Jackbox games have been making party games I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid – they’ve been at it that long. I can remember the original You Don’t Know Jack releases and the slew of sequels that came after, where kids would huddle around a single computer with different keys as buzzers. Times have changed, and now The Jackbox Party Pack has become a mainstay for parties around the world, not only allowing friends to crowd around a TV playing on their phones, but also online via streaming on Twitch, YouTube or similar. Like every Party Pack released so far, the just-released Jackbox Party Pack 8 has some winners and some clunkers, but it definitely adds some new laughs for you and your mates.
First up is Drawful: Animate, for 3-10 players, which takes the basic concept of Drawful from earlier Jackbox games and adds two frames of animation. The concept is simple and easy for players to understand – everyone is given some phrases from which they have to make two-frame basic animations illustrating the concept. Later, the animations are shown to the entire party sans-phrase, and everyone has the chance to make up their own caption to describe the image. Finally, everyone’s suggestions are shown on screen including the actual phrase, and everyone has to sniff out what was the original phrase. Drawful always was fun and animating doesn’t shake up the concept so much as it just adds another opportunity for jokes that players can sneak into their images. Fun stuff.
The Wheel of Enormous Proportions is a trivia game reminiscent of You Don’t Know Jack, for 2-8 players. It’s a little overcomplicated compared to the simplicity of YDKJ, with a sentient overbearing golden wheel acting as host, asking players trivia questions with multiple correct answers. The more correct you are the more points your receive, and the most ‘slices’ you’re awarded to place on the eponymous Wheel. At the end of a round, everyone places their slices on the wheel and take turns spinning, with those who spread out their slices more likely to receive the plentiful points on offer if the wheel lands one of theirs. Players can’t qualify to win the game until they clear 20,000 points and as point rewards increase and random luck comes into play, there’s more upsets than you might otherwise expect from a trivia game. It can be difficult to follow, but this one also kept everyone engaged.
Job Job is the surprise sleeper hit of the package, for 3-10 players. With an Office Space-like veneer of corporate parody, Job Job gets players to write statements or mini-essays in response to ‘ice breaker’ questions. Then, the words used to compose these answers are all jumbled up, and given to players as groups of random words they’re allowed to re-arrange to form answers to job interview questions. It sounds odd, but basically the more off-the-wall your players can get with their ice breaker responses, the funnier and more hilarious your jumbled answers to basic interview responses will be. Of the games in this collection, this one definitely had us laughing the hardest.
The Poll Mine is a shorter game, for 2-10 players, although audience viewers can also take part. It’s kind of a take on the Family Feud poll format, where everyone ranks their preferences for a certain topic, like ‘favourite old-school desktop screensavers’, which gets tabulated by the game. Players get separated into two teams, who then have to successfully sort out where every answer lies on the board, sometimes having to pick the top 3, or middle options, or even work from the bottom backwards. Successful picks will see that team survive and escape the mine their characters are trapped in, while wrong answers will rob a team of life-protecting torches. I’ve seen this one getting a good response online, which is why it was surprising it fell flat for us. Maybe because we’re still in lockdown and playing online, the discussion aspect between teams didn’t work so well, and this would work better local in front of a TV, but its brief rounds were easily our least favourite.
Finally, Weapons Drawn has the most complex setup, for 4-8 players, and might be more of an acquired taste. Players are cast as dinner party guests who are detectives as well as murderers. Each players has a calling card – a letter of their username – which they must include in a drawing of their murder weapons. Each player also names two guests they have brought along, who are targets for everyone to murder when the lights go out. Murders are only successful if a player is able to successfully guess which guest was brought by which player. Afterwards, players as detectives are able to see the murder weapon used in the successful murders, and have to vote amongst themselves who is the guilty party. There’s lots of ways to obfuscate guilt and sabotage others, from drawing misleading lettering in your murder weapons, to conversation when discussing the murders. It takes a while to play out, yet ends in a mass of chaos at the end as any unsolved murders get voted on in a frenzy. Not everyone was a fan of Weapons Drawn, and it wasn’t as funny as Drawful or Job Job, but it still might make for an interesting murder party evening.
As with every Jackbox collection of games, Jackbox Party Pack 8 is a mixed bag which has some clear winners, and some games that might only appeal to a few. There’s nothing here as instantly iconic and replayable as Quiplash or Tee K.O., but Job Job and Drawful are fun spins on concepts we’ve kind of seen before in previous packs. There’s no one game included this time around which makes this a must-buy, but as a collection it once again offers great value as a new bunch of games to try out with your friends. Some games are utterly hilarious, a couple are a little tedious, but it’s comforting to know the Jackbox Party Pack series will carry on regardless, coming up with more and more party game ideas.
-Five games in one -Job Job and Drawful: Animate are winners
-Weapons Drawn and The Wheel may be acquired tastes -The Poll Mine doesn't play great unless you're in the room and can discuss, or you're a streamer with a large audience chat