Since 2014, Jackbox Games releases have become synonymous with party games. And why wouldn’t they? They have cranked out fun and easy to learn games every year since then. While not every entry in the series (*cough* Jackbox Party Pack 6 *cough*), there is always at least one or two games that are worthwhile. But which Jackbox Party Packs should you buy? With the October 2020 release of Jackbox Party Pack 7, one can be forgiven for being perplexed if they are just starting with the game series for the first time.
We here at XFire are here to help! We have taken a look at the current selection of Jackbox Party Packs and came to a consensus as to which are the best of the best.
Jackbox Party Packs: A Primer
Jackbox Games is known in the industry for its delightful casual games. The company has built a reputation for trivia games, starting from 1989 as Learn Television and later Jellyvision Games, Inc. The company produced That’s a Fact, Jack! They would later find even greater success with You Don’t Know Jack, which became their first full-fledged franchise.
However, while the You Don’t Know Jack games had great success on the PC, the attempt to cross to console games did not. The company would later leave the gaming business to produce interactive voice software for a time. With the rise of mobile gaming, the company produced an iOS version of You Don’t Know Jack which proved to be a success. A Facebook version of the game came soon after. This led to an accompanying mobile game which would then win the Spike Game Awards Game of the Year in 2012.
Rebranding as Jackbox Games in 2013, they would develop the innovation of using smartphones and mobile devices as controllers. This would lead to the 2014 game Fibbage: The Hilarious Bluffing Party Game. Finally getting the console success on the Playstation and Xbox platforms, Jackbox Games packaged Fibbage with You Don’t Know Jack and reworking other games, producing the first Jackbox Party Pack. This first pack proved to be a massive success, especially with the Twitch streaming game community. Thus, a new Jackbox Party Pack has been produced yearly ever since.
One of the great things about the Jackbox Party Pack is that only one person needs to own it. Local and remote online play are not just features but highly encouraged. The game can be initiated from a personal computer or a mobile device (such as a smartphone or a tablet). The games natively support Twitch, but other streaming options are available.
Aside from the initiator, others can join a game in progress. Most games can have up to 8 active players. But others can join the room as spectators who can affect the outcome of the scores and, ultimately, the winner. Later games and packs would leverage the online and streaming communication through platforms like Zoom and Discord heavily for ease of access. With nearly all the games being available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Playstation, Xbox, Android, and Nintendo Switch, almost everybody can join in on the fun of the Jackbox Party Packs!
Ranking the Jackbox Party Packs from Worst to Best
Now, let’s take a look at how the Jackbox Party Packs stack up to one another. Now, let it be clear that every entry in the series has some redeeming quality. With each pack containing 5 different minigames, there is some entertainment value for each. However, some of the Jackbox Party packs are just a better value than the others.
Jackbox Party Pack 6
To be fair, Jackbox Party Pack 6 is not terrible. After all, it has Trivia Murder Party 2 and Joke Boat are solid entertainment, with the former being really good with the right group. Role Models and Push the Button are pretty decent, but have low replay value. Dictionarium is… just not as funny as intended, nor is it an entertaining challenge. As bad as Dictionarium is, it isn’t the only reason Jackbox Party Pack 6 brings up the rear. Even the best of this pack, Trivia Murder Party 2, is only great for a group that likes question and answer games. The rest are equally or even less universally enjoyable. A limited audience and a mostly mediocre set of minigames just marks this pack as the weakest of the bunch.
Jackbox Party Pack 4
Fibbage 3 pretty much makes this pack. The variants to the themes and mechanics are inspired. Survive the Internet can be a fun back and forth argument, but might not be a good choice to play with casual acquaintances. Bracketeering, Civic Doodle, and Monster Seeking Monster are solid picks, as well. But with only one must have game (Fibbage 3), Jackbox Party Pack 4 isn’t bad. But it is far from the best.
Jackbox Party Pack 7
The newest entry on the list, Jackbox Party Pack 7 has Quiplash 3. Although it adds some fluff to the gameplay, Quiplash 3 retains its incalculable replay value that is the signature of the series. The newer games like Champ’d Up, with its unusual design based mechanics, and the Devils and The Details, which is one of the rare co-op mini-games in the series, are welcome additions. However, Talking Points and Blather ‘Round are uninspired and unremarkable. Talking Points, in particular, is a hit or miss, depending on the audience and players involved. The lack of universal appeal of the games beyond Quiplash 3 is why Jackbox Party Pack 7 settles at this point in this list.
Jackbox Party Pack 2
Fibbage 2 and Quiplash XL. These 2 games are what make the pack. Bomb Corp is also a pretty good game, if a bit bizarre (even for a Jackbox game). But Earwax is a slog with a sound selection that moves from repetitive to downright annoying. And Bidiots… Bidiots is just one of the least entertaining games of the Jackbox selections. Bidiots could have been better if the rules were not so complicated. The problem is it seems the complicated mechanics is intentional for the sake of being complicated! And that simply turns off a good chunk of potential players. As it is, Bidiots and Earwax just weighs down Jackbox Party Pack 2 from getting higher up on the list.
Jackbox Party Pack 1
The first Jackbox Party Pack was a great start. But first doesn’t make it the best. Still, it is an excellent batch of minigames that fit a variety of tastes. You Don’t Know Jack 2015 is a worthy entry from the series going back to 1995, with just enough newness to it to make it fresh. It also debuts the first Fibbage with Fibbage XL. Another great debut is Drawful, a simple but addicting scribble game. So what hurts Jackbox Party Pack 1's placement in this list of the best? Word Spud and Lie Swatter, 2 of the least entertaining and lowest replay value games in the entire series. Word Spud is quite simply uninspired, bordering on boring. And the less said about Lie Swatter, the better.
Jackbox Party Pack 3
Put it simply, Jackbox Party Pack 3 just gets most everything right. Fakin’ It, Tee K.O., and Quiplash 2 are all worth the pack by themselves. Quiplash 2 and Tee K.O. are arguably the most popular of the Jackbox games. However, Guesspionage and the first Trivia Murder Party are only average, at best. Granted, these latter games are worthwhile with the right playgroup, but not enough to push this pack as the top.
Jackbox Party Pack 5
You Don’t Know Jack: Full Stream just improves on the classic gameplay in most every way. It’s still as engaging as ever, but with improved functionality and challenge. Support for 8 players, a massive limit for the number of audience, and even an episode with Jimmy Fallon. Mad Verse City is also a gem, with innovative game play with the creative choice of getting robots as your impromptu voice announcers. Patently Stupid and Split the Room are extremely replayable with interesting mechanics. And even the weakest of the Pack, Zeeple Dome, has its merits for being an easy to learn shooting game (despite its lower replay value).
Perhaps the only real drawback is the lack of Fibbage, which most people consider as the best (but anyone saying that isn’t a fan of You Don’t Know Jack). With the right mix of classic gameplay and new innovations, Jackbox Party Pack 5 gets the Xfire seal of approval as the best of the lot so far!
Do You Agree or We Don’t Know Jack?
So, do you concur with our list? What made your list of the best Jackbox Party Packs? Does it jive with our rankings? With more Jackbox Party Packs coming every year, expect this list to be updated again in the future!