Monday, April 11, 2011

Review: You Don't Know Jack

I've been a trivia buff for many years now, but most of my video game trivia experience goes back many years, back when questions were randomly drawn from a question pool and inserted into the game. Soon, duplicate questions popped up and the games became very easy.

Yes, that's many years ago.

I never played the You Don't Know Jack series on the PC, and I couldn't tell you why. I did, however, pick up the new edition that's been put out by Jellyvision games, and I have to say that I don't know what I've been missing. This game is awesome!

The format of the game is that of a fictional game show, hosted by the ever-irreverent Cookie Masterson (voiced by Tom Gottlieb), and you are playing for lots of money. The faster you answer each question, the more money you get (or lose, if you get it wrong). There are also question variations, such as "Dis or Dat", where you're given seven names and you have to choose if the name is one category or another (as pictured above). Each game consists of three rounds, two 5-question rounds and then a "Jack Attack," where you can win big money. The object is...wait for it...to win the most money!


The presentation in You Don't Know Jack is fabulous, with great graphics and, most importantly, sound quality. The audio is fantastic, with jokes coming a mile a minute, even when you're not playing the game. If you skip the introduction, the director might call you out for being impatient. If you're playing alone, Cookie makes reference to this as well. It may even recognize if you're playing alone on a Friday night and make a comment about that (and doing so can even get you an achievement, which is one I earned quickly).

The questions cover a variety of subjects, from pop culture to science to math and sports. And they're always worded in that uniquely Jack way, occasionally in such a way that I didn't actually understand the question.


The game avoids the pitfalls of previous trivia video games by containing 73 structured episodes, each containing its own questions. Thus, you will never have repeat questions unless you repeat the episode. It's a treat to know that you're always going to be getting something new. One unfortunate side effect of this, though, is that random online multiplayer can be hit or miss, depending on who's hosting and what episode they're on (or they choose). I once played a single-player game and then hopped online, and we just happened to play the episode I had just finished. It's not very fun that way.

There are just so many wonderfully quirky things in the game, little touches that add to the player's enjoyment. The "Wrong Answer of the Game" is one such item. Each game is sponsored by some outrageous product (a baby tanning bed?), and this is a clue. If you find a wrong answer in the game that fits that clue, instead of losing money you'll win big bucks.



The only downside in You Don't Know Jack is that sometimes the humour gets a little forced. That being said, much like the Naked Gun movies, if a joke bombs, there are plenty right around the corner.

While you can play solo (and I do, often), You Don't Know Jack is at its best when it's played against other people. It's the ultimate party game! There is 4-player local and online multiplayer, though the online multiplayer can lag a little bit. You can set up a multiplayer party or just find some random opponents online. Either one works, though obviously playing with friends is a lot better.

You Don't Know Jack is a must-buy for any trivia buff. Just remember to come up for air.

Rating: 9/10

3 comments:

Anahid said...

I can't believe you never played this on the PC when it first came out! You totally missed out. =P

Dave said...

Oh, I know! I do regret it. I just, for some reason, never gave it a try.

How was the presentation in the old days?

Anahid said...

It wasn't too bad considering it was a 90s computer game, you know? But I'm sure things have improved a lot with graphics, etc. over the years.

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