You Don’t Know Jack! – Review
This game was reviewed on PC
You Don’t Know Jack can be summed up easily in three words: adult, cruel and hilarious. The Jellyvision offering is a trivia game that manages to be engaging and clever despite being loaded with gimmicks, a talkative host and some open mocking of the player. You Don’t Know Jack has had several instalments on the PC and consoles before, and I played the second game in the series with my brothers until the game turned into a test of reflexes as we had memorized all the questions and answers. When I heard that Jellyvision had relaunched the franchise on Facebook, I held high hopes and remembered childhood nostalgia.
As a result, I walked into the game with high expectations, and I was not disappointed. You Don’t Know Jack has many of the usual features that Facebook free-to-play games have, such as limited games per day, micro-transactions, wall postings and high score lists. However, the game contains much more depth compared to FarmVille or Mafia Wars. The player is given five trivia questions of varying types (the game boasts modes such as Dis or Dat, the Jack Attack, Fortune Cookies, Gibberish Question and Funky Trash), and is rewarded with points for answering questions correctly. The faster the player answers, the more points they earn. If they answer incorrectly, they lose points. The player can use the number keys or their mouse to answer questions, or type in a response to certain question types. Sometimes the game was slow to respond when I answered with number keys, meaning that I had to jackhammer the appropriate number or resort to clicking.
You Don’t Know Jack takes the guise of a game show, which means that points are tallied as dollar amounts in the thousands, and the gregarious host Cookie leads you through the experience. Cookie is amazing, with great comic timing and an infectious sense of enthusiasm. However, the thin skinned or easily frustrated may find him more than a little irritating, as Cookie will happily mock any mistakes the player makes. There are also faux advertising spots with ridiculous concepts sandwiching the trivia questions to add to the immersion of the game-show facade. The presentation of the game is top notch, with a lot of flair that is an unexpected surprise for the platform and format of the game, and much appreciated.
The questions in You Don’t Know Jack are satisfyingly random, which means that the average player will occasionally excel and get an ego boost while also failing horrifically on other questions and learning the true answer. You Don’t Know Jack has questions referencing philosophy, pop culture, music and history, but the questions can be tricky and complex, and may require some truly random knowledge to be able to answer. During my games, I was challenged on my understanding of pubic hair grooming habits, seppuku methods for shamed warriors, Fidel Castro assassination plots, Winnie the Pooh’s relation to KFC, famous faeries in movies and Zooey Deschanel’s acting career. A wrong answer leads to some teasing by Cookie, but also an explanation of the right answer and why it makes sense, which means playing the game will lead to learning some tidbits that might make excellent icebreakers at parties.
The alternate game modes which randomly pop up as one of the five questions in a game are hit-and-miss. Dis or Dat and Funky Trash were enjoyable, especially as they weren’t too large a diversion from the normal question format. Gibberish Question, which requires the player to decode a popular slang term, movie title or adage from rhyming nonsense, requires a different skill set than pure trivia, and can be frustrating. The Jack Attack is always the fifth question, and it abandons the normal format and style of the game completely. Instead of Cookie being ever-present, peppering the game with jokes and taunts, the player is given a clue and must match variables related to that clue on a time limit. As an example, one Jack Attack asks the player to match famous amusement parks to their geographical location. The Jack Attack does not always give players enough time to read and process the variable, and will often bring up a Facebook friend’s failed attempt at a variable match with the screaming sound effect that plays upon a mismatch. Jack Attacks are the most frustrating and annoying part of the You Don’t Know Jack experience, but ultimately the rest of the game overcomes this dark spot.
You Don’t Know Jack is loaded with lots of little surprises and goodies. There is a levelling system which rewards the player with free games, one hundred and sixty five “episodes” providing variety to the experience with more being released in the future, an achievement system, a way to battle your friends on your walls, and a loser wheel, serving as a consolation prize. Players who remember the “screw” feature, which forced your competitors to answer a question against their will, or the gamble of answering a question before the answers are displayed will be disappointed that these features have been removed in favour of wall posts and Facebook challenges. However, the public challenge of competing with your friends may provide a thrill that the private nature of previous games could not. Players may find the Facebook integrated features to be an annoyance, as constant reminders to compete with friends, show off scores or buy features will pop up as you play.
I would recommend You Don’t Know Jack to anyone with a Facebook account and a sense of curiosity, a sense of humor, and a willingness to embrace crude humour that treads into the scatological, sexual and personal. The thin-skinned, blissfully un-inquisitive and proper denizens of Facebook might want to plant some strawberries in FarmVille instead.
You Don’t Know Jack receives a 4.25/5.0
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