Do you really enjoy party games? If so, then you’ve probably heard of the You Don’t Know Jack games that have populated the computer game landscape over the past twenty years or so. They started out as strictly trivia games, often drenched in irreverent pop culture factoids and loaded to the gills with plenty of sarcasm and crass humor, but this new breed of games included in The Jackbox Party Pack series branch out and often include a little bit of something for everyone. I had a blast with the first two games in the series, both of which I own on my PlayStation 4. The third one I just received for the Nintendo Switch, and while it’s still a fun time, I feel it’s the weakest of the three released up until now.
There are a few things that you must know before diving into The Jackbox Party Pack 3, and these are very important caveats that could determine whether the game is a right fit for you or not. First up, in order to play this title you must be connected on the Internet, not uncommon for some console games these days, but since the Switch is also a portable device it does seem like an odd requirement. That means you won’t be able to party outside at a family reunion, unless of course you have access to Wi-Fi or perhaps someone can tether the connection via a mobile device. Second, unlike any other game on the Switch thus far, the game requires you to use a cell phone, tablet, or laptop to play. That’s right, the game does not support the use of the Pro Controller or the Joy-Con controllers other than to navigate the title screen and menu selection prior to starting a game. This is due to the fact that each player needs his or her own screen to select and input answers, which must remain hidden from view from the other players. If both of these criteria are easily met, you’re all set to have a hilariously fun time – maybe.
There are five different games included in The Jackbox Party Pack 3, and they include: Quiplash 2, Trivia Murder Party, Guesspionage, Fakin’ It, and Tee K.O. By far my two favorites are Quiplash 2 and Trivia Murder Party with Fakin’ It and Guesspionage being the two weakest of the bunch. Of course, opinions are sure to differ and indeed each game’s enjoyment is often directly related to the crowd of people playing together.
Quiplash 2 supports three to eight players and has each player inputting an answer to a wild question. These answers are pitted against one another and the one that receives the most votes wins. In some ways this is similar to Cards Against Humanity, except instead of having a selection of cards with witty words, it’s up to the player to come up with something they think the rest of the group will find good enough to vote for it. So, for example, you might be presented with: “The strangest party favors at a bachelorette party would be penis-shaped…(fill in the blank). Each player would enter in an answer on his or her device and then they would be presented on the Switch’s screen (or TV) and each payer would vote for the answer they like best. With the right crowd this can be quite fun, but like many games in this collection, they’re fun in short bursts and won’t keep most people captivated for more than a few rounds.
Trivia Murder Party is the closest thing in this pack to a real You Don’t Know Jack (YDJK) trivia experience you’ll get. It’s not quite the same, but it features similar dark and twisted humor. This is also the only game of the bunch that allows you to play single player if you so choose, although up to eight can enjoy the insanity together. Much like YDKJ, a trivia question will pop up with multiple-choice answers. If you guess the correct answer, you move on to the next round. If you get it wrong, you have a chance of being killed. You’ll be whisked away to another mini-game that will decide your fate. These can range all over the place, from forming a five-letter word from a bunch of cutout letters out of a magazine to quickly solving math problems with a time limit. If you fail you could be murdered and be out for the count. Or, maybe you just lose a finger, which takes away your ability to use one of the answers displayed on the screen. This really bites if the correct answer corresponds to the spot that you’re unable to answer, thus forcing you into another murderous mini-game. Survive all seven questions for a chance to escape! This one is fun with a big group of people and is probably my favorite one to spend time with.
Guesspionage has an interesting concept behind it, but wow it bored us to tears after a few rounds. Do you remember the Everybody Votes Channel on the original Wii? Every day there was a new poll that users would submit answers to and we’d see the results of the vote. Well in this game the surveys have already been answered, so you’ll be presented with a question, such as “What percentage of people have ever slept in a water bed?” and then one of the players gets to guess. Once that answer is locked in, the other players get to guess if the surveyed answer is higher or lower than what was guessed. Later rounds increase points and also allow the players to double down by guessing way lower or way higher. I admit I do really like to see the surveyed results, but it’s just not interactive enough for every player to stay engaged at all times and seems to drag on.
Fakin’ It is my least favorite of the bunch. Here each player except one is given a situation and on “Go” must answer honestly. One player is not given the question, so he or she must fake it and decide whether or not to participate. For example, say the question says “Raise your hand if you’ve ever flown in a plane”; well the odd man out must decide whether or not raise his hand without knowing the criteria. This could easily blow his cover if he raises his hand, but those around him know he has never flown before. It’s up to the participant to vote on who they think is the faker. If everyone guesses the faker correctly they get points and move on to the next round. If not, they get one more round to try and out the faker.
The last game rounding out the pack is Tee K.O. and I really like the idea behind it, but found the end results just boring and not really that engaging. So, the premise is simple: at the beginning each player draws three drawings of anything they want. Then they come up with slogans that one might find on a shirt. Then the game sends out some of drawings and slogans to each player and they match them up with what they think is clever or funny. The game then pits two shirts against each other on the screen and each player votes on which one they like better. This keeps going on and on until one shirt and slogan remains victorious. Each time we played this one I felt it always devolved into a popularity contest with no concern for anything else and it just fell flat.
These games have always featured minimalistic graphics, and it’s no different for this latest iteration. The stylized menus and easy to read text works well both on the TV and on the small Switch screen if you happen to be playing in Tabletop Mode. The game sounds good as well, but wow is it loud the first time you boot it up. For whatever reason it was way louder than any other Switch game I’ve played and I had to reach for the volume control right away. I guess this is a good thing if you’re in a loud party-like environment. As always the voice acting is on point and my favorite host, Cookie, makes a return, but even he couldn’t save Fakin’ It.
The idea of being able to take my Switch to my friend’s place, propping the kickstand out, and getting a group of us to play The Jackbox Party Pack 3 at a moment’s notice is very appealing. Since most people own a cellphone, tablet, or laptop, there’s usually no shortage of “controllers” lying around to participate in a game. I like that each game is on the short side, allowing for people to easily join in the next round or exit out of rotation if they’ve had their fill. It’s unfortunate that this compilation of games isn’t as fun as some of the prior packs. I really enjoyed Drawful, Fibbage, and the traditional YDKJ trivia games, all of which are missing here. That being said, if you’re itching for a game to augment an evening with a bunch of friends, even non-gamers, this could be the perfect choice.
The Jackbox Party Pack 3 Review
- Graphics - 6/106/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7/107/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
While not my favorite game in the series, Jackbox Party Pack 3 still contains the same zany and crazy elements that make it fun with the right set of friends. Hopefully the next one will be a return to form.