The Nintendo Switch has quickly become THE system of choice for couch co-op/competitive gaming. Part of this is because of the inherent ability to play multiplayer with one set of Joy-Con controllers, although being portable undoubtedly adds to the appeal. Perhaps the Nintendo audience is more in-line with party-type games, as I’ve seen a ton of excitement in my circles for The Jackbox Party Pack 4. The game removes the barrier of needing extra controllers, since everyone will need to use a smart phone or tablet. At the same time it requires an internet connection, which means you won’t be playing this on the bus or at a campground unless you have cell service that you can tether into.
I’ve been a fan of You Don’t Know Jack since the 1990s and I absolutely love what they’ve done with The Jackbox collections over the past few years. This latest one is comprised of a bundle of five different games. As is usual with these titles, some of the games are more fun than others, and that will often depend on the group of people playing. I’ll go over each one individually, in the order from best to worst.
The best game of the bunch that isn’t a rehash is Survive the Internet. Here each player is given a prompt on his or her device to answer a question. It could be something as mundane as naming your favorite pasta. After you answer, someone else in the group will get your answer and twist it out of context to make it funny. A lot of times you’ll want to come up with something that’s completely opposite of what they’re trying to convey to make it really stand out. You’ll need to be bold because others will vote on the ones that are the funniest and you want as many points as possible. I was surprised at how much fun this game actually was and it was easily our favorite of the group I played with.
The next best game in the collection is Fibbage 3. I have to admit I really enjoy this mode because it’s the closest we get to a trivia-type game. Here the game will ask a question and each player will enter an answer. Everyone’s answers, plus the actual correct one, will appear on the screen and then each player has to try and figure out which one is really true. This has always slightly reminded me of the board game Balderdash where a word is given and everyone makes up definitions. You get points if people guess your answer, and you also get points for accurately guessing the correct answer. This game is best played with those that can spell correctly, otherwise it can become apparent really quickly which answers are made up and which one is real.
In addition to regular Fibbage, there’s a new mode called Enough About You. This is actually a pretty cool alternative because it adds some personal questions to the mix. At the beginning of the round, each player is given a question that they must answer truthfully. Maybe it will ask you “What’s your favorite food?” and I’ll answer pepperoni pizza. Then what happens is everyone else will get the prompt later on saying “Craig’s favorite food is…” and they’ll try and make up a lie that sounds convincing. All of the answers will then be displayed and if you guess one of the lies, that player gets the points, but if you guess the truth you get points. This is a nice bonus mode and was equally fun to play with our group.
Civic Doodle is also a ton of fun. Here you go around town to fix up the town’s image. There will be part of a drawing already made and two players will go at it at the same time adding to the drawing. Players can watch in real-time as additions are made. At the end of the time limit, the others vote on which one they like the best, and that one continues on to the next round, where two other players get to make more additions to the drawing. This continues until everyone has drawn twice and the final doodle is displayed in town with a caption. This was really enjoyable and I appreciated the different color options so you’re not stuck with a simple black and white drawing.
The fourth game, Bracketeering, was really hit and miss with our group. Here you place bets on which thing will win the match in a debate. For example, we had “Which business will still be around in 100 years?” and so each player enters an answer and then they’re randomly matched up against the other answers. We had Target versus Applebee’s, for example, and the most votes went to Target. If there is a tie, each player must pound on the mobile device’s touchscreen as fast as possible to generate additional votes to try and win the round. If you guessed the winning outcome you earn money. The person with the most money wins the round. The problem was that this game seemed to take too long to go through the brackets and it quickly became boring.
The final game is Monster Seeking Monster and this was a total dud with our group. Perhaps a younger audience may find this one more entertaining, but it revolves around you texting the other players and trying to get them to on a date with you. Each monster has a special power that can be used under certain circumstances to try and influence the outcome. It just didn’t entertain anyone and was rather dull, although I could see teenagers getting a kick out of it – sort of like spin the bottle. If anything, it made some of us uncomfortable, which is never a good feeling at a party, right?
These types of games aren’t generally remembered for their graphics or music, but I do want to mention that the presentation is really on-point here. Each game features its own aesthetic, with Survive the Internet being very ‘90s and Fibbage giving off a ‘70s look. The music is exceptionally good in nearly every one of the games, and as usual when there’s a host talking it’s always a funny good time. Props to the team for retaining high production values with this latest iteration.
So, where does The Jackbox Party Pack 4 fall overall in the series? Well, three out of the five games are exceptionally fun and one is a bit of a letdown and another is probably going to get zero play from me. Still, 3 out of 5 games having exceptional content is nothing to sneeze at, and I highly recommend checking this version out. Overall I enjoyed it more than Pack 3, and with the holiday season approaching I can’t think of a better game to have loaded on your Switch when you spend time with your friends and family. Keep in mind that most of the games require a minimum of three people to play, and that each player will need a device hooked up to the internet. If you can meet these requirements, you’ll have a blast!