Jellyvision's You Don't Know Jack trivia games have been around since 1995, and since then, they have allowed up to three players to sit around a single computer to answer challenging trivia questions in a format presented like a TV game show. Each game in the series has featured a smart-mouthed host; each has featured a series of both easy and obscure trivia questions that are presented in a bizarre and non sequitur fashion; and each has followed this main portion of the "show" with a series of phony on-air commercials that aired while the credits rolled. You Don't Know Jack 6: The Lost Gold follows this formula to a tee, which is certainly a good thing for those who have yet to try out this entertaining trivia series. If you're a longtime fan of the You Don't Know Jack games and you absolutely adore every last aspect of this long-lived trivia series, you'll also be pleased to know that Jellyvision hasn't changed the formula--at all. This may only be an issue if you've already played the previous games and are looking for something new.
You Don't Know Jack 6 contains a background story about a seafaring pirate named "The Cap'n" who is cursed to help host the show. Other than this, it's otherwise very similar to the other games in the series. Up to three players can play it on the same computer by competing for imaginary money and buzzing in to respond to one of five question types. These include multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, anagrams, gibberish questions (a gibberish phrase that rhymes with one that you must guess), dis-or-dat (deciding whether a certain phrase is classified one way or another), and the Jack Attack, a series of phrases you must match to related phrases. As in the previous games, you can also "screw" your opponents once each game by pressing the "S" key, which forces them to answer a question they (hopefully) don't know so that they lose cash when they answer incorrectly.
The game includes 350 questions in total, which is fewer than the number offered by some of the previous games in the series. However, it's still a lot. These questions cover a very good range of academic subjects that you'd expect from a trivia game, as well as the traditionally modern, hip subjects you'd expect from the You Don't Know Jack series, which has always included questions about modern history as well as recent movies and TV shows. The game also does a good job of spreading these questions out so that you'll have to play at least a dozen or so sessions before you see even one repeated question. And if nothing else, the new game's trivia is quite challenging, though for some bizarre reason, the game also seems to put extra emphasis on sexual innuendo in the wording of its questions and answers. This game definitely isn't for kids.
You Don't Know Jack 6 looks and sounds very similar to the previous games in the series. The game's graphics are displayed at a locked, low resolution of 640x480 and consist mostly of large, colorful block script to display the questions, answers, and how much imaginary money you've won. The words and numbers bounce and float across the screen, as they have in previous games, but other than a brief cinematic that shows the pirate at the beginning of the game, there are no characters--or anything else--to be seen in the game. This means that, like the rest of the series, the new game can be played on very low-end computers. It also means, however, that the game doesn't feature any graphics bells or whistles at all.
The game also sounds pretty good. The soundtrack features appropriately upbeat game show-style music for its intro and segues between questions and features TV cartoon sound effects for when you miss a question or "screw" your opponents. Like previous games in the series, all of You Don't Know Jack 6 is narrated by a wisecracking game show host, and as in the previous games, the audio delivery is seamless. Every question sounds like it's being read like one realistic, continuous line of dialogue. However, host Phil "Schmitty" Ridarelli and The Cap'n, who acts as the stagehand, seem to lack the edge and wit of previous hosts, like Cookie from the original You Don't Know Jack or Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Reubens from the short-lived TV show of the same name. Just as in the previous games, both characters crack jokes that are appropriate to your situation, such as when you skip the instructions, are playing alone, or lose big. In the new game, though, you can see most of their jokes coming a mile away, so you may not get too many laughs from the voice-over. However, in the customary You Don't Know Jack style, a number of the questions have clever wordings that you'll probably find amusing, especially if you play with a friend or two.
This is a decent game to play alone and it's better with friends. It has enough different trivia questions to last you for some time, provided you don't sit and play through the game continuously for several hours on end. It's a good value at $20, though the game is currently available only through Jellyvision's Web site. If you've never played a game in this series before and the concept sounds intriguing, you should definitely consider getting it. However, considering how similar it is to previous installments, you could probably get one of the others as well. Still, it seems disappointing that after all this time, Jellyvision didn't see fit to try and update the series. Perhaps the developer could have incorporated (or parodied) the "new" features of modern TV game shows, like presenting integrated video "clues," audience participation, phone-ins, or Internet surveys, as these are all features that could probably have been implemented well by a studio as clever and creative as Jellyvision. If you're a longtime fan of these games, you may be disappointed at how You Don't Know Jack 6 refuses to deviate from the series' formula, but as with the other games, you'll still probably get a kick out of the questions.