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

by Jeff O'Neill

Wordplay
1987

(based on 43 ratings)
2 member reviews

About the Story

You are standing at the edge of a barren field. A steady wind, having secreted away the topsoil, is now drifting sandy dirt across the plain. A scant sign of life here is a freshly-burrowed molehill on the ground.

> MAKE A MOUNTAIN OUT OF THE MOLEHILL

There is a tremendous rumbling in the distance, getting louder and louder, until it is deafening. The dirt around the molehill crumbles away as mighty, jagged granite peaks emerge from deep underground. The surrounding landscape transforms into a fertile valley before your very eyes.

Infocom's first collection of short stories takes you to a place where nothing is quite as it seems. It's a place where you really can make a mountain out of a molehill, where "the fur is flying" is taken literally, and where a bow can be turned into a beau.

Each of the eight stories in Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It involves a different type of wordplay. You'll find yourself challenging your wits and your memory to come up with the clichés, spoonerisms, and other verbal trickeries needed to complete the puzzles. But don't view this as a hard row to hoe. Nord and Bert contains built-in hints, which you can call upon when the going gets rough.

All eight stories take place in the mixed-up town of Punster. However, no two contain the same people, locations, or objects. Each is played independently of the others, although you'll use passwords obtained in seven of the stories to get into the eighth. As for mapping, it's out of the window. You simply type where you want to go.

The tall tales in Nord and Bert are every bit as fun and clever as Infocom's other interactive fiction stories. They can each be completed in one sitting, making them a highly entertaining way to spend an evening, alone or with friends. Nord and Bert was authored by Jeff O'Neill, whose mind is constantly working on artful new turns of phrase.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: Unknown
Development System: ZIL
IFID: ZCODE-19-870722
TUID: zxb8pq3qrkvdob4i

Editorial Reviews

SPAG
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. [...] 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.
See the full review

SynTax
One section, "Shake A Tower" is based round spoonerisms. These verbal mistakes were named after the Reverend W A Spooner back at the turn of the century, who had the unfortunate habit of transposing the initial sounds of spoken words. Thus "Shake A Tower" would become "Take A Shower". Some of the examples in the game are as obvious but others are decidedly devious. Don't expect to just be able to swap two letters, you'll have to think quite deeply about some of them.
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Member Reviews

5 star:
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4 star:
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3 star:
(13)
2 star:
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Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 2
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Guess the Noun!, March 12, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)
What a weird game!

Of all the guess-the-verb puzzles I've hated over the years, this one is actually fun, though the entire game seems to be a series of guess the verb (or guess the noun) puzzles.

You choose between a few different locales based on different language-isms. One is based on spoonerisms, where you must turn a Gritty Pearl into a Pretty Girl. Another is based on homonyms, where you must turn the steak into a stake so you can kill a vampire. Another is on puns, where you must eat a group of lions (swallow your pride!) and eat humble pie, turn the tables (literally) etc. Yet another has you doing cliches, such as making a mountain out of a molehill or killing two birds with one stone.

The gameplay consists mainly of you looking at stuff, then trying to guess what cliche was intended. When you see that you have one stone, you must figure out that you need to kill two birds with it, or when the mice are sliding around in the grain, you need to let a cat on them, because while the cats away the mice will play. If you are not familiar with these trite phrases, you won't get far, since there's nothing other to figure out. When you see a bunch of locks, you just type >LOX to turn them into fish.

While the gameplay can be interesting, it grates on you eventually, as you try to complete areas but you've run out of sayings so you don't know what else the game is looking for. But, if you like frustration, this is the game for you!

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
IF as wordplay, December 23, 2010
Not so much a game as an interesting bit of wordplay. There are a number of different games and most of them are humorous and fun to play. I didn't like the restaurant scene as I just didn't get the point of the various things i needed to do. But it's an interesting use of IF to present something different.

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Polls

The following polls include votes for Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It:

First IF that you have ever played by BlitzWithGuns
What is the first IF that you have ever played? The game that made you love the concept of IF?

Silly Games by Charlie Marcou
I find that I enjoy the more silly interactive fiction rather than more serious interactive fiction. So that's what this poll is for.

Influential Games by Rose
As a historical exercise, I've begun compiling a list of IF games that have either done something ground breaking with the medium or otherwise influenced it; and I've turned it into a poll so everyone can have input on the expansion....

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This is version 5 of this page, edited by Edward Lacey on 6 March 2013 at 4:28am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item