'You don't know Jack' knows fun
Trivia, irreverence back in new version of game
By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Marc Saltzman, a freelance technology journalist whose reviews also appear on the Gannett News Service.
'You Don't Know Jack,' the PC trivia game franchise that became wildly popular in the mid '90s, is back with its first new title in four years.
"You Don't Know Jack 6: The Lost Gold" from Jellyvision doesn't have the depth and polish of its predecessors, but it still proves to be a fun trivia challenge, especially for two or three players.
Previous "Jack" titles resemble a TV quiz show, with a wise-cracking virtual host who challenges players to answer multiple-choice brain teasers that combine pop culture with common trivia categories such as math, history, English, science and geography.
The premise is largely the same in "The Lost Gold," with the virtual host dishing questions such as What planet is Ozzy Osbourne from?
Possible answers include:
1. The one with the shortest rotation.
2. The one with the largest moon.
3. The fifth largest one in the solar system.
4. The closest one to Mercury.
Because Ozzy is from Earth, the correct answer would be No. 3 because Earth is the solar system's fifth largest planet. Gamers can play a seven-question round by themselves, but the real fun begins when one or two friends join in a 21-question match on the same computer.
Players try to win as much virtual cash (known as "loot") as possible before the end of the game. As in TV game shows, players must "buzz" in to answer a question. As in previous "Jack" titles, players have one opportunity per game to "screw their neighbor" by passing on a tough question and forcing one of their opponents to answer it.
The cheeky male host, Phil Ridarelli, adds personality and irreverence to the game with his off-color humor, insults and double entendres loaded with sexual innuendo. Whether you're playing alone or with friends, he'll make fun of you if you answer a question incorrectly or buzz in prematurely.
"Lost Gold" includes more than 300 questions, which is half the number offered in "You Don't Know Jack: 5th Dementia," but the questions do not repeat too often.
Aside from the multiple choice questions, there are other "Jack" mainstays: "Dis or Dat" questions present seven words that players must place in the correct categories.
For instance, is "China White" a hair product or slang term for an illegal narcotic? How about "Selson Blue" or "Black Tar?"
"Gibberish Questions" challenge players to guess the meaning of a silly sounding phrase by saying it aloud. For example, a gibberish phrase may be "Cal Frick Bee Boo Man" with a clue that it refers to "a gap-toothed magazine mascot." The answer is Alfred E. Neuman.
Fill-in-the-blanks and anagram questions are also back, as is the final multipart "Jack Attack" question, which is worth the most cash. Also new, the game's artificial intelligence remembers if you've played before and bypasses explanations with dialogue such as "You know the drill -- pick up some loot, just like your last game."
Speaking of "loot," a silly pirate theme seems more of an afterthought than a new feature. Aside from a couple of pirate-themed bonus questions, it has little to do with the game, though the amateurish intro movie asks players to help a cursed pirate find lost treasure.
At the end of each game, the amassed loot is tallied, and if players earn enough, a second mini movie is unlocked, confirming the player has freed the pirate from his curse.
Rather than introduce this inane story-based element, Jellyvision should have added more questions and designed new types of questions.
Finally, "Lost Gold" won't be available in stores like previous "Jack" titles. You'll have to buy it online at www.jellyvision.com.