|I think it's safe to say that the You Don't Know Jack series has become a
staple of the "drunken-multi-player-game-show-type-thing" genre. Just as YDKJ:
The Ride is released, the multiplayer YDKJ "consoles" are appearing on Wal-Mart
shelves in the toy aisle. Yes, it's a strange and twisted world we live in, and the Jack
series only makes it stranger and twisted-er.
The Ride is the latest installment in the YDKJ series, and it has definitely taken the game to another level. At first I wasn't sure what "The Ride" could possibly refer to, since YDKJ is pretty much just a gameshow you play on your computer with your buddies (preferably while imbibing). Now I know that "The Ride" refers to one of the new components of YDKJ: the "Roadkill" section. Other than that, the subtitle is completely meaningless.
If you've never played YDKJ before, be warned. It's not a game for people who need a lot of coddling, or who are at all put off at being browbeaten by the computer. If you have played YDKJ before, and are thinking about playing it again, rest assured this game has attitude. In previous versions, the game would assign your player a name if you were slow about typing one in. In this version, it straight up screws around with your name. Occasionally it will force you to type in "MORON" or will remove certain letters from your name ("What's wrong? Your momma didn't give you any consonants?").
Upon entering the game, you are presented with a question. It may be something as simple as "Paper or Plastic?" or it could involve a good paragraph of description. Your answer to this first question determines the theme of the game you will play. The themes range from topics like "Crime" to "Pharmacy." Because each game is themed, The Ride gives more continuity than the previous YDKJ titles. Throughout the game, Cookie, the announcer, refers back to your answer to the initial question that got you started and usually has some sideplot going on (i.e. in the "Pharmacy" game he's drinking and smoking).
At its heart, YDKJ is a quiz show. Players answer slightly skewed questions and try to earn the most money. The questions are phrased in humorous ways, making use of puns and double entendres to reference high and low culture. Think of Win Ben Stein's Money, only with a funny host.
All the basics are still there. The graphics and sound are sharp and innovative. Gibberish questions come along, and there are guest questions that pop up as well. The screw function has been changed, so now when you screw an opponent they not only have to answer the question, but you shoot a whole mess of screws into the screen, effectively obliterating the question and answers. Then, the screwee must answer without being able to read the text, which makes the screws that much more fun.
They've added a "Bingo" question that is great. Players are presented with a word they must spell out (like "thief"). A question is displayed and the letters in the goal-word light up individually. You must buzz in when the letter that begins the answer to the question is lit, and you are then awarded that letter.
The "Roadkill" section is pretty fun as well. In the top corners of the screen, two disparate phrases are displayed. In the middle of the screen is a lit section of road that shows words that connect the two phrases. Players buzz in to make the connection, then must buzz in to make the connection between all of the answers for bonus points.
The guys and gals at Jellyvision haven't lost their edge at all. The Ride is full of "irreverent" humor. In fact, some people (you know who they are) would probably be offended at this game. However, if you're familiar with the previous titles you know what to expect.
The Ride has jumped on the bleeping bandwagon. Just like Comedy Central bleeps every bleeping thing it can find to bleep, YDKJ: The Ride does a whole lot of bleeping this time around. It's this profuse bleeping, in almost every way bleeping can be used, that makes The Ride a little edgier than earlier versions.
The game also comes with a free disc called You Don't Hear Jack. This is a compilation of the weird little commercial parodies, songs and public service announcements that have appeared on YDKJ games in the past. It's actually really funny, especially the commercial parodies ("Spreadable Lips, Anuses and Teats! If it spits, craps or leaks, it's in there!") and the phony PSAs ("Liquor. Don't touch. Why? It's mine.").
Overall, if you've played YDKJ before, you know what you're getting with The Ride. It's a great evolution and keeps true to the "Jack" spirit. If you've never tried the series, The Ride would be a good one to start out with. Just writing about it makes me want to grab my Health Food Store Boy Doll, curl up with an icy cold one in front of the monitor and hang out with my gameshow friends.