Out with the old, in with the new: ‘Jackbox 5: Party Pack’ review

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Image courtesy of Jackbox Games.

With its early days on the PlayStation One as a niche trivia game that had a penchant for low-brow humor and could set the most stalwart of friendships ablaze, Jackbox titles have come far to cement themselves as a party game staple. Up to eight players can participate in a match up using their phones as a controller. No learning curve, just fun. This is exactly why the fifth installment of The Jackbox has been much anticipated, as it brings a slew of new mini-games for players to duke it out in.

Image courtesy of Jackbox Games.

You Don’t Know Jack: Full Stream

Arguably where it all started, this mini-game quizzes players on a variety of trivia for fake cash. Of course there are some tools to mess over your opponents and some rather challenging parts to answering the questions, but it’s still as straight forward as it ever was. It’s basically Jeopardy! but with simpler questions and funnier sound effects. The game gets props for giving it a fun Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime/etc. theme chock full of ridiculous titles and screenshots.

Image courtesy of Jackbox Games.

Split the Room

One of the newest additions to the Jackbox arsenal, Split the Room allows players to come up with difficult answers to a scenario in efforts to net both votes for and against the subject. This adds a more challenging element lost in games such as Quiplash, where the answers being more popular is a detriment. The game is fairly short, but offers up a lot of replay value and comes with a fun Twilight Zone vibe.

Image courtesy of Jackbox Games.

Mad Verse City

If ever the Jackbox had any qualms about treading into full blown mad libs territory, they’re certainly gone now. Mad Verse City prompts players to give a requested word type (adverb, adjective, etc.) and then are tasked with coming up with rhymes to fit. The true unexpected genius is the fact that each rap battle essentially plays out like a Siri vs. Alexa scenario, with robotic voices reading out the written raps. For a mini-game that seemed a little flimsy, this one is a winner.

Image courtesy of Jackbox Games.

Zeeple Dome

Equal parts paper toss and Angry Birds, Zeeple Dome is a finger flicker where players toss their avatar across the screen to detonate enemies for points and survive the longest. In true Gang Beasts fashion, the fun is in the chaos. The game does tend to drag on a bit and gets less exciting after the initial rounds of characters being tossed around willy nilly.

Image courtesy of Jackbox Games.

Patently Stupid

This drawing mini-game asks players to come up with an invention in response to a prompt and then sketch out a prototype in a few seconds. Each player is then given the option to pitch their idea and get enough capital (points) to green light their idea. While fun, Patently Stupid has a small issue where players can choose to have the in-game announcers present their idea for them. This problem crops up during a round where everyone shares the same prompt, so the dialogue repeats several times over in a row. It’s a good time, but nowhere near the replay value of maybe Tee K.O. or Drawful.

Jackbox 5: Party Pack is another solid offering by the team, but this release has fewer runaway hits than previous editions. The shining gems are undoubtedly Split the Room and Mad Verse City, which can easily be played for multiple rounds without anyone getting bored. It is nice to see newer games being created, rather than more of the same, but some of these titles can’t seem to take up the void their predecessors left.

Jackbox 5: Party Pack final score: 4/5

Jackbox 5: Party Pack is available for $29.99 on Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, Apple Store, Amazon Fire TV, Comcast Xfinity X1, Mac and Linux.

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About the author

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Christen Bejar

Christen Bejar is a freelance gaming writer who started the local blog The Pause Button while studying at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. For Nerdvana, Bejar reviews video games and also previews, recaps and photographs many local events from a gamer's perspective.

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