If there’s one thing Jackbox Games know how to do, it’s create a fun night in. The critically acclaimed You Don’t Know Jack series has continued to gain popularity since its first release back in 1995, but last year the team produced the Jackbox Party Pack. Containing a selection of four party games, including YDKJ 2015, it proved to be a massive hit thanks to its variation, ease of play, and the sense of humour the franchise is known for.
Not wanting to rest of their laurels, Jackbox Games have recently unleashed another compilation of wacky titles. For those of you that don’t know, the Party Packs don’t require you to own multiple controllers to play. All each player needs is a smartphone or tablet with a modern web browser, head over to Jackbox.tv and enter the Room Code on the screen, turning their device into a controller. It not only works incredibly well, but it also means the console owner doesn’t need to spend a small fortune to ensure everyone can play.
However, unlike its predecessor, the Jackbox Party Pack 2 has a new trick up its sleeve – an interactive audience feature.
For three of the five games available, those who aren’t participating in the action can still join in by becoming a member of the audience. While their interaction is limited to liking their favourite answer, the one with the most audience likes gets bonus points in-game, making spectators feel like they are still involved. While I didn’t get to test it out with an audience larger than two, it’s quite clear that streamers on Twitch or YouTube could play this and get their viewers involved as well, making it ideal beyond just party scenarios.
While YDKJ 2015 isn’t included, the variation of games that are in this compilation more than make up for it. Fibbage 2 proved to be a popular choice with its “fill the blanks” gameplay by making up convincing lies. The advantage with this over something like the board game Boulderdash is that nobody needs to be the quiz master, meaning everyone can take part in each round. The second game, Earwax, ended up being much more fun than I thought it would be, as players matched sound effects to prompts. That said, a large part of the game boiled down to luck thanks to each player being given randomised options, but when the right pieces were in place it was absolutely hilarious.
When it came to Bidiots, I found that I only truly appreciated it on my second playthrough. Or, to put it bluntly, once I understood what I needed to do. I felt like this was the least explained game of the bunch, but it provided many humerous moments as we tried to identify certain pictures. The bidding wars and ability to screw opponents made sure the action was spirited, especially towards the end, but overall it wasn’t a firm favourite. No, that title clearly went to Quiplash XL. The head-to-head competition of witty answers ended up being almost like Cards Against Humanity for us (so you can imagine some of the answers we had.) There were funny moments throughout all of the games, but Quiplash XL was the most consistent in having us laugh out loud.
Bomb Corp., the final game of the pack, offered something entirely different – a co-op puzzle game – but this proved to be the least popular of the bunch for a number of reasons. While the rest of the games catered for between 3-8 players, Bomb Corp. needs four players to work and has no audience feature. Then there were the checkpoints after failing a puzzle, which ended up being more annoying than anything else due to the highly repetitive gameplay. I think it also didn’t help that I have recently discovered Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes, which has a similar concept but has varied and more involved puzzles. The ludicrous setup and ridiculous characters were amusing, though, but compared to the other games my group and I found it lacking.
However, and it’s important to stress this, your mileage may vary. The simplicity of Bomb Corp. may work better for younger groups or families looking for a bit of teamwork, and the more artistic ones out there may find Bidiots the best thing ever. It’s also clear that Jackbox Games know how to capture the party mood, as the menus, music, and voice-overs fit their respective games perfectly. That’s why the Jackbox Party Pack 2 works as a package – even if there are only two games out of the five that you like, the quality of each party game means you will have still gotten your money’s worth.
One last thing before I go – ensure your smartphones are connected via WiFi before you start playing. In hindsight that should be been a given, but as there was no prompt on-screen recommending that we switch from mobile data the first few games had a couple of us dropping out and demoted to the audience upon returning.
- Great value with five different party games.
- Easy to setup smartphones, tablets, and computers as controllers (even the Vita works!)
- New audience feature means non-players can still take part.
- Bomb Corps. tries something different, but ends up being the weak link of the bunch.
- Bidiots could do with clearer instruction.
- A brief prompt advising players to use WiFi instead of mobile data would have been welcome.
The Short Version:
Like a box of assorted chocolates, you might not like everything in the box, but what does take your fancy will have you coming back for more. Coming in at the perfect price point, the Jackbox Party Pack 2 gives you five varied games that will entertain you for hours. Perfect as a party piece, especially with Christmas just round the corner.
8 – GREAT: Great games typically provide competent production values with a degree of innovation, personality and soul that's sometimes absent in titles that score lower. Or even just exceptional raw value on top of competent execution. There'll usually be a little something to stop games like these from reaching the very top - innovative but slightly flawed, fun but not groundbreaking - however you can buy games that score 8/10 with confidence.
Platforms: PC | PS3 (Tested) | PS4 | Xbox 360 | Xbox One | Amazon Fire TV
Developer: Jackbox Games
Publisher: Jackbox Games