At Ars Technica we are fans of Jackbox Party Pack a series that gathers friends around the TV to play social, fun-filled mini-games that revolve around making jokes and voting for the band’s favorite jokes. Indeed, every game that turns the joke trade into a group competition is in our alley.
At least for my money, it’s good to cut the filler in these games and get to the heart of what they often remind me of: creating my own Mysterious Science Theater 3000 an experience where my friends and I dig humor out of everyday life. It turns out that there are already several games that come down to this premise, although the latest includes a significant advantage of the brand.
This week Rifftrax: The game is almost what it sounds like, and is as close as you can play with the founders of this series (who themselves have deep connections with MST3Kinheritance of). While this $ 10 computer game and all the big family consoles isn’t the first of its kind, it clearly understands what’s fun in the concept – and it’s wrong about simplicity, which mostly pays off.
* squeaking * * a-hooooga * * baby crying *
If this game is very similar to What The Dub ?!which launched on the same platforms last year, this is because Rifftrax: The game was made by the same developers in Wide Right Interactive. Just like most Jackbox games, loading X-ray on a larger screen with a computer or console, at which point the URL and “room code” appear on the screen. Up to six players can upload an instance to the web browsers of their phones, where they will write and vote during one game. Therefore, you don’t really have to be in the same room; join Zoom or Discord, use the same URL and room code and you’re inside. (If you have more than six people watching, in person or through streaming platforms like Twitch, overcrowded viewers can join the “audience” and participate through voices.)
Once everyone is together, a short video is released and this content is on the side of low production values and terrible acting. These videos are long enough for music and dialogue to appear, and end with a blank “RIFF HERE” field, which usually means that you will be writing on behalf of the on-screen character who is about to speak (although comedy moments are easy to decipher). At this point, players are encouraged to write their own riffs, which may include triggers for sound effects that can be found via a convenient drop-down menu. . Then vote for your favorites and repeat for as many videos as you want.
The built-in clip selection is X-rayis the biggest selling point. In addition to the usual suspects such as public service announcements, public domain films and low-budget science fiction (yes, Plan 9 from space is here), the game digs up a few other crazy sources for its “riffing” content because it can combine 5- to 15-second clips from shorter videos that might not otherwise make sense for a longer format like MST3K or traditional Rifftrax episodes. In this way, the clips of a simple game can alternate between a film about Goldilocks with real bears and worthy of explanation from the late 90’s about how the World Wide Web works.