You Don’t Know Jack: The Game: The Review

Many children grow up watching Jeopardy, and dream of one day taking the challenge themselves. It wasn’t about the money, it’s about the knowledge, the experience of being the smartest in the room. I, on the other hand, had another dream. I dreamt of doing a three-way with Smegma and daeh ypooP while Cookie Masterson watches and makes witty comments. I wanted to be on You Don’t Know Jack.

With so many trivia games out there, in my eyes, YDKJ is the only memorable one. The writing was top notch, the humor was spot on, and best of all, it didn’t take itself seriously. You read about it all the time, Trivial Pursuit turning into knife fights and Bible Trivia leading to divorce [citation needed], but not YDKJ. In this game, it doesn’t matter if you win. Sure, you can brag that you knew the obscure reference in the question, or what number Cookie was thinking of, but in the end, it was the experience that counted. When the game ended, everyone was happy, even Tickles, who had a -30,000 score because he called Cookie a bad name.

This is as confusing as it is hilarious.

While the concept of the game is pretty much the same as it’s always been, the gameplay has been changed to accommodate consoles. When I first discovered this, I was slightly taken aback, being the jaded PC gaming shit head that I am. But as soon as I started playing, I didn’t care anymore. Everything has been streamlined so perfectly, I can’t imagine playing the old versions anymore. I’ve played Volume 3 so much, I didn’t think you could play the game any other way but buzzing it, and choosing or typing in an answer. In this version, much like the the short lived 1 vs. 100 Primetime game on Xbox Live, you just choose your answer, and once everyone has chosen, the correct answer is shown (not before Cookie makes fun of the stupid face of those who were wrong).

 

 

Before Rockstar and Lazlow put a focus on humorous dialog and parody commercials, Jellyvision was leading the charge, and this version of You Don’t Know Jack is a welcomed addition to that legacy. No joke falls flat (though Who’s The Dummy questions tend to drag on), comedy and video game tropes are subverted and inverted beautifully,  and commercials never fail to induce a laugh. Besides the writing, the voice acting is, put simply, a work of art. Nolan North ain’t got shit on Cookie Masterson. The lamest poop joke can be hilarious when read by him or any of the other, and numerous, characters. Speaking of characters, the typography is a character in itself. At first I was disappointed at the repetition in the question numbers, but I soon learned how they all have bizarre alternatives that, when they happen, are so funny and out of left field, you’ll likely screw up the question that follows.

Every episode follows a set path: 3 questions Dis Or Dat, then 6 questions, one of which being a special type, like Cookie’s Fortune, Nocturnal Admissions, etc followed by a Jack Attack. Dis Or Dat’s are a sort of rapid two choice 7 part question where you have to match a word or phrase to two very absurd categories. Jack Attacks are one of the most stressful things in the game. You get a clue and than have to match two words or phrases that relate to that clue. It works best in 4-player matches, and expect to get angry when someone gets the answer before you. Also, Jack Attacks, even though mostly silent, can have some of the best jokes if you pay attention. As for the special type questions, they are pretty much the same as normal 4 answer questions, except wrapped up in a very unique presentation.

Even with every episode adhering to this format, every episode feels fresh and unique, eve if you’ve played 10 of them in a row. At about 15 minutes an episode, you’re looking at hours of content, and with the very fair price of $5 for each DLC pack, you likely won’t be done with this game for a long time. If there is anything I can say against it, it would have to be the replayability, and even then, it’s hard to view it as a negative since that is par for the course in any trivia game. While the Wrong Answers of the Game give you reason to go back and play episodes, I don’t recommend doing so simply to get an achivement or trophy. Just because of the way the questions are formatted, a few weeks between playing an episode should allow you to enjoy an episode again, especially if you are playing with someone who hasn’t played said episode yet. Much like a really good comedy/stand-up album, hearing the jokes again doesn’t mean you won’t laugh.

Nothing is worse than doing blood math.

When it comes to which console to get YDKJ on, if you can, get the Xbox 360 version. While both versions are good in their own right, certain features of the 360 allow this game to truly shine. Parties  make starting games a breeze, and party chat is a good alternative to playing with people in your house. YDKJ is a true party game, the more people playing, the better. Having the near guarantee of headsets on the 360 makes every Live match a great experience since the concept of griefers don’t really exist here (except for the occasional Achievement whore). Everyone is playing for one reason, to laugh. While I’m sure players on the PS3 are playing for the same reasons, without the abundance of headsets and reliability of party support, it’s hard to recommend it for that system over the 360.  That being said, if the PS3 is all you have, I still highly recommend you buy the game. It’s virtually unchanged and playing with friends is still a madcap romp and/or goof-about.

As for the PC version, I have to say, I am severely disappointed. Considering the series’ PC roots, I was surprised to find this version lacking in many key features. It’s on Steam and has Steam Achievements, yet it’s multiplayer is only local and only 2-player at that. The original series was 3 player local, with the buzzers being Q, B, and P. Now, the PC version may have different types of questions to accommodate the system, such as the old “type in the answer” questions (much to Cookies dismay), but I highly doubt it. At face value, this version seems lacking and not a worthy rival to the console versions, but again, if it’s all you have, go for it. It’s only $20, compared to $40 on consoles and the writing is fantastic regardless of the system.

I went into this game as a fan of the series, and it has done nothing but reinforce that commitment. I was hesitant to its console push as first, but now I am fully embracing it. Jellyvision put so much time and effort into this game, and it easily shows at every corner. All the jokes are linked together in some weird way, the direction and voice acting is as good, if not better, than the original run of the series, and introduction of online multiplayer lets you enjoy the game with friends around the world, rather than just on your couch. It lost some features from the old PC versions, but gained so much more in the process. With 73 episodes and 2 DLC packs out with two more on the way, I can’t imagine this game leaving my disk drive anytime soon.

I give it 5 out of 5.
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy this game, buy it now. I cannot fathom how anybody could be disappointed with it.

(Note: This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game. A Nintendo DS review is possible, but not currently planned.)

About Addison

Addison is a bit of a jerk. His favorite game is The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. This is really all there is to him. Very hollow, very boring.