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

by Jeff O'Neill


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Number of Reviews: 9
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Play half, skip the rest, January 2, 2023
by Lance Cirone (Backwater, Vermont)

Nord and Bert was the first piece of interactive fiction I ever played. I read about it and it sounded right up my alley. Looking back, it's definitely got its great moments, but also some not-so-fun parts. You can play the levels in any order you want, and they don't have any interconnected story elements, so I'll recap them all:

Shopping Bizarre: One of the highlights. You run around a supermarket and make all kinds of crazy things (turn a sale into a sail, or a moose into mousse). The homophone theming is fun and never feels too obscure. Prime segment here.

Playing Jacks: Use a bunch of tools with "jack" in the name. I actually broke this one on accident. (Spoiler - click to show)The mermaid simply wasn't showing up after I did the jacuzzi scene. It's a cool concept, but needing to remember how to activate my tools slowed me down a bit. The jacked-up coding makes it a pass.

Buy the Farm: Might be my favorite level. You try to restore an empty farm through taking idioms literally, like teaching the old dog new tricks, or putting the cart before the horse. One very tricky puzzle here, though. Still, horse around with this one for a bit.

Eat Your Words: Harass and inconvenience a waitress and a cook, also by taking idioms literally. A lot of the terms you have to use here are pretty obscure, so it's easy to get stuck. It and Buy the Farm are like two peas in a pod, but this one's a harder nut to crack.

Act the Part: Act in a 50s sitcom and get your annoying brother in-law to leave. This segment doesn't really have any relevance to the rest of the game, contains some really esoteric puzzles, and it's easy to make it unwinnable. Hook it off the stage.

Manor of Speaking: Confusing and pointless. Find a way to scare a portrait of Karl Marx. Also, there's a room in this one with a frustrating mechanic (can't use the same verb twice) that just slowed it down. Quiet it up and move on. (Or play Hulk Handsome's similarly-named game, because that one's awesome!)

Shake a Tower: A fun return to the earlier segments! Come up with silly spoonerisms (a head louse becomes a lead house, a shoving leopard becomes a loving shepherd) to save the day. I do have to warn against a game-breaking bug here, since my (Spoiler - click to show)well-oiled bicycle just disappeared between rooms for no reason. Going into this one was a pretty rough take considering how the quality was slipping, but it actually felt relevant.

Meet the Mayor: You can only play this part once you've finished all the others. Is it worth it? Not really, it just feels anticlimactic and doesn't really work as a review of what you've learned. Tell the mayor I'm out.

Half of Nord and Bert is witty and comical. The other half is baffling and just not that fun. Whenever I return to the game, I go through Shopping Bizarre, Buy the Farm, and Shake a Tower, maybe Eat Your Words, and leave the rest. It's a good game with some bad segments, rather than the other way around, so that even out into a 3/5 star rating.

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