A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Jackbox Party Pack 6 is a collection of games available for download on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs that is meant for larger groups of players. Like previous games in the franchise, it's composed of themed party games that test players' knowledge of general trivia and spur them to be creative by coming up with jokes and fake word definitions to share with everyone else playing or watching. This encourages friendly social gaming experiences both locally and online (random people can tune in to players' games via Twitch, should the players choose to allow it). Some games also reward strategy, giving the advantage to players who track and take into account other players' point totals. Most of the questions and activities are tame, but some carry themes meant for older players. The Trivia Murder Party 2 game, for example, depicts blood-spattered locations within a hotel and references killing and murder, and a handful of questions make reference to sexuality and drugs, as well as celebrities and known brands. But adult content can be switched off in the settings for each game, and some games allow the first player in to act as a censor for content created by other players before it's displayed on-screen.
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What's it about?
THE JACKBOX PARTY PACK 6 follows the formula established by its predecessors by delivering a party game experience composed of several distinct games that can be played by as many as 10 players using their phones as controllers. Five games are here, including a spooky hotel-themed trivia challenge dubbed Trivia Murder Party 2; a group personality test called Role Models that pushes friends to categorize friends (e.g., which Hogwarts house would they fall into?); the joke-making Joke Boat, which has players authoring their own one-liners for other players to judge; Dictionarium, which involves making up definitions for made-up phrases; and Push the Button, a game that tasks players with finding aliens hidden in their midst via a series of interactive challenges. After choosing a game and modifying the settings to their liking (e.g., increase timer length, block adult content, and choose whether to stream the game on Twitch), players use their phones to navigate to the Jackbox website and enter a code so that they can use their own personal screen to submit answers and drawings as prompted.
Is it any good?
This is the sort of game that's only as much fun as the people who are playing. The Jackbox Party Pack 6 can be played by just one player (Trivia Murder Party 2), but it's really designed to be experienced by as many as 10 players in the same room, with potentially thousands more watching online. It's largely about the group's interactions. Trivia questions don't require much player interaction, but games that involve a certain level of creativity -- such as creating jokes with an aim to make your friends laugh, devising goofy but believable definitions to fake phrases, and quickly sketching out pictures -- are best when the players are a little more outgoing and willing to take risks for laughs. The experience will likely be fairly raucous for groups of close friends, and more muted for loose-knit collections of acquaintances.
The games themselves are easy to understand and learn, and provide a natural springboard for group guffaws as players try to outdo their friends' silliness. Role Models is perhaps the most basic, but also among the most fun, forcing players to reveal what they really think of everyone else in the room. Joke Boat, meanwhile, encourages zaniness by empowering players to not only compose but also perform their own zingers for an audience of friends. We did run into a handful of stability issues -- a couple of players got booted from games midsession -- and we would have appreciated some sort of overarching meta mode that combined multiple games into a single, Olympic-style event, but The Jackbox Party Pack 6 should prove plenty of fun at your next big casual gamer get-together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. The Jackbox Party Pack 6 is meant to be played by groups of friends. Do you think this sort of social gaming experience ought to carry the same time limits that are enforced when you play games alone?
What's the best social experience you've ever had playing a game? Was it great because of the game, or because of the people you were playing with?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Jackbox Games, Inc.
- Release date: October 16, 2019
- Genre: Party
- ESRB rating: T for Crude Humor, Drug Reference, Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Sexual Themes
- Last updated: December 1, 2019
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