Release Date: October 17th, 2017
Rated: T for Teen
Developer: Jackbox Games, Inc.
Producer: Jackbox Games, Inc.
Genre: Mini Games
Platform: Xbox One (played and reviewed), Playstation 4, PC, Android TV and Apple TV (4th Generation or Later)
There is something to be said about the allure and entertainment that party games provide. On a basic level, the array of mini games provide a friendly competitive atmosphere without sacrificing enjoyment. Every game brings some sort of skill requirement to the table be it creativity, coordination, or adaptability. Sometimes games can require teamwork and communication…which usually ends up barking commands at each other in hopes that it will work. Mario Party, for example, is one of the greatest known franchises for mini party games…but also known for destroying even the best of friendships.
Jackbox Games, originally known for the You Don’t Know Jack video game franchise, is finding continued success in another line of games, Jackbox Party Pack. Each pack contains a series of mini games, ranging from drawings pictures and having people guess the words inspiring the drawings to picking out words to create a sentence. Having already released 3 iterations of the Jackbox Party Pack, this review will be focusing on the newest iteration, Jackbox Party Pack 4.
Jackbox Party Pack 4 comes with the following games: Fibbage 3, Civic Doodle, Bracketeering, Survive the Internet, and Monster Seeking Monster. Aside from Fibbage 3, all of these games are new to the Jackbox Party Pack. Each game requires players to join in the game with their phones by joining in a game lobby and entering their names.
In Civic Doodle, players are pitted against each other to draw posters based on given objectives. Normally, each turn consists of two players drawing what is being requested, and the others will watch. Each turn has a time limit, pushing players to draw as much of the objective as possible. After the drawings are completed, players will then vote for the drawing they like best or think best matches the objective. Upon choosing the winning drawings, the next two players facing off will have that drawing to work off of and continue to add to the drawing. This goes on for several more turns (depending on the amount of players), and then players pick the final drawing. Civic Doodle proudly displays the drawings on a stock photo location. The winner of the game usually has the most reactions and votes on their drawings throughout the game.
Civic Doodle is fun and inventive, with requests varying from vague instruction to specific requirements. One drawing could only ask players to contribute whatever they come up with, another requesting players to only draw a nose. Turns are fun to watch due to a mixture of elements: watching the players participating trying to come up with something, watching the drawings in real time, and how a timer messes with creativity. Games went by very quickly, as Civic Doodle only has about 4 drawings per game. Definitely a fun game that can get crazy pretty quickly..
Bracketeering is pretty much its name, a game of brackets. Players are asked to come up with words associated with the phrase provided within a certain amount of time. Once all players have finished entering in their words, players are then asked to bet on a word to win its bracket out of a selected pool of words. Words are then randomly placed in a bracket against another word. Players are forced into choosing which of the words will go onto the next round, then keep going until one word wins the bracket. Once the round is over, players will then have their score tallied based on the following criteria: how far their word advanced and their prediction.
The next round is where Bracketeering gets interesting. Dubbed the Blind Round, it begins with players providing the others with another phrase to associate words with and words to place a bet on winning. Upon entering in their words and predictions, players will be asked to pick their words based on a different premise. The results end up an array of hilarity and weirdness. After completing the second round, the last round pits players in a “Triple Blind Racket” round. Now, players will be given a phrase to associate words with. Once the normal steps are completed, players are then given an expansion on the initial premise to vote on. Once the first round of elimination is completed, players then are given a different expansion to the initial premise to vote. This is repeated until the very end, making the final choice an odd, but funny answer.
Bracketeering can be an exciting game to play with a lot of people. Matchups between words are often ending up a battle of wits between the two players for convincing everyone to vote for their word. The context of the phrase often changes up arguments for players given how much of a curveball it can be. Whereas Civic Doodle is semi-competitive, Bracketeering can bring out the very “worst” of people’s competitiveness. Not only is the competitiveness oozing from the arguments, but also from people’s ability to mess with the people through real-time voting. Because votes are not finalized until the time runs out, players can switch their votes to either word freely, really turning the tables on the competition. Overall, Bracketeering can be very fun, but it requires a good amount of people playing. At the lowest, I would recommend at least 6 people playing and maybe having others join in as an “audience”.
Survive the Internet, the third new game in Jackbox Party Pack 4, is probably the weirdest one to grasp. Each round of the game is different, odd and eccentric in its own right. Games vary in the order of which they perform certain actions. In our first round has players entering in a question, and the next round coming up with an over the top reaction. After completing this objective, players then have to vote for the best question and answer pairing. However, the objective isn’t just to pick the best duo…apparently it is supposed to be a “burn” or looks the weirdest. Another round then has you coming up with a short, funny review for a product that another player creates. Another round is to come up with the weirdest caption for a photo. Like the other games above, at the end of each round players vote for the best of the options to choose from, and the player with the highest score and most likes ends up winning. While I think I understand the concept of the game, I feel like the slapstick humor and offbeat directives ends up making the game the least favorite played.
In terms of uniqueness and fun, Monsters Seeking Monsters stands out as my favorite of the new games within Jackbox Party Pack 4. The game is simple; each player is a sort of monster that is seeking romance with another monster (i.e. another player). Over the course of 6 nights, players are given up to 4 text messages they can send to whichever monster they choose. After players finish sending their text messages, they are asked to choose a monster they intend pursuing .After choosing the monster they wish to pursue, players get to see the chat conversation shared. The results often end up in weird territory, but nonetheless are hilarious reading. If players end up choosing each other, they both get a “heart” and points, whereas players chosen but do not match end up only getting points. After the first night, Monsters Seeking Monsters throws in a robot seeking to learn the emotion of love. While the robot may not win the game, players have to actively ensure the robot does not get last place. Failure to do so results in the robot destroying the world. Over time, the identity of each player’s monster and their special abilities is revealed, further adding to the complexity of choosing a monster to match with.
By far and away, Monsters Seeking Monsters is the favorite of the new games contained in Jackbox Party 4. The game’s simplistic instructions and concept gave way to a freer sense of gameplay. Conversations with other players ended up containing in-jokes, puns, and sexual humor. Conversations with the robot also contains some humorous dialogue that further adds to the game. While the games simple premise might not lend to replayability, the novelty of it sets it apart as the newest game I warmly welcome.
Last, but not least, there’s the essential Jackbox Party Pack game, Fibbage 3. The premise is simple, a player ends up choosing a category of topics. Once the topic is selected, players are given a phrase to fill in the blank. Players will put in their most convincing fake answer, which will then be part of a list of words for players to choose from. Hidden in the list of words is the correct answer. Those whose lie is chosen get points for that, and players get points for correcting the right answer. Rounds continue this pattern with the point total increasing for each round. The player who wins the game has the highest score based on correct answers and their lies chosen. Fibbage is, and continues to be, the quintessential favorite of the Jackbox Party Pack games for good reason. Rounds are quick, exciting and hilarious. Players can mess with others by giving what looks to be the correct answer, but purposefully misspell a word or switch up words. There’s not much I can really add to this other than the game is a lot of fun to be had with however many players that can join.
Overall, Jackbox Party Pack 4 is another solid entry from Jackbox Games for party entertainment. The games are all fun, and unique from each other in terms of playstyle. The games find the perfect balance between competitiveness and fun, never teetering to the point where the game lacks either component. Every game is short in length, allowing for players to switch with others quickly and efficiently. While every game ranges in its replayability, all of them offer up a few rounds at the very least. Definitely worth the pick up for parties due to the amount of laughs and fun time this game contains.