The Jackbox Party Pack 2 PS4 Review
Publisher: Jackbox Games Developer: Jackbox Games Genre: Party Players: 1-8
Age Rating: 16+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, PS3
It’s nice to play a game that is a breath of fresh air, as it means that creativity is still alive and well in the games industry and that bold risks are also taken from time to time. It’s also nice to play a game that offers amusement, and The Jackbox Party Pack 2 happens to be both of these things, which makes for a welcome release.
As the name suggests, The Jackbox Party Pack 2 is the sequel to last year’s The Jackbox Party Pack, which was a collection that offered five crazy party games: You Don’t Know Jack, Fibbage XL, Drawful, Lie Swatter and Word Swatter. The sequel also comes included with five games, which includes a sequel to the popular Fibbage, as well as brand new games such as Earwax, Quiplash XL, Bidiots and Bomb Corp. Like previously, The Jackbox Party Pack 2 also has a novel approach to controls, as your laptop, tablet or smartphone are used to play the game by connecting to the Jackbox.tv website. Each game has a unique room code that needs entering on your device in order to connect to whatever game you are intending to play. This sequel adds in an audience option for some games, which allows people to spectate as well as play for their own personal score just as long as they have the unique room code, although the sequel is once again without an online multiplayer option, with multiplayer being limited to local play.
As for the games themselves, let’s start with the weakest one first. Earwax is a game that presents you with a situation via a text prompt, and it’s then up to you to combine two sound effects that you think fit the situation, with the winner being the first to three points. As an example you might be asked “What the cat gets up to while you are away?” and, from a list of options, you could select to use a car horn as well as a crashing sound effect. The game is three players at a minimum, as a judge is required to choose what they think is the winning combination of sounds in each round. There’s certainly some amusement to be had in stringing the various sounds together, and it’s a game that will prove to be shallow fun from time to time, although it’s nothing more than this, and it’s definitely the most gimmicky game in the package.
On to better things, and Quiplash XL is a very amusing game in which players are presented with a question, and they can then add their own answers. Answers are then put head-to-head and voted on by other players, with any selected answers earning the players that came up with the said answers points towards their overall tally, with the winner having the most points. It’s a fast moving game, and you are given the freedom to answer in whatever way you see fit, although I suspect that the majority will go for some really silly answers, particularly as it’s easy to tell that the entire package isn’t to be taken seriously as a whole.
Moving on, and the amusingly titled Bidiots is the spiritual successor to the developer’s very own Drawful, and it’s definitely one of the most complex games in the package. The game is auction themed, and your first task is to create two drawings based on a couple of text prompts. Once this portion of the game is done, your pieces of “art” are then placed into the auction. There’s strategy involved in the way that the values of some of the artwork can be seen on your screen, and if you are savvy, you’ll use this knowledge to purchase certain pieces for a major profit. You start the game with $3000, and your task is to finish with the most cash. I played the game with my family, and none of us were good at drawing in the game, which meant that it was rather difficult to determine what certain pieces of ‘art’ were supposed to be, although it made for some good laughs as well as some serious guesswork at times in order to make some profit. If you are running low on finances, it is possible to take out a ‘Predatory Loan’ at certain points in the game, but you’ll have to pay back the interest at the end. Another addition is the screw feature from the You Don’t Know Jack series, and for the devious among you, it allows you to force a selected player to bid on a piece of art. This in turn can potentially make for a major loss for your selected player if you happen to know what the piece of art is supposed to be and you base your decision on your own on-screen information; or there’s always the chance for you to just be lucky with your choice. All in all, Bidiots is extremely entertaining, although it might take a few games to get a true grasp of its workings.
Next up is Bomb Corp. As the name suggests, the game is about bombs, lots and lots of bombs, and it’s up to you to defuse them. This is the only game in the collection that can be played in single player, although it’s the multiplayer where the game truly shines. In multiplayer, the game requires lots of communication between players as they are given different information on their screens as to how to defuse each bomb, with some of the instructions being contradictory. As the game has you disarming bombs, it’s all about cutting the correct wires, and it requires open ears as well as quick thinking in order to succeed, particularly when you move on to the tougher bombs. It’s another engaging game and one that proves that teamwork can be satisfying, or just that some people don’t listen to your instructions and like to do their own thing, as was the case with my fiancée when we played the game together.
Finally, we have Fibbage 2, which has double the amount of questions in comparison to the first game. With over 500 questions, there are certainly plenty of them. I wasn’t familiar with the original Fibbage, but the sequel was certainly a discovery worth making. Presented by You Don’t Know Jack’s Cookie Masterson, the aim of the game is to be a liar, which might go against what your mother and the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio taught you in the years they helped to develop your integrity, but it’s certainly immense fun. It goes like this: the game presents you with a question, and then players are tasked with coming up with their own lies. When it comes to answering the question, if a lie is chosen by other players, the player that invented the fib will gain points. But it’s not all about lying, as once your own lie is entered, choosing the right answer is then the aim of the game; should you choose a lie, you lose points. With that said, if you are able to answer the question correctly and other players choose your lie as their own answer, you’ll earn points for choosing the correct answer as well as for your lie being chosen, which obviously means more points. The beauty of the game is that a lot of the questions and answers are already absurd, so it adds to the fun to come up with some really absurd, or even rude, answers yourself. Fibbage 2 adds in the DeFiBrillator option, which narrows the answers down to only two if you are unsure of the answer, although you can only make use of it once in every round. Fibbage 2 is superb fun, and is up there with the best that the package has to offer, which impressively includes every game bar Earwax.
The presentation of each game is excellent, and each has their own distinct look and feel. The hosts also enhance each game, particularly in the case of Fibbage 2’s sarcastic Cookie Masterson as well as Bidiots’ unnamed host, who says some rather amusing things that are often directed at the players.
The Jackbox Party Pack 2 is a mostly brilliant collection that offers creative local multiplayer fun, and even Earwax, the shallowest and most limited and gimmicky game in the package, offers some fun, but is best played in very short bursts. Earwax really pales in comparison to the likes of the meatier Fibbage 2, Quiplash XL, Bidiots and Bomb Corp though, and it’s easily the weakest game. Still, if developer Jackbox Games intended to make a hugely entertaining, highly amusing and unique collection of games, then they have mostly managed to do that with this fun filled and massively original bundle of joy.