Hey You? Yeah, we mean you, Mr big I-Own-A-CD-ROM head. Think you're pretty smart, don't you? Think you know your trivia, don't you? Well think again.
Only a single version of You Don't Know Jack was released in the UK, which is partly explained by it being a complete rewrite content-wise. The core question structure (more on that later) remains the same, but pop-culture references are all distinctly British. Further, there is only a single host, the now eponymous Jack Cake, voiced by londoner Paul Kaye (of Dennis Pennis fame). Having not experienced the American version, I'm not sure if they upped the level of offensiveness, but I'm pretty sure that given its content they couldn't have dropped it! This essentially is the point of the whole exercise- screw up a question, do too well over the course of a few, or simply try to start a game on a friday night and you'll be subjected to assorted abuse, humiliation and mockery.
Play is basically the same regardless of the number of players (up to 3 can go head to head, provided you can fit them around the keyboard). For a seven question game, there are 6 questions, then the Jack Attack; for 21 question games you get two rounds of ten, then the Attack, with all cash amounts doubled in the second round.
Question selection itself favours the bold; if you got the preceding question right, or were the first to have a go if no-one figured it out, then you'll pick the next one from the three titles. These usually have only a tangential connection to the actual question, but this is still an advantage as it increases your chance of grabbing the Dis or Dat special round for yourself.
Typically, the question at hand will be of a standard form: Jack asks the question then 4 options are offered. Players have 10 seconds to buzz in, locking out the others; then they have 10 seconds more to pick one of the options. Get it right, and you get the cash (£1000, £2000 or £3000 depending on difficulty), but get it wrong and the amount is deducted from what you have! In a multi-player environment, there are two further complications: the ability to screw an opponent once per round (forcing them to answer, although if they get it right you lose the relevant amount of cash), and the "don't be a wimp" audience effect, where a player with a massive lead is forced to buzz in and attempt the question. Occasionally, instead of 4 options it's necessary to buzz in then type an answer- either a fill in the blank question, or a whatshisname, where clues are slowly offered.
Special question types crop up once per round- in the full length game, you get one of each, but in 7-question mode it's a random pick between the two. In Dis Or Dat, only a single player can participate, with the task being to divide 7 objects between two categories (serial killer or rock star, say). The Gibberish Question is particularly mad, as all players race to decipher a string of nonsense into a well known phrase that rhymes with it- clues are offered over the course of 30 seconds but cash ticks down with time. Screwing isn't possible in either question type.
Finally there is the Jack Attack, where it is entirely possible to reverse your fortunes in the game with about £14K up for grabs, but the potential to lose even greater sums. A keyword slowly emerges from the centre of the screen whilst others are launched towards it at increasing speed from off-screen: one of them will match within the context of the clue, and the player who buzzes in first gets the two grand and triggers a new keyword. The real challenge comes from not cracking up at some of the inane mismatches the program offers up; unless you're playing a hardened console veteran with lightning reflexes in wich case the hardest part is buzzing in before them...
Given the target hardware (486 class machines, or a 68040 Mac) YDKJ doesn't exactly sparkle in the graphics department, but the text doesn't feel clunky and crucially this minimalism allowed it to avoid any stuttering that would ruin the rather more intense audio environment. It's full of delightful little touches- the director shouting for the desktop to be lost or queuing up the fade to black, subversive little adverts that run with the end credits, and a set of 3 stickers to highlight the buzzer keys on your keyboard, and above all there's generally enough variation in the audio and question sets to prevent it feeling scripted or canned. As party games go, you'll be hard pressed to find one as delightfully offensive as YDKJ.
(Manufacturers) Warning: This product contains mature content, including suggestive sexual references and language that may not be suitable for children. Besides, they won't get it anyway.