The 1995 video game series You Don’t Know Jack quickly rose to fame as one of the best comedic trivia games of the late 20th century. This popular game was developed by Jackbox Games, which gave the game not one but seven new expansion packs in the past seven years. Each pack has five different games designed to appeal to all kinds of players and has become the staple of social gatherings and online livestreams.
Jackbox Party Packs can be purchased on devices such as Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. All players need is a fun group of friends or family and a device to play on. Anywhere from one to eight people can play at a time and an infinite number of other people can participate as the game’s “audience.” After entering the specific room code, players can type answers and draw masterpieces that are then projected onto a TV or computer screen for everyone else to observe and laugh at.
In the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jackbox Games sales jumped up to 1000% and their player base doubled to 200 million by October 2020. Instead of gathering in person with their friends and family, many decided to play their favorite Jackbox games on Zoom calls. Popular YouTube and Twitch channels are still playing several of the party packs with their followers on livestreams, guaranteeing a good time for everyone involved.
Not all Jackbox Party Packs are held in such high esteem, however. There are several packs that fans have decided are not worth purchasing. Without further ado, here are the best and worst Jackbox Party Packs based on personal preference and the opinions of several other Jackbox fans:
This party pack is considered the least popular party pack among Jackbox fans; however, it still contains some games that are worth playing every now and then. The highlight of this pack is Mad Verse City, a lyric-writing game in which the person who writes the best rhyming couplets wins. The pressure of writing disses that rhyme and are funny at the same time is difficult, especially with a short time limit, but it tends to be worth it for especially creative groups.
Games like Split the Room and Patently Stupid are also quite entertaining for large streaming groups, but not so much for smaller in-person groups. Split the Room is a game of “Would You Rather?” but with the main objective of coming up with controversial, divisive scenarios that would split the room in half. The complexity of the rules in this game often turns players away. Patently Stupid is a drawing game in which players solve problems by drawing inventions and writing creative slogans. While it can make way for some good laughs, the drawing games from the other packs fare much better.
It is impressive to see Jackbox developers branching away from “write-a-funny” type games and taking the initiative to experiment, but it didn’t seem to pay off well in this pack. The action game Zeeple Dome is considered Jackbox’s worst game according to many fans. In this game, players fling their characters at aliens to defeat them. The nature of flinging a character from a mobile device to a TV or computer screen is uncomfortable, to say the least.
One of the main reasons why the first Jackbox party pack is ranked second to last is because many of the games have been updated in newer party packs, so skipping this one seems like a no-brainer. Chris Compendio, a writer from Gamepur, ranks this pack similarly, writing, “The original Jackbox Party Pack built an excellent foundation for future titles, although it is admittedly tough to go back to.”
Trivia games such as You Don’t Know Jack 2015 and Fibbage XL get a fresh face in future party packs. The biggest complaint about the You Don’t Know Jack game in this pack is that it only allows up to four people to play at a time, a number that gets doubled in pack five. Fibbage, a bluffing game in which players attempt to convince others that their trivia answer is correct, gets two rehashes in party packs two and four with fun and fresh aesthetics as well as a greater variety of trivia questions.
The star of this party pack is the drawing game Drawful, made popular by YouTube streamers like Smosh Games, KittyKatGaming and Markiplier. It’s similar to the game Pictionary, but with prompts that are bizarre and difficult to draw within the time limit. Drawing games such as Drawful are where most Jackbox packs seem to shine the brightest, likely inspiring later games such as Tee K.O., Civic Doodle and Champ’d Up.
The second Party Pack is another pack that you can safely skip for similar reasons as the first. Many of the games are obsolete and repetitive. For example, the game of Earwax has players combining pre-made sound bites in response to a prompted situation. Eric Van Allen, a writer from USgamer, writes, “Earwax has some great ideas but is mostly limited to the capabilities of the system, rather than the creativity of players.” This game might be perfect for those who think fart jokes and bomb explosions are funny.
Bidiots and Bomb Corp. are among the most difficult Jackbox games. Bidiots has players auctioning off each other’s drawings but it is criticized for being one of the least engaging drawings games due to the long rounds and overly complex economic system. Bomb Corp., a bomb-defusing game, was one of the first collaborative games that Jackbox put out and has a unique cooperative façade. It doesn’t appear to be popular among streamers, however, and it only allows up to four players at a time. The stress induced by the possible explosion and the confusing rules make this game skippable in the eyes of fans. Van Allen writes, “The best Jackbox games can run along at a leisurely pace that doesn’t demand heavy attention,” and these two games do the opposite.
This pack was the first to introduce Quiplash, a fan favorite of many. In this game, up to eight players compete to come up with the funniest fill-in-the-blank answers based on prompts that appear on the screen. Jimmy Fallon favors playing this Jackbox game on “The Tonight Show” with special guests and members of the show’s band. Two other packs have updated versions of Quiplash with more generated prompts and even the ability for people to create and upload their own. Other than Quiplash, this pack is not very memorable.
Cass Marshall from Polygon describes this pack as an “all-rounder” due to the variety of games. Games like Trivia Murder Party 2 and Push the Button made this party pack popular. Trivia Murder Party games make players answer absurdly difficult trivia questions to escape without perishing. Many fans enjoy playing this game because, whether you die or not, everyone has a chance at winning the end. Both Trivia Murder Party 1 and 2 are ranked highly on Reddit user Agent Clyde’s list, mainly because “the penalties for answering wrong are what makes this game so fun.” Some of these penalties include chopping off fingers and spinning from the Loser Wheel. The theming of the trivia questions and the overall spooky aesthetics make this game a fan favorite.
Push the Button translates to games like Mafia and Among Us. The game is intense and requires a lot of attention from its players, but it still gets fairly high ratings from fans. Jackbox fanatics like Cathy McCarthy from USgamer claim that Push the Button has “too much going on” and rank it among one of the worst games Jackbox has created.
The other three games, Role Models, Joke Boat and Dictionarium, do not get as high of ratings from fans because they don’t give players enough opportunities to showcase their creativity. These three games — a personality assigning game, a comedy contest and a word challenge test — are games that fans don’t often revisit. Fans commend Jackbox for their interesting new ideas but describe these games as awkward and unfunny.
The fourth party pack is a good pack for close friends that are comfortable being brutally honest (or dishonest) with each other. However, it may not be one to play with new friends or fledgling Jackbox players. Here, the developers began to get creative with brand-new games like Civic Doodle and experiment with more vibrant colors like in the ’70s style of Fibbage 3. One of Jackbox’s most mean-spirited games is Survive the Internet, in which players write article headings to roast their friends.
Monster Seeking Monster is another game that requires a specific crowd and has inspired players to bend the rules a bit. This game has players messaging and dating their friends as monsters with special powers. The dating aspect can be awkward to play with family, so Agent Clyde recommends playing this game as a social deduction game rather than a dating game. If players disguise their name and attempt to figure out which person they’re dating, it can be “an absolute blast” that “nails the balance between strategy, communication and social deduction.”
Games like Bracketeering and Civic Doodle are interesting choices but are not games that Jackbox fans often gravitate toward. Civic Doodle is great for groups of especially artistic players as they compete to enhance town murals. Bracketeering is similar to Quiplash, where you come up with the funniest responses to prompts, but in a bracket-style competition. Most players agree that both of these games are geared more toward popular YouTube and Twitch channels that allow for more audience participation rather than small groups.
The most recent Jackbox party pack is what Eric Ravenscraft from WIRED Magazine calls “the first perfect pack” that “has so many bases thoroughly covered that you don’t need to buy another one to entertain a crowd for an entire night.” Ravenscraft and several other Jackbox fans consider Champ’d Up to be the highlight of this pack. In this drawing game, players draw and name competitors that go head-to-head in boxing matches with other players’ creations for titles like “Champion of Being the Third Wheel.” Agent Clyde from Reddit sings its praise, ranking it as the number one best Jackbox game, even for those who can’t draw.
Blather ‘Round, Quiplash 3 and Talking Points are great games for those who are good with writing and speaking abilities. With a limited vocabulary, players in Blather ‘Round attempt to describe a secret prompt for others to guess. Talking Points is another game that players cannot get their hands off of but may not be suitable for those who still have nightmares about high school presentations. This game has players giving a speech on the spot about picture and text slides controlled by an assistant player. And how could one resist another update to the Quiplash game? Quiplash type games are always a crowd-pleaser but this one falls a bit short of being the best Quiplash game. Not much has changed except the “visual facelift,” as described by Compendio from Gamepur.
The only game that bombed on this pack was The Devils and the Details, the coloration game that encourages players to work together to complete mundane tasks by speaking out loud and moving around the room. “It’s a game designed to be chaotic,” Ravenscraft explains, and the “messy gameplay” is not for everyone, especially if it isn’t played in person.
The number one best pack that Jackbox creators have made is the Jackbox Party Pack 3. There’s something for every kind of player in this pack, including a game for Quiplash lovers, two trivia guessing games, a drawing competition and a social deduction game. Compendio describes Quiplash 2, Trivia Murder Party and Tee K.O. as “the best trifecta that any Jackbox party pack could contain.”
Tee K.O. is one of the highest-rated Jackbox games to date. “It’s probably the game I’ve gotten the most overall enjoyment out of,” writes Agent Clyde. In this game, each player submits a drawing and a slogan for other players to choose from. The person with the funniest shirt wins the game. Players can even purchase their favorite T-shirts at the end of the game to wear out in public.
Games outside this “trifecta” are also worthy of playing and are often overlooked. Guesspionage is “like Family Feud meets The Price is Right” as described by Agent Clyde. This game has players attempting to guess percentages of global statistics. Fakin’ It is also an underrated game that deserves more recognition. One person is randomly chosen as the “faker” who has to try to blend in as the other players answer questions and prompts such as “point to the person who probably has the most unopened emails.” Actions like these may give away the faker, who has no idea what the prompt is. Van Allen says that, with a good group of liars, this game “can be the life of the Jackbox party.”
If the annual trend continues, Jackbox fans could be seeing a new party pack sometime this year. The task of creating a party pack that appeals to all gamers is daunting, but developers should continue to listen to their fans’ comments and critiques to create another number one-ranked pack. Jackbox players respond best to packs with creative drawing competitions, new aesthetics, upgrades on classic games as well as innovative new games with simplistic rules.
The next time you party with friends and family, be sure to grab the Jackbox Party Packs 3 and 7 for some pee-your-pants kinds of laughs and memories you’ll cherish for years to come.