Jackbox 9 review. The party pack is back, will it keep you warm for the winter?

A new fall season has begun and as the pumpkin spice latte's are being moved into suburbia large quantities it is also time for a new Jackbox party pack. After all these years it is almost a tradition as much as pumpkins, Turkey, Santa and elf on the friggin shelf. With so many moments to be spending with family and friends , how do you keep things fresh and avoid as much family drama as possible? Jackbox has brought plenty of entertainment you can play from your sofa using your favorite smart device many have in their death grip all the time. You can even have people play from across the country if you can find a way to stream the game to them. This year the fine folks at Chicago based Jackbox games bring us five new entries in pack number 9. Are they still able to deliver entertainment variety to the living room or has their bag of tricks run stale?

The new 2022 pack come with five fresh titles that include the return of the make it up as you go Fibbage with fibbage 4 , A new take on trivia with Quixort (quicksort), A adlib game Junktopia , Brain science driven Nonsensory and reality tv inspired Roomerang. The games expose the players to roleplay, wisecracking, drawing, trivia and quick-thinking skills. 

We gathered the family and some friends and dove into all the things the pack had to offer.

Starting off with Fibbage 4 (2-8 players)  which for return players will offer all you know about the game and bring more prompts to keep things fresh. For those uninitiated, a Fib is the telling of a lie and as players you try to fool the other players to pick your fib as truth over the real answer to a question. The more people that vote for you the more points you get. If you pick the real answer, you get the points for that. If you are drawing a blank and cannot think of anything then you can always let the game pick an answer for you, but you will only earn half the points if it gets picked. Though the idea is to fool people with something that could be real, I have seen plenty of groups break down and vote for the most hilarious option. It is good fun and besides coming up with an answer it is important to not make spelling /typing errors that can give away your answer was fake.

Moving on to this year's trivia game Quixort (1-10 players). Where other trivia games in the past have followed a more traditional approach where you have to select the right answer from a bunch of options, this trivia  changes things up by asking you sort data into the correct order.  It is also a team competition where you can consult the other players on your team for insight and options for your next move. So how does it work? Think tetris, your chosen avatar comes down with a block and you have to place it where you think it fits in the line. This could for instance be the release time of songs from oldest to newest. But you do not know the options and therefore range, ahead of time. So you have to think well where to place each block. If you find a new option belongs ahead or behind a previous placed block you can simply place it on top and move it a bit forward or backwards to indicate where it belongs. 

In a later round you will also get junk options that either do not fit or are not real, those you can throw in the trash. Some of these are dead give aways while others can make you think twice. 

The more streaks you can get going with items place in the correct order the more bonus points you will earn.

Although the most of us are not very big trivia buffs we really enjoyed this one because you can at least try to thing somewhat logically and the categories are surprising. One of my options was "Tyra Banks Epic rant" where I had to put parts of the rant in order, and it was loaded with junk options as well. It was hilarious as I know nothing about it and still managed to get some streaks going with pure guess work.  After a while we forgot we were competing teams and started to help each other and discussing the results. It was definitely one of the favorites.

In Junktopia (3-8 players) the goal all freeform and absurd. The premise is that a wizard turned all players into frogs. He is willing to turn one player back into a human, providing they bring him the best object with the most interesting/funny back story. Each player gets a handful of cash to go shopping and a few choices to pick from. sometimes you can even bid on a mystery item. Because the goal is to make a lot of money from the object you can try to get a cheap item or perhaps you will try to haggle with the shopkeeper to give you a good deal. 

Once your item is picked it is time to give it a story. The game will give you part of a prompt to help you and you will fill in the blank. You can then have the game auto present, or you can be in control of the slide show and while you push each part of your presentation on screen you can do your best salesman impression to convince the potential customers, WHY your item is so unique. 

The other players can give you a thumbs up or down and after everyone present, they can vote for their favorites. 

This is the part where the game can get tough for those that are not so good at ad-libbing, and let's be fair the prompts help and can be funny by itself, but it is all about the presentation to really add the gravy.

Once all rounds are done you get to name the collection on which all players vote one more time. The totals determine the winner and who gets turned back into a human. Yes, the story is bonkers and so is the presentation. As I said the success of this game with your group depends on their ability and willingness to put a bit more into it and have open discussions.

The next game Nonsensory (3-8 players) is more reliant on how perceptive you are and leans into a more cerebral part of the players.  Welcome to the lab of Professor Nanners who is going to test your NSP (Nonsensory  Perception) in this drawing, writing, and guessing game!
Each round the players are presented a question to answer on a sliding scale. The player then interprets the question and the scale and either writes or draws what they think fits that point in the scale. 

Once completed the other players are shown the answer and they have to guess where this answer or picture fits on that same scale. The closer you get the more points. Are you really confident of your answer, then why not boost your choice and gamble more points on it.

This game can be a bit confusing for new players and even for those that played a few rounds as it messes with your perception and understanding of the question asked.  But once you have the hang of it, it can be fun. Especially with the drawing sections.  You probably want to push through a few rounds to start really having fun with this one. 

The last game is another that works best if you are talkative, willing to build your case, get in (fun) arguments and make your case. Based in reality TV such as big brother house , Roomerang (4-9 players) lets you Channel your own inner reality TV star and manipulate your way through challenges and the other players. 

Each player is given a random personality and your answers to situations through the game can, but don't have to be, centered around the character you play. We found it working best when everyone knew we were playing a role so no one would take things too personally.

After each round someone would be immune and cannot be voted from the house. This is the time to please with each other and make secret packs and backstab to get rid of your opponents. If someone you voted for gets kicked out, you take some of their points.  If you are removed you get a moment to speak your mind, and perhaps plot your revenge. But do not worry the game is not over for you , you will return as a "new" player with the name hilariously altered and a new personality to go along with it and play again. 

At the end of the game points are tallied and a winner is picked. 
Yes, this all sounds familiar and weird at the same time, and it is. But the host character is hilarious and the scenarios this create in the group are a ton of fun. You will be surprised who is willing to stab you in the back and how quick they do it.
All in good fun of course. The issue this game can have, is the same as with Junktopia that is best played in person and with people that are willing to flair it up with some drama. The game works without it but would get boring quickly. Just remember do NOT take it personally, it is just a game.

Quality of life improvements

The Jackbox Party Pack 9 will have all of the moderation and accessibility settings featured in recent Party Packs, as well as new features like easier server reconnection, QR code sign-in and moderators' ability to kick players from the game at will. 

You can change the setting to family friendly or make the questions less US centric for international players as well. Add subtitles to make things easier to follow, you can even remove timers if people want to do with less pressure. There are enough options available to make sure the game works best for your group, be it in the living room or online. The added QR code to connect to jackbox.tv makes things even easier then before.

Jackbox 9 continues to bring its audience an experience that has part familiar and part new gameplay to experience. As always seem to be a case, not all five of the games will appeal to everyone and the value of this pack will be determined by the games that speak to the players. For us the games where a certain amount of roleplay and/or discussion involved were the hardest because not everyone is good at improv or coming up with witty things on the fly. For others it might be very tough to do anything trivia.  There also has been a good attempt in making things easier for streamers to play the game with their audience online and manage timing issues with longer or even no timers and to deal with trolls by allowing to hide room codes, create a custom coder and even the option to kick people. But here too I can see an issue with those games that would thrive better if you were in a room together, preferably with creative and witty people able to riff off on the fly. After playing with the family and a few close friends we all agreed that this pack is good and we definitely had some good laughs, but everyone felt that the asking price of $30 is too much and would love to see it about 10 less. However, if you like Jackbox and want to keep things fresh than you will find at least four new games that change things up for seasoned players. It also reinforces for me the wish that we could pick games a-la-carte to create our own preferred Jackbox bundle. You could even sort them by game type of theme that way.  Think about is Jackbox people, think about it. 

The effort in the design and gameplay of Jackbox 9, outside of the now well established Fibbage, is original and fun in its own way for each included game. The presentation is top notch and sure to draw you in. The quality-of-life changes such as a QR code and kicking players mitigate frustrations caused by the very technology that makes these games possible. Despite its best efforts to include online options Jackbox is best played in person to allow you to laugh, make side comments, discuss and argue with your fellow players. With four brand new gameplay mechanics you are sure to add some original games to your collection, but it depends on how comfortable you are with ad-libbing. For those players that are a bit more reserved or those that depend remote play some of the value might be lost. 

Jackbox 9 will be out 20 October 2022 on all consoles and PC for an introductory price (on steam) of $26.99 or $29.99 after. 

GameJackbox party pack  9
PublisherJackbox games inc.
DeveloperJackbox games inc
Release Date:20 October 2022  
Platforms:  PlayStation, Xbox Series, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC 
Review Platform: PC (Steam)
ESRBT(Teen) for Crude Humor, Drug Reference, Mild Language, Sexual Themes

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks 


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