Thursday, January 03, 2013


You Don't Know Jack

I never played You Don't Know Jack back when it first became popular, mostly because I was still clinging to the idea that Nintendo was the beginning and end of video games.  But it's making a comeback, apparently, and now you can play it on your iOS-enabled device.

If you need the bare description, here it is.  You Don't Know Jack is a trivia game.  Actually, it's more like a quiz show.  The host, Cookie Masterson, reads you the questions, you buzz in with your answer, and then he banters a bit.  And just like any good quiz show, there are special rounds where the rules are a little different, and it ends with a Lightning Round -- the Jack Attack -- where you can turn the whole game around if your wits are quick enough.  It's really funny and fun, and you should totally try it, because it's free.

Like I said, I never played the game back in the day, but I did attend a convention once where they were playing, so I can compare this version to that one.  A game is only five rounds instead of ten, there's no Wrong Answer of the Day, all players participate equally in a Dis or Dat round (which isn't guaranteed to show up in every episode), and there's no Screw.  If that kind of stuff matters to you, then you'll probably get pretty angry!

The thing that really strikes me about the game is just how perfectly it fits the whole social/pay to play paradigm that's become so popular lately.  Making this an asynchronous social game is just genius.  Your friends play, the computer remembers how they played, and you play against a recording of their performance.  Even if you play as a guest without signing in to Facebook, they're nice enough to pit you against some other random players who've already played that episode.  There isn't much real interaction between players as the game goes -- like I said, there's no Screw button -- but it really helps to bring some competitive atmosphere to what is actually a single-player game, just seeing how some other real human beings fared against the same questions you're facing.

As for the pay to play idea -- hell yes.  This is one of the few games that justifies the model.  After all, most of the appeal of the game is in facing a new episode each time.  In ancient times, buying a video quiz game gave you a finite amount of content to play with.  Once you burned through the two hundred questions in your Jeopardy! cartridge's ROM, you were stuck with what was essentially a filled-in crossword book.  I'm perfectly fine with buying game currency indefinitely if they're willing to match that with posting new content indefinitely.  And I mean gosh, they'll also give you a free game every day, and you can earn game currency by playing, what more do you want?

So there you go.  Highly recommended, go give it a try.


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