Jackbox Party Pack 9 is almost upon us, and here at TheGamer we got our hands on it early to test it out. Every Thursday we have a games night between the staff, and Jackbox is a big favourite. In fact, thanks to its popularity and variety, Jackbox is the most played series in the history of our social nights, so we like to think we know a thing or two about jacking those boxes – and we had a couple of newcomers too for balance. Jackbox Party Pack 9 gave us some laughs, but it’s not a pack for the ages.
Since Jackbox is a lot of minigames in one, I’m going to do mini reviews of each of them separately, starting with the pack’s big gun, Fibbage 4. I know from previous interviews with the team at Jackbox that they only bring games back if they’re popular, but it staggers me that Fibbage is so popular it needs four goes while Quiplash has three, Trivia Murder has two, and Tee KO has just one. Fibbage sees you make up a fake answer to a question then try to find the right answer amongst your friend’s lies. It’s kind of trivia, kind of funny, but mostly neither. It’s also too long and feels repetitive. The only new gimmick is some questions are videos, which doesn’t add enough. No better than other Fibbages, and they’re not great anyway.
Roomerang needs at least four players, the most of any Jackbox game ever, which speaks to how complicated it is. It’s a riff on Big Brother wherein you play a character and write Quiplash-style answers in character to try to avoid being eliminated from the in-game reality show, in what feels like a never-ending loop. We were so exhausted by how drawn out the other games got that we skipped this one and I had to MacGyver a game up with my wife to play it through. There are some good laughs in here, and it’s the most the pack ever throws the mic over to you and lets you have a laugh with friends, but it also adds in a lot of mechanics that get in the way. You know when there’s a really good guest on Fallon but he keeps talking over them? That’s Roomerang.
This is a great game that unfortunately drags a little too much to be in the regular rotation. In the style of Talking Points and Patently Stupid, you grab some random items from a haunted junk shop, then need to present them in a sales pitch. It’s a little more controlled than other presentation games, so probably has a lower barrier for entry, but is still very funny. Mystery box items and the chance to haggle for prices adds a nice layer, but doing two identical rounds then a third round for the finale makes this very long. A great game, but less breezy than other presentation offerings, though it does seem easier for newcomers.
If you made a Jackbox game in a lab, you’d probably get Nonsensory. It has all of the ingredients, but it’s all a little soulless. In round one you have to make up a name for a thing, in round two you draw a thing. The twist is you have to make it fit between two points – so I had to name a bar that was 20 percent likely to be loud, and draw an activity that was 60 percent sleep and 40 percent work. That sure sounds like a game kinda, but like Fibbage, there are too many layers in the way of it being funny, even when being funny seems to be the point. You get some decent laughs, depending on your friendship group, but you could have a lot more fun setting them loose in a better game.
Well, it took us the entire pack, but we found a reason to recommend Jackbox Party Pack 9. I’m not sure it’s enough to make the pack a classic, but this is right in the Jackbox sweet spot. Playing in two teams, players arrange different items in order, with the catch being you only see one item at a time, so have to figure it out as you go. Each player moves a block individually, leading to rapid arguments and debates over placement, and even teams on the sidelines get to watch the spectacle. The categories are up and down (my team had to rank books in order of release and fine dining table settings from right to left, our opponents Lady Gaga singles and Oompa Loompa lyrics), but I think the lopsided difficulty is to the game’s credit and embraces the chaos. It’s a big upgrade on Poll Mine, with which it shares some DNA, and is a Jackbox great in waiting.
Jackbox Party Pack 9 is fine in isolation, but loses points for being the ninth entry in a series that has already done much better. It doesn’t need to be on 3 or 5’s level, but it might only be stopped from being the weakest pack by the grace of Quixort and the existence of 6.
We played on PC for review, and while I’ll be picking up a Switch copy because Junktopia and Quixort are worthy of the odd game here or there, there’s no killer app to be found. It’s quite telling that as soon as we finished, we immediately played Quiplash and Tee KO to better advertise the joys of Jackbox. I’m a firm believer that Jackbox is as funny as you are, but 9 doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise.
Score: 2.5/5. A PC code was provided for this review
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