You Don’t Know Jack

The questions were great in that they were logical, yet brilliant.
The questions were great in that they were logical, yet brilliant.

It feels a little odd doing this review of a retro game. It’s a game that’s very dear to me, as it usually comes out at parties, even if we know all the answers and all the corny jokes. However the game is not particularly retro per-se, as reincarnations of this game still exist, with it rumoured to come out for the Wii this year, and the game hasn’t changed much since the original.

However, I’m going to focus on the UK’s only iteration of the American cult hit of the quiz game – You Don’t Know Jack.

The game was released on the UK shores in the late 1990’s for the PC only. It had been a little bit of a hit in the US for a few years before that, originating in 1995, and was popular because it was one of the first interactive CD-ROMs that was actually pretty funny.

The game takes place on a game show, and did away with the Full Motion Video that dogged games, instead relied on pretty slick text visuals and a large amount of audio. The game was either short (11 questions) or long (21 questions), and played for upto three players. The game pitted the wits of the players in a number of rounds. The rounds were one question long and lasted for thirty seconds. There were also a few bonus rounds, including “Dis or Dat” – where 7 questions were asked, “Gibberish Question” – where the answer is given but in a rhymed format, and you have to deceipher it, and “Jack Attack” – the game finale where you find a connection between the words that appear on the screen. There were plenty more, but these were the main ones in the UK game.

So, it sounds like a quiz game, big deal. Why does it deserve to be featured here?

The Dis or Dat round meant you had to choose between two unobvious yet close categories
The Dis or Dat round meant you had to choose between two unobvious yet close categories

Well the first thing is the questions. At first glance, they appear to be completely absurd, and completely pointless. However, each one has a great range of logic behind them, it’s incredibly creative just how the questions work, and the answers are all correct. Lateral thinking and interpretation skills are need to answer most – if not all – of the questions, as well as a fairly good general knowledge. To process that all in 30 seconds require an incredible amount of brains!

The second thing is the soundtrack. The game is one of the funniest games ever made, either with it’s American quizmaster (who changes regularly, a dark, slightly sadistic wisecracking typical US Gameshow Host) or the UK quizmaster (hosted by Paul Kaye, who played the comedic character Dennis Pennis). They don’t skimp on the audio, with each question introduced, soundbytes for all wrong answers, and general banter throughout the game.

So, this is a review of probably the best quiz game ever, but also a plea. Please release more than one version in the UK! If a Wii version comes out, we’d like it too. Sure, we’ve exported terrible game shows to the States such as The Weakest Link and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, but the surreal humour, mixed with the bonefide cleverness, would suit us (particularly the QI generation). So, if you’re reading this Nintendo, please please please release this for the Wii in the UK!

And if you dont? Well, You Don’t Know Jack!

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