As if anyone couldn’t have guessed that Jackbox Games would have released another compilation of mini-games, The Jackbox Party Pack 2 brings three new games along with new features and questions to the fan-favorite Fibbage and an expanded version of Quiplash. Once again players utilize their mobile device, tablet, laptop, essentially anything with a supporting browser. While I found that all of the games included in the first game to be entertaining, there are a couple in the sequel that misses the mark.
Jackbox Games aims to make their games as accessible, however, the jackbox.tv website isn’t compatible with every browser client. There have been reports of issues with Windows Phones (which I have tested with my WP8 device), as well as specific browsers on Android. Considering the sheer amount of options open to users on those devices, I doubt the developers were able to test every single possibility. I should also note that all of my relatives that were using iOS devices had no trouble connecting and staying connected. Being disconnected and eventually locked out the game still occurs, but the issue is less frequent than it was in the first game.
Considering it has been the show-stealer at gatherings, we opted to play through a couple of rounds of Fibbage 2, which turned into an entire night devoted to the game. There are a ton of new questions, so you shouldn’t see any repeated questions in a single session. This was something that irked me in the first game, as questions began to repeat even after only a handful of games. Questions are still surprising and outrageous, and the game shines when players put in their best effort to stump each other. If you are unaware, everyone is presented with a question or statement, and it is up to the players to create a convincing lie that could be the answer. The second phase of the game involves choosing the correct response, surrounded by the lies created by the other players. Jackbox Games added an audience option to the game, ensuring that regardless of how many people are sitting in front of the television, everyone can join in the action.
Before release, Quiplash received its own standalone title. However, Quiplash Xl includes everything in the base game, the “Quip Pack 1” downloadable content and even new prompts. In its basic form, Quiplash is a battle of wits, as players are presented with questions/statements and you are tasked with filling in the blank. Unlike Fibbage, you aren’t trying to think of convincing lies; instead you can answer freely. Players then vote on their favorite answer, which is purely subjective. While the game supports three to eight players, the game comes into its own when you have an audience. Designed to be played over a live stream, Quiplash XL supports 10,000 people in the audience, all of which can vote on the answer. With that many people in the game, every game is unique.
Jackbox Games tried something completely different with Earwax, but sadly it misses the mark. Strangely enough, it only supports up to seven players, and tasks everyone with mixing two sound effects that best illustrate the subject matter on-screen. One player is selected as a judge and chooses the category, and picks their favorite combined sound effects selected from from the other players. The winning response can be the most humorous or the one that makes the most sense, but most of the time, nothing was actually funny.
Foregoing another year with Drawful, Bidiots fills in the drawing mini-game slot, adding new gameplay elements for up to six players. Players draw two unique pieces of art, based on a wide range of categories. At the start of the game, every player has a set amount of money which is used to bid on other player’s drawings using an auction-style format. Every piece of artwork is assigned a hidden value, but you may receive secret tips during the auction. You must keep this a secret as you don’t want anyone else to know that something can be sold after the game for a considerable sum; otherwise, everyone would want to bid on it. At the same time, you want to be coy, and try to bid up the other players for something that you know isn’t expensive. If you run out of money, you do have the option to take a loan, and every player can force another player to bid on an item using an item.
The most unique game comes in the form of Bomb Corp, as one player must deactivate a bomb, while the others have different sets of instructions on how to disable it. It requires players to work together and honestly, resembles a team-building exercise you’d expect at a company outing. It’s the only game in the entirety of The Jackbox Party Pack 2 where you are actively working cooperatively and not against each other unless you want to be that person and ruin it for everyone else. Things get hectic fast, once instructions start to contradict each other, such as limiting wire cutting instructions to one player, or when colors are swapped. The game uses retro pixel art visuals but blown up on a 55” television the picture quality didn’t look great, especially with how zoomed into the bomb it was.
The Jackbox Party Pack 2 adds some interesting party games into the mix but also misses the mark with a couple of them. Quiplash is only enjoyable if you have a large number of players in the audience, and Earwax lacks substance. I would go far to say Earwax is the worst thing to come out of Jackbox Games in years, but the hectic nature of Bomb Corp, the enjoyable, but slow-pace of Bidiots are nice additions. Fibbage continues to be the favorite amongst my closest friends and relatives.Note: The Jackbox Party Pack 2 was reviewed on PlayStation 4. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.