Nord and Bert with Attitude
by Mark J. Musante

This isn't Nick's second game, but it is the second game of his that is fairly widely known. The first one was "Winchester's Nightmare" which took an interesting tack in trying to get the player to be really part of the story. Instead of the usual ">" prompt, the player is presented with "Sarah decides to", and you get to fill in what you would like her to decide to do.

Game Info Box
Ad Verbum
Nick Montfort
September 2000
000925 / 1
This really made you feel part of the action, but it had the drawback of eliminating the standard commands we came to know and love over the past 20+ years of IF. Notably, 'i' for inventory, 'n' for north, and so on. "Sarah decides to sw" doesn't make much sense as a sentence.

"Ad Verbum" takes this into account in a thoroughly amusing and clever way. If you use commands like 'up' and 'north', the room descriptions will also use them. If you instead use 'u' and 'n', so do the room descriptions. Some people might find this off-putting. I found it grin-worthy.

But enough of that. The game itself presents the player with a seemingly simple stint: acquire all objects from a house and dump them in the Dumpster. The catch is that the house once belonged to the "cantankerous Wizard of Wordplay", so it's not as simple as going through each room and picking up the objects. You have to obey the rules.

Related Links
GMD: game file
GMD: game interpreters game file game interpreters
For example, in one room, you can only use words that begin with the letter 's', however the only way to leave it is to the north, which is a word you can't use. You also have to be able to pick up objects in those rooms, again only using 's'-words.

Naturally, when you're in an 'n'-, 'e'- or 'w'-only room, it's hard to save the game, so Nick has you read a warning message before entering those rooms explaining the situation. It's a bit on the defensive side and it definitely breaks the flow of the game, but I'm sure that beginning players would find it useful. I, on the other hand, would have preferred to see that as a puzzle one discovered during the course of play.

After all, the game is short enough. Too short, really, because these are the kinds of puzzles I love to see. Reading the text, thinking up possible solutions, a bright flash of discovery, the eagerness to see what's next... that's what IF is all about.

The only downside to the game is that it didn't recognize quite as many words as I thought it ought to. It's frustrating to think of a perfectly good word ('scarper' to leave the 's' room, for instance) and then have it not work. I'm sure Nick will be getting plenty of suggestions from others, if he hasn't already.

That being said, this was the game that made the whole competition for me. I enjoyed it from intro to quit. Nick, if you're reading this, keep writing more! I'd love to play a full-size game with this sort of wacky wordplay and perplexing puzzles.

This review is Copyright 2000 by Mark J. Musante. All Rights Reserved
This page was updated on 04 Jan 2001.