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Game #1500
Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It  
Interactive Fiction   Conventional

Rating: 8.06 (30 votes)

Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It box cover

Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It screenshot
Graeme Cree posted an excellent review of this pun-filled underdog from Infocom in SPAG, so I'd like to quote it here in full: "Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It is a collection of interactive short stories, all revolving around the common theme of restoring the town of Punster, and based on the idea that you can alter the nature of reality merely by engaging in wordplay with it.

The concept is difficult to explain, so some examples from the game's sample transcript may illustrate it without giving away any of the actual story. You wake up, knocking over your alarm clock and a glass of water. The only way to avoid the debris is to get up on the wrong side of the bed. Asked to mail your father's tax return, you discover you can't find it. But that scruffy guy in the corner with the IRS tee shirt, who you're told is barely male can be transmogrified with the homonym "mail". The return isn't stamped? You can fix that by Spoonerizing your father's stone lamp into a lone stamp. And so on.

To prevent this from becoming incredibly confusing, each short story deals with only one specific type of wordplay. The stories can be played in any order, except for Meet the Mayor, which must come last.

The parser is a bit better than the usual Infocom one. Compass directions and mapping are dispensed with entirely, as the Status Line [i.e. Infocom's newsletter] constantly lists all the areas that you can travel directly to. As the maps are generally small (one story has only two locations), the map can be easily internalized in the player's mind.

The puzzles are not the very best. The nature of such a game means that many of the puzzles will be of the "guess what the author is thinking" type. Also, since the puzzles don't necessarily build on each other, but often stand separately, you may finish a story only to be told that there were more things you could have done, and be forced to return later. However, since ALL versions of Nord & Bert have on-screen hints, there is no chance of getting permanently stuck.

The real strength of the game is in its Writing and Atmosphere. The mood created is delightfully surreal, and the constant clever descriptions and responses make this one of the best "reading" text games ever produced. Text game players like to argue that well-written text produces more evocative images than graphic games do. Nord and Bert goes beyond this, not merely doing things BETTER than a graphics game could, but doing things that a graphics game could never do at all. Definitely one of Infocom's most underrated classics."

Reviewed by: Underdogs

Designer: Jeff O'Neill
Developer: Infocom
Publisher: Infocom
Year: 1989
Software Copyright: Infocom
Theme: Humorous
Multiplayer:  
None that we know of
System Requirements: DOS
Where to get it:
Related Links:  
Links:    
If you like this game, try: Bureaucracy, Cosmoserve, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon

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