Jackbox Party Pack 6 (Switch) Review
The Jackbox Party Pack series has become a multiplayer staple in recent years. With a new pack out each year, the stream of new additions has kept them in regular rotation at my game nights since their inception. Now in its sixth iteration, this year’s entry sees Jackbox borrow ideas heavily from previous years and other games. It may not be the most innovative collection, but it’s one of the most consistent packs yet that is devoid of complete stinkers.
For those who’ve somehow missed this franchise up to this point, each pack is a collection of party games played using your phone as a controller. Over the years we’ve been asked to write, draw and choose things on our screens in a huge variety of games. Streaming features and family-friendly settings have been added over time, but the core concept has remained very familiar. These packs are five distinct games in one, so we’ll look at them individually. Let’s get this party started.
Trivia Murder Party 2
Trivia Murder Party is back in a sequel to its first outing from Jackbox Party Pack 3 and is quite possibly the best trivia-style Jackbox game to date. Putting a lighter spin on many horror movie tropes, one to eight players answer trivia questions as they try to escape. The questions are typically asked in strange roundabout ways with a horror spin, but it makes for an entertaining twist on basic trivia. Correct answers reward players with money, whilst those who get it wrong a sent to the Killing Floor where a minigame will decide which player dies and becomes a ghost.
All is not lost if you suffer an unfortunate fate, as ghosts still play along and have a chance to reclaim the final living body on the dash to the finish line. The final sprint gives points for each correct answer, of which there are normally multiple. The ghosts get three choices instead of two, allowing them to catch up more quickly. This game is a ton of fun and is a great twist on the traditional trivia formula. The aesthetic is excellent, the variety of ebb and flow of the scoreboard is balanced nicely, and it remains entertaining across multiple playthroughs. Thumbs up on this one.
How well can you organise your friends into vaguely described categories? That’s the premise of Role Models, where one person selects a category, and everyone decides where each player best fits amongst that group of options. Maybe the category is Keanu Reeves, and you have to decide which of your friends belongs in John Wick, and which belongs in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Points are awarded if you pick the consensus, and ties are decided by a face-off to try to split them up.
The objective is that by the end of the game, each player will have a comically long string of adjectives painting a colourful description of their personality, but because only one person can be put in each category, you won’t always be able to describe people as best they can, and the options available won’t always suit anyway. The end result may be entertaining even if not entirely accurate, but the game getting there isn’t that exciting. I don’t see myself returning to this one again. After a couple of plays, my friends were happy to not return to this one again.
Have you ever longed to be a C-grade stand-up comic aboard a cruise ship? Well, Joke Boat is just the game to satisfy your oddly specific career ambition. Much like many other games Jackbox games with a prompt and response structure, you’ll write the set-up to a joke which another player then finishes off with a punchline. Two comics then face off with everyone else deciding who was funnier. The final round sees everyone re-writing the punchline to previous jokes to try to outdo the original.
Due to the nature of having to try writing a funny joke, the entertainment you’ll get out of this one depends on how humorous and quick-witted your playing group is. Sometimes you can just get a dud set-up that’s hard to finish. Thankfully you get the choice to read out the joke yourself, and good delivery can salvage a shipwreck of a joke. This game has its moments, the art style is great, but unfortunately, it’s a little slow-paced, not all of the prompts leave much room to work with, and other similar Jackbox games have done this premise better.
In today’s internet culture where new words are seemingly birthed at random weekly, Dictionarium feels like an apt inclusion. You’re presented with a made-up word or slang phrase to write a definition for, the best of which is voted to continue through. Players then write a synonym for it, and then finally use it in a sentence.
This one is alright, but very much depends on the strength of the original definition that makes it through. If you’re stuck with a mediocre word and meaning, it continues throughout the whole game which can limit the enjoyment of subsequent phases. Thankfully rounds are short, so you’re never stuck with a bad option for very long. This works best as a quick time filler between other games and is worthy of a few return visits.
Push the Button
The jewel in this collection’s crown is Push the Button, a game that will feel very familiar to anyone that’s played party games such as Mafia or Werewolves. This time it’s a crew of humans aboard a spaceship, but not everyone is the homo sapien they appear to be – one or more of the crew are secretly aliens. It’s up to humans to try to deduce who amongst them is being deceitful and kick their slimy butt out the airlock before time runs out.
Players take turns to captain the ship, choose a small selection of the crew that is perhaps acting suspicious and force them to partake in an activity in order to try figure out who’s from another planet. Activities range from answering questions, drawing a picture or relaying information to the captain. Humans get the correct prompts for these activities, but the aliens get slightly incorrect ones that might which give away their identity (akin to Fakin’ It from Jackbox Party Pack 3). Complicating this is that partway through the game aliens gain the limited ability to hack the games to either get the correct response themselves or send the bung prompt to a human.
It’s a classic game of lying, deception and manipulation. Humans have to protest their innocence, and aliens have to deflect and paint guilt onto others wherever a seed of doubt may sprout. Between rounds, players can “push the button” and convince the group to evict a player they’re convinced is an alien. Get it right and the game continues until all aliens are gone but get it wrong even once and the aliens will flush everyone out into the void.
This game is a riot. Volume levels during our playthroughs likely reached a point that concerned the neighbours, and the level of mind games in play makes for some intense moments both during and after the game is over. There’s a lot going on in this, but once everyone has a feel for it after your first time through, you’re in for a wild time.
Jackbox Party Pack 6 is another solid addition to the franchise. It follows the tradition of featuring a couple of standout hits, some decent entries and one that probably won’t get a second look. Despite borrowing ideas heavily from prior packs, the highlights here are great and both Trivia Murder Party 2 and Push the Button alone make it worth the price of admission. It’s not the strongest Jackbox pack, but it’s still one of the best casual multiplayer experiences for gamers and non-gamers alike.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
+ Push the Button is fantastic
+ So is Murder Trivia Party 2
+ The presentation is top-notch
- Role Models falls a little flat
- Borrows ideas heavily from previous packs