There are few franchises where one can say, "Well, it's that time of year again." Jackbox Games certainly has that nailed down with almost a full decade of Jackbox Party Packs. It's tough to imagine anything running at a consistent quality for so long, but Jackbox continues to do so, usually offering at least two or three family game night staples in each new installment. The Jackbox Party Pack 9 is no different and works as a fun family activity or as a hangout game with friends.
The Jackbox Party Pack 9's headlining game is Fibbage 4. Yes, it's one of the first instances of Jackbox Games quadruple dipping on a title. What's remarkable about this particular game is that one would think Jackbox could phone this one in. It's Fibbage, right? It's fun, it's got Cookie Masterson, it should sell itself. That's not the case here. Fibbage 4 feels like a noticeable step forward from its three predecessors and stands out as the clear best of the bunch, both in terms of The Jackbox Party Pack 9 and in the Fibbage series as a whole.
The first thing to note is the overhauled visual aesthetic. Fibbage 4 throws in a lot of surrealist art, which fits with its overall theme. This is a game about making up lies and trying to trick everyone in the room, so why not match that up with visuals that try and play with your eyes? It's a brilliant shift and one that makes Fibbage 4 feel unique from its previous three titles.
Fibbage 4's core concept still works well, encouraging players to fill in blanks with outlandish lies to trick others into selecting them from a multiple choice field. While correct answers reward hundreds or even thousands of points, players can also score single-digit points by coming up with such a fun answer that other players give it a thumbs up on their mobile device. It's a fun little touch, but also one that could serve as a tiebreaker when necessary.
One of the biggest standout features for Fibbage 4 is the addition of video clues. Players will watch a video prompt and attempt to wrangle an answer based on the punchline. This is especially fun if, for example, an old 1960s movie is on-screen and nobody in the room has seen it. It adds a sprinkle of Rifftrax to the formula and fits the Fibbage aesthetic perfectly.
Lastly, the refined Final Fibbage is brilliant, as players are now given two clues and must come up with a single lie that fits both. Players who nail this one certainly earn their points, so comebacks feel like even more of an accomplishment. It's a great way to cap off one of Jackbox's most improved titles, which is amazing, because it didn't even need that much improving.
Roomerang is the game that left me feeling the coldest, because my takeaway at the end of it was that the Jackbox team might have overthought this game's concept. It didn't help that the game's host veered toward nightmare fuel. Jackbox Games has a history of fun hosts and mascots, but Roomerang's host looked like they came straight out of a Zelda CD-i title.
The game itself wasn't that much better. The idea is that players are competing on a faux reality show. They answer prompts that are mostly about the other players. Those who collect the most votes from other players can vote somebody out of the house, which quickly proves meaningless because that person simply comes back under another name.
It's a confusing scoring system on its own, but what sinks Roomerang is that it's largely dependent on everybody knowing one another. This is not a game to play with strangers or even family members who don't come together that often. It might fly in college dorm rooms, but it was a miss in this house.
Speaking of games where it felt like the Jackbox team overthought the concept, here's Junktopia. Junktopia sees all players transformed into frogs and the idea is to make enough money to reverse their curse. To do so, they shop at a flea market for random junk, haggle for a low price, and then try and sell it back for a profit by giving it a funny description.
Junktopia feels like one of those games that was great in concept, but in trying it out, it didn't land with my group. The rules started out confusing and even after they were sorted out, the ensuing game wasn't that much fun. The random junk objects that players have to work with are fun and can lead to some chuckle-worthy improv, but there wasn't a lot that was memorable about this game.
On top of that, Junktopia is the only other game outside of Roomerang where it felt like games dragged. The concept doesn't feel like it's enough to keep players engaged, which meant this game fizzled before long.
Nonsensory feels like it has a much more basic concept and it quickly proved to be one of the new Jackbox Party Pack's big hits. The idea is to answer prompts, first by writing and then by drawing, and then assign those prompts to a ranged scale. That scale is usually a percentage scale or a range from 1 through 10, but it can vary, depending on the question.
What's particularly brilliant about Nonsensory is that you're trying to aim for a certain spot on that scale. It's one thing to draw a dish that would be served at a wedding between chicken and fish, but if the drawer is prompted to try and get the other players to guess "7" then it becomes a lot more challenging. The shift from text to drawing between rounds is also a fun change, giving this game some Drawful vibes while also not requiring any particular art mastery to play.
The final round is especially inspired, as players are prompted to draw something that fits in the middle of two prompts. That means you're basically drawing a mutation or a fusion and the results often prove hilarious. Nonsensory was a game that my group was happy to play more than once and it's one of the big standouts of The Jackbox Party Pack 9.
In terms of team-based games, Quixort is king in The Jackbox Party Pack 9. The best way to describe this game would be sequential Tetris. The concept involves receiving a clue with an instruction of how to sort the ensuing answers. Each member of the team then takes a turn dropping blocks, each labeled with an answer, but making sure to place them in the proper sequence. That will sometimes require players to place blocks on top of one another in order to make space.
Quixort could have worked as an individual game, but the frantic yelling between teammates showed why this works best as a team versus team effort. Games get especially intense in the later rounds when garbage answers get tossed in and teammates are debating whether an answer is even real or not.
The worst thing I can say about Quixort is that each round takes a little too long. If one team is going, it doesn't leave the other team much to do. In fact, they have to constantly keep their devices active so that they don't disconnect. Outside of that, Quixort was a hit and something that I could see becoming a returning Jackbox game with a few refinements.
The Jackbox Party Pack 9 has more hits than misses and the hits came in some unexpected spots. Even the games that were expected to be good wound up being far better than I could have anticipated. Add this to some noteworthy quality-of-life improvements, like the ability to log into a room using a QR code, and Jackbox Games continues to bring the goods. As long as the team keeps things simple, there's no reason to stop adding The Jackbox Party Pack to your regular game night rotation. It remains as reliable as it gets.
This review is based on a Nintendo Switch digital code provided by the publisher. The Jackbox Party Pack 9 will be available Thursday, October 20 on Nintendo Switch for $29.99 USD. The game is rated T.
The Jackbox Party Pack 9
- Fibbage 4 is the peak of the series so far
- Quixort is a wildly fun team game
- Nonsensory uses text and drawing effectively
- QR codes are a big help in getting into games
- Roomerang and Junktopia sessions dragged
- Quixort teams can't do much between turns