The You Don’t Know Jack people, now Jackbox Games, have been releasing group party type games for a long time now. In fact, it would be safe to say that they are the main developer working on those types of titles. They do a really good job at it and release a brand new series of games bundled together in a party pack almost every year. The party packs normally revolve around various themes, like being spooky or maybe aligning with a specific holiday, but mostly always contain updates to old favorite titles alongside brand new types of games designed for multiple people to enjoy.
The Jackbox party packs are available for every console and the PC, and can even be played through various streaming services like Apple TV and Amazon. Regardless of the platform, the way the various party games are played remains the same. The main console, TV or PC serves up the game while players point their smartphone browsers over to Jackbox.tv and type in a unique four letter code which admits them to play. Actions in the game from designing t-shirts and playing musical instruments to answering trivia questions are then all done on players’ phones, with the results displayed through the TV or monitor attached to the device that is displaying the core information. And in addition to having between three and eight players per game, up to 10,000 people can be invited to watch the competition as guests.
In the early days of the Jackbox party packs, smartphones were not quite as ubiquitous as they are now, which could be a problem if party guests did not have a device that could play the games. That is not as much of an issue today of course, but something to keep in mind if you are planning on hosting a party where people sometimes forget to bring their smartphones along with them.
The latest party pack, The Jackbox Party Pack 10, features five games including a revised favorite from a previous pack and then four all new experiences. They are called Tee K.O. 2, FixyText, Hypnotorious, Timejinx and Dodo Re Mi. Only two of those can be played solo, so friends will be required in order to take advantage of most of the titles the Party Pack offers.
Starting with Tee K.O. 2, which is the remake title, this one challenges players to draw and create, which is a nice gameplay element for a party title. There is almost always one in every Jackbox pack, and the original Tee K.O. was also a lot of fun to play, although not much has changed in the sequel. Players are charged with designing a t-shirt, sweatshirt or hoodie and then placing funny graphics on it along with a cool slogan. So you might have a dumpy or sad-looking cartoon guy with a slogan about how much you love mornings or something like that. Players vote on which shirt they think is the funniest, and it knocks the other one out of contention.
FixyText is a new game and can be amusing depending on the group who is playing. Teams of players respond to text messages, but everyone on the team has to do so at the same time with no backspace button allowed. So, you end up with a (maybe) funny wall of text and some amusing responses from everyone. Points are awarded based on some of the funny responses and words put into the text, which are chosen by the opposite teams. Especially if a group of players spend a lot of time texting, FixyText can get pretty amusing, although it can also be kind of hit and miss.
Hypnotorious is likely the weakest of The Jackbox Party Pack 10’s new offerings. It tries to be a social deduction game where players are trying figure out which one of them is the outlier of the group. The rules are kind of complicated, and it does not play like most other social deduction games. Each player gets assigned a person, object or thing and must answer questions about that, as if they were that thing. Eventually every player in Hypnotorious gets sorted into one of three categories and one player is going to be the odd one out, the only one of the group to be assigned that category. The goal is to have everyone guess (including the player who is the odd one out since they don’t know it) which object or thing does not belong. Hypnotorious is a little bit half-baked if I am being honest because it has all the elements of a good game, but it never quite works.
Dodo Re Mi was not likely supposed to be the standout title for The Jackbox Party Pack 10, but for a lot of players, it probably will be. The game is a collaborative rhythm title where players take on the role of songbirds who are making the sounds of various instruments like tubas or 1980s synth pianos, or even crazy things like gongs, voices or screeching cats. A song is played and players need to tap buttons on their phone at just the right time, just like with the Rock Band or Guitar Hero games. The catch is that the birds are singing to a giant carnivorous plant, and the only way to not get eaten is for everybody to perform well by hitting enough good notes to keep the plant happy. If you do, then you will survive. But if you screw up too much, then your birds get eaten at the end. There is a good variety of songs, and the various instruments are pretty funny at times. Dodo Re Mi proved surprisingly addictive for our happy party testers.
Timejinx is designed as the standout game for this pack, and it really does put a nice spin on the traditional party trivia title. Players are given an event, like when Nintendo was founded, and then a range, and they need to pick when that happened. You get points for every year that you are off from the right answer, and the lowest score wins. So, if you thought that Nintendo was formed in 1889 (yes, really) then you would be correct and get no points. But if you thought it was founded in 1980, then you are out of luck because you would get 91 points dumped on you.
There are other mini-games in Timejinx too. One has you visiting parties from various decades and trying to blend in by answering questions from other guests. For example, if you are asked about a beautiful blonde woman on a poster in your room in the 1970s era, you have to guess that it is Debbie Harry and not Pamela Anderson. Other mini games include a time twist where you get a second chance to amend your answer before the correct one is revealed, and a game where you have to identify the location of an anomaly, like when seeing a picture of where London’s Big Ben is located, only the clock is replaced with a cell phone antenna. All of that keeps Timejinx interesting, and our test group played it well into the night, with many different people winning at different times, which was nice.
With the holidays upon us, group games and activities are going to be a great way for hosts to help their parties stand out. The Jackbox Party Pack 10 can do that with a variety of games that should appeal to lots of different players from hardcore gamers to those who simply enjoy interesting trivia. None of the titles in the new pack are really revolutionary, but most are really fun and balanced, and at least a few of them should appeal to almost any group of fun-seeking party goers.