Friday, March 18, 2011

Games I Like #1: You Don't Know Jack (XBox 360)

(also available on PS3, Wii and stripped down DS and PC versions)

I was a tried and true Jackophile in the mid to late 90s. Many a weekend I would scrounge together a few friends (and, too often as to be kind of sad, played solo) to pop in a YDKJ game into the PC for a good time. It was the polar opposite of quiet family Trivial Pursuit nights (unless someone got drunk and made fun of everyone when they got a question wrong). Ah....summer nights.....

Oh yeah, the game.

You Don't Know Jack subscribes to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" adage, bringing back the producers, the Screws, the Dis or Dat, the Jack Attack and, most importantly, Cookie Masterson (voiced by Tom Gottlieb). Cookie IS YDKJ. There have been other hosts of the game, but none came close to just feeling right for the job than Gottlieb. He's the perfect smartass host.

There are a few new additions to the formula, and all of them are positive. Now, instead of one player buzzing in and answering a question, each player chooses an answer and earns a cash bonus depending on how fast they are. This lets everyone in on the fun while also rewarding those with the fastest reflexes. Plus, there is also a sponsored "Wrong Answer of the Game", a specific wrong answer that earns the player a cash bonus and a fabulous prize! This actually lends a little bit of replay to the episodes as the answer is never too obvious to find (there is a clue in the sponsor of the episode).

Instead of a large database of questions to pull from, the game is broken up into 73 specific episodes of10 questions and a Jack Attack. This is a positive and a negative; the positive is that if you haven't played an episode before, all the questions and the experience will be brand new to you (and with 73 episodes, it will take a while to burn through them all). However, once you play the episode, there really isn't much incentive to play it again until it's been so long you can't fully remember the answers (or you want to find the Wrong Answer of the Game). There is already a DLC pack of 10 new episodes for $5 with promises of more to come, so odds are you won't be hurting for new content that quickly.

Obviously, you want to play this game with other people as playing alone just isn't fun at all. Fortunately, there is support for up to 4 players both locally (though you need controllers for each person. If you still have some Scene It controllers laying around they are supported) and on XBox LIVE. The game keeps track of what episodes you have already played, so it's easy to avoid repeats. There are also online and local leaderboards to find out which of your friends is best at really irrelevant trivia.

Overall, it's a great thing that Jellyvision Games decided not to tinker too much with what had worked for them for all those years and decided to show a new generation of gamers the essence of what hooked us back in high school. They know their Jack.

Why Netflix is the greatest thing ever invented.

How did primitive man (i.e. lived in the early 90s) ever get along without Netflix?  For the price of one new DVD a month, you have access to tens of thousands of movies, from the newest titles (though 28 days later....and delivered by zombies), to the classics, to obscure, Hong Kong Jackie Chan films (something I appreciate very much) and everything in between.  Seeing those red envelopes in my mailbox is like a mini-Christmas to me; either I get to watch something great that will remain in my memory for all time (Kick-Ass)...or something the equivalent of socks (any Twilight movie).

Yeah, that metaphor sucks.

Anyway, most of the movies and TV shows I watch nowadays are from Netflix.  I still watch a few things on cable (sports, whatever is on Discovery at the time), so I'm not quite ready to "cut the cord" just yet.  However, with Amazon getting into the streaming game and the ability to get MLB games from MLB-At-Bat, getting your favorite shows should be getting easier (and, dare I say, cheaper?) than the 200 channels (with nothin' on) most cable services offer now.

Most of the titles I will talk about in this blog will be things I first got on Netflix and liked so much I bought myself a copy.  Or curiosities I wanted to check out.  Or things I haven't seen in years that are viewed through the eyes of nostalgia.  Or just crap I happen to stumble across while on my XBox at 2AM.

Yeah, expect a lot of that.


Soundtrack: You Spin Me  Round (Like A Record) by Dead or Alive.

So here's my little slice of the internet, here for all, some, a few of you to see!  Here I will give my thoughts on whatever games, movies or TV shows I am watching through the magic(s) of Netflix, cable, my slight Amazon obsession or whatever's on my DVD rack that I haven't watched in a while.  I started this blog because I really need something to do with my time instead of moping around about almost being 30 and because I like writing about stuff I like.  Caution: I really don't have much structure to what I'm going to talk about; basically whatever I watch or play over the previous few days will be the subject, no matter if it's games that have been talked about to death or a MST3K episodes I'm watching for the 50th time (Santa Claus represent!).  So sit back, relax and enjoy one man-child's take on your favorites!