Jackbox Party Packs are a staple in my household. Ever since introducing myself to the series by reviewing Quiplash, and then JBPP2, we have been annual participants in the series latest entries (except for JBPP5, which is the only entry I have yet to play.) This time around we are greeted to another pack of five titles, one of which is an excellent sequel to a title from JBPP3, all of which can be played with local friends or online by way of streaming, using only your phone as a controller! Here is a quick rundown of the titles before we dive into what I think about them:
● Trivia Murder Party 2, the deviously funny trivia game where getting questions wrong leads to fighting for your life in a variety of absurd and challenging mini-games (1-8 players).
●Dictionarium, the wacky word game in which you compete to create definitions for totally made-up, never-before-seen words (3-8 players).
●Push The Button, the space-age secret identity game in which you try to hunt down alien interlopers, while taking part in bizarre writing and drawing tasks (4-10 players).
●Joke Boat, the seafaring stand-up game where you and your boat mates compete as aspiring comedians in a talent show on a fourth-rate cruise ship (3-8 players).
●Role Models, the offbeat personality game in which you and your friends become guinea pigs for a mad scientist and label each other to find out who you really are (3-6 players). It’s also Jackbox Games’ first title to support player selfies as avatars!
Trivia Murder Party 2
This sequel was a welcome sight when JBPP6 was announced, as it was one of the best titles from my personal favorite collection, JBPP3. In this unique take on a trivia game, players answer questions given by a deadly host, who pits players that answer incorrectly into a life or death situation at the end of each round. The goal is to survive these minigames and rack up cash to be the last person alive. But that is not all, once there is one survivor left, the endgame begins. Players have a chance to escape alive, but must have a living body to do so. Players are then put in a race to the finish line, and whoever is in the front of the pack gets to take the hosts body. Basically you get questions with a list, and you must pick answers that accurately reflect the question. The more right answers, the faster you move towards the finish line. A new twist to this is that just because you have the body and are at the last space before escaping doesn’t mean it is as easy as moving one more space, as now you have to have a perfect 3 point response to actually escape, which would give other players a last minute chance to sneak the victory from under you. This endgame is one of the best in all of the Jackbox titles, as it is highly engaging and nerve wracking.
Another great addition is that the money you obtain can help decide who gets a body in the final round if everyone ends up dying. I believe in the first title, if everyone died too soon the game was over. NO escape round. But once again the stand out here is the minigames in the “Killing Rooms” that follow the incorrect answers. Some make you sacrifice a finger, which prevents you from picking certain answers the rest of the time you are alive, while others are as random as picking a gift box and not being killed by your choice. It is a great blend of random events as well as competitive skill. One game pitted the dead against the living in a battle of who is quicker at simple math. If the living players could not outpace the dead, they would subsequently die as a result. Another had the game’s host read, while players tried to type out word for word what they said on their phones. The player with the least recited words got the axe, and I do not mean figuratively. The game is great fun, and the theme and uniqueness of it really makes it stand out from traditional trivia in ways you would not expect.
This game is definitely a stand out as far as this bundle goes. This is one of the quickest games to play, with it consisting of three single answer rounds, so there is not a lot of time spent on each full play through. Maybe 8-10 minutes or so. The point of this game is to create words and definitions in ways that solidify their usage. The first round has each player make a definition for a word that is generated on screen. Everyone votes for the best one, and that definition is now concrete. In round two, players create a synonym for said word, and again the best one is voted in a solidified as “fact” here on out. The final round, and most important point wise, has players use the synonym in a sentence. This sentence is then voted on as well, and winner with the most points takes the cake. The winning answers for each round are put into a permanent “dictionary” that allows you to see all the winning combinations from each game you played, which is awesome. Like the rest of this pack, the animation and music is spot on. Most uniquely for this title though is a time that has letters falling off of a sentence instead of a typical bar or numerical value. This game is more easily approachable then you would think, and the creativity behind it definitely allows for some strong comedic value when played with the right group.
Push the Button
In most of the packs, there is at least one game that is less casual than the others. In this pack, that is Push the Button, a “find the liar” sort of game where aliens have invaded your ship, and through tests and verbal communication, you must find the aliens and shoot them off the ship. The catch? You get only 15 minutes to run things smoothly and make your definitive answers. Once a vote goes through to send someone or multiple people off the ship that is it. No second chances. Depending on your group, you may want to do a demo run to get everyone invested before they sign it off as too complicated. That worked best in my situation, since the object of the game and how to best play it may not be initially clear. In our case, we had a group of five play (up to 10 can play), which meant there was two aliens on board. The aliens know who the other aliens are, so they can support each other by helping persuade the group one way or another, or by also using hacks to help manipulate tests. These come in handy, because the tests almost always have different on screen options for the aliens, meaning their responses may seem fishy since they do not see what the humans see. Rotating captains pick who goes into these tests, of which there is a good variety, to try and suss out those who do not belong. Even as I write this, I understand that is better played then read. Either way this game gets pretty fun once everyone is on board so to speak, and yelling and accusing each other gets hilarious, especially if someone ends up deceiving everyone and getting someone else kicked off the ship who is actually human. The artistic design on this is great, and features yet another charming virtual host.
Ah, finally, a title that lets me truly show off my comedic prowess. Well, sometimes at least. Joke Boat is another awesome addition to the Jackbox family. On a raggedy cruise ship, dubbed the Sea Minus, you are part of the ships entertainment. You will take the mantle of one of the captains many comedian puppets, and come up with your own stand-up comedy material. Don’t fret though, as you don’t have to write a full joke on the spot. At the start of the game, every player rapid fire answers an endless series of Mad Lib styled questions (food, animal, noun, etc.) After this begins the joke writing. Players pick from a prompt that serves as the intro to their joke, and then they pick from a list of several of everyone’s answers from the opening to have a “subject”. Lastly, you will personally write the punchline. Now it is time for the delivery! You have the option of performing it yourself (awesome by the way) or letting your puppet speak gibberish and everyone reads along. Obviously, not every joke is going to land. Nature of the biz I suppose, but if you play your cards right, you can definitely get some wins via reliable, simple joke writing or by shooting for the absurd, “omg” style jokes. Two jokes will always go head to head, with the bystanders voting on the favorite, much like in Quiplash from the other packs. The final round changes things up a bit, as you get a chance to re-write the punchline from someone else’s joke and see if you earn more votes than the original, which can net you some big points. The design around this game, which is very reminiscent of the cartoon series Flapjack, is just as entertaining as the game itself. There are little details, like the captains real hand bleeding from scratching it with his hook hand, or when the ship starts sinking and the human audience hands are replaced with crab claws, which make it really shine. While some jokes, based on set up, can be unfunny, the majority of the game is quite entertaining.
Of the whole pack, this is the one that just does not quite cut it. Its concept and design really have potential, but falls short of being entertaining sadly. The concept sees a Jurassic Park styled DNA program assessing personality traits of both you and your friends. During each round a category is picked, and there is enough answers to drag one person into a matching answer so to speak. So when there was five of us, and we picked Keanu Reeves movies, there were five movie titles brought onto our phone screens. You then take a person, and drag them to the one you think fits them most (only one person to an answer!), and the results are then compiled, and a substitute for points are awarded. At the end of the game you are given an analysis and title of what the game basically thinks are some defining personality traits you have. There is also a “winner” but it doesn’t really feel like it, because the game is not competitive in any way. The other problem is that it feels too short for any of the results to make sense. It is just, to be blunt, not really fun or entertaining. You may feel at time your forcibly answering, and in our case, there were too many ties and that really brought the pacing of the game down. It just feels like there is no reason to play, since in my case, the results didn’t really satisfy on any level.
JBPP6 is a testament to how the team manages to get more creative and invested with each passing pack, taking risks that more often than not pay off, and even the ones that don’t pay can serve as a lesson learned assuredly. The creative direction is amazing, but the overall direction of this particular pack is really exemplary. This is one of the best batches of virtual hosts to date, with each game also being backed by unique and well done visual/animation styles that are only further complimented by fantastic audio direction (which includes the awesome original songs that many feature.) I think this is yet another well rounded pack that really pushes the boundaries you may be used too. As always, Jackbox brings the fun, just be sure to bring your friends.
*Note: A copy of the title was provided for the purposes of the review
FINAL SCORE: 9/10
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