By: Jasmine Henry | Jun 19th 2012
As a franchise that has been around since 1995, You Don't Know Jack (the game) takes 'you don't know Jack' (the phrase - which happens to be a light-hearted insult for being an idiot), and challenges players to prove that they are total brainboxes and that they do know Jack, and are, in fact, best buds with him and have even held Jack's hair back after an evening on the sauce. That's just how well acquainted with Jack you are.
Now, You Don't Know Jack was being released on consoles last year - PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS - with 15 hours of gameplay (across 70 episodes of the TV show based format in the game), but do you know what? Not all of us want to sit in front of a television or a 3 inch touch screen for that long, just so that we can flaunt our intelligence, lucky then, that developer Jellyvision Games, the creative visionaries behind the 90s hit title, have brought You Don't Know Jack to Facebook, allowing us to answer "irreverent" trivia questions in front of a laptop or computer screen instead.
You Don't Know Jack (YDKJ) prides itself on being absolutely ridiculous, the official tagline of it is actually "Irreverent Trivia Party Game", with its self-described "smart-ass host" and the general silliness of the gameplay all making it live up to this.
YDKJ is gloriously tongue in cheek, you'll get your first taste of this before you've even started playing the game, with a voice over informing you that if you don't want to play the game on Facebook, a major console, or the iPhone and iPad, they will encourage "homeless people to yell trivia questions at you on the street". Mixed in with the ever changing mock-adverts that pepper the interludes between each round, hilarity constantly ensues.
These early jokes and japes are a taste of what you'll experience in the meat and potatoes of the game - You Don't Know Jack, the quiz show. Just like those gameshows you watch when you're feeling too ill or uninterested to watch anything less mind-numbing, you'll see 6 real life (Facebook) contestants (including yourself) lined up on the leaderboard which you have to conquer. The aim of the game is to be the smartest version of yourself, trying and get everything correct and earn (virtual) money. You can lose this game by getting things incorrect and venturing into minus numbers (of your money balance) is a possibility.
Questions test your knowledge on anything from celebrity gossip, to the vocal chords of animals to the eating habits of nursery rhyme characters, there's a brilliant mixed bag of things so it's almost guaranteed that you'll know something. The questions are presented across five rounds, each one set out in a different way. For example, one question may have you ordering your answers to score big, whilst others let you hit the big time after matching your answers up. And while some gameplay elements repeat themself (particularly frustrating if there's a mode turns out to be your Achilles heel), You Don't Know Jack generally feels quite fresh and keeps you on your toes as you challenge yourself to amass a great deal of cash stay atop the leaderboard.
Having no YDKJ money on the leaderboard doesn't just hurt your self esteem either, if you're playing against fellow Facebook friends, it'll hurt your ego, but perhaps more importantly, it also affects how quickly you level up.
Levelling up is just another case of bragging rights, as it usually is in most Facebook games, except, in You Don't Know Jack, your level is really indicative of your trivia aptness and skill at the game. As I've stated, you can't prove your smarts without getting money-rewarding questions correct - with whatever money you have left over at the end of the game filling up a meter. Like XP but rather you'll be getting that paper instead of getting those points. Trying to get money in the game can be difficult as attempting to answer questions provides a risk/reward - getting them wrong takes money of your total and could push you into the red whereas getting them right lifts you up closer to levelling up.
However, there is another peril that lays waiting for you in You Don't Know Jack - the freemium model. Given that Jellyvision Games, have been working with YDKJ for almost two decades now, it's unlikely that they got here a) without working incredibly hard for it and b) by waiting for handouts, though perhaps it's this determination to cash in that is You Don't Know Jack's biggest issue. After around 10 'free' games of You Don't Know Jack, they cut you off. One free game a day they say. More? You have to pay for those. Considering that most Facebook games (see : our reviews of Cafe World
) offer a freemium model, providing you access to the core gameplay with the extra bits and bobs that improve your game costing you a few dollars. It's players who are used to this way of playing who will be frustrated by You Don't Know Jack's revenue model but really, they have very little right to. Unlike these other games, whose costs go toward maintenance and the behind the scenes running of the game (server upkeep etc.), You Don't Know Jack is constantly being worked on - between the production of the show itself (of which 3 new episodes are recorded a week) - the voice acting of the host, writing and then actually making You Don't Know Jack function the way it does - as well as the maintenance and server work that goes - the charging for extra games is understandable. What you're getting here is the premium of premium of Facebook games so that cost towards more games? Worth it.
As for those of you who are unwilling to fork out the tiny amount for extra rounds of You Don't Know Jack fun, you'll be happy to know that developer (and publisher of the Facebook and iOS versions) Jellyvision Games are so confident in the social success of their game that you can actually play through episodes that you have already tackled "asynchronously" alongside a friend who has played that episode too - allowing you not only to get more games out of You Don't Know Jack (as this method doesn't affect the amount of free games you have access to) but it enables you to earn more in-game cash too, leveling you up quicker, which in turn could have you earning a new episode faster too!
Overall, besides the fact that pseudo-presenter Cookie Masterson layers it on a bit thick with the humour at times and that the lag-trolls rear their ugly heads about once a game, You Don't Know Jack really is a perfect game. Those small niggles aside, if you enjoy your trivia in short bursts of fun, then you will love this.
You Don't Know Jack gets an 9 from us.