You Don’t Know Jack – Review
After a losing bout with relative obscurity, Jellyvision has taken the limelight again with a series reboot of their infamous franchise on every game console known to man. It has to have been at least 10 years since the last time I played a You Don’t Know Jack game. It came on a CD-Rom and the video chugged because my computer was ancient even by those day’s standards. YDKJ for Xbox 360 is obviously a step up from that, but does the satirical party trivia game still hold enough water to merit your thirty bucks? The answer is yes, with some conditions.
First, let’s get into what You Don’t Know Jack is. YDKJ is what Jeopardy would be like if it was hosted by Weird Al Yankovic. It’s irreverent, there’s a lot of parody involved, and sometimes you just don’t understand it. The game is broken up into 10 question chunks and the Jack Attack (more on that later). Each episode takes about twenty minutes to get through and there are 73 episodes in all (not counting DLC packs).
Each episode has a few things in common. For starters, every episode is hosted by the hilarious Cookie Masterson (Some of the best voice work I’ve heard in ages) Also, every episode has a “wrong answer of the game”, If you can guess it based on the clue given at the start of the episode, you’ll net some huge bonus points. Every episode also has a “Dis 0r Dat” question. These are seven rapid fire, one or the other answers where you’re asked, for example, to tell the difference between a Mcdonald’s slogan or the name of a Barry White song. Another has you guessing the names of boy bands or insect repellents. You’d be surprised how tricky these can be. There’s also one special question in every episode. There’s five or six different special questions, but my favorite is the “Nocturnal Admissions” questions, in which Cookie describes a strange dream he’s had after eating junk food and watching a movie before bed. The dreams always involve Cookie’s mother and his two cats, Poopsie and Mayonnaise, acting out whatever movie he’d been watching(so, pretty much insane). You then have to figure out what movie it was. Lastly, every episode ends with a Jack Attack. You’re given a clue at the beginning of the attack and as as words fly by the screen, you have to quickly buzz in when you see two that are related to each other by that clue.
The occasional lame jokes aside, the game is frequently hilarious. There is usually a point in every episode where I miss what a question is asking me because I am laughing too hard. Despite the repetitive nature of the game, Jellyvision does everything they can to shake things up. Even the catchy number jingles before every question, which repeat every episode, will occasionally do something unexpectedly hilarious. When you’re yelling at your television, demanding that the number 6 profess its love for you, or sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation of the next chapter of the continuing saga of the number 4, you’ll know what I mean. Besides that, the questions are all asked in such bizarre, obtuse ways that the trivia never becomes stale.
YDKJ does have some downsides, though. The biggest of them is Xbox Live. If you’re not going on Live to play with someone you know, don’t bother. Since each episode is completely the same no matter how many times you’ve played it, the majority of the people you’ll play against are either children who think it’s funny to pretend they know all the right answers or achievement whores trying to grind out their 1o0o points instead of actually having fun playing the game the way it was meant to be played. You might also have a problem with YDKJ if you expect every game you own to last forever and have infinite replayability, because unless you’re one of the two brands of idiot mentioned above, you’re only going to be playing each episode once.
Finally, it might just be paranoia on my part, but it’s really hard to tell if network lag is a factor in the Jack Attack. There have been times when I know I buzzed in before everyone else, but still got beaten. It’s not clear whether those buzzes are recorded in real time or what, but it seems like whoever’s hosting the game has a slight advantage. Maybe not, though. Like I said it’s really hard to tell, and probably won’t affect your game much. Just something I thought I’d note.
So, is Jack for you? If you have a working sense of humor and (ideally) 4 people who will come to your house and play it with you, then most assuredly, yes. If you live by yourself with a giant prospector beard and nothing but the treacherous slopes of the Rocky Mountains (and a few friends over the internet) to comfort you, maybe.