As if it wasn’t obvious by now, my preferred gaming medium typically has the words “retro” or “vintage” attached to it somewhere, but over the weekend I spent a fair amount of time playing the latest in the long-running Jackbox series, Jackbox Party Pack 7 with my family and friends.
Can I qualify Jackbox Party Packs as “retro” given my very first exposure would have been via their predecessors, You Don’t Know Jack all the way back in 1995? It was a different time, and I had a full head of hair and everything.
But I digress. Like any other Jackbox game, the Jackbox Party Pack 7 is comprised of a series of party games, with some returning favourites and some new titles. Tastes and flavours when it comes to party games can vary, as long as we can all agree that Monopoly is irredeemable trash. No, don’t argue with me – I’m right.
That being said, my experience of the games within Jackbox Party Pack 7 was, like so many of them, quite mixed. Here’s my quick take
Jackbox Party Pack 7: The Good Games
Quiplash 3 is… more quiplash, with a slight nod to the classic Claymation games such as Clayfighter, because that’s what all the visuals are now. See, I told you I could crowbar retro gaming in here somehow, and I did it so smoothly you probably didn’t even notice. It’s still very good, however.
Blather ‘Round is Jackbox’s take on Charades, more or less, except that you can only describe your object using some very vague sentence types, bolstered by the ability to use incorrect guesses in future sentences to try to make it clearer. Although when you’re stuck saying sentences like “It’s nothing like Orange Cassidy” when you’re trying to describe Alfred Hitchcock, you’re already in trouble.
Talking Points is the best new game in Jackbox Party Pack. You’re essentially giving a TED talk on a topic that’s built out of the random suggestions of others, but the other hook here is that another player actually chooses the slides and images you’ll be presenting on – and you don’t know what they’ll be until you see them.
If you’ve got a group that can improv with ease it’s an absolute blast, especially if you all end up constantly riffing, as we did, on the same topic. I probably should have recorded my talk on how to build the perfect kitten (complete with pictures of car crashes and squirrels), although how much you’d be able to actually hear over the laughter is debateable.
Jackbox Party Pack 7: The Not-So-Good Games
The Devils And The Details has a clever hook – you’re a family of devils in a mostly co-operative game where you’re trying to pass yourselves off as a regular suburban family – but the implementation feels way too much like those dodgy Wii motion control games that were never really the rage a few years back. You spend way too much time doing simple and stupid tap or drag games on your own screen, and as a result it loses its shine quickly.
Champ’d Up is a drawing game that, like so many Jackbox games before it relies on the comedy of your terrible drawings and a communal vote structure. Unfortunately this feels like a well that Jackbox has drawn from too many times, and it especially struggles given that you can do much the same thing, but better with Drawful 2.
I’ve been playing a lot of the Jackbox games with a wide variety of friends in 2020, and select Jackbox Party Pack 7 games will join the regular rotation, I’m sure. Any of you lot picked it up, or have other Jackbox game favourites to recommend?