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

Platforms: Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore 64, IBM PC/Compatibles, Macintosh


Main Genre:
Gameplay Style:
Interactive Fiction


IBM PC version of Nord and Bert
IBM PC version of Nord and Bert

Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It is an interactive fiction game published by Infocom in 1987. As was common for Infocom games, versions were released for numerous platforms including the Amiga, Commodore 64, and IBM PC. The game varies from more typical Infocom games and consists of a series of wordplay puzzles rather than a single adventure/story. There are eight different chapters, each featuring a different style of wordplay; the first seven chapters can be played in any order, but to play the eighth and final chapter all of the other seven need to be completed.

The game takes place in the fictional town of Punster; Idioms, clichés, and other expressions found in the English language have become literal and the player is tasked with the goal of sorting things out. Like most other Infocom games, Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It is a text-only adventure with a parser interface. It varies from more traditional interactive fiction games with the type of input expected, however; depending on the chapter of the game, simply entering a puzzle solution is often enough. The common compass direction type of commands (e.g. Go North) also aren't used; instead, the game instead indicates possible locations players can move to in the status line and typing just the name of the location desired will move the player there. Built in hints are also included with the game to aid players with some of the puzzles.

The seven chapters encountered in the game are as follows:

  • The Shopping Bizarre: A grocery store has had all of the product names replaced with homonyms. It is up to the player to restore the names back to normal.
  • Playing Jacks: Players have a device known as the “Jack of All Traits”; This device can transform into anything (as long as the result has “Jack” in its description) to help solve a series of unusual situations.
  • Buy the Farm: While exploring a farm, players will need to use clichés to indicate their literal actions.
  • Eat Your Words: This section of the game takes place in a restuarant; players need to use idioms literally to insult and apologize to a waitress until she becomes frustrated and allows entrance to the kitchen to talk with the cook.
  • Act the Part: Players take on the role of an actor in a 50's style sitcom and will need to perform a variety of slapstick style gags and answer knock-knock jokes.
  • Manor of Speaking: Players find themselves in a house with many bizarre rooms. This section plays more like traditional Infocom games, but with a surreal location and humor.
  • Shake a Tower: Players need to make their way through an absurd story by unravelling a series of spoonerisms that are presented.
  • Meet the Mayor: The final chapter of the game, this section can only be played once all of the others are completed. The puzzle elements of this chapter are combination of those seen in other chapters. The goal is to convince the mayor to sign a new law, thus ending the nonsense that's occurring!


Platform: IBM PC/Compatibles
By: Jeff O'Neill
Cover Design & Manual Illustrations by: Kevin Pope


Instruction Manual
Kevin Pope Comics Booklet
IBM PC Version Reference Card
IBM PC/Compatibles


Product catalogs, magazines, flyers, or other documentation Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It has appeared in.
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Product Catalogs
Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It in the Infocom 1987 product catalog