The folks at Jackbox Games have had a long history of making party games. While they’ve primarily focused on trivia games, especially with the You Don’t Know Jack games, in recent years they’ve branched out with titles like Fibbage and the Kickstarter backed Quiplash. Last year, they released the Jackbox Party Pack, a collection of five different titles. Their follow-up, the Jackbox Party Pack 2, offers an all around similar experience, for better or for worse.
The Jackbox Party Pack 2 includes two slightly revamped games of former titles and three brand new games. The returning titles are a sequel to Fibbage and a new version of Quiplash, called Quiplash XL. New titles include Bomb Corps., Earwax and Bidiots. In similar fashion to the original, the games are all controlled by using either a mobile device or almost any web based interface.
While the original game did have some major input lag issues, the Jackbox.tv website seems to have had some decent back end work done, leading to far less lag issues. There are rarely any instances where you press a button on your phone and have a large delay. The fact that You Don’t Know Jack is not included also seems like a smart choice, since that game has a timer attached to it and often times you would miss out in points due to delay.
Fibbage 2 and Quiplash XL are largely unchanged from their original iterations. Fibbage 2 gives you a random factoid that requires you to fill in a blank with a convincing lie. You try to trick the other players into choosing that lie while also trying to determine which answer is the correct one. The player who gets the most points by answering correctly and/or tricking others .
Quiplash XL gives players a set of questions. Each player needs to give what they think is a funny quip to answer the question. Other players need to choose which quip is the most funny. If you are streaming the game on Twitch or YouTube, the audience can vote on what level they think is the best and can award points to players as a result.
These games have been fun since their initial conception. The new games, however, lack the same sort of punch. Earwax is probably the best of the new games. Up to eight players can join in. At the start of each round, a judge is chosen. The judge chooses a prompt. This could be something like, “The Youtube Comment Section” or “A New Nickelback Song.” The other players get a set of audio prompts that they can choose from. They get to choose two sounds to describe the prompt. The judge then chooses the best of them and the first player to three points wins.
Earwax is decent but feels like it needs a bit more wiggle room to grow. The choices for audio cues is somewhat limited and playing the game locally can have other players hear your choices on their phones, leading to other players knowing who chose what. Its interface is also somewhat bland and it doesn’t really stand out of the crowd. It is an alright thing but you’ll likely end up forgetting it.
Then, there is Bomb Corps. This is game can be played by one to four players locally. This one is pretty similar to Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Players are working in an office that produces bombs, but the bombs tend to go off at random. A bomb is put in front of the players and each of them is given a different piece of information about the bomb to diffuse it. However, they aren’t just regular bombs. Sometimes, you need to smash a piece of office furniture otherwise, explosions. At other times, you need to file paperwork or, you guessed it, everyone blows up.
Bomb Corps. has a decent sense of humor to it. The interludes feature awkward office talk and decent humor. The actual act of playing the game is alright, but unlike Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, the game doesn’t feel as fleshed out. You might expect this since Bomb Corps is a smaller part of a larger party game, but if you’re looking for explosion based games, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a better game.
The final title is Bidiots. This game is a more expanded version of Drawful from the original Party Pack. Drawful was a pretty simple, mobile based version of Pictionary. Bidiots, however, almost overcomplicates the formula of Drawful by adding in a bidding aspect. Players are given prompts to draw. Once they are drawn, players are given $3000. They are acting as bidders for other buyers. These buyers are willing to buy certain pictures for set prices. The goal of the bidders is to basically bid as low as they can so the buyers will pay a higher price. They are also trying to get other players to overbid so they lose money.
The entire process, for a party game, feels too complex. Trying to convey these concepts to other players is extremely tough and, add to that, each player gets secret prompts to help them out by their respective buyers. The idea of having a drawing game similar to Drawful is cool but this iteration just doesn’t work.
In this regard, though, the entire package feels incredibly similar, down to the breakdown of quality. The stand out games, Quiplash XL and Fibbage are incredibly fun and have good replayability like the original Party Packs, You Don’t Know Jack and the original Fibbage. The middling games, Bomb Corps and Earwax are okay but forgettable, like Lie Swatter and Drawful. Bidiots takes the Word Spud place in this package, unfortunately. However, while Word Spud was just not a good game, Bidiots isn’t a great party game. It’s at least a decent idea and can be fun abut it is overly complex, while Word Spud was just a bad game.
The Jackbox Party Pack 2 is, in a way, a lot more of the same, but that’s not a bad thing. The titles are decent and playing on a stream is good fun. While some games are middling, they don’t necessarily feel as bad as worst titles from the original. It would be nice to see some more games and while the game did have some major lag issues, it would be nice to see a new You Don’t Know Jack in here. However, the Jackbox Party Pack 2 is still a blast to play.
SCORE: 9.0 out of 10
A code for the Jackbox Party Pack 2 was provided to Pixel Related for review.