City and an epic rap battle ensues where Shadow Master MC and DJ Raych referee the battle to decide who the best rhymer in the land is. Everyone playing has their own robot where they are given parts of lyric, having to fill in the blanks to create the dopest rap to go up against another robot. After the lyrics are presented, everyone votes on their favorite and the winner gets the cash. Highest cash winnings at the end of the game wins the battle. As you can imagine, the type of immature people who would play party games like this produce a lot of innuendo, sassy and downright offensive lyrics that had all of us in stitches while we played this great addition to Jackbox Party Pack 5.

Patently Stupid is a new drawing game from Jackbox that I was initially excited for, until I dove into the game. Firstly, I am not the best artist, but I do enjoy that I can draw in this game and not be judged too harshly, as it's not about quality, but more about getting your point across in any of the Jackbox suite of drawing games. With Patently Stupid you are attending an invention seminar where you fight it out to create the best solutions to everyday problems that we probably don't encounter very often.

Simplified, one player is going to come up with the scenario that needs to be solved, and once the scenario is selected, a player will create an invention that will solve that issue. In turn, they draw the solution and slap a name and slogan onto it to enter into the presentation stage of the game. During the presentation stage, players get to explain their concept and then the investing stage of the game begins. This is where players get to vote on their favorite invention, and in turn, gracing that player with some cash. This process repeats and the player with the most cash at the end of the game wins.

Yes, as complicated as that description of the game is, you will have to trust that it's a little bit more straight forward when you're playing the game itself. However, that straight forwardness doesn't make it any better of the game. I think they did make this drawing game a bit more complicated, and could focus on the drawing aspect more than coming up with names, slogans and presentations.

Zeeple Dome is an interesting game addition to the the Jackbox line up and can be explained best by saying it's a co-op style Angry Birds. Each player is in control of a different colored alien, and you have to use your alien to shoot another species of aliens in a battle dome. This shooting is done on your phone, and just like Angry Birds, you pull back and aim to where you want your alien to go. Pro tip here is to do your best to keep your eyes on the screen and hand on the phone, so you can see the sight line to aim better. However, if you don't have the best hand eye coordination, then you can easily slip your fingers off the browser box. I almost wish they made a Jackbox App where I could make it full screen and use my screen from edge to edge.

Aside from that one controller issue, Zeeple Dome is quite a bit of fun and gets challenging quite quickly. There is a level of cooperation too, because when you drop the shields on one of your enemies, it becomes immune to all other colours, except the new shield color which corresponds with one of the aliens in the game. However this color change is only temporary, so you have to time up your attacks quickly and efficiently. As you make your way through the dome, it continues to get harder and harder, but also a lot more crazy. Although different than the typical Jackbox game, it is plenty of fun and I highly recommend the developers expand on the idea and turn it into a full fledged title with some more flair.

Overall, the biggest draw for this Jackbox Party Pack is the new You Don't Know Jack and newest gem in Mad Verse City. The other titles are just enjoyable but fall more into an average category instead of the AAA stuff that Jackbox Games normally publishes. If you're a fan of the series, then it's a no-brainer, but if you're not, you may just want to mooch off your friends and play with them.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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