You Don’t Know Jack Hands-On Preview

You Don’t Know Jack is a series of smart, smack-talking trivia games that were popular on the PC in the ’90s. After nearly a decade of silence, the franchise has resurfaced in a new edition available for just about every gaming platform out there. The iPhone and iPad versions will be available tomorrow, but we got our hands on the iPad version for an early look.

If you’ve played any of the You Don’t Know Jack games before, then you’ll feel instantly at home here because it’s evolved very little in its time off. Unlike most trivia videogames, this one doesn’t use pictures, music, or videos in the questions. In fact, mostly what happens onscreen as you play is that text and numbers move around.

Clearly, most of the developer’s focus went toward the witty writing and professional-grade voice work. Clever– and often bawdy– jokes are peppered between the questions, and the host delivers every line with a charismatic flair. Because the experience is so dependent on audio, this isn’t a game you’ll want to (or even be able to) play without the sound on.

The questions themselves are difficult, humorous, and sometimes extremely up-to-date. In the rounds we’ve played so far, we’ve encountered references to Elizabeth Taylor’s death and Rebecca Black’s delightfully awful music video “Friday.” Your score is based on how quickly you can answer the questions, so fast thinking is rewarded.

The game contains 20 unique sets of questions, which will keep you busy for quite some time, since each set takes about 15 minutes to play through. Unfortunately, there’s no multiplayer mode to round out the experience. Sure, you and a buddy can work together to play the game cooperatively, but since there’s no head-to-head competition, it’ll be tough to prove that you’re the smartest person in the room.

Regardless, we’re enjoying You Don’t Know Jack so far. The risque humor, coupled with the mix of serious academic questions and pop culture trivia, makes You Don’t Know Jack stand out against other quiz games like Trivial Pursuit. The iPhone and iPad versions of the game will be released tomorrow (actually at 11 p.m. EST tonight) for $2.99 and $4.99 respectively.