By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
wonít beat around the bush hereÖaround the loonygames camp, You Donít Know Jack is popular. Hell, itís incredibly popular. We just love the damn thing. Weíre not talking about some once-in-a-while thing here, weíre talking about regular You Donít Know Jack (YDKJ) battles.
Everyone around here seems to love the thing. The non-gamers on the staff, who normally run for the door when someone mentions the word "Quake" canít get enough of it. Heck, even my girlfriend likes it. :)
And why the heck not? These are great games. My personal favorite of the lot is YDKJ: Movies, since Iím one of those obsessive film buffs. loonygames contributor Jeff Solomon and his filmmaking partner in crime Jordan Barker have been known to actually get into seriously violent fights over YDKJ: Movies. YDKJ: Movies is extremely well made, taking the original "style" of YDKJ, and making every step of the way geared towards the film buff. Instead of a regular counter, they turned it into a filmstrip-esque countdown. Instead of just the usual cheers when a person gets a question right, they made it so the numbers take a bow in Oscar-like glory. Itís very clever.
If youíve never played YDKJ, I feel sorry for you. Iím serious! Few games that Iíve played really have the sort of "get-togetherness" that YDKJ has. Iíve played these with more non-gamers than anything I can think of off the top of my head. You know how far this goes? I played YDKJ: Movies with my father. :)
The concept of YDKJ is very simple. Itís a trivia game. No real graphics, just text, and a bunch of really funny hosts. Thereís enough simulated banter from the host to make you think for a moment that itís actually happening liveÖif only a moment. The questions are nothing short of brilliant. The concept of this trivia game, is that itís, "the show where high culture and pop culture collide". Whatís that mean? It means you can expect questions that manage to incorporate Socrates, with sayÖPez dispensers. Itís quite nutty, and wonderfully bizarre.
Lately, though, the series has undergone some changes, some for the betterÖand some not quite as good. Letís start with the good ones. The seriesí online presence has totally been kicking ass lately, as theyíve switched to an "episode" format (before it was just one episode, but was updated every week. Now you can view old ones that youíve missed). The online game is so close to the CDROM version itís scary, and if youíre on a system with a so-so sound card, youíll never even notice the downsampled audio. They also added a little while back the ability to play with three people. When the NetShow first launched, it was just two, which was kind of frustrating after the three available on the CDROM edition. If youíre new to the series, this is definitely the place to go.
The bigger (and arguable worse) change, is the new CDROM game, YDKJ Volume 4: The Ride. Iím not entirely sure that calling this volume 4 is especially accurate. It barely resembles the previous games, and while the underlying questions are the same, a lot of new gameplay elements have been added in.
First and foremost, the interface has undergone a radical redesign. Whereas the original game(s) placed you into a game show setting (complete with the producer giving you instructions) the new edition seems to put you on an amusement park ride. I donít know about you, but this just ainít doing it for me. The other thing, is that instead of being able to pick your category, like in previous games, the new one has you trying to nail the one you want as they all go zipping by. Whatís going on there? Thatís not an improvement, if anything, it makes choosing a category a rather silly notion, since I canít actually read them as they go by. Why give me the option of choosing them if thatís the case?
Volume 4 does have some cool new elements. All the hosts from the previous episodes are back (including my main man Cookie, from YDKJ: Movies). If youíre a fan of the series, youíll get a kick out of it, Iím sure. Of course, if youíre not, well, then youíll probably be a bit confused. But I do like that theyíre having some fun with us regular YDKJ fans. Also new, are the number of "context-sensitive" questions. There were always a few of them in previous games, but volume 4 is just chock full of Ďem. In one episode of YDKJ (I canít remember which one specifically) the host announces that heís going to see how many Brady Bunch episodes he can work inÖitís a fun little thing to throw in, and it really gets that whole "live" feel across. In volume 4, the game kicks off with a question that effects the whole game.
An example question: "whoís a bigger turn on? The Land-O-Lakes maiden, or the Red Baron?" I chose the Land-O-Lakes maiden, and the game tailored itself to bad puns about lactose, dairy products, and chicks in leather. Pretty cool.
The whole interface in volume 4 just isnít as cool as the previous editions, and I just couldnít bring myself to get into the whole "ride" thing, but at least the underlying game is pretty much the same. The questions are still fun, and itís still the best party game around this side of Atomic Bomberman.
The bottom line is really this: if you still donít know jackÖwell, Iíll introduce you. Heís a good guy.
- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here at loonygames.
|Credits: Bargain Bin logo illustrated and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Bargain Bin is © 1999 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and like, in poor taste, dude.|