In the mid-‘90s, Jellyvision unleashed a PC quiz game called You Don’t Know Jack onto an unsuspecting public. Its blend of quirky trivia and smug sarcasm caught on in a big way, spawning an array of sequels, ports, and TV and online game-show adaptations. It’s been a decade since the game has been available on consoles, and the new installment—known simply as You Don’t Know Jack—is a great reminder of why it became such a phenomenon in the first place.
At its most basic, the game poses a series of 10 trivia questions to up to four players, followed by a lightning round of questions called Jack Attack. Host Cookie Masterson keeps the show running in a format that’s inspired as much by game shows as morning-radio sketch comedy. There are fake commercials, clever bumper animations between questions, and recurring characters and in-jokes. Writing is obviously paramount to a game like YDKJ, and the majority of the questions and jokes are top-notch.
For example, here’s a question called “I Heart Atom”:
Albert Einstein had written a romantic comedy about the atomic
relationship between neutrons and electrons, which Jenifer Aniston flick
would have provided the most appropriate title?
A) The Breakup
B) The Object Of My Affection
C) He’s Just Not That Into You
This is a fairly representative YDKJ question, which requires a working knowledge of both ordinary and pop culture. Part of the fun of the game is trying to decipher what exactly is being asked, and being the first to buzz in. Dis or Dat questions are another highlight, which require players to sort items by category. I especially liked one that had me determine whether proper nouns such as O-Zone, Cutter, and Take That were boy bands or brands of insect repellent.
Each session lasts
about 15 minutes total, and the game includes more than 70 different
episodes—and THQ promises more will be available as DLC after the game
is released. While it’s certainly possible to play alone, that
experience is lonely guy gaming at its finest—either get together with
some friends or connect online for the best experience. It’s a
competitive experience, but it’s also a great social game.
You Don’t Know Jack is proof that games don’t need to be excessively complex in order to be fun. Really, there’s not much to it aside from pressing the buttons that correspond with then right answers. Dinging the game on its simplicity really misses the point, though. If you have fond memories of the series or are in the market for an uproarious multiplayer game, it’s time for a Jack Attack.
(The answer to the earlier question by the way, is C) He’s Just Not That Into You.)