It’s such a simple idea that it’s a wonder Jackbox haven’t stuffed it onto one of their Party Packs; perhaps a Quiplash: Dub Edition.
You’re given a sequence from an old movie or TV show. Actors offer a couple of lines to cue you up, but a subsequent actor’s line and audio track has been scrubbed out. The action stops, and you and a group of mates have the opportunity to put words in their mouth. Here’s an example scene:
A woman holds a letter to an older gent: “Here’s an envelope. Make sure it gets to them.” The older gent asks “What is it?”. The woman starts to reply, but this is where your dub comes in.
You all have an amount of time to type a line into your phones. Needless to say, all three of us wrote ”an envelope” for that example, which was probably the least fruity example we could have given. With everyone’s line written, the scene plays out once for each person’s reply, but with their line dubbed on top, thanks to some magical tech.
Then it’s onto the conventional Jackbox voting section, where you are presented with everyone’s lines on your phone, and you have to pick the best one. Votes are tallied, points are allocated, and a winner is chosen. Then it’s onto another round, with five rounds being the default.
You don’t need much to give What The Dub?! a go. Each player needs a smart device that can access the internet, so they can navigate to the website and type in a room code. What The Dub?! is intuitive and friction free, so there’s no fumbling and grumbling when you invite friends over. The only hiccup we hit was with a phone that had a thirty-second autolock: if you minimise the web page in any way, the website logs you out, so you have to make sure that you keep the screen up at all times. We remember Jackbox having a similar feature. Regardless, you can refresh the page to get back into the action.
Three to six players can play, and there are options to extend the typing time (very welcome), change the number of rounds and add a profanity filter (there’s an achievement for that one).
What The Dub?! was always going to live or die by its dubbing tech, and it’s actually pretty good. It’s not lip-synced or in the actor’s voice – a live-fake version of What The Dub?! would be something – but your words are said clearly and only semi-robotically. It handles knotty stuff like “Shabba”, “Nokia 3310”, “Khaaaaan!” and “Pikachu!” surprisingly well, and yes: it’s more than happy to shout out your swear words. It was enough to get us cry-laughing at least a few times, and that was the minimum we hoped for.
The scenes themselves are a bit of a mixed bag. There’s three hundred of them, dragged from various sci-fi B-movies, PSAs, old-timey dramas and westerns. Clearly they have been chosen for their cheap (or absent) copyright, thanks to the age of the sequences. On the plus side, they’re terribly written and – in the case of the B-movies – include plenty for you to latch onto visually; a fertile ground for tasty quips. On the negative side, they can be grainy and a little hard to pick out details, and there won’t be any joy in recognising actors or favourite movies (although we did spot a young Jack Nicholson).
Slightly more disappointing is that the same shows and characters start popping up repeatedly. What The Dub?! has clearly tried to make things easier for itself by chopping up individual scenes from the same episodes. It wouldn’t be a problem normally, but when the same person in the same silly wig turns up in multiple scenes, then you’ll find yourselves making the same jokes – or having to avoid the clear and obvious joke. It adds an air of laziness to the scene choice.
The dubbed lines can be real gimmes, with everyone suggesting brilliant responses, while others feel like creative dead-ends. There’s not enough in the scene or the dialogue set-up to create gold. More than once, we looked at each other and went “eh?”, then typed in something drier than we would have liked.
Generally, though, the dubbing and scenes do their job well, and the replays are swift, so even six people won’t slow down a game. We had a whale of a time, and all of the usual Jackbox joys are present and correct, as you sit there slyly, waiting for your dub to come up so that you can make everyone giggle. Then it’s onto the popularity contest of picking the favourite.
What hamstrings What The Dub?! the most, giving it a short shelf life, is how limited the package is. While you can change the number of rounds and players, there’s only one game type. There’s no sandbox mode for you to pick scenes, no opportunity to mad-lib longer sequences with a mate. You can’t keep any of the best dubs for posterity, outside of Xbox’s usual game capture. It’s an extremely bare-bones set of options.
You could argue that the headliner is present and that’s what matters, and £6.69 isn’t exactly breaking the bank, but What The Dub? has a fun idea, and there’s clearly more you could do with it. We’ll stick our ideas on a postcard and send it to them.
What The Dub?! on Xbox is a one-trick pony, then, but it’s a trick that will keep you and up to five friends cracking up for a good hour or two. Whether you come back to it is another question, but seeing straight-faced actors spouting your drivel is probably worth that low price of admission.