Jackbox Returns to Party Once Again
Local multiplayer can be a tricky thing to set up with a group
of friends. With things like a lack of controllers and inexperience
holding some players back, the fun of playing games with your friends in
the room has been fading into the background in favor of online play.
Last year, Jackbox Games answered back with one of the biggest
innovations in local multiplayer with The Jackbox Party Pack by
introducing a way to have anyone join a game with their smartphone. It
was one of my favorite gaming experiences last year, so when I
discovered they were releasing The Jackbox Party Pack 2 with
five more games attached to it, I lept at the chance to try it out. As
there are several new games here, let’s tackle them one at a time.
Before the original Party Pack was released, a standalone game came out called Fibbage. Arguably the best game in that original set, Jackbox Games would’ve been crazy to not refine the formula and release Fibbage 2
as a part of their new game. If you’re familiar with the original,
you’re not going to be terribly surprised by this sequel. Along with a
host of new questions, most of the tweaks made for Fibbage 2
were either small or cosmetic. That being said, it is still a solidly
fun game that is easy to recommend. If you are not familiar with Fibbage,
the game involves everyone coming up with fake answers to bizarre
trivia questions in an attempt to fool the other players. Think Balderdash with trivia in stead of word definitions.
The visuals and music got on overhaul in Fibbage 2 and I
loved all of the changes. The colors during the parts in-between the
questions are more vibrant and interesting than before. The music as
well has been retuned and makes the game, in spite of being largely the
same, feel very fresh. One gameplay addition they did make was the
addition of the “defibrilator” which eliminates all but one of the lies
and the truth once per game. Probably my favorite new addition, and this
might sound strange, is the ability to pick the sound you make. There
are some great sounds in the game and it was always a bummer getting
stuck with one you don’t like. All told, I am happy to continue
receiving new editions of Fibbage as long as they will release them.
Funny sound effects are certainly one of the strong suits of the
Jackbox games, so it makes a lot of sense that they would build an
entire game around that. Earwax is a game about making your
friends laugh. One person picks a prompt and the others choose two sound
effects to represent it. The catch is that players do not get to listen
to the sounds before they lock them in, they can only see what they are
called. This usually goes one of two ways: Either it’s a complete bomb
or the most hilarious thing ever. One thing that detracts from the
reveal is that the title of the sound appears before the sound is
played, spoiling what you’re about to hear before you hear it.
This game works out to feel a lot like the Cards Against Humanity
card game in that it is completely up to the prompt-chooser to pick the
winner. One perplexing move on the part of this game is that they only
give the prompt chooser 15 seconds to choose. As several of the prompts
can be decently lengthy, this doesn’t give the person choosing adequate
time to both read and consider their options. Even though these small
problems exist, I still had a blast playing this new addition. The sound
effects are hilarious and every time we played, the room was
consistently erupting with laughter.
Drawing pictures on a smart phone is a problematic and messy process. This fact made Drawful, the drawing game in the original Jackbox Party Pack, both fun and hilarious. Jackbox Party Pack 2 introduces a new drawing game, Bidiots, but this new game doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor. Bidiots
puts you in the role of a group of artists auctioning off their
paintings to each other in the hopes of selling them for a huge price.
Most of the strategy ends up coming from hints you receive on your
screen about how much certain paintings are worth. The tricky thing
they’ve done here is that all of the drawing prompts are different, but
in a similar vein. For instance, in one match I played, all of the
prompts involved playing cards in some way.
The miscalculation on the part of this game was taking a more complex
approach. Not only is the game harder to understand for new players,
but the similar prompts limit the randomness and hilariousness of the
drawings. Also, as a carryover problem from the last game, drawing on a
touch screen can very easily lead to a disconnect when you accidentally
do a back-swipe on the screen. Even with these issues, the funny writing
saves this one keeping it enjoyable.
Similar to Fibbage with the original Jackbox Party Pack, this next game was released in stand-alone form. I had not gotten a chance to play Quiplash
beforehand, but I must say that this is the standout game in the
collection. In each round, you type in the most hilarious response you
can think of for two prompts. Your answer then goes head to head with
one other player’s response and everyone votes for their favorite. If
one player is unanimously picked, then they receive extra points for
performing a “Quiplash” for that round.
Playing this game, I remarked several times that I had no idea just how hilarious my friends were before playing Quiplash.
Each of the prompts are expertly designed to draw out some of the most
hilarious answers from a group. A few inside jokes have even emerged
from some of the more random responses that were given while we played.
This is the mark of excellent game design and writing since it manages
to pull off both consistently being and and making the player feel
The final game in the bunch is called Bomb Corp. In the
pixel-based office, you are tasked with disarming various bombs
throughout the work day. This basically translates to knowing which
wires you can safely cut on the aforementioned explosives. In the co-op
mode, which supports up to four players, each person has a different
page of the manual used to diffuse the bomb. This makes for some intense
communication required to get the job done. Be careful with this game
as frustration in the inability to convey instructions nearly led to
hard feelings on a couple of occasions while I was playing.
The contrast in the general feeling of this game makes it greatly
stand out from the others. To be fair, the humor and playfulness of the
other games is still very much present, but the way the gameplay makes
you feel seems drastically different to me. There is a story mode where
you go through a typical week in the office and once you’ve completed
that, you can just diffuse as many bombs as you can before you fail. I
would almost recommend trying this one by yourself first as failing at
the game alone is less frustrating than your friend just not
understanding what you mean by “don’t cut the even wires” before that
explosion image appears on the screen once again.
- Quiplash and Earwax are great new additions
- Small changes in Fibbage 2 are welcome
- Still an amazing party game experience
- Occasional smart phone errors are frustrating
- Not enough prompt time in Earwax
- Bidiots went away from what made Drawful fun
Serious thought was put into this package as a whole. New features
like a family-friendly mode, removing dirty jokes from the game for the
kids, and the addition of audience support for all the games were smart
moves. Not all of the games hit quite as hard as the others, but I would
say that this package is just as full of quality content as the one
that came before it. Any time I have a number of people over, it’s easy
to suggest pulling these games out and now I have even more to choose
from thanks to The Jackbox Party Pack 2. I look forward to
seeing what will come next from Jackbox Games and, in the meantime, will
pull out these games every time I have a party.