Review: You Don't Know Jack

You Don't Know Jack is definitely one of the best video game series you've never played.  It's one of those that has a bit of a cult following, yet anytime I introduce it to people, the reception is always a positive one.  Now they've finally released it to consoles!  I'll be anxious to see the sales figures for it, but sadly this does not entirely live up to the glory of its predecessors.  It still does an excellent job and is certainly worth the $30 price tag.  Yes, a new disc game at half the price you'd normally expect!
This review is sponsored by...
Buzz, the Mega Quiz!  Let's be honest folks, we don't really know what we're doing here.  We're so bad at our jobs, we had to get a sponsor from our competition.  Buzz really knows what it's doing and makes sure you do the same.  When you really want to have a good time, make sure you get Buzz-ed first.

For those who are not familiar with the series, YDKJ is a trivia game that goes far beyond what the genre typically does.  It models itself after a game show and comedy is always right up front.  Really, the best way to understand it is to experience it, so let me bring up a sample question from one of the many YDKJ games.
Yes, Superman can be your leaf-blower, quick-freezer, and I believe his X-Ray vision is what's responsible for locating germs.  He cannot erase electronic data with magnetism.  He can just, you know, break whatever he wants.  This kind of stuff is pretty much par for the course from Jellyvision, and sometimes the challenge is more figuring out what the question is even asking than what the right answer is.  Now, this screenshot is not taken from the console game.  In previous titles, the first player to buzz in got to answer.  Now you simply have a timer for how quickly you answer determining how much the question is worth, and everyone gets a shot at it.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, of course.  There's a lot of great features for this game.  The trademark system is how it allows you to screw an opponent once per game, forcing them to answer within 5 seconds.  If they get it wrong, they lose the question's value and you get that much.  What's better, this version actually allows you to try answering it right to get even more cash!  You gotta be careful with the screw, though.  If they get it right, you're the one that gets screwed by losing the cash.  There's the Dis Or Dat question, listing off 7 things and you have to quickly choose whether it's one of two categories.  For example, is "chinese anise" a spice or a fashion faux paus from too-tight clothing?  How about "monoboob?"  Then there's the Jack Attack, where there's a universal clue and you have to find the two things on the screen that match together with it.  For example, if the clue is BFFs and "Spongebob Squarepants" comes up, you'll want to press in when you see "Patrick Star."  Both of these modes are absolutely relentless in their pressure.
The whole thing is modeled to be like a game show from start to finish.  Each of the 76 episodes has a specific sponsor who gets a little bit of product placement in their "wrong answer of the game."  Find the 1 wrong answer that's related to the sponsor in the episode and, though you technically got it wrong, you'll get double the maximum value of the question in cash as well as a product from that sponsor (take note, achievement hunters).  Let's have a little fun with that.  Let's say that vikings want to start raiding again and they use a comic strip viking for their mascot.  Based on this, what word would best describe how the new vikings will act?  I've underlined 4 possible answers in this review.  Find the "wrong answer of the game" related to our sponsor.  I don't really have any mechanical way of making it work, so I'll just reveal the right & special wrong answer at the end.  Anyway, on with the review.
The announcer Cookie is with you throughout the show, and it's really just like he happens to be there.  He goes far beyond the scope of the questions.  He has smart-ass comments for almost every wrong answer and whatever status the players currently have.  When the show's not "on the air," they have a collection of audio commercials that sound like they were taken from every single YDKJ game in the past!  They're worth a listen by themselves, and will definitely motivate you to get the achievement for watching the credits.
This is an excellent game, but sadly there are some horrible disappointments for a long-time fan like myself.  First, the episodes are all pre-scripted with exactly 10 questions each.  Previous installations would let you choose between 3 categories for each question, so the various episodes would play out differently each time.  Also, with 76 episodes like this that each should take about 10-15 minutes, you could easily binge and ruin the game for yourself.  This is a game meant to be replayed a lot as a party game, so unlike other games where you're happy to go through the 8 hours by yourself, you kinda have to wait for the right moments when you can share it with your friends.  I also miss the parts where you would type in answers, especially the Gibberish Question (think Mad Gab).  The tradition of saying "*** you" to the game is still here though; if you create contestant with that name, the producer will be disgusted enough to give you something embarrassing, instead.
These things would make me regret buying the game if it was a full-price game, but at $30, it's definitely a fine thing to get.  I would strongly suggest you not play this game online except with people you know and can agree you haven't played the episode in question before.  It's a decent game to play alone, but you'll really get the full benefit with friends sitting next to you.  Oh yeah, and there's one more feature.
Right answer: Hagar the Horrible has had a special spot in comic strips (and my heart) since 1973.  Considering he doesn't ever really do any pillaging and mostly just lounges around the castle, I'd say he fits more as Hagar the Fat-Ass.
Wrong answer: Considering his answer to "the peasants are revolting" tends to be that yes, they really are a revolting sort, he's only relentless in sitting on his keester.
But the good people at Relentless Software are far too busy to sit on their butts.  You just won a set of special trivia controllers for Buzz! the Mega Quiz!  What's more, these are special prototypes used by all their interns during playtesting, so this is truly a prize for collectors.  Warning: due to negative reinforcement testing by Relentless Software, electrical insulation is not included these controllers.  Consult a physician before answering any question... you friggin' cheater!  These special controllers are also completely compatible with this game, so for those of you who already love trivia enough to have gotten this product, you now have 2 games that can use them!  Huzzah!


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