Saturday, 17 January 2015

You Don't Know Jack: Movies (PC)

You Don't Know Jack Movies title screen
Developer:Berkeley & Jellyfish|Release Date:1996|Systems:Windows and Mac

Today on Super Adventures, I'm going to find out what you get when an award-winning children's multimedia edutainment developer teams up with the people who brought the world the 'flying toasters' screensaver, as I take a look at You Don't Know Jack: Movies.

I've actually played a few of the You Don't Know Jack games before (I can't remember which, there's a million of the things), but I'm certain I've never seen this one before, and all the questions will be entirely new to me. The game itself is pretty old though, one of the oldest in the series in fact, released just two years after the original. Unfortunately it wasn't really designed for newfangled resolutions like '1920x1080' or '800x600', so if you're reading this on a computer then you're likely seeing it the exact same way I am: as a tiny box in the middle of the screen. To be honest I'm just glad (and a little surprised) that it's running at all in Windows 8.

The thing about the You Don't Know Jack games though is they don't have any computer opponents, and there's no online play in this one, so to get a proper game out of this I had to bring a volunteer in to man the player 2 buzzer...

At last, it's the battle no one's been waiting for! Ray Hardgrit (that's me) versus occasional Super Adventures guest poster mecha-neko to decide once and for all which of us is the best at everything. Don't expect any insight from him along the way though, he's just here to press the 'P' key a few times and lose.

The game supports up to three players, but my keyboard's only so big and the game doesn't support controllers, so I'll be keeping this just between the two of us. I could mention some other stuff here, like how the game offers a choice of either a 7 or 21 question game, but what I should really be talking about right now is the audio.

There's not much going on on-screen at the moment, but as far as my speakers are concerned I'm in a busy TV studio about to start filming the next episode of a quiz show. I can hear people setting things up, the crew chatting between themselves, fake adverts playing in the background, and a guy called Raul asking us a bunch of questions before we begin. Like whether we want a 7 or 21 question game.

Once we'd gotten out of the sign-in, the wise-cracking irreverent host turned up, the theme tune started playing, and... the screen looks as boring as ever. It's not a very visual game I guess. But if I closed my eyes right now I'd be able to imagine myself standing in the studio... wondering why the audience has been dead silent the whole time.

We decided to go nuts and went with the full 21 question experience, and mecha-neko has been given the honour of selecting the first category. Not that it matters who chooses, as I haven't got a clue what any of these could be about and I doubt mecha-neko does either.

Oh, I just remembered something I always liked about the games: the interstitial animations before questions. The rest of the game might look a bit lifeless, but man they put the effort into making those question numbers come up on screen.

Oh. That was a bit disappointing actually. If the text style is supposed to be based on a famous movie, then I don't think I ever saw that one.

The host (former sign-in guy Cookie Masterson, now promoted to question asker) has some stuff to say here before the question comes up, and I'll transcribe it for you so that you can have the full You Don't Know Jack: Movies question 1 experience:
"Okay remember the 70s cop show BarettaTM? Well imagine a sequel to The Crow starring the Baretta characters called 'The Cockatoo'."

I, uh, what?

Holy shit mecha-neko got that before the timer started! Though to be honest it would've taken me the whole ten seconds just figure what the question was asking (What is the Crow's weakness?) and even then I wouldn't have known the answer.

I figured at first that I'd have the advantage in this 90s quiz game, seeing as I never get around to watching anything these days, so there's fewer irrelevant post-1996 films cluttering up my brain. But now I find out that I'm up against someone who's actually seen The Crow!

I... don't actually know if that's unusual. It seems like it should be.

There you go, that's a way more interesting way to introduce a question number. I'm satisfied now!

I'm feeling a lot more positive about this question, as I'm onto their tricks now and I'll be able to cut right to the point of it.

Crap, do I know who Jenny McCarthy is? Was she in a World War III film? Is that even relevant? Wasn't Kim Novak in The Birds? No, wait, that was Tippi Hedren. Where have I heard the name Rita Hayworth before?

The answer's #3! I'm certain of it... because mecha-neko picked it after just 2 seconds and got paid an extra $1000 for it. There's still 19 questions left though, so I'm not worried.

Dammit! I thought it was going to be a trick question, not just 'pick the line from the movie'. I was trying to read between the lines, while mecha-neko just skipped the reading and went straight to the right answer with a full 10 seconds on the timer. Again.

Is it just luck, or does he really know everything instantly? Stay tuned to find out I suppose. On the plus side, if he carries on like this I'll be finished with the game three minutes early.

Question 4, and mecha-neko is instantly correct once again. Correct in guessing that I have no idea what the answer is either at least, as he only buzzed in to use his 'screw' on me. You only get one or two of these per game per player, and they're used to force the other person to make a guess, at the risk of basically giving the question away to them if they actually get it right. Or, alternatively, you could just lean over and hit their buzzer for the same result, at the risk of getting a punch.

Well I have no idea who Judge Wopner/Wapner is, or what "The People's CourtTM" is, and I've never heard of a series called "Witness", so I'm going to make a guess and say... hey have you noticed that they don't always capitalise the first letter of the answers? That's kind of weird.

And I'll go with answer number... '3'.

Sadly it turned out that Witness did not star a talking dog. Or a blind woman, which was mecha-neko's guess. Because it's actually that Harrison Ford movie from the 80s where he hides out in an Amish community, and I feel dumb for not getting that the instant I glanced at the second answer. I need to get my brain in gear and take this back

Still, a failure for both of us is still a failure for mecha-neko, meaning that I finally get to choose the category for once and I'm picking Monty Python. I haven't seen everything the Pythons have done, but I have visited the internet before, so I'm pretty confident I'll know this.

Crap! I can't believe I picked 'Bob NEWhart', why did I even do that? Has it been so long that I've finally forgotten the 'Knights Who Say "Ni!"' sketch from Monty Python and the Holy Grail entirely?

Anyway I'm down another $2000 due to this embarrassment and mecha-neko was able to swoop in with the right answer to become two grand richer. Still, we're only a quarter of the way through, this is still anyone's race!

I finally got one right! They kind of gave it away by having both the Morphic sisters there perhaps, but as long as they gave it to me and not mecha-neko I'm happy. That's three grand in the bank for me... just enough to pay off all my quiz show debts.

I don't know the answer to this one, but I do know who got screwed! Sorry mecha-neko, the answer wasn't Woody Harrelson, so that's $2000 you've got to give back. I'm just happy to sit here now and wait out the timer, as my job here is done.

Hang on, this is new. The game's taken pity on me for failing so often and so completely, and it's let me have the next question all to myself. The host explains that it's a 'Dis or Dat' round, where seven movie titles will pop up on screen and I'll have to decide if they're a John Grisham story, or a Stephen King film. They're promising me +$500 per correct answer and -$500 for everything I get wrong, so... no pressure.

There you go, give me a straight question and I'll give you a straight answer! See, I'm not entirely inept, mecha-neko is just some kind of mutant with a movie database in his head.

Speaking of databases, as far as I know the questions in this (and pretty much all the YDKJ games prior to 2011), are picked out from the set randomly, so if we played this for long enough we'd likely start seeing repeats show up. Obviously this would give people blessed with a memory even more of an unfair advantage for those questions, especially if they were picking them out deliberately from the category list.

Well there's another $2000 for me I think. Oh hang on let me just casually reach over and hit my buzzer, seeing as mecha-neko still hasn't gotten around to answering it yet. And... like I said, $2000 for me. I knew that all that time I spent watching 80s spoof films would eventually pay off.

The answer was 'Top Secret' by the way, which was also Val Kilmer's first movie, trivia fans! Also George Clooney was playing Batman in 1997, get it right YDKJ:M.

And then mecha-neko gets swift and decisive revenge by beating me on a Who Framed Roger Rabbit question! To be fair he did get it instantly, while I was still trying to decide whether a turpentine, acetone, and benzene Dip would be more corrosive to cartoon characters than a glass of Coke.

We've reached the halfway point and they're mixing things up again for question 11. This time we have to guess the movie from the clues and then type it in. Unfortunately I know exactly one film from 1979 and I don't remember Alien having Dudley Moore in it, so I'm out. I'm not sure mecha-neko has even heard of Dudley Moore at all so he's out too!

Did Superman 2 come out in 1979... no that was 1980. What about Death Wish? I'm not trying to get the answer, I'm just trying to keep myself entertained for these 8 long seconds.

(The answer was '10').

Question 12 has given us our screws back! But it's also got me trying to remember when Pulp Fiction came out, as I'm sure it would've been after this game. No wait, I've got it confused with Jackie Brown. Sorry my mind's checked out here as I've never heard of the movie Prêt-à-Porter and I've no idea what it translates to in English. I don't even know how to type it.

Mecha-neko on the other hand actually paid attention in his French lessons, and walks away with another $2000 for picking 'Ready to Wear'. Well he sits leaning over a keyboard with another $2000 anyway.

We're about 15 minutes in and I have to admit that the game's already starting to drag on a bit now for me, and not just because I'm losing. Still, question 13 here is offering a ridiculous amount of cash, so if I can get this right I'll jump into the lead in one go!

We both chickened out in the end and let the timer tick down to zero, but we got a pretty decent Stallone impression from the host as he explained what we should have picked (poet), so I don't feel so bad about how it turned out.

Minus $4000 for mecha-neko and $4000 extra for me! Our fortunes reversed in a single beautiful question about what production companies Sony owns. I probably wouldn't have gotten it right if mecha-neko hadn't taken a wrong answer off the board so fast, but he did and I'm very grateful for it.

Now I just have to hold on to this lead for seven more questions!

Crap, I saw the word 'mice' in the title, thought 'hey Willard had mice in it' and immediately grabbed the wrong answer. $6000... I just threw away $6000!

I'm going to finish this game in second place, and it's going to be by $5999. I'm calling it now. Anyway, the answer was #1, neither of us got it, onto question 16.

Man, I'm so tired right now that at first I thought that said "it's time for a FLICKERPISS NOSESCUM".

Question 16 is the gibberish question, where players have to figure out what the phrase in the middle is supposed to sound like, using the clues on the right. And mecha-neko's already typing in "Doctor Dolittle" because of course he is.

Here's an interesting a fact for you: the question is referring to the original 1967 musical, not the Eddie Murphy comedy, as that would've come out a year or two after the game. Here's another fact for you, that Eddie Murphy film got FOUR SEQUELS. Three of them were apparently so bad they couldn't even get Eddie Murphy back to star in them!

Here's a slightly more interesting and relevant fact for you, if you try to get creative with the text box and type in something the host finds offensive, an event occurs. I take my quiz games far too seriously to try it myself (plus I don't want to let mecha-neko win), but here's a youtube video showing the reaction you get.

Yes! It's the one where he's hanging off the clock hands right? I'm so glad I got that right and didn't end up in minus figures again.

I haven't actually seen a Harold Lloyd movie, but I'm a big enough Jackie Chan fan to watch his DVD special features, so I must have seen all of Lloyd's big stunts by now, or at least the ones Jackie ripped off.

Now I just need $1500 more and I've caught up. That's only half a question!

I don't even need to read the question to get this one. The Magnificent Seven is a remake of Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai, which was later remade itself as Last Man Standing. Wait, shit, I'm wrong; Last Man Standing was actually a remake of Fistful of Dollars, which was a remake of Kurosawa's Yojimbo. Wow, are Westerns all just samurai movies in disguise?

Hang on, this puts me in the lead doesn't it? I'm $4500 in front with just three questions to go! I might actually win this.

Well that question was basically "Which of of these sound like a pair of post-apocalyptic movies", so I'm glad I hit the buzzer first for once. I have to wonder how many points are left to get now with just two questions left, as it might not be possible for mecha-neko to claw his way back after this.

Looking at the way the next question is going it MAY INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR CHINATOWN, so utilise appropriate discretion. I mean it might not actually be a big deal, I haven't seen the movie so I haven't got a clue, but I wouldn't my screenshots to actually ruin a film for you.

It'd be funny though if whatever this is doesn't turn out to be anything close to important, like maybe it's written in the synopsis on the back of the box. Then again the original Planet of the Apes has the bloody Statue of Liberty on the DVD cover, so you can't trust boxes man.

Crap, I always planned to watch Chinatown at some point, but I left it too late! Mecha-neko used his screw on me and made me take a guess, and I choose... poorly. He, on the other hand, knew exactly what it was, so he's demonstrated his tactical genius here and jumped ahead of me in just a single question.

One question left now, one last chance to find out which of us is the better human being, and more worthy of existence.

Oh right, I kind of remember this now. A movie title pops up, the dramatic music starts playing and words start floating by. Then mecha-neko and I have to race to hit the buzzer when we see matching words that fit the clue.

The clue for this round is 'what a disaster', and mecha-neko here is demonstrating that capsized ship does indeed go along with "The Poseidon Adventure". Well done mecha-neko, you've increased your lead by an extra $2000... you asshole.

Okay, what the fuck? Apollo 13 is totally a true story! It's a true disaster story about a disaster that was true, how does that not fit the clue we were given?

I like how the other words floating by give clues about what the next films will be. I'll be ready when Towering Inferno inevitably shows up.


C'mon I totally pressed that button first! That's absolute bullshit.


It happened again! Well okay on reflection he may have actually been quicker to the buzzer that time, but I think it's forgiveable that it took a split second for me to drag the movie 'Daylight' out of my long term memory. I mean it's not exactly Cliffhanger is it?

It's funny to think of Daylight being listed alongside Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno as a disaster movie that players may have heard of, but I guess it would've been pretty well known back in 1997, being a big budget Sylvester Stallone blockbuster. Actually now that I think about it, that film was released in December '96, so it's possible that this game made it to shelves before the Daylight DVDs did.

Uhhh... well I don't have a clue to be honest, but fortunately neither does mecha-neko. My first guess would be something to do with nuclear armageddon, but elephant stampede seems plausible too and I don't want to risk throwing away another $2000 when victory is so close.

Just going to sit here and wait it out. Only a few seconds left now. It's going to end any moment now.

And the winner is...



Everyone knows that You Don't Know Jack was of the few video game series to get its own (short lived) spin-off TV series, but did you know that comedy legend Groucho Marx once hosted a quiz show himself for a decade or so? He took the job when he realised that he could use the game show structure as an excuse to chat to the contestants and improvise jokes. Also he probably appreciated the money, but the point I'm making is that all comedians throughout all of history have always found quizzes to be a bit boring and this game was clearly put together by comedians. Every question has to be clever, every answer is set up for a joke, and you can't just win rounds by being right, you have to be faster at cutting through all the words thrown at you and figuring out what's being asked.

It'd be absolutely unbearable if the writers weren't so funny and the cast wasn't up to the task, but they are, so it's all good. There's a ton of dialogue in this, with unique responses for practically anything you can do (or not do), and it really is like being at the recording an episode of a TV comedy quiz show... only without the live studio audience. Humour is subjective, but it made both of us laugh and there was only two of us here, so it's got a 100% success rate in my experience. I don't even live in 1997 America and the jokes still worked on me.

Somehow though my interest started to wane by the end, and not just because I was getting destroyed by my esteemed opponent. Maybe I don't have the attention span for a full 30 minute interrogation, or maybe I was getting frustrated that I was slipping up on things I should've known due to the deliberate comedic obfuscation, I'm not sure. Perhaps we should've played one of the general trivia games instead so I could've been more comfortably clueless. All I know is that I've got this weird urge to watch Daylight again, and maybe some samurai films.

Mecha-neko asked me afterwards if I wanted to play a second game of YDJK: Movies, so he apparently liked it well enough, but I had to say no. I'll play it again one day for sure, but not today.


Mecha-neko: It's flawless.     

If you want to talk about You Don't Know Jack, share your opinions on my writing, congratulate mecha-neko for being better at things, or even give me feedback on my site, then you're welcome to use the comment box conveniently located below this text! Though if you simply want to ask me why I thought it was a good idea to write 3000 words about the experience of playing a comedy quiz game from 1997, then you should probably write your comment down on a piece of paper instead. And then eat it.

That's it for the 'Y' games by the way, all that's left now are a handful of 'Z's and then my alphabetical order gimmick is finally done with forever. And I'm never doing that again.


  1. I would be terrible at this because I don't understand half of the questions! I am not bad at movie trivia but they are worded in such an odd way that I can't make any sense of them.

    I clicked on that YouTube link and the question master sounds a lot like the chap who plays Handsome Jack in the Borderlands games. That would be a wonderful coincidence but I don't think it is him.

  2. Ray is the next game Zool? Man I hope so, otherwise I don't know jack...


Semi-Random Game Box