With over five years having passed since Jackass went off the air, releasing Jackass: The Game on the PlayStation 2 in late 2007 might seem like bad timing. Indeed, this minigame collection with a grimy coating of gross-out humor, gleeful sadomasochism, and calculated bad decisions would've felt much more essential had it been released nearer to the run of the show or the theatrical release of one of the Jackass movies. It might feel a little mercenary, and the minigames don't break any new ground, but for those who have maintained a fondness for that special blend of shopping carts, hilarious underwear choices, and vomit, Jackass: The Game does a good job of capturing the spirit of the show.
Setting itself up as a kind of lost fourth season of the show, Jackass: The Game puts you in charge after regular Jackass director and accomplice Jeff Tremaine is dealt some very personal bodily harm during an impromptu stunt gone awry. The season consists of seven episodes, and for each episode you'll have to produce five stunts, which you'll play through in a series of minigames. There are a few short cutscenes showcasing the Jackass boys' juvenile tendencies interspersed throughout the season, but most of the game's personality comes through in the actual gameplay.
Staying true to the source material, the stunts here can range from complicated, big-budget gestures of stupidity, such as destroying a suburban home by playing golf with hand grenades, right down to the simple joy of repeatedly kicking your friends in the crotch. Some are ripped almost verbatim from the show, such as the gag-reflexive "egg gulp" stunt, the rhythm-based Party Boy stunt, and the "wee tattoo" stunt that tests your ability to draw a tattoo on an unstable target. Others turn down the Jackass and turn up the Tony Hawk, allowing for stunts that, in real life, would end up involving the police and next-of-kin, such as the "pachinko precipice" stunt that has you flinging a Jackass down a rocky cliff in an attempt to rack up as huge a hospital bill as possible.
As with any minigame collection, there are some that you'll play once and never want to play again, while others will keep you coming back time and again. Jackass is at its best when it's simple and gross, which, luckily, is most of the time. The game never even bothers to explain the controls for any of its stunts, instead just tossing you in and hoping for the best. With rare exception, it's all you need, partially because they're intuitive, and partially because a number of them have simply been lifted from another game and grossed up a bit.
The game gets a good amount of mileage out of its stunts by giving you a number of objectives within each of them. Sometimes they're just tiered, score-based objectives, though often they're diametrically opposed to one another, requiring you to approach the stunts in radically different ways in order to complete them. Still, even if you work to complete every last objective, which you don't need to actually finish the season, the whole thing shouldn't take but a couple of hours. Outside of the season you can play the challenge mode, where the objectives are generally harder and you can earn cash to unlock extras like props, character models, and clips from the show. There's also some multiplayer options, including round-robin and random round-robin, as well as the provocatively named "ass-to-ass" mode that lets two players go at it in a small selection of stunts. The multiplayer options are a little spartan, and you get the sense that they shaped the modes to accommodate the stunts they had, instead of making the stunts with multiplayer in mind in the first place.
The visuals are stripped down, too, though the ugly, bland, back-alley locations actually end up helping the game look more like the show. Nearly the entire cast of Jackass regulars, minus skater-turned-reality-TV-star Bam Margera, are in here, and while their likenesses are generally bang-on, all of their voice clips sound stiff and stagey, which goes against the unscripted, casual feel of the show. The soundtrack ends up being much more complementary, including noise from bands like the Anti-Nowhere League, the Circle Jerks, CKY, and Nashville Pussy.
Jackass was the ultimate example of "don't try this at home" television, making it fertile ground for a video game adaptation. Even though it's missing the schadenfreude element that permeated the show, Jackass: The Game has the right attitude, and it still manages to elicit the occasional chuckle with its sophomoric hijinks.