The noisy show floor of Gamescom with a series of random journalists you’ve never met isn’t the best way to experience a Jackbox Party Pack title, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, the developers (the handily titled Jackbox Games, Inc) are pretty good at this, and I was cracking up within a few short minutes with The Jackbox Party Pack 9.
If you’ve never played a Jackbox game before, it’s one of the most accessible party games of the last decade, letting everyone in the room get involved using their phone, a tablet or even a laptop to play along. Jackbox‘s easy-to-understand games are anecdote-generating machines that can keep just about anyone amused, whether it’s a bunch of kids at a party or adults crowded around a sofa with beers.
Jackbox then found a new lease of life on Twitch as people realised you didn’t need to be in the same room, something that become increasingly true during the pandemic.
In the previous eight iterations there were trivia games, drawing games or even weirder stuff that will get you creating t-shirts or trying to hook up with monsters. It’s party fodder, and Jackbox Party Pack 9 adds more of the same.
There are five games, but we mostly got hands on with Nonsensory, a drawing, writing and guessing game that has you guessing where another players prompt might be on a series of scales. It’s weird, because it seems like it would be impossible to guess an answer based on how scary it’s supposed to be, or how vaguely intimidating.
There are four other games we didn’t play.
- Fibbage 4, a bluffing game that’ll be familiar to anyone that’s played Fibbage 1, 2 or 3
- Junktopia, where you have to make up backstories for weird objects so a weird wizard will turn you back from a frog into a human
- Quixort, a trivia game
- Roomerang, which seems to channel reality TV like The Circle as players throw down against each other.
Elsewhere it feels like a huge usability increase: you can connect to games with QR codes now, there’s the ability to kick players and if you accidentally close your phone or disconnect, there’s a rejoin in progress option. Sure, they’re quality of life improvements but you can’t truly appreciate how annoying it is to respond to a text message and lose your place in a Jackbox game until you have spent a Christmas watching everyone else cracking jokes and having fun while you’re not allowed to sneak off to the kitchen and start on the cheeseboard.