Rare are the men called Cookie; heck, even the women with that name have only been seen in fluorescent lighting whilst enjoying a career in ‘exotic’ dancing. But as the quizmaster in the trivia party game You Don’t Know Jack, Cookie Masterson is your go-to guy throughout the entirety of gameplay.
Fusing pop culture with deeply intellectual knowledge, this game requires you to be a homo universalis and no, that’s not an insult. The main point of You Don’t Know Jack is to make you chuckle. With its incredibly original questioning, which can merge multiple topics into one insane question; you’ll get a side of comedy with each delivery. The zany personality of your host Cookie makes the complete experience from this game a ride of laughs, while at the same time making you think.
The quiz is divided in 2 rounds of 5 questions each and then followed by a final round, where you’ll need to associate 2 words as they appear on your screen. Starting from regular, to double, to $4000 questions, each round ups the ante and can make you win big or lose horribly. Each failure will also be served with a side of contempt for your idiocy, as Cookie has no scrutiny to berate you, even when doing well. In addition, each question comes with a time limit and the faster the answer, the more the winnings. This puts a lot of pressure on answering correctly and adding the difficulty curve of the question, You don’t Know Jack is a lot more challenging than it might portray itself. It is advised that you keep a clear and calm mind and as Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy advises: Don’t panic!
Most questions will be simple multiple choice, where you get pitched a question such as: “Should Lady Gaga decide to perform whilst being naked on a horse, which historical person would best fit her description?” You’ll get to pick from 4 answers and will have 20 seconds to collect your thoughts and win money. Altering this classic form, some questions will be posed in mini-features, such as DisOrDat, where you need to associate a word with the appropriate subject matter. These features have a great way of keeping the fast nature of this inquisition intact, without becoming routine.
But whether you want to or not, there will always be some routine sinking in once you get to know the formula. Yes, the humor is undeniable and charming even, but you can only answer so much trivia before all blurs into one corny mess. As this game is a one trick pony, the only real difference comes from the incredible variety of questioning. Additionally, as all episodes are scripted, each is only playable once. This would’ve been a lot better if all questions were just randomly selected. But luckily, the game is up to date with all modern events, so it takes some of the dreary aspect away. It’s incredibly how topical it can get, actually. From The Jersey Shore to the Icelandic volcano eruptions; it seems everything was jammed in a week before release, it’s that recent.
This is true for all platforms, as that is how the game plays out. But there are a numerous differences for console and handheld games. Let’s start with consoles:
Apart from having a whopping 73 episodes with additional DLC, the console versions of You don’t Know Jack also offers some nice twists. In particular, a feature called the Wrong Answer Of The Game makes you seek out 1 particular wrong answer in the entire game; which you can use to win a cash price from the episode’s sponsor, even though the answer isn’t correct. In addition, a multiplayer game will also feature a screw, used for ‘screwing’ your opponent and force an answer out within 5 seconds. If wrong, that player is screwed and loses a lot of money to the assailant, but a backfire is equally possible!
This and the fact that a trivia is only fun if you can outsmart someone, makes You don’t Know Jack an awesome party game. Add to that online support for up to four players and Leaderboards. Top it off with the same whacky trophies as the overall game humor and what you get is an entertaining ride you’ll want to show off to others worldwide.
Now, the handheld version with its 37 episodes is a bit more limited, but still has hundreds of challenging questions. Also, the portable aspect makes You Don’t Know Jack on DS a much more accessible trivia game, as you can play it on the go. Even better, you can actually skip the question intros by pressing start; being a breath of fresh air after you've witnessed the same cutscene a billion times.
Unfortunately, the multiplayer aspect is weirdly executed at best. Two players each get assigned a side of the DS, which will make for very awkward playing, unless you’re really familiar with the other person’s personal space. It’s not wise to play this with siblings or other relatives you don’t want to end up kissing by accident; due to the proximity players need to be of each other. Although admirable that You Don’t Know Jack willingly abandons the formula of having to own multiple devices, perhaps offering a single card multiplayer would’ve been a better option.
Making matters worse, the game offers no internet accessibility whatsoever. As there is only a limited amount of content that can’t be replenished; the accessibility of portable play is heavily offset by a game with no real replay value, due to its scripted nature. Why there is no connectivity at all is quite puzzling, as this could’ve made the game an instant party favorite amongst friends worldwide. Still, You Don’t Know Jack on DS has a lot to offer, but is better passed off to mothers worldwide; who will chuckle at Cookie’s wit, without feeling the need to bash literary skull online.
While each platform has its strengths, it’s obvious that the consoles have the upper hand. As You Don’t Know Jack is primarily a party game; being able to play against many others and adding new material will make this game last a long while, beyond its current topical state. Whether you’re in the comfort of your own couch with friends or online; being able to crush spirits in peace is always uplifting, as schadenfreude always is.
It’s strange that the portable version of You Don’t Know Jack chose to go the way it did, as its friendly attempt at party play only brings the game down and adding online support would’ve made it a ton better. As Cookie would say: It’s not bad, but certainly not great.
Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed.