Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 92 / JANUARY 1988 / PAGE 44

Plundered Hearts And Nord And Bert Couldn't Make Head Or Tail Of It

James V. Trunzo

Requirements: IBM PC, XT, AT or compatible; Apple II series (48K, 16 sector); ST; Amiga; Macintosh; Commodore 64; Atari XL/XE (Plundered Hearts only).

Infocom has extended its philosophy of "Something for Everyone" with the release of two new products: Plundered Hearts and Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It. Each of these programs aims at what appears to be a specific audience, although of the two, Nord and Bert is a bit more far-reaching in its scope.

Pirates And Passions

Plundered Hearts addresses romance-novel fanatics by placing players in the role of a beautiful young English-woman, who, while traveling to the West Indies to care for her ailing father, has been carried off by a handsome, passionate pirate. However, the pirate—dashing Nicholas Jamison— proves to be the least of your worries. As you work your way through this text adventure, encounters with crocodiles, lecherous evildoers, explosives, and shipwrecks demand as much attention as your growing desire for the bronzed-armed, blue-eyed buccaneer.

This 17th-century, high-seas adventure does for text adventures what Rosemary Rogers did for romance novels. Amy Briggs, the author of Plundered Hearts, has thoroughly captured the essence of the romance novel, including all the elements of the genre: love, passion, danger, passion, intrigue, and adventure...and passion. If you didn't catch the hint, there's some passion involved in the storyline—nothing that could be termed lewd and crude— but it is a bit suggestive. Those on the prudish side should consider themselves forewarned.

The prose is excellent and the exotic flavor of the days of skull and crossbones, bodices, and damsels in distress permeates the text. Can it be enjoyed by someone other than a member of the fairer sex? Certainly—if you don't feel strange reading about your craving for the arms of another man.

Upun My Word

Nord and Bert is a horse of a different color. A collection of eight short stories as opposed to a single adventure, this program will delight all who enjoy a good play on words. Each of the eight stories brings into play a different type of word game: clichés, spoonerisms, puns, homonyms, and so on. This verbal trickery makes for delightful and challenging play in what is sure to be one of the most unique software packages of the season.

Nord and Bert departs from the typical Infocom format in more ways than one. Not only does the program contain a collection of stories rather than just one, Nord and Bert is the first Infocom game not to require mapping. Instead, a status line at the top of the screen tells you which places you can get to next.

Yet another new approach to playing text adventure games, at least for Infocom, is the inclusion of hints. By typing HINT in any of the scenarios, you evoke a new screen that provides you with a list of subjects relevant to the story on which you're working. By highlighting a subject, you can receive several hints or even the answer, should you so choose.

While none of the stories are related, successfully completing segments results in the revelation of a password. Gamers will need seven passwords to get into the scenario labeled "Meet the Mayor."

One element of Nord and Bert that I found especially appealing was that a story could be completed in one sitting. I knew before starting a segment that I could relax and enjoy the game for half an hour and have a tangible result at the end of that time. For someone looking to kill a little time, this product is perfect.

The stories themselves are humorous to the point of making me laugh out loud. The play on words is excellent, and the various word puzzles are challenging and creative. This game is more cerebral than it might appear. To successfully complete the game without relying too heavily—or completely—on hints, a good vocabulary is essential and a knowledge of old, familiar sayings is more than a little helpful. If you've never heard of "making a mountain out of a molehill" or "watching the fur fly," you might be too young or too modern for parts of this program. Of course, that's a perfect reason to make this game a family affair. Dad and mom or grandpa and grandma might be of great assistance when playing Nord and Bert.

Plundered Hearts
Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It
Infocom, Inc.
125 Cambridge Park Dr.
Cambridge, MA 02140
$39.95—Apple II, Macintosh, IBM,
Amiga, and Atari ST versions
$34.95—Commodore 64 version; Atari XL/XE
(Plundered Hearts only).