The 10 year mark is often a proving ground for a lot of things in the world of entertainment. Something that has been around for 10 years has usually established itself in its fanbase, but can games or tv shows really retain their magic after so long in the world?
It was at season 10 of The Simpsons where it began its slow decline into mediocrity, losing a lot of the spark that made it so iconic. But on the flipside, it was the 10th iteration of Final Fantasy that opened that franchise up to an expanded demographic. So where does Jackbox sit in this spectrum? After 10 years of making party packs that entertain the masses, does the 10th game stand up to the test of time? Or is it time for the party to finally end?
Jackbox Party Pack 10 contains five brand new games; four completely new IPs and one long awaited sequel. Over the course of this week I grabbed my ragtag group of idiot friends and we tested out each game to see if Jackbox Games still has the magic after 10 years.
The first game we tried was not only a brand new title, but also an entirely new concept for the Jackbox team; and one they were very excited to tell me about during our interview at PAX in Melbourne earlier this year. This game, Do-Do-Re-Mi, is a bit like Guitar Hero, but Jackbox style. You pick a song, you pick your instrument and then you tap your phone in rhythm with bubbles as they appear on screen. If you hit enough correct notes, the carnivorous plant you’re trying to please gets to nom down on all your delicious harmonies. If you fail, the carnivorous plant eats you and all your bird buddies. Because of course you’re a bird trying to escape death from a carnivorous plant. Why wouldn’t you be?
My biggest surprises in this mode were that the Jackbox team managed to pick songs that were iconic enough to be easily recognisable, but remixed in a way that they felt new to play. My favourite was definitely the dubstep version of Row Row Row Your Boat, which if you haven’t heard, you haven’t lived. The more you play, the more songs you unlock, making it a great contender for repeat plays.
Next up was Tee.K.O 2, a game that should be familiar to Jackbox fans. The hilarious game where you make your own t-shirt using drawings and slogans from your friends is back, this time with new font choices, and garment types! The final round of Tee. K.O 2 is also different, and now utilises a tap mechanic where players tap their favourite shirt/hoodie/tank-top at the end to determine a winner.
This game retained a lot of the ridiculous humour that made the first one great, but the lacklustre final round and myriad of technical glitches made the new mode hard to play. There were a number of times we had to refresh the game on our phones because we lost the ability to draw, and often the screen wouldn’t pick up on what we were drawing – meaning huge chunks of our designs got lost. I also didn’t feel that the tap mechanic added anything to the final round, but maybe in a bigger group (or with audience participation) this new final round would be more fun.
Time Jinx is a time travelling trivia game, transporting you into the future and the past to answer questions about history and pop culture. As someone with almost no ability to retain historical knowledge, this game was definitely not my jam, but for those who love a good bit of history trivia, Time Jinx hits the mark.
Time Jinx balances the historical questions with a good dose of pop culture and modern history trivia, which (if answered correctly) can almost save you from an embarrassing loss when you don’t know the answer to anything else. However the game is pretty punishing, and the final round mechanic, which rewards your right answers by lowering your score, is of no good to people who just plain don’t know shit about history. My trivia junkie mates loved this title, but it’s just not for me.
Hypnotorious is another game that won’t be going on my repeat list. This social deduction game gives all players a unique identity that falls into a broader category. The aim is to group yourself with others you think fall into the same category as you do, whilst keeping an eye out for the outlier: someone who doesn’t fall into any of the categories at all. For example, you could have three players who are foods, all looking for the outlier who might be a beverage.
The tutorial for this one was long winded, and didn’t do a great job of telling you what you had to do. When all other games in this pack are so quick to pick up and learn, it was weird seeing something in the mix that stretched our attention spans to their limits. I felt this game was one of the weaker ones in the pack, but I can definitely see how it might appeal to groups who are in the mood for something with a bit more substance than a regular party game.
The final game in the pack is possibly one of my favourites, another new concept for the Jackbox team. FixyText splits your party up into groups and puts you in the drivers seat of editing text messages for people. It’s a free for all text editor that gives players the freedom to write the most depraved, stupid shit you can think of. The whole game is unhinged, degenerate madness and it’s amazing. I tried to take many screenshots during our playthrough to showcase in this article and after censoring this one… this is all I have left.
FixyText is an absolute banger of a game; I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. The brilliance of this is that the replay value comes from the creativity of the players – it’s the sort of game where you’ll never see the same thing twice. At least I hope not… because seeing some of those sentences once is enough.
After 10 years of making brilliant party pack games, Jackbox Games manages to hold onto the magic that makes their games great. Whilst I don’t think every game in this pack was a winner, the ones that stood out did so in such a way that they’ll keep my group of friends coming back to them for a long while. If you’ve liked any of the other party packs, you’ll like this one too.