You Don't Know Jack Review

By Kevin Kelly - Posted Feb 08, 2011

You Don't Know Jack returns in a package that finally brings the game onto the current generation of consoles, without losing any of the irreverence that originally made it a hit. With solo, and multiplayer (online and off) options, it's a fun title to stick in when you're not grinding away in Fallout or fragging people in Black Ops.

The Pros
  • Hilarious voiceover
  • Wide range of questions
  • Makes meaningless trivia fun
The Cons
  • Gibberish questions are very missed
  • Answers not randomized

You Don't Know Jack Review:

You Don’t Know Jack returns in a package that finally brings the game onto the current generation of consoles, without losing any of the irreverence that originally made it a hit. With solo, and multiplayer (online and off) options, it’s a fun title to stick in when you’re not grinding away in Fallout or fragging people in Black Ops.

You Don't Know Jack

Jack Is Back


I’d like to think that I can say, with at least some dignity, that I do, indeed, know Jack. You Don’t Know Jack was the reason the main reason that I didn’t get a lot of work done back in the late '90s. As part of the CD-ROM gaming boom, the Berkeley Group and Jellyvision released over 19 different Jack titles, and that’s not including all of the compilations they also put out. There were sports packs, movie packs, and they even put together a television show hosted by Paul Reubens.

But, it finally flamed out, and faded into relative obscurity. There was an online beta version up briefly, giving hope to scads of YDKJ fans everywhere, but when that failed to become a full-fledged version of the show, I had little hope that we’d see this unique trivia game again. Luckily, I was wrong, and last year THQ announced that Jack would not only be returning to PCs (sadly, there’s no Mac version yet) but it would invading next-gen consoles and the Nintendo DS as well. While this wasn’t the game’s first trip onto consoles (there was a PlayStation version), it was the first time it had this much oomph behind it.

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You’re Not The Star

So what is You Don’t Know Jack? In a nutshell, it’s a trivia game. You can play solo or with up to four other players (only two on the Nintendo DS) online or off. Right answers get you dollars, and wrong answers make you lose them. It’s very possible to end up with a negative score in YDKJ, and in fact there’s an achievement for ending up with negative one million dollars. More on how to nail that sucker in a minute.

So far, it sounds pretty standard, right? Well, Jack’s real strength lies in Cookie Masterson, the innuendo-driven, pun-loving, unseen announcer who asks all the questions and lets you know if you were right or wrong, usually in very embarrassing ways. He’s the one who will follow-up the question about “How many Earths can fit inside the volume of Uranus” by telling you that you can get even more in there...if you relax.

Without Cookie, this game would quickly be just another forgettable trivia game. Thankfully, Cookie is what makes this so great, and he’s all over it. In fact, the irreverent behavior extends off the game and into both the opening credits, and the closing credits. You’ll hear hilarious fake commercials and more, and there’s a cheevo for listening to the closing credits all the way through.

You Don't Know Jack

Button Masher

You Don’t Know Jack plays like this: Cookie introduces the question with a tongue in cheek clue, and then presents four multiple-choice answers. The four buttons on your controller correspond to the answers on-screen. Choose correctly, and you get cash, otherwise, you start digging a hole. From time to time, questions will deviate from the norm. You might leave the studio to look in a trash bin, or play “Who’s The Dummy?” with Cookie and his terrible ventriloquist skills.

Breaking up the 10 questions per episode (and there are 73 episodes that come with the game), are DisOrDat questions, where you have to decide if an answer is a McDonald’s Slogan, or a Barry White song, for example. Only one player takes this (the player in last place), although other players can steal correct answers if they hit the right answer before the other player answers and gets it wrong.

You’ll also get some “hardware” from Cookie, in the form of a screw. Once per game, you can pull one of your triggers to screw another player (of your choosing) which means they’ll have 5 seconds to guess the correct answer. If they don’t do it, they get screwed and lose the cash. But if they answer right, you become the screwee, and your balance heads south.

Like the games before it, the final round is a Jack Attack, meaning that a word will float towards you onscreen, while other words flutter by. The key here, like they tell you, is “Remember the Clue”. Recently a game we played had the clue “The Hair Up There,” and you had to identify things with their hair. Straw for scarecrow, yarn for Cabbage Patch Kid, and so on. Answer correct and get $4,000, but answer wrong and lose $4,000. And the trick here is, you can answer wrong as many times as you want. So if you want that negative million achievement, you’ll have to hammer a button over and over like a jackhammer to do it.

You Don't Know Jack

What’s The Difference?

What’s really missing here was one of my favorite parts of the older game was the FLICKERPISS NOSESCUM, better known as Gibberish Questions. You’d have to figure out a bizarre clue, usually scrambled up in gibberish, and then type out your answer. Obviously, you can’t do that without a keyboard, but there were some hilarious entries there. The “Who’s The Dummy” tries to ape that gibberish a bit, with the Dummy speaking terribly due to Cookie’s bad ventrilo-skills, and they type it on the screen just like he says it.

To combat that, they’ve also added a “Wrong Question Of The Day” event, that is always sponsored by a bizarre, made-up company, like Fistable Bowling equipment. If you spot a wrong answer that matches up with the sponsor, choose it to receive extra bonus cash. Someone can still guess the correct answer and score, but the right “wrong” answer will net you $8,000.

With multiplayer online, the short timer for each question means you won’t have to wait long if you land someone who is dead at the stick. If someone leaves, you’ll be playing against yourself, and you can turn it into a solo game. Luckily there’s no verbal portion to the game, so you won’t need chat unless you’re a sadist who enjoys being called every name in the book on Xbox LIVE.

It would be nice if the game offered up some more twists on the classic, especially with online gaming dominating the video game world. Instead of 1 vs. 100, this is a game I’d love to see done live, complete with on the spot Cookie ad-libbing. Or with some avatar integration. Players aren’t seen, other than their point scores, but perhaps that clean style is what makes each round move along so quickly.

Also, unfortunately, they don’t mix up where the answers are wherein you play the same episode again, which cuts down on the replay factor.

Cookie-lusion

Cookie’s delivery and the extreme sexual innuendo make this a fun party game, or a way to fill your brain with trivia if you’re playing alone. With 730 questions, and four bonus content packs coming via DLC later, the game has legs.