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

by Jeff O'Neill

Wordplay
1987

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Number of Reviews: 8
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1-6 of 6


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Some Fantastic Highlights and Regrettable Lowlights, August 20, 2021
by ccpost (Greensboro, North Carolina)

I desperately want to love this game, but sadly I can only sort of like it. I'm obsessed with words, odd phrases, and idioms, so I went into this game with quite high hopes. Broken up into a series of 'interactive short stories,' a few of the stories are fantastically fun and pull off the wordplay game mechanic marvelously. A few of the stories are confusing and confounding to the point of being unplayable.

The stories that really shine -- "Shake a Tree," "Buy the Farm," "Shopping Bizarre" being the main highlights -- integrate wordplay like spoonerisms and taking idioms literally in truly inventive ways. As your playing with words often alters the game world, there are many opportunities for surreal, odd, and plain funny happenstances (Spoiler - click to show)like when some locks on a door become smoked salmon lox...that need to be 'unloxed' . O'Neill's writing in these sections is superb, conveying the strangeness of some surreal transformation caused by you invoking a bit of word play.

If this had been sustained for a full game (a la Counterfeit Monkey), I would easily give this game a 5 star review. However, the short stories that fall flat fall very, very flat. At least two of the stories almost certainly necessitate using the (fortunately built-in) hints, as the 'puzzles' involve guessing at some joke or bit of cleverness that you have only some vague idea of. This is essentially the same driving mechanic in the stories that work well -- except you are able to arrive at the right conclusions by playing around with the words in the text. For stories like "Manor of Speaking" and "Act the Part," there is very little actual wordplay involved, and few other clues in the text as to how to make progress.

Although I absolutely love the parts of the game that work, the fact that I was forced to heavily rely on hints and walkthroughs for nearly half the game seriously soured my overall experience.


2 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Painfully dated and old-fashioned, September 12, 2020
by dvs

This classic Infocom game is essentially seven short adventures, mostly needing knowledge of idioms or other wordplay, with a final endgame.

A few of the short adventures were basic and occasionally amusing, but half (Eat Your Words, Act the Part, Manor of Speaking, the endgame) are so random or painful or annoying to solve. The only way I could get through was with the hints but I found these extremely annoying.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed the struggles and found the wordplay and amusing in high school but in 2020 this game did not age well.


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A spotty Infocom game with great highlights, June 17, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

This is an interesting game. With wordplay games, the question is, how can you make a game about wordplay that lasts long? One answer is to follow Emily Short's example and just put tons of content into a game (Counterfeit Monkey).

This game achieves its length through unfairness. Parts of this game (it's basically several mini-games put together) are wonderful: Buy the Farm was particularly good, as was the Shopping Bizarre. Those two would make a wonderful game pulled out on their own, one relying on American English sayings and the other on homonyms.

Some parts of this game don't make any sense. I didn't understand In a Manor of Speaking (which btw is also the name of a great Hulk Handsome game) at all, and looking it up, I still haven't found a good explanation at all. I believe having the Doldrums was a mistake, because it made you think everything else had a gimmick (like Gary Larson's infamous Cow Tools cartoon).

But if the game wasn't unfair, it wouldn't last very long. The only way I've seen fair wordplay games achieve length is through tons of content, like I said. Andrew Schultz does this with exhaustive code-enhanced wordspace searches. Shuffling Around is a good example of this.

I also like the Act your Part session. It was nonsensical, but I was able to get a lot of points just doing dumb stuff.

I played the version released by Zarf who was re-releasing Jason Scott's releasing of previously unreleased Infocom releases.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
If you love perd wuzzles, then yule love this!, April 29, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

Have you ever wanted to get a nice juicy steak, but all you had was a stake? Have you ever wanted to literally kill two birds with one stone? Or have you come across a pretty girl and it made you long for a gritty pearl? Then you should definitely help out Nord and Bert, because they truly can’t make hails or teds of it. Wait, um…

My favorite language based game until Counterfeit Monkey was released, Nord & Bert has you playing with homonyms, spoonerisms, idioms, and other plays on our language and culture in order to help save the town of Punster from total chaos. There’s a story, but it’s there to serve the puzzles. Just dig in and get your lexicon dirty.

The game designers smartly realized that most gamers would not be intimately familiar with every phrase, idiom, and slang the game is riddled with; thus, an in-game hint system is a welcome sight. Despite the occasional frustration that ignorance creates while playing, the game can be funny and very satisfying when you do advance on your own intellect. Nord & Bert is a must-play for those who love word puzzles. Hardcore adventurers may want to look elsewhere. Naturally, non-native English speakers would struggle here, as well as at times non-Americans.


1 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
IF as wordplay, December 24, 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.


4 of 5 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!



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