Gaming consoles can be a great outlet for entertaining a gathering of your nearest and dearest, offering simpler ways to have fun than setting up a physical board game that’ll drag on for hours. The original Jackbox Party Pack was a pretty good example of how you can play with many, without owning a truck load of controllers and ultimately have a good old laugh. Now there’s a follow up, The Jackbox Party Pack 2, but will it be a fitting sequel or have we already seen the best that Jackbox Games has to offer?
Just to be clear, apart from to load up the different games, your controllers will be of absolutely no use here. Instead, you and the rest of the party will need to grab your smartphones, tablets or laptops to participate; I’d highly recommend checking out the Jackbox website to avoid any potential compatibility issues ahead of time.
As much as I enjoy a good party, I always hope that games of this genre have some form of solo play, even if just to squeeze a little more value out of it. Out of the five games featured, there’s only one that allows solo action and that’s “Bomb Corp.” which can have up to four players in total. It works as a story mode of sorts where you’ll become an employee of the most explosive office in the world… literally.
The aim is to defuse bombs by deciphering a set of instructions against the clock and if you cut the wrong coloured wires, things go BOOM. Even on your own it’s frantic enough having to read through the riddles whilst time drains away; there’s certainly no humour when lives are on the line. Fortunately the other office workers prove plenty of dry wit in the cutscenes that genuinely cracked me up a few times.
Bomb Corp. isn’t all about bombs though, sometimes filing needs to be done in alphabetical order or you need to figure out the key code to the building. Over time, with progression, you’ll unlock more of these side objectives, making each day at work feel fresher than the last. This is the mentally tasking game of the bunch, the instructions get crazy and if the booze isn’t flowing then it’s the best place to start because you’ll have no chance as the party comes to an end.
After that it’s a time to shine for the best fibbers in the group and the idea is to come up with a believable answer to fill in the blank part of a question, but that answer is actually a lie. In “Fibbage 2” everyone submits a lie and then all the answers come up including the real one; getting others to inadvertently pick your lie yields points, as does you choosing the correct response. Some of the answers can be pure brilliance if there’s a few creative minds involved, even the real one can garner a laugh if it’s a bit wacky.
Then we have “Quiplash XL”. Oh boy, this had bags of potential, where people have to think of the wittiest answer to a statement and then the best are voted for by other players. Statements were very hit and miss as to whether anyone had a clue what was being asked of them, especially if it mentioned something American like Shark Tank, it just killed the buzz momentarily. When it did hit the mark though it was good fun and there’s always one party member who turns the air blue!
Prepare to channel your inner Van Gogh… NO! Don’t chop off your ear! You just need to draw a few pictures in the “Bidiots” game mode before the auction begins. After seeing prompts for what artwork you need to attempt, your drawings will be sent into an auction with everyone else’s canvasses. One by one, the pieces of art will each be up for bidding and you’ll all have specific art to look out for on behalf of dealers. Buying cheap and accurately will net you the most profit, thus becoming the winner.
Working out whether it’s actually what you’re after is half the fun, the other half being the reveal of who really drew a puddle that looks more like a fluffy cloud… it was me, but it’s all about perspective. One of the gimmicks is being able to screw others into bidding on a piece they really don’t want, usually because they drew it. I’m not convinced “Bidiots” is as good as “Drawful” from The Jackbox Party Pack, however it’s still enjoyable.
There’s a reason I left “Earwax” till last and that’s due to it being utterly terrible. Responding to questions using a limited set of sounds each time is one thing, but I’m not sure any hilarity came from this mode at all. Well, except when someone picked a fart noise, even then it was short lived. The winner is whoever gets chosen as the best sound effect chooser, however in reality, we all lost having wasted our time on it.
The Jackbox Party Pack 2 suffers from not being able to completely match the hilarity of its predecessor. Earwax lets the compilation down the most with a mode that just brings silly sounds to the table, most of which I personally didn’t find could add humour to proceedings. On the positive side, Jackbox Games have added the ability to turn on a family filter which will certainly help avoid any embarrassing moments caused by the game itself.
To get the most out of this pack, be sure to have a good number of people that’ll all chip in a couple of quid towards the cost.