Easter Eggs: You Don't Know Jack

By Jonathan Barnes, 3 years ago
Welcome to Easter Eggs, where the TA Team shines the spotlight on games that many gamers might have missed, perhaps hidden away behind the millionth copy of Call of Duty or FIFA. Much like a gamer who finds an Easter Egg hidden away in a game and proceeds to trumpet it from the highest hills and forums, the TA Team is going to be featuring these Easter Egg games on the front page for all to see.
In our ongoing quest to shine the spotlight on those games that are hidden away, this week we're bringing you a game off the beaten path, off the standard fare, and (dare I say) off the rocker?

That's right, kids, we're talking about You Don't Know Jack, the PC classic given new life on consoles by Jellyvision Games and THQ back in 2011. With that in mind, sit back, get a drink, grab a friend, a spouse, an enemy, and/or an ex-spouse, and get set for some screwing.

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The Basics

YDKJ is the definition of a party game that can be played with between one-to-four players either on the couch or over Xbox LIVE. Take your basic trivia game, say Jeopardy!, add in an additional dose of pop culture, math, history, science, general studies, animal husbandry, literature, and insanity, and shake. The individual games (called "episodes") are absolutely hilarious and typically take between 10-20 minutes, which is perfect for rotating through with a big group of friends. One of the best parts of YDKJ is that it can be played with the Scene It? Big Button Controllers, making it accessible and playable for even your non-gamer friends.

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The Hook

You can have the funnest party game in the world, but if people won't play it with you, it'll never get played. As someone who loved the games of the Scene It? series, I always had trouble finding people to play with me. YDKJ blasts through that dilemma as even its menu and game loading screens (also known as the "Green Room," which acts a humorous pre-show/prep session for the "game show team") draw people in with their humor. Once the episode actually starts, the host, Cookie Masterson, puts gamers at ease with his easy humor that traipses the PG-13 line.

As you'll see in the screenshots, the questions aren't exactly your typical trivia fare. Most questions have a set-up which lays out some kind of funny, topical explanation, then moves in to a question that seems related but is also out of "left field". Players are then presented with four choices from which to pick and a countdown clock begins. The players buzz in with their answers; the more time left on the clock, the more money they'll win if they get it right (or lose if they get it wrong). The gameplay also has a twist in the form of "screws". At the beginning of each game, every player gets a screw. Screws allow players to put one of their competitors on the spot and force him to answer a question. If he gets it right, he gets more money. If he gets it wrong, he loses more. There are few things in gaming more fun than screwing your best friends.

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The game also features special questions like "Dis or Dat" which gives a player a category and has him decide whether the clues (which fly at them in quick fashion) fit in one of two classifications. For example, one "Dis or Dat" has the player determine whether a series of names are "a brand of ranch salad dressing" or a "a legal brothel in Nevada"*. The game also features question categories like "Nocturnal Admissions" (guess the movie that a dream is based on), "Funky Trash" (identify a person based on items in found in their trash), "Who's The Dummy?" (the question is asked by Cookie's ventriloquist dummy, which slurs around words), and my personal favorite the "The Wrong Answer of the Game" in which gamers are given a clue as to who "sponsors" the wrong answer of the game and are left to figure out where that sponsored wrong answer is placed in the entirety of the episode.

* For funsies, what do you think of "Annie's Naturals Cowgirl Ranch"?

The hallmark of YDKJ is the final round, however... the "Jack Attack". In the "Jack Attack", players are given a clue and then are forced to match two phrases together to earn cash. For example, one of the early "Jack Attack" clues is "The Hair Up There"; the first character to appear is "Medusa", and then various forms of hair begin to fly by on the screen, forcing you to pick the correct form of hair (in this case "Snakes") when it appears. The "Jack Attack" becomes ultimately important because only one person is awarded money for answering correctly, so you have to be fast, but answering incorrectly will cost a big wad of dough; "Jack Attack" questions are worth $4,000 a piece, making them the most valuable in the game. This allows for virtually every player to have a chance to win and can create complete and utter living room mayhem as the hyper-competitive gamers try to distract each other.



The Achievements

YDKJ has some fantastic achievements that will keep you playing at parties/gatherings for months on end. As far as achievement lists go, this one has some fun pops, from the prerequisite Vidiot Savant (Get every question right in an episode) to Quick-Draw McDumbass (Choose wrong answer within the first 3 seconds 10 times), there are fun achievements spread throughout YDKJ. Possibly the greatest achievement is the Consolation Achievement for playing five hours without getting a single achievement. While there are some Xbox LIVE multi-player achievements that could cause you some problems, most of the achievements are easily poppable with some guidance and assistance.

The Stats

10,159 tracked gamers have this game and 660 (6.50%) have completed it. Most gamers have peaked out at seven of the sixty achievements (the base game has 40 and there are four DLC packs that add in an additional 20), so you know there is some tasty ratio goodness loaded in YDKJ.

Our community has given YDKJ an even 4.0 rating (1103 votes), and Metacritic has it weighing in with an 82.

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The Price

Here's the best part, gamers, Amazon (US) currently has YDKJ for $11.53. That's right, you too can own one of the best party games ever for less than the price of a (good) pizza!

Tragically, the game doesn't seem to be available in the UK. This makes me so angry that I'm officially going to start a petition to get everyone at THQ sacked!

Wait... oh... right.

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The Verdict

Even with most of my friends being non-gamers, I can still get them to sit down with a few drinks for a few rounds of You Don't Know Jack. It's never not a good time. Cookie Masterson keeps the game moving along, and his jokes are actually good, unlike other party games. It's irreverent humor and wacky take on trivia are as good today as they were in the game's first release back in 1995. If you're the type of gamer who has friends over on a regular occasion, YDKJ should be a welcome addition to your game library.

If there's a game you'd like to see featured in Easter Eggs, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.