Jackbox Party Pack 3: review

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  • Format: Switch (version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Android, Apple TV
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Jackbox Games
  • Developer: Jackbox Games
  • Players: 1-8
  • Site: http://jackboxgames.com/project/jbpp3/
  • Game code provided by PR

The phrase “party game collection” is about as off-putting as the phrase “Michael Bay movie”, but that’s a phrase that’s perfectly appropriate here (the former, not the latter). The thing is though, this is a collection of really good party games.

An internet connection is compulsory to play. If for whatever reason you do most or all of your gaming entirely offline, forget about this. Secondly, the games herein support up to eight players… but you use a phone or a tablet (again, connected to the internet) in order to play*. Head to jackbox.tv on your device, enter the four-letter code displayed on screen for that particular game, type in your name, and off you go. If the ‘room’ is full, most games still allow you to join as an audience member. The Jackbox collections are understandably popular with streamers, as people can join in from home without having to install an app or even buy a copy of the game.

More on the technical aspects later. What about the games? Well, the third entry gives you five to choose from, and they all vaguely feel like taking part in your own private TV gameshow. Guesspionage works on the simple premise of survey results (taken from live audience votes if there are enough people, previously conducted surveys if not). What percentage of people, for example, walk past pennies on the ground rather than picking them up? What percentage have Facebook friends that they’ve never met in real life? And so on. You take it in turns to guess a percentage, then the other players guess whether the actual figure is higher or lower. Points are awarded according to how close to the actual figure you are, and of course how often you correctly guess that other players’ figures are too high or too low. The final round asks you to pick the three most popular answers to a question. Overall it’s a compelling and oddly addictive game, safe in its familiarity to so many TV favourites.

Quiplash 2 tests your quick(ish) thinking and sense of humour. Complete a phrase or answer a question as wittily as you can, and everybody votes for their favourite answers. What do gardeners learn to never do to a cabbage? If a bear ran for president, it would pledge to make America what again? And then, for the final round, everybody has the same task (often thinking up the speech for somebody in a comic strip, or thinking up words for an acronym). Everybody loves (trying to) show off how terribly witty they are, making Quiplash 2 perhaps the highlight of the package.

Then there’s Fakin’ It (the only game inappropriate for remote play). Everybody playing gets a task sent to their device each round… apart from one person, who is the ‘Faker’. The task requires players to do something like raise their hand (or not), or pull a certain expression, or raise a number of fingers (How many seasons of The Walking Dead have you seen, for example). The Faker has to respond as though they saw the task, bluff their way through if necessary once the task is revealed on-screen, and hope that they don’t get identified during voting. A new Faker is randomly assigned each round; the final round asks for typed answers, with the Faker getting similar-but-different questions. Although it’s advertised for a minimum of three players, you really need at least five to get the most out of it. It can be good fun (as powerful dishonesty usually is), but it’s much too easy to get caught out as the Faker in the final round.

Trivia Murder Party is the only game that you can play solo. It’s also the only one without a family-friendly filter option, although this seems to be down to the creepy atmosphere rather than anything else; we never encountered any risqué questions. As the name suggests you’ll be answering trivia questions, with the occasional mini-game (memory, maths, drawing, more) to avoid ‘death’ if you answer incorrectly. The questions are sufficiently tricky to make you feel clever if you get them right, and the presentation (as with all the games) is firmly tongue-in-cheek and genuinely entertaining.

Finally there’s Tee KO, the most creatively demanding game. You’ll be by turns drawing pictures and writing slogans that you think would look great (or terrible, or inappropriate) on a t shirt. You then choose from a selection of other people’s drawings and slogans to make what you think is the best combo, and everybody votes on their favourite shirt. Then the next round, where you do it all over again. In an ingenious bit of marketing, at the end of the game you can even order any of the winning designs as an actual t shirt; though things get rather pricey if you live outside the US.

Hold that thought because, as much hilarity as the game has brought us (and will continue to bring us), it was clearly made with an American audience in mind. 90% of the time this isn’t a problem – and affects Tee KO not at all – but more than once, a US-specific reference has seen us stare blankly at the screen before entering an answer with crossed fingers.

The phone/tablet-based play also proves to be a double edged sword. Anybody can join your game quickly and easily locally or remotely, with no need to worry about extra controllers draining your bank account, and just one copy of the game; which is great. But this also means that both offline local play and traditional online play are impossible, which is a real shame. There also tends to be surmountable but disconcerting lag when playing remotely, where either local or remote players will see a question several seconds before the other. It’s a small price to pay for the benefits though, and overall it’s hard to imagine anybody who interacts with other human beings regretting their purchase of this.

 

 

 

*Not all browsers are compatible (such as most native Android browsers and, sadly, the 3DS and Vita browsers) and Chrome is recommended. You don’t need a powerful phone or tablet to play, but how smoothly things work seems to vary between operating systems and devices. Oddly, a Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 worked perfectly 100% of the time for us, while older model iPhones (5S and 4S) would on occasion see the site freeze or fail to respond properly mid-game, necessitating a reload of the site. An iPad Mini sat somewhere in between in terms of performance.

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Written by Luke K

He plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. He doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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