There’s a standout star of Jackbox Party Pack 10

There's a standout star of Jackbox Party Pack 10

A decade in, Jackbox Games has established itself as a master of the mini-game format – and this latest crop of games from the annual franchise offers a familiar mix of instant favourites, as well as those you feel could still grow on you through further play. And, most importantly, there’s often room for you to be as rude as you’d like.

Jackbox Party Pack 10 preview

Jackbox has always been a good family game choice, with its seamless smartphone controls a breeze to set up with those who may feel less at home holding a traditional game controller. But Jackbox has always been (for me at least) a far better experience post-pub with friends, when the swear filter is most definitely turned off.

It’s in this mindset I first encountered Tee KO, the Jackbox 3 favourite where you combine drawings and slogans to sell your best T-shirt design to friends (and then also have the chance to buy them, printed up by Jackbox itself).
Jackbox 10 includes Tee KO 2, and it is pretty much the same game you may remember – although now you can print onto sweatshirts and tanktops as well (and buy those in real-life too). It’s not the first time Jackbox has brought back a previous game, though there’s really nothing here to distinguish it as a proper sequel. A strong returnee, let down only by its familiari-T.

Jackbox Party Pack 10 gameplay trailer.

Next up is Timejinx, a new take on the trivia genre based around numerical answers. What year did man land on the moon? When did women gain the right to vote in the US state of Tennessee? (It’s at this point you remember to turn on the game’s US filter, so the questions become a little more international.) The closest answer wins, with penalty points given in increasing amounts the more your answer differs. There are also bonus rounds where you can see your penalty points reduced, to minimise any trivia shame. The whole thing is dressed up as a kitsch-y time travel theme, and it’s a decent enough general knowledge game overall.

Jackbox 10’s standout game is Fixytext, which asks groups of players to co-author short SMS messages based upon outlandish prompts. If you’ve ever seen the madness that takes hold when many people are co-editing the same Google Doc simultaneously, then multiply that by everyone trying to be the funniest author – and also having the ability to edit what other people have contributed on the fly. Oh, and the backspace and delete buttons have been removed, so whatever gets typed stays for good.

Players are given prompts such as crafting a response to a text message from an unknown number (making the reply as disturbing as possible so the sender never tries to get in contact again), then giving a minute to collectively respond in a limited number of characters. A second team of players then votes on the specific words or phrases in the text message they find best suits the prompt (or, to be honest, which they found the funniest/rudest). Jackbox always shines when it becomes an output for creativity (and rudeness) and nowhere is this more evident in Jackbox 10 than in Fixytext.

TimeJinx’s take on trivia may be the pack’s only weak point – one more for pub quiz buffs than party game animals. | Image credit: Jackbox

Dodo Re Mi is another strong addition, and it’s essentially Guitar Hero but on a mobile touchscreen. Here you tap and hold down notes on your smartphone as they fly down the screen, with successful plays turning into damage against a boss character shown on the TV. There’s more fun from the fact you can choose different instruments to play (with the sound coming out of your smartphone). And when I say instruments, I say this very loosely. One instrument is simply “screaming” – which definitely sounds quite something when quickly tapped out at varying pitches. Some instruments provide an easier experience, with fewer notes. But you’ll want to play as many notes as possible to be able to achieve a higher note streak, which provides the most damage and (hopefully) defeats the boss. Dodo Re Mi is a tried and tested formula, now in a proper party game format (and without the expensive plastic instruments).

Last up is Hypnotorious, a hidden role mini-game where everyone answers questions using a secret persona. What would you say if aliens landed on Earth? If you were given the role of Barack Obama, it might be something linked to your job as former president. And you want to give clues, here, as the group works together to try and puzzle out who everyone is. As things become clear, players are asked to sort themselves into groups of hidden roles and work out the connections – with an odd one out not in any other group. So, if you’re Obama and someone else is Nelson Mandela, the connection could be Nobel Prize winners. If someone else is answering as Jack Nicholson, they’re less likely to be part of your group – and it’s your job to organise everyone correctly. It’s a smart idea that takes a few goes to work out, but still a decent inclusion.

And that’s Jackbox 10! There’s enough there that most groups of players will find something they enjoy, whether playing with family or a group of sweary friends.

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