Every one of my friends knows that if you spend any time at my house, I’m going to convince you to do one thing. And that thing is to play a Jackbox game. It’s difficult to get my non-gamer friends to even play Mario Kart, but nearly every person thoroughly enjoys these hilarious party games. Jackbox Games recently released their newest collection called Jackbox Party Pack 5, and it’s well worth the price of admission. Although a couple of the games are a tad mediocre, the other two more than make up for them.
If you’ve never played one of these collections before, they’re incredibly accessible party games. Players use their phones (connected to a wi-fi signal) to interact with trivia questions or other interactive measures. This easy barrier of entry makes these games incredibly easy to pick up for anyone who’s ever played a board game. You earn points for correct answer or creative responses voted on by other players.
You would be hard-pressed to keep from laughing with the right group of people while playing any collection. So what does Jackbox Party Pack 5 offer this time around? Let’s jump in.
You Don’t Know Jack
“You Don’t Know Jack” has been a staple of Jackbox Games for a while, and the latest version of the series is highly polished. Cookie Masterson is back with his usual wit and humor, which is always welcome. The bigger selling point of this one, however, is how well the system has been tweaked. The game’s pacing is much more fluid than before, and matches are much quicker. In true YDKJ fashion, the trivia questions are tricky and require a good amount of logic instead of straight up knowledge.
The biggest change is the final round, which fans of the series know as “Jack Attack”. In past versions of the game, this round has been a source of argument due to lag issues giving an advantage to certain players. This is remedies by awarding points based on how quickly you respond on your own device instead of choosing who answers “first”. This is best iteration of “You Don’t Know Jack”, and it makes me happy to see them constantly evolve this wonderful trivia game.
Mad Verse City
If “Mad Verse City” were the only game in the collection, you would have your money’s worth. Seriously, this is the reason to pick up Jackbox Party Pack 5 by far. The game puts you in a rap battle against your opponent. You’re given two lines of a poem on your device and tasked with writing preceding lines that (hopefully) rhyme. Your goal is to make the most creative or funny verse to gain the votes of the rest of the players. The end result is absolutely hilarious and a must-play for any fan of party games.
Words can’t express how much fun “Mad Verse City” is with the right group of people. It conjured the most genuine laughs from my group and also got the most mileage. My only wish is that the game kept the verses’ authors a secret until after voting. This is a minor issue to an otherwise incredible experience.
Have you ever had a great idea for an invention that you were certain would make you a ton of money? If so, then “Patently Stupid” should be right up your alley. Each player is given some kind of problem in the world that needs solving. Your job is to come up with some kind of invention to solve that problem and sell it the rest of the group. You’ll create a catch phrase and even draw helpful pictures on your device to convince your opponents of the brilliance of your invention. The winner is the player who gained the most votes from the other players.
This is a great idea in concept, but it’s execution is bit cumbersome. Since creating your inventions take a great deal of time to create and share, matches feel much too long. I found the pacing to be somewhat sluggish, especially when it takes so long for me to have any input between rounds. It’s still a clever concept, just not my go-to in the collection.
Split the Room
One of my group’s favorite games from previous collections was “Quiplash”, and “Split the Room” is a clever take on that formula. Each player is given a prompt on their device, and the player chooses a response to be shared with the group. Unlike other games where you are attempting to get the most votes for your clever answer, you are trying to get an even number of “yes” and “no” responses. The trick is to give an answer that is a bit more controversial in order to (as the name implies) split the room.
This is a unique take, but I must admit that it didn’t grab me quite like the far superior “Quiplash”. This game works best when you have an odd number of players to truly get a split decision. Plus, it’s just more fun to try to come up with the most ridiculous answers than ones that will divide your audience. Still, I appreciated how this one made my brain work a bit differently than usual.
As far as I can tell, “Zeeple Dome” is the first game from Jackbox that actually includes arcade mechanics. This arena style game has you flicking tiny characters on your phone in your desired direction. The goal is to hit targets of the same color as your character to score points. It’s fast, frenetic, and makes for some shoulder-punching moments with your neighbor. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick around for this one very long, since I found myself wishing for the clever dialogue from the other games.
Jackbox Party Pack 5 Final Verdict
The collection is very hit or miss, but the pros far outweigh the cons making this an easy recommendation for any fan of this style of game. If you’re only interested in solo experiences, these games won’t be for you. You can stream games and play with friends (or even strangers), but the in-person experience is where it’s at. If you love hosting parties and laughing with your friends, you won’t want to miss Jackbox Party Pack 5.
This review is based on an Xbox code provided by Sandbox Strategies for coverages purposes. The game is also available on PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, and Xfinity for $29.99.