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Jackbox Party Pack 9 review — Better than ever

Not that the previous Packs were bad, but damn, ninth time's one huge charm.

The big issue with board games is that you need to set them up, and nobody ever wants to do that. That’s why Jackbox games are so great — as long as you have a PC and friends that haven’t yet killed their phone batteries, you can have a blast with minimal setup time. Jackbox Party Pack 9 keeps true to that promise, as the new title is filled with complete bangers.

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The newest set of party games has five on offer with one returning game and four new ones. Fibbage 4, the trivia game that’s also about fooling friends, is the newest iteration of the Jackbox all-star. Roomerang is another funny prompt game that has a reality TV twist. Junktopia invites you to buy random knick-knacks and sell them by inventing funny stories. For the more scientific players, Nonsensory has some drawing, writing, and vital guessing about what the other players are thinking. Finally, Quixort is trivia sorting kind of deal.

 

As usual, players log in by using their smartphones or other internet-enabled devices, like PCs, and going to jackbox.tv and entering the room code. Aside from accessibility options like having the code read aloud, Jackbox Party Pack 9 introduces login via QR code. It’s just one of increasing array of features that shows the devs are mindful of the streaming public.

Jackbox Party Pack 9 review: Quixort screen showing badly-sorted Spongebob Squarepants lyrics

My friends aren’t Spongebob scholars

I lie to you, you lie to me

A lot of people are happy to see the renewal of Fibbage. It’s a game of answering multiple choice trivia questions, but the false answers are provided by the other players. You get the double pleasure of guessing the right answer and seeing your friends stumble on your (believable) lies. There’s a reason why that game has a series of its own at this point. Plus, there’s Fibbage: Enough About You, the trivia game that involves answering questions and lying about your friends. One of my coworkers specifically asked about Fibbage being included, so you can say it is a popular one.

Roomerang allows you to create your own reality TV contestant with a name, avatar, and on special trait (like being a ne’er-do-well, stay-at-home dad, and so on). Next, everyone gets prompts of the Love Island-esque fashion (look, I don’t know what modern reality shows involve merely observing people mess around) and vote for the funniest. Being voted the best gives you special elimination round powers, with immunity being the most base one. And that’s not even all the features described!

Jackbox Party Pack 9 review: JcDent, a Grave Rober, claims that Gitare, a Garlic Farmer, is threatening to rub garlic all over the communal toilet paper

Just like real reality shows, it involves loads of stupid drama

Junktopia sees a wizard turn you all into frogs (Mondays, am I right?). The mad sorcerer sends you all into a pawn shop to buy old crap, then you get to make up a funny backstory for it. So, if you buy the cheapest junk and come up with the greatest pun, you have the best chances of striking it big and being turned back into a human.

Nonsensory combines drawing, writing, and guessing. A lot of the guessing is about the choices of other people. It takes some time to understand what’s happening, but it’s not at all tricky. Veteran Jackboxheads can imagine this as a funnier version of Guesspionage.

Jackbox Party Pack 9 review: people vote whether a crude drawing of car on a candy wrapper an image of a car or a candy

1. Vote 2. See the results 3. Loudly question the soundness of your friends’ judgement

Quixort is the one game I have mixed feelings about. It bids you to sort, say, movies from oldest to newest, with each title presented one at a time, falling onto the timeline. On one hand, people liked it and you can play it solo. Plus it has two gaming modes with their own crucial differences: normal and infinite.

On the other hand, it relies heavily on you knowing some quite specific American trivia, and the option to filter out that specific content didn’t seem to work. So yeah, your mileage may vary, but Quixort still manages to combine some of the greatest stuff you can expect from Jackbox: trivia, humor, and fun design.

It’s the opposite of Drawful

Jackbox Party Pack 9 is the strongest title in the series. All of the games have been favorably reviewed by the people I roped in for live trials, and I like all of them, even if some (Fibbage 4) are better than others (Quixort). Sure you could compare it to the Jackbox Party Pack 8: Job Job and Poll Mine slap, but I don’t even know if I played Weapons Drawn. And I’m sure I’ll never ask people to play Wheel of Enormous Proportions again.

Selling bullshit with made up stories? This is just eBay!

Part of the Party Pack‘s strength is in the game design itself. Fibbage 4 not only features Fibbage About You but also video questions and preposterous (but real) headlines. Junktopia and Nonsensory are great about playing into their concepts and, of course, no less funny or committed to the bit than the rest of them. Even Quixort has its cute touches – as well as the whole novel angle of sorting stuff on a spectrum/timeline/etc. With Roomerang, there’s one feature that’s not-at-all hidden that I don’t want to spoil in the review because it’s best experienced by yourself.

Local chad game reviewer uses a phone screenshot in a PC game review.

Another great selling point is that Jackbox Games pulled out all the stops when it comes to art. Jackbox always had good audio, especially with the abundance of voiced lines. But Jackbox Party Pack 9 is the triumph of the art department. Fibbage 4 stands out with modern designs hot from the furnace of online sensibilities. As one co-worker said, she wants every still from Fibbage 4 as a poster. It’s as slick as slick can be.

The other games aren’t slouches, either, but what’s more impressive is the care and attention given to the clients (i.e. the interfaces you see when you log into jackbox.tv). They were never shabby, but this is the first time I’ve heard people be audibly impressed. Quixort is probably the game that shines the brightest. Your sorting area looks like you’re playing an ancient handheld game, and during your off time, you’re invited to feed a Tamagotchi-like critter to keep your device awake.

Jackbox Party Pack 9 is a blast. Where it’s original, it’s great, delivering all the fun games and twists that we expect from Jackbox. When it reminds you of other Jackbox games, it’s always a favorable comparison. And as for Fibbage 4, the players would really love some posters.

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Jackbox Party Pack 9
Jackbox Party Pack 9 delivers the most powerful single entry since... I don't even know when! With one updated classic and four new games, it's a blast through and through.

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Author
Martynas Klimas
Always chasing that full-time-game-reviewer fairy. Perennially grumpy about Warhammer 40,000. Big fan of RTS, RPG, and FPS games. Has written for other sites. The only Lithuanian you know.