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  Reviews by
Kati Hamza
(Chuck Vomit)

 

 
Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!

Ingrid's Back!
1988 Level 9 Computing
Programmed by Pete Austin, Peter McBride & Godfrey Dawson

 
Most text of the present article comes from the Amiga review published in the forty fourth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: November 10th, 1988) and the C64 review published in the forty sixth issue (street date: January 12th, 1989).
 

 

INGRID'S BACK
Level 9, Amiga 19.95

 

've never yet met a gnome that I haven't eaten. In fact, if I ever come across Ingrid in person it'll be 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.

What do you mean, what am I talking about? You remember Ingrid don't you? Her mum and dad made the mistake of 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 forever (and good riddance). Trouble is, Ingrid came back.

This time, one or two people are actually glad to see her. Nothing to do with 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 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 . . .

 
Atmosphere 94%
Puzzle Factor 85%
Interaction 92%
Lastability 88%

Overall

90%
 
 


Brrrrr! Talk about lousy weather -- black ice on the bridge every day, not a billy-goat in sight and no gnomes either -- bah! Still, eating that skinny mainstream computer game reviewer PG helped settle my stomach, even if there was very little meat on it. Reviewers aren't as hardy as they used to be -- a quick snap of his neck and it was all over. Yeah well, Gordon's now scared of me, so I've got the chance to ask you lot one or two questions.

First off, are you happy with the way in which Amiga and 64 adventures are reviewed separately? I am, but you never know with puny humans, so if you've got any strong opinions either way, let me know before I bust your face trying to find out. Right. Next thing: remember there's a 30 software voucher on offer EVERY MONTH (ooh) for some ever so lucky individual who decides to send in a few measly tips and has them printed. Not much to do is it, just for a bit of software? OK, that's it, I've had enough - grab a billy-goat and head for the holiday shop.

Grrr . . .
.

 

INGRID'S BACK
Level 9, C64 14.95 cassette (text-only) and disk (graphics)

 

've said it before and I'll say it again -- gnomes taste extremely good in a steaming, slime-topped pie. Schlurp! Miss Bottomlow would make a particularly welcome addition to my favourite savoury -- I like it extra-specially fat and greasy . . .

Anyway, Amiga-owning Chuck Vomit fans (no requests for autographs please -- I'm far too busy) will know all about that version of Ingrid's back . . . er . . . side (snigger, snigger) but I reckon all those mega-important 64 owners out there deserve a review of their own.

If you've played Gnome Ranger, you'll know how Ingrid got back from the wilderness they'd arranged to send her to by means of a cleverly sabotaged transportation scroll. Her family and the rest of Little Moaning had just begun to breathe a sigh of relief (no more Mistress Bossyboots telling them when to fart and pick their noses) when everybody's favourite Bottomlow returned. Aargh!

Worse still, a certain Jasper Quickbuck made his appearance at exactly the same time and he doesn't just want to reorganise Little Moaning -- he wants to pull it down. Ingrid sweeps into action straight away -- a three part mega-epic details her attempts to save the Gnome Counties. Da daaaa!

Episode One is a bit of a Level 9 tickler designed to give you a gentle introduction to the game instead of a belt in the stomach (which is what I would do). Bottomlow, accompanied by her ever-faithful hound, Flopsy, has to collect as many signatures as possible to fill a petition -- easier said than done, because the inhabitants of Little Moaning don't like her all that much (and not surprising, if you ask me).

A rowdy bunch of locals -- just my scene

Jasper Quickbuck, of course, fails to take the blindest bit of notice, so Episode Two has Ingrid trying to stop his steamroller before he flattens Little Moan Farm, I can't emphasise strongly enough how much I disapprove of Ingrid's behaviour towards trolls here, but rest assured, Miss Bottomlow, if I have anything to do with it, you'll get exactly what you deserve.

By the time she's reached Part Three, Ingrid's had to become a proficient hole-digger, diplomat, turnip reorganiser and order-abouter (well, she's always been good at that). Infiltrating Quickbuck's mansion should be a piece of cake!

Puzzles depend largely on interaction, but unlike Gnome Ranger, where you could get stuck for hours wandering about with nothing to do, they're extremely well-structured and the locations are full of hints. The design of the game as a whole is extremely tight (more than you can say about some of Level 9's previous efforts) and, even better than that, unusually original. Not only that, constantly ongoing background activities (you know, ordinary little gnomes getting on with their ordinary gnome sort of lives -- selling garden-people, throwing darts, fishing and all that -- make the interaction even more amusing.

The graphics (only the disk version has them) are among the best I've ever seen on the Commodore -- brilliant pictures of Little Moaning, windmills, Quickbuck's mansion, which are definitely worth seeing. In both cassette and disk versions, each part (they can be played in any order) loads singly, so there's no messing about with multiloads or mind-numbing disk access, and response time is pretty quick.

The parser, as per usual, has more mod-cons and abbreviations than I can eat billygoats in one go (a lot) and generally reflects the sort of sophistication we've come to expect from top class adventure houses nowadays. I've noticed though that if you don't start typing immediately after the prompt arrow (ie. on the next line because you've pressed shift twice) it doesn't always recognise speech. Bit messy that. Still, trolls like a good stinking, intestinal mess -- especially on Fridays.

Every now and again you can feel a bit let-down because the 64 version of a mega-hyped adventure turns out to be a graphically inferior long-winded bore. Well, don't get your leather knickers in a twist because Ingrid's Back definitely isn't one of those. In fact, I'll throw caution to the winds (my own) and say that it's the most creative and compelling of the recent crop of Level 9 adventures yet.

The interactive element is really starting to come together, the game design is excellent and there's enough humour (anti-troll excepted) to keep the most sour-faced slime-bag party pooper guffawing for . . . er . . . well . . . for a bit (and I mean a big bit). If you've got a disk drive, the brilliant graphics come as an extra bonus -- if you haven't, the gameplay is worth it anyway.

Level 9 have such a good reputation that any new release, hot or not, is bound to do pretty well. This one actually deserves to. Pity it's about gnomes, though . . .

 
Atmosphere 94%
Puzzle Factor 85%
Interaction 94%
Lastability 88%

Overall

91%
 


If you want a walkthrough, visit
Jacob Gunness
' Classic Adventures Solution Archive or
Martin Brunner's C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site

The tape text-only version (above screenshot) contains a lot more text in descriptions etc, since there is no need to reserve memory for graphics.

Ingrid's Back Complete Artwork Gallery!

Total Pictures Count: [25]

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (30 Sep 2007)
The screenshots in the Amiga review were replaced by their C64 equivalents. Only the screenshot of the Inn's interior existed in the original C64 review.

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