Ingrid's Back logo

Dave Eriksson follows Ingrid home, looks at some dungeon history and relaxes with an aquatic adventure.

INGRID Bottomlow, the well meaning but tactless young gnome-maiden, has returned. Level 9 first introduced this lady in Gnome Ranger. Her story started as she had just completed her education at the Institute of Gnome Economics.

Her ideas were sound, but the outcome of nearly all efforts ended in disaster. When Ingrid's progressive attitude annoyed her traditional gnome family too much they gave her a magic scroll that "accidentally" transported her far away. Ingrid's journey home gave us an adventure that was both amusing and devious.

Ingrid's Back begins shortly after her return, and while the family is still trying to think of a way to get Ingrid out of their hair local events and overtake them.

There is a move afoot to transform Little Moaning and the Dribble Valley into a Yuppie Homes development and a Gnorsegnome-style yacht marina. Jasper Quickbuck, the Lord of Ridley's Manor, is the prime mover in this money grabbing scheme, abetted by his henchman Silas Crawley. The villagers have been conned into going to a party, thereby vacating their homes and apparently agreeing to the development. Needless to say, Ingrid is at the forefron of the battle to save the day.

The adventure is divided into three parts, any of which may be played independently. In the first of these, Ingrid must get all the locals to sign a petition. Not everyone likes to be around when Ingrid's busy at something, and a certain amount of subterfuge will be necessary to get some of the signatures.
The only creature that really trusts her is Flopsy the dog, and o one or two occasions it is only with canine help that Ingrid can win through.

PART two brings back memories of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Silas, armed with a steamroller and several trolls, sets out to steal the deeds of Ingrid's home, Gnettlefield farm.
Ingrid, again with Flopsy's help, must immobilise both the steamroller and all the trolls, trying not to destroy her family in the process.

Having drawn a temporary halt to Jasper's plans in the first two parts, a FINAL SOLUTON must be sought in part three. Ingrid now goes undercover. Posing as a maid, she goes to Ridley's Manor to unearth evidence of Jasper's nefarious dealings. Her cousins Daisy, already employed at the manor, proves to be a willing conspirator.

The descriptive text maintains the right atmosphere and is often very amusing. There are plenty of good quality graphics to complement the story line.
The command interpreter is similar to that used in Level 9's Lancelot and is in may ways better - and certainly easier to use - than that used by Magnetic Scrolls. It even understands both "give me the letter" and "give the letter to me".

The flow of play is not restricted, as only the first four letters of a word need to be entered in most cases. The arrow keys will bring back commands issued earlier, either to be used again or for editing. Ingrid's Back also makes use of Level 9's GO TO and RUN TO commands. Simply enter GO TO MANOR or GO TO FARM rather than giving a string of compass directions - really useful once you have mapped out the terrain.

The instruction booklet includes a few hints on adventuring in general and Ingrid's Back in particular. It also has a copy of Ingrid's Diary. Catch up on what has happened since her last adventure.

Ingrid's Back is great fun to play and has to rate as a must for any adventurer. Part one involves a great roller coaster sequence in a dog cart and part two brings out Ingrid's lethal logic to the full. The twist at the end of part three is completely unexpected and makes yo wonder if Level 9 can get her un-knotted for a third tale in the future.

No game from Level 9 is ever easy, but an excellent hint sheet is available if you get stuck. It is laid out to give you clues without giving away too much that may spoil the rest of the game.

Ingrid's Back logo

Level 9
Amiga: £19.95
64 disk/cass: £14.95

The old Squire is dead, and Jasper Quickbuck, the new resident at Ridley's End, has served eviction notices on the gnomes of Little Moaning and Gnottlefield. He plans to raze old villages to the ground to make way for a vast marina and up-market housing estate. Ingrid is furious, and instigates a petition.

The trouble is, Ingrid can be such a pain that the local inhabitants sometimes go out of their way to avoid her. So, despite their opposition to the development plans, and the fact that they are about to be made homeless, signature collecting is no easy task for Ingrid.

Take her uncle, Dusty Halfyard, the miller. He studiously fails to recognise Ingrid - even after all the trouble she's had getting past his killer chickens. Were they put there to keep out Quickbuck, or Ingrid?

There is plenty of signatures to collect, adding to Ingrid's list, and to your score. Jumbo Butterpat, landlord of The Green Gnome, will happily oblige, although some of his customers may not add their weight to the case.

Little Moaning is the title of Part 1 of this three-parter, and it has a range of problems from dead simple to quite tricky; enough to give the less experienced player sufficient encouragement and confidence to press on until the petition is complete, and ready to be presented.

Part 2, Steamroller At Dawn, carries on the story, yet can be played without the need to transfer saved data, nor is any password required. Despite the success of the petition, Silas Crawley, Quickbuck's agent, has assembled a steamroller and a team of trolls, and has already flattened half the village.

Now they are approaching Gnettlefield Farm, and will, unless Ingrid can find a way to delay or prevent them, demolish the buildings. Seamus Sosmall, the local leprechaun, may give her a few ideas, but how can she put them into practice?

Ridley's End, Part 3 of the game, assumes a successful conclusion to Part 2, and has Ingrid appointed as a maid at Ridley's End, to seek out evidence that will be damaging to Jasper Quickbuck.

Teaming up with her cousin Daisy, she sets about searching the mansion from top to bottom, from outside to in, to do the evil Quickbuck down. Unfortunately, Quickbuck realises exactly who she is, and allows her freedom of the house in order to frame her later for the theft of his valuable antiques, which have mysteriously 'disappeared'.

All Commodore versions (Amiga, C64 disk and tape) have a memory save facility, so that the current position can be saved (until the computer is turned off) by the RAM SAVE command, as well as the usual disk or tape save option. OOPS is also available, and although this will only take you back one move on the C64, repeated OOPS will backstep you a considerable way through the game on the Amiga.

The screen shots shown here are for the Amiga (C64 graphics were not available at the time of going to press and graphics will only feature on the disk version) and are a completely new style for Level 9. Gone are the misty digitised pictures of Knight Orc and Gnome Ranger, that replaced Level 9's earlier, rather abstract graphics. Instead we have really crisp artist-drawn pictures.

These change in situ, but once displayed, can be pushed up and down the screen to uncover the text behind them. And once you have seen them all, the command WORDS will remove them altogether, (PICTURES will bring them back) and speed up the response.

The latter parts get harder and offer a greater challenge to the more experienced adventurer. But whatever progress, or lack of it, the player is making, he will be regarded throughout the game with short commentaries on the reactions of the characters in his presence - often inconsequential, but nearly always amusing. In fact, I found Ingrid to be the most genuinely funny of Level 9's adventures to date.

Ingrid's Back logo Zzap! Sizzler

Level 9, Amiga £19.95

I've never yet met a gnome that I haven't eaten. In fact, if I ever come across Ingrid in person it'll bee goodbye Nettlefield, goodbye Flopsy and hello after-dinner snack. Ha! That should keep her away. The last thing I want is tiny busybodies messing up all the billy-goat trophies knocking about in my hole.

Zzap's Rockford: So what?What do you mean, what am I talking about? You remember Ingrid don't you? Her mum and dad made the mistake sending her to the institute of Gnome Economics for a bit of education. When she came back, they wished she hadn't. A faulty transportation scroll was designed to make sure she stayed away for ever (and good riddance). Trouble is, Ingrid came back.

This time, one or two people are actually glad to see her. Nothing to do with her absence making the heart grow fonder: gnomes aren't into all that sentimental claptrap! Nope, it's more to do with the fact that Jasper Quickbuck has taken over as Little Moaning's most hated gnome. He's planning to raze the village to the ground and put a great big enormous yuppy homes development in its place. What a meany! Boo! Hiss!

Well, Ingrid won't stand for it. She's got her territorial uniform out of storage, sawn off the end of a sub-machine gun and gathered together a few grenades (it doesn't make her look any better - what she really needs is a shave) and now she's ready for some action.

Miss Bottomlow's campaign is conducted in three parts. First off, she has to get as many people as possible to sign a petition. Easier said than done, but somehow she manages it. Not that it puts Jasper off making a quick buck - he just gets out his steamroller (plus troll cronies) and tries to flatten her farm. Once she's stopped that, all Ingrid has to do is infiltrate Quickbuck's manor as a maid and come back with enough evidence to put rabbit-features away for good.

Easy? Well, in the tradition of Knight Orc and Gnome Ranger, the first part is a lot easier than the other two. It's more of a beginner's section really which shouldn't take all that long to solve.

Unless you've been spending the last three years hibernating under a rock somewhere in Siberia, you won't be surprised to find that interaction is definitely the key to the whole adventure. Ingrid can converse with everybody she meets and needs to enlist the help of plenty of other characters to succeed. Not only that, Flopsy, her favourite dog (judging from Ingrid's size, I reckon Flopsy must be a Chihuahua) is always ready to help.

Oh yeah, the trolls. Ingrid isn't very nice to them at all. In fact, Ingrid's machine gun would look very nice next to the billygoat trophies on my wall. Think about it, Ingrid. Think about it a lot.

Trolls apart, I found this a lot more fun to play than Gnome Ranger. There isn't so much redundant landscape, the puzzles seem to have more structure, and there's always something going on. Little Moaning is full of gnomes leading ordinary lives: fishing, shopping, surveying, playing darts, buying concrete humans for their gardens - you name it, they do it! You can really enjoy wandering around the landscape instead of just wishing that the next puzzle would turn up.

The hand-drawn, hi-res graphics aren't quite as impressive as you might expect, but they are colourful, atmospheric and very quick to redraw. There certainly isn't as much disk-accessing as you'd get with Magnetic Scrolls...

In addition to a copy of Ingrid's Gnettlefield Journal (part 2) and a full-colour portrait of the gnome herself, £19.95 buys you a typical Level 9 parser which accepts complex sentences and has plenty of useful abbreviations plus options to SAVE or RAMSAVE. Using the mouse, you can manoeuver the graphics up or down the screen, and to save laborious moving about, you can GO or RUN TO all of Little Moaning's locations.

Personally, I was a bit disappointed with Level 9's first interactive adventure, Knight Orc - there were loads of different characters and locations but in the end most of them turned out to be irrelevant. Gnome Ranger was a definite improvement on that, and Ingrid's Back is even better. The interaction really is worth it this time I just hope, for Ingrid's sake, that I never meet her front...