Written by Joe Pranevich
Let’s state the obvious: Infocom wasn’t doing well. To offset declining sales, their new parent demanded twice as many games. This was working, in a way. The previous two games, Stationfall and Lurking Horror, taken together would just about made for decent sales… of a single game. Infocom needed to innovate, to open new markets, and to bring their brand of sophisticated (even literary) gaming to new audiences. They just weren’t very good at that kind of innovation.
That brings us to Nord and Bert Couldn’t Make Head or Tail of It, their 27th adventure. After failing at business products (Cornerstone) and graphical games (Fooblitzky), Infocom reached a period where they embraced diversity through genre. We have already seen The Lurking Horror, their first “horror” game, and we will shortly be looking at their first romance (Plundered Hearts) and RPG (Beyond Zork). Nord and Bert went in a different direction: a comedy game of wordplay and idioms, designed by Jeff O’Neill. Instead of a single narrative adventure, Nord and Bert would also be broken up into connected “Interactive Short Stories”. With a low barrier to entry and a completely new take on what an “adventure” game could be, Infocom hoped that they could “hit it out of the park”.
Who doesn’t enjoy cliches, right?