Jackbox Party Pack 9 review for PlayStation, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox

Platform: PS5
Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch
Publisher: Jackbox Games
Developer: Jackbox Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-10
Online: Yes

As much as I love all the Jackbox Party Packs, every time I review one, I have one complaint: there?s always a dud. Whether it?s #4?s Monster Seeking Monster, or #8?s Weapons Drawn, or #3?s Fakin? It, or?well, you get the picture. Every new collection, without fail, there?s one game that sticks out by virtue of not being particularly interesting.

At least, that was the case until Jackbox Party Pack 9. This time out? There are five games here, and every one of them is worth your time.

For the one returning game, Fibbage 4, this could have been expected. Fibbage has always struck a good balance between requiring a good knowledge of trivia and coming up with convincing lies, and that continues here, too. It doesn?t add much to the formula, but it doesn?t really need to: it just has to continue what previous Fibbages have done, and it achieves that.

The other four games, however, were unknown quantities, and any of them could have been a letdown ? and yet, none of them are.

There?s Quixort, which is pronounced ?quick sort? ? which also describes what you do in the game. It gives you a topic (say, Most Humid to Least Humid, or Most Recent Catchphrases to Oldest Catchphrases), then a series of blocks starts falling down the screen which you have to place in order. Given that each team?s turns last a few minutes each, Quixort is definitely slower moving than most other Jackbox entries, but it leads to some great debates, and it?s intuitive enough that pretty much anyone can play.

There?s Junktopia, which is probably the highest concept game of the bunch. A wizard has turned you and your fellow players into frogs, then set you loose in a antique/junk store. You have to pick out an item, and give it a name and a backstory. Each of the items are then compared one-on-one, and the winning item is the one that gets the most votes. You win the game ? and get turned back into a human ? if you end with the most votes overall. In some ways, it?s also the least demanding game in Jackbox Party Pack 9, since the game gives you items and gives you prompts to describe them, but it still allows for just enough creativity that you can be really funny.

There?s Nonsensory, which is as close as Jackbox Party Pack 9 comes to having a drawing game (which might be this entry?s one minor flaw). The game asks you to draw or type something on a scale (i.e. ?Draw someone who?s halfway in between an uncle or a grandfather?, or ?Write a text message where it was 30% likely that the person got murdered halfway through the text?), and then your fellow players have to guess where on the scale your image or sentence goes. As drawing games go, it?s nowhere near as good as, say, Bidiots or Tee-KO, but, again, it gives you just enough room to be creative that it ends up being fun.

Lastly, there?s Roomerang, which was probably the biggest surprise of the bunch ? at least for me. Based on reality shows like Big Brother, you and your fellow players each have one character trait, and you then compete with each other to avoid being kicked out of the house. As players are voted out, new ones come in, but each of them have names that are suspiciously like those of the voted out players. As someone who?s never seen Big Brother, I didn?t go into Roomerang expecting it to have that many possibilities, but the character traits for each new housemate require you to imagine someone very specific ? and they leave room for puns, which I?m always a fan of.

As I noted above, my only real complaint about Jackbox Party Pack 9 is that there aren?t any drawing games ? and that?s more a minor quibble than anything else, since I enjoyed all five games here so much. As the series nears its tenth entry, you?d think that the creative minds at Jackbox might be running out of ideas, but Jackbox Party Pack 9 suggests that they?re only just starting to hit their collective stride.

Jackbox Games provided us with a Jackbox Party Pack 9 PS4/5 code for review purposes.

Grade: A