The fiends behind puzzle games including Opus Magnum and Shenzhen I/O have released a free competitive multiplayer solitaire game, named Nerts! Online. They’d played this version of the card game in their office, then after the pandemic hit they made a digital version, which they’re now sharing with everyone for free on Steam.
While Zachtronics created their own version of solitaire for Shenzhen I/O (and later released it as a standalone game), Nerts has been around for at least 90-odd years. The infallible Wikipedia tells me it’s also known as Racing Demon, Peanuts, Pounce, Racing Canfield, Scramble, Squeal, and Scrooge. If I’d made up one of those names myself, you’d never know. They’ve put their own spin on it, mind.
“We learned about [Nerts] from our artist Kyle, who has played it for years, and started playing it after lunch in the Zachtronics office,” they explain. “Over time we added more to it, including house rules, longer tournaments, and even a theme song.
“When we started working from home in early 2020 we made a rough version of the game to play over the internet, which eventually (nine months later) was cleaned up and turned into this. The game includes a few Zachtronics additions, like players being allowed to move cards between their Nerts pile and their tableau after Nerts has been called.”
You can play Nerts! with your Steam pals or solo. Yes, it does play that theme song and have that dramatic announcer voice.
Nerts! Online is available free from Steam now for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Zachtronics say, “It’s free, but you do technically unlock card backs by owning our other games, so let’s pretend that’s a legitimate monetization strategy.” Sure!
I mean, I would recommend you check out their other games. Most are fiendish puzzle games about constructing machines and programming devices, then optimising routines for efficiency. Tom Francis told us all about the joys of optimisation in Opus Magnum. They’ve ventured beyond that, mind – the visual novel Eliza is great.