You Don’t Know Jack (iOS) review
You Don’t Know Jack, a long-running and popular comedy quiz game series from Jellyvision made a comeback earlier this year with an all-new free-to-play Facebook incarnation. Now, that new free-to-play version has come to iOS devices, featuring full cross-platform play against Facebook opponents.
You Don’t Know Jack, for those unfamiliar with the series, is a spoof of popular TV quiz show formats, though it features its own format rather than being based closely on an existing show. Players may compete in a single “episode” per day for free, with additional episodes available in exchange for earned or purchased in-game currency. In each episode, players are confronted with five bizarre questions and compete asynchronously against either their Facebook friends if they are logged in to the social network, or random opponents if they have chosen not to log in. If players log in to Facebook using the app, their progress, cumulative winnings and other statistics are synchronized with the Facebook version if they have played before.
Questions in You Don’t Know Jack take a variety of different formats ranging from simple multiple-choice questions on a variety of strange themes to “Dis or Dat” challenges, in which players must correctly categorize words and phrases that flash up on screen into one or both of two on-screen groupings. Each episode always ends with a “Jack Attack” question, in which players are given a clue and must tap on the screen when something relating to both the clue and a static phrase on screen flashes up. In most cases, players earn money for correct answers and lose it for incorrect answers — the Jack Attack question provides the potential for either huge earnings or losses, meaning it can provide a complete turnaround to the game’s leaderboard even at such a late stage.
At the end of an episode, in-game currency winnings are distributed according to where the player came in the rankings. Everyone wins something, even if they came last, though losers will have to contend with the verbal admonishments of the game’s host Cookie Masterson, who is a constant audible presence while playing the game — though he is never actually seen on-screen.
You Don’t Know Jack’s iOS incarnation works just as well as its Facebook version — in fact, many of the question styles seem particularly well-suited to touchscreen play. The game does have a couple of issues with its transition to mobile, however — due to its reliance on streaming audio and video data from the Internet, it is all but unplayable on slow Wi-Fi networks or in areas with poor cellular coverage.
It’s also worth noting that although the game is available worldwide on the App Store, the questions are, as they always have been for the series, rather U.S.-centric in their tone and required knowledge. This will be no issue for a significant proportion of the game’s audience, but for international players it may leave them feeling like they are not getting as much out of the game as they could. It is a difficult issue to get around without generating a significant amount of new content for specific territories, however — and given the game’s stellar production values this would be a costly and time-consuming prospect that is probably not good value for money for Jellyvision. The game isn’t unplayable for international players — it’s simply quite a bit more challenging for those who do not know their American pop culture!
You Don’t Know Jack makes an excellent mobile game for players to “dip into” once or twice a day — it makes great lunchtime entertainment for those with a few minutes to spare. It complements the Facebook version extremely well and maintains the series’ legacy as one of the best, most consistently-amusing and irreverent virtual quiz shows out there.
You Don’t Know Jack is currently No. 11 in Top Free Apps, No. 6 in Top Free iPad Apps, No. 5 in Top Free Games and No. 3 in Top Free iPad Games. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.
An already-brilliant game gets a brilliant mobile port.