Jack of all quizzes
If you’ve sat in a bar and you’re of age to do so (and you better be), you’re more than likely familiar with the Buzztime quiz games popular in such establishments. Trivia is a staple of bar life, and, naturally, you’ll find people playing who piss you off. People who know what the GNP of Bolivia is or can somehow remember how many RBIs the big star of the Sportsland Sports drove in in 1974. We all hate that guy (or gal – let’s not exclude). I know I do. He/she makes you want to knock him/her down a peg. To make them weep. To drive them before you and hear the lamentation of their… god, the pronoun thing is killing my Conan the Barbarian references. Can I just use the male pronoun? I’m gonna. You’ll live.
So, wouldn’t you like to drive that guy before you and hear the lamentation of his woman (or women if he’s feeling polyamorous)?
Then do it goddammit. ‘Cause ‘You Don’t Know Jack’ totally lets you do that. Sort of.
YDKJ (oh, that acronym takes me back…) is not a new trivia game. In fact, I first encountered it in a second-floor apartment off of the Parkway in my college years (back in the days when there was no high falutin’ high speed interweb connection to multiplay online). A really good friend of mine was the only one with a computer that would run it, and since her place was the central social hub for most of the time I was in college, we spent a lot of time huddled around her computer playing this quirky quiz game that encourages you to throw your friends to the wolves.
It’s your usual timer based trivia game with a humorous bent, and the aforementioned anti-social gameplay element known as ‘screwing’. At the beginning of every game, each player gets a screw, with which you, well, can screw your buddies with by forcing them to answer really hard questions. Of course, this can go hilariously wrong – if they rise to the challenge and answer it correctly (or guess it correctly – 25% chance!), they get a bonus… and the satisfaction of watching you lose some virtual cash. And the respect of your peers. Loser.
Of course, the older model has been spruced up a bit. It used to be an all or nothing endeavor in which one person and one person alone got to answer. That was before the intertubes were capable of linking games online (so long as the tubes are not clogged with pr0n) and made multiplayer a lot easier. In this kinder, gentler re-release, players have about twenty seconds to answer their questions and everyone can answer. Taking the lead from pub trivia games, the faster you answer, the more cash you grab. Likewise, if you answer incorrectly, you lose that amount of cash. And, have the game’s virtual mascot, Cookie Masterson, give you a verbal dressing down at your expense.
You also get different styles of question within a single game. The ubiquitous pub trivia games will always format things exactly the same way. YDKJ will switch it up with old stand-bys to the franchise such as ‘Dis or Dat’ (in which you have to choose if something is a part of one of two categories, i.e. Dean Koontz Novel or Gatorade Flavor), or newer ones such as ‘Who’s the Dummy’, in which a question is posed to you with a speech impediment… and so are the answers. And, as always, the final round is the ‘Jack Attack’ in which you have to play a matching game for big winnings. It takes the blandness of most trivia games and injects a little bit of random fun this way. Combining it with the ability to call your ‘friends’ out on the carpet, also helps. Especially if you’re losing and your ‘friends’ are kinda dim-witted.
The game has a lot of charm as well – the comedic aspect rolls throughout the entirety of the game (listen to the commercials at the end of each game – hidden achievement in there!), which pretty much ensures that hilarity ensues, right answers or wrong answers. In fact, each episode in the new incarnation (questions are presented in episodic format of which there seems to be many) contains a ‘sponsor’ that gives you a clue as to the ‘Wrong Answer of the Game’ which, if selected, actually gives you a shit-ton of cash (four to eight grand). Which kind of pisses me off. In an online game, I was in the lead until the wrong answer of the day came up and my opponent got eight grand, which put her ahead by quite a bit (pronoun appropriate this time given her name was pretty obviously female). I did get my day though in the four-player game that followed though in which I won against her and two other players.
You Don’t Know Jack has always been a favorite, so it’s no surprise that this game gets a high mark from me: 5 out of 5 sticks. It’s a game that even when you lose, you win. So long as you have a sense of humor. Loser.
Final Verdict: 5/5