It’s Jackbox Party Pack 8! Is there a joke in the box?
I still find it hard to believe that there have been so many Jackbox Party Pack games and how wildly successful they’ve been. I find it even more challenging to decide which games are the best JackBox Party Pack games themselves! Considering the series started as a somewhat niche quiz title in the mid 90s, it’s gone from strength to strength, embracing streaming and in person competitive and cooperative gameplay to become a party game series beloved by many. All you need is a mobile phone to join in a game on a TV screen in person or via a stream, making them accessible to almost anyone, and whilst some of the mini games are better than others — with pack five’s Mad Verse City being a great standout compared to the weaker Role Models, for example ー every pack has at least one excellent and hilarious game for most players to enjoy. In fact, our lovely Jupiter has given a run down of the best Jackbox games on offer!
So here we have Jackbox Party Pack 8 with five new games to offer potential hilarity. As I’ve done previously, I’ll give a brief review of each individual game to give an overall feeling on the whole pack.
First up is a sequel to Drawful, one of the earliest games in the resurrection of the Jackbox series. Drawful Animate provides each player with a prompt that they need to use to create a two frame animation by drawing the first and second frame independently. These will then appear, animated on the screen for all to see. Players then need to come up with what they think the original prompt was, before finally deciding on which one the real prompt was. You get points for choosing the correct prompt, and more points for each player that chooses the prompt that you came up with. As always, the player with the most points wins.
This was a lot of fun, with plenty of silly prompts, and absolutely no requirement to have any artistic talent. There was plenty of hilarity as people tried to figure out just what the hell the animation was meant to be when coming up with their own prompts. A slight issue is that the game’s prompts tend to be written in a very specific way, meaning it wasn’t too tough to figure out which was the real one, but winning is often secondary to having a fun time in these games. Certainly a stronger entry into the Jackbox library of games, and one that’s a logical extension to Drawful, making that game somewhat obsolete.
The Wheel of Enormous Proportions
The second game on offer is The Wheel of Enormous Proportions, which has easily the most dramatic name of any of the games so far. This is a trivia game at heart, with you answering questions to earn points and ‘slices’. Points help you towards victory, whilst slices are added onto the titular wheel in a position of your choice. At the end of each round, you can place your slices on the wheel before each player gives it a spin. If a spin lands on one of your slices, you get bonus points. This continues until a player earns over 20,000 points, at which point they can spin another wheel to try and win the game. If they fail, the game continues, whilst they claim victory if they succeed.
A fun little game, with some great theming and art, as well as some really enjoyable trivia questions. Most of them are ones with multiple answers, with you getting more points for the more you correctly identify. The real downside is that this is ultimately a game of chance. You have a better chance of winning if you perform well, yes, but at the end of the day your victor is decided by the spin of a wheel. We did enjoy playing this one for the trivia round, but winning or losing was just down to chance. There was a nice feature though, in which each player types in a question at the start of the game. The winner then gets their question answered by the all knowing wheel by spinning it one more time. It didn’t affect the game, but it led to some extra giggles at the end. Not the weakest Jackbox game we’ve played, but certainly an example of style over substance.
Now this was a lot of fun, and the highlight of Jackbox Party Pack 8 for us. Present as the players competing for a job ー and brilliantly presented using 90’s era powerpoint presentations ー you’ll get questions that you respond to by typing answers on your phone. You’ll then be given another question and a bank of words to use to answer it based on the answers given by other players. You have to come up with the funniest answer using only the words given to you. Players then vote for which one they think is the funniest, awarding points based on votes.
This was utterly hilarious, and reminded us of a more creative version of Quiplash. The words that end up in your bank are the only thing for you to work with, so you have to come up with something from potential word soup. There is the risk that a player could deliberately type in any old nonsense as your initial answers aren’t used for point scoring, meaning other players get rubbish words, but people trying to screw the game up for everyone is always a risk with this type of thing, and I’d expect you wouldn’t be playing with people who just try to spoil games for everyone else, so I’m not looking at this as a real negative. With silly theming, a very easy to grasp concept, and potentially the funniest answers you’ll see in this pack, Job Job gets my vote as the best of the bunch.
From the strongest, to what we felt was the weakest. Poll Mine is a team based poll game themed around exploring a dungeon. Players are split into two teams before everyone gets a question that tasks them with ranking something, for example which household appliance is most likely to break down. Teams then take it in turns to identify which answer was in the top three most popular choices for all players across both teams. Being correct awards your team with a torch, whilst a wrong choice removes a torch. In the final round you have to identify all the answers in the correct order, with a wrong guess removing a torch. Should you run out of torches and your opponents then get a correct answer, your team loses.
This lacked the comedy of the other games, but was certainly interesting in terms of theming, and the potential debate about what answer will be in what ranking is certainly fun. There are a few issues though, as this is once again something of a chance based game due to the fact you don’t have all that much information. This is compounded if you have an odd number of players, as the smaller team is at a disadvantage. Whilst the theme and artwork are strong, and the concept is interesting enough, this one didn’t really hit with the groups I played with.
Finally, we have by far the most complicated game in the form of Weapons Drawn. Players take on the roles of detectives at a ball, who are also secretly murderers. You need to draw a picture of the weapon you’re using, based on a given prompt, but your drawing must include a letter from your name. Next, players secretly select an NPC ー also given names by the players ー to murder before they vote on which murder to investigate. Finally, players examine the murder weapon to try and determine who comitted the murder based on any letters they find hidden in the picture. You get points for getting away with murders, as well as identifying killers.
This was quite difficult to get our heads around at first, but once it clicks it’s quite enjoyable. There’s a lot of potential for getting creative with your weapons when trying to hide your clue within it and you can throw others off your scent by playing smart. It reminded me somewhat of Jackbox Party Pack 4’s game Civic Doodle due to you having to draw using elements that are already there. Whilst fun, this is certainly the hardest to get into and explain to others, and without someone who can talk it through, it takes a while to understand the ins and outs of Weapons Drawn. Still, it’s nice to have a bit more complexity from time to time.
Jackbox Party Pack 8 is another winner in my book, with a couple of cracking games, a fairly deep choice, and a pair that are enjoyable, if a little weaker. The presentation is as excellent as ever, with some great attention paid to the sound ー the songs at the end of some of the games are genuinely funny. There are some great options available as well, including the now standard ‘family friendly’ option, as well as a toggle to reduce the number of US-centric prompts, meaning a paltry Brit like me can have a better chance of answering some of the questions on offer. Every time a new one of these games comes along, I’m keen to try it out, and this release hasn’t dissuaded me from doing so again. Big laughs all around.