‘You Don’t Know Jack’ Mobile Game Review
Comedy goes about as well with games as it does with sex. Which is to say, not at all.
Usually the harder a game developer tries to make you laugh, the more pathetic and transparent the effort seems, and the worse the game turns out to be. But You Don't Know Jack, which has apparently been out since last year but just popped up on our radar, made us laugh so hard and often that we forgot games aren't supposed to be funny.
A revamp of the ancient 1990's PC trivia franchise, You Don't Know Jack is close to the ultimate pocket trivia game. We say "close to" because it's not perfectly suited for on-the-go play. Ideally, the game would be just as riotous whether you played it with the volume muted or at full blast with your headphones plugged in, but that's not the case here. Turn off the sound and you're left with a decent but unspectacular trivia app.
The real star is the narration by host Cookie Masterson (Tom Gottlieb), who mashes up Joel McHale's 'The Soup' pop culture savvy with Jon Stewart's 'The Daily Show' sarcasm to whip up a relentless banter that keeps you entertained even as you prove that you've forgotten not only everything you learned in high school, but all the news headlines you scanned a few months ago.
Developer Jellyvision Games could have backpedaled by adding subtitles, but it was a wise move not to do so, since Cookie's timing and delivery makes the jokes resonate. It might sound disturbing to read that Cookie always feared death with balls in his mouth, but when he says it, the joke works.
Your $2.99 (the iPad version runs you $4.99) gets you 24 episodes of the show, each of which boasts 10 rounds of smarmy questions that test all facets of your worldly knowledge. Expect to be tested on anything from geography, culture and Presidents' middle names to the number of husbands Elizabeth Taylor had.
You can replay episodes to try to increase your score and hear Cookie's other comments -- he's got a zinger for just about every conceivable correct or incorrect answer -- or up your scores to rise up the leaderboards. It would have been interesting to have had the option of true, simultaneous multiplayer, but that would have probably devolved into a quick-recall memorization test between people who have played and replayed the episodes far too many times rather than a true trivia competition.
As it stands, You Don't Know Jack gives you hours of comedy for your three bucks. The game may make you feel like a moron, but at least it gets you to laugh about it.
You Don't Know Jack ($2.99), is available on iOS platforms. Published by Jellyvision games, which provided a code for our review. We played the game on an iPod Touch for two hours.