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PLATFORM: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, Nintendo DS
ESRB RATING: T
DEVELOPER: Jellyvision Games
After eight long years with only a brief stop on the internet to satiate us, the undisputed king of trivia is back. You Don’t Know Jack is simply the smartest and wittiest trivia game you’ll ever play, an experience that forces you to try and calm yourself down from laughing so much in order to rack your brain for the answer, all the while trying to screw your friends over.
Fans of the series need know only one thing- it’s as great as you remember. Those of you who’ve never experienced Jack are in for a treat.
It’s simple really- the geniuses at Jellyvision Games realized that asking bland trivia questions only makes for a bland game. You Don’t Know Jack stands out from the pack by a huge focus on humor. It’s likely the only game you know where even the question topics are funny.
Longtime host Cookie (Tom Gottlieb) returns, lending his trademark smart-ass style to the proceedings. He loves to rip on you for wrong answers, which only adds to the hilarity.
You Don’t Know Jack is separated into 73 episodes, each a self-contained game that features a series of ten questions as well as a final round. Most are simply multiple choice questions with a total of four answers to choose from, where half the fun comes from trying to figure out what exactly they’re looking for, because of the game’s trademark mashups of art and pop. For example-
The faster you answer, the more cash you’ll gain. Once during a game you’ll face a “Dis or Dat”, a fast-paced round where the loser can get a lot of cash by correctly (and quickly) determining what category something belongs in. For example, they’ll give you a series of seven words one after the other and have you say if each is the name of a Pope or a Britney Spears song. Another has you determining if it’s a Ranch Dressing or the name of a Nevada Brothel. You’d be surprised how tricky some of those are…
There are a few new types of question that change up the format nicely as well, such as one in where Cookie describes some terrible dream he had last night and you have to guess which movie he was watching before he went to bed, or another where he uses a ventriloquist’s dummy and you have to decipher his lisp before time runs out.
During the game you’re also given one screw that can be used against your opponent when you think they don’t know the answer. This forces them to answer in five seconds, but it can backfire and make you lose your hard-earned cash if they actually get it correct.
Every episode ends with a “Jack Attack”, where you’re given a subject and then basically have to play word association. A phrase will appear and other phrases will slide on screen one after the other, and you hit the button when they match.
People can be torn on this as a finisher. In the course of a game you’ll earn a few hundred bucks for each question but in this last round you can nab four grand for each one, or lose the same amount for the wrong answer. It can easily tip the game either way and whoever is fastest on the draw will win out here, meaning that the rest of the game doesn’t really matter when you can simply steal away the game at the end.
Of course, You Don’t Know Jack isn’t a game where winning matters. It’s the journey that will keep you laughing throughout and playing game after game, especially when you have a full roster of four players all competing.
One caveat- only the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions have online play. Sorry, Wii and PC gamers! It’s a strange omission.
The title and menus feel barren but it doesn’t matter- you’re here for the trivia.
The format of the game can also get repetitive, since each question has an intro that almost never changes, but they’re all clever and funny and hold up to multiple plays. Tom Gottlieb (Cookie) is perhaps the best host the game ever saw (outside of Paul Reubens) and his work here is essential- without him, there is no game. The clever writing and his sharp tongue keep you coming back.
Special thanks must be given to whoever wrote came up with the Achievements/Trophies, which left me giggling like an idiot. For example- “Quick-Draw McDumbass” can be yours for answering ten questions wrong within three seconds, “Social Outcast” you get by playing five single-player games on Friday or Saturday nights (the announcer will note this too and berate you accordingly) and “Turncoat”, which you get for playing the game on July 4th “instead of celebrating America”.
Once you’re done with an episode, you’re done, but considering that each episode will take you around 15 minutes to complete and there are 73 of them, you’ve got an enormous amount of trivia to play through here. Beat all that and you can download additional “Jack Packs”, which run you $5 for ten new episodes.
This is the kind of game that you can drag anyone into (or anyone with a brain, at least) and have a blast. It’s the perfect party game, as long as you don’t mind a little potty humor thrown into the mix- a little low-brow to complement the high-brow topics.
Did I mention that it’s a budget title as well, going for a mere 30-40 bucks online?
Out of a Possible 5 Stars