You Don't Know Jack
The classic series makes an impressive App Store debut, and while it's a fine trivia game...something's missing.
You Don't Know Jack, the longstanding trivia series, has made its way to the App Store, complete with 20 episodes featuring a variety of tough questions and the trademark funny and borderline inappropriate announcer. While enjoyable, one puzzling omission puts a damper on the fun.
This is essentially the trademark experience we first enjoyed in 1995, but with a handful of new game types and touch controls. Each episode features a series of tough questions that cover a variety of genres, made entertaining because of developer Jellyvision's witty writing and references to pop culture; we were impressed the announcer mentioned Elizabeth Taylor's death, since she recently passed away.
Here, it's all about having the most cash, which also doubles as your score. Answering correctly nets different amounts, depending on how fast you reacted and the round, while screwing up yields horrible results. Just a few wrong answers can destroy an impressive total, plunging those healthy green numbers into the red; it's common to see negative scores.
On that note, You Don't Know Jack is one of the few games (perhaps the only one) that makes people feel embarrassed for not brushing up on their trivia. Having a score of -$5489 is bad enough, but the announcer makes it even worse with his sarcastic remarks.
Of course, his lighter side is more entertaining, as he cracks plenty of jokes that'll make you smile, but it's more than just a comedy act. For every wrong answer, he adds one or more facts about the right one, giving you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes.
As for the questions, prepare to don the old thinking cap (or at the very least, fall back on the process of elimination), because the developers did outstanding work creating some of the hardest brainteasers we've seen in a video game, and these appear early and often.
On that note, we have serious beef with this title, starting with those 20 episodes. Although each one features a different series of questions, they're like watching a movie. Nothing changes. Episode three will always play the same, with the same line of questions and jokes. Improving scores aside, you can see everything the game has to offer in two hours or less. This is in stark contrast to Chillingo's upcoming Quiz Climber, which sports thousands of randomly asked questions.
The real kicker, though, is the lack of wireless multiplayer. You Don't Know Jack, at least for now, is a solo affair, while the recently released console versions support up to four players simultaneously.
Then we have the little things that bother us. The game doesn't work in landscape mode, nor is it a universal download. It costs $2.99 for the iPhone edition, and $4.99 for the HD iPad version, a far cry from the $29.99 console versions, but a bit pricey for the App Store.
At the same time, this is still a worthwhile game for anyone who grew up with the series. Jellyvision definitely nailed the critically acclaimed You Don't Know Jack experience, but whiffed on some of the most important things. Buy it if you love trivia games and/or the franchise, but if you're on the proverbial fence, wait for the promised update(s).
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
Requirements: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.
What's Hot: Twenty unique episodes, witty announcer, tough questions.
What's Not: Standard and HD versions, no multiplayer, little reason to replay episodes.