Village of Little Moaning has come under the Cloud of Jasper Quickbuck's plans to turn into a vast housing estate for yuppies. Eviction notices have been served on the residents, and demolition teams of trolls are poised to move in.
Ingrid is back, that indefatigable Gnome Ranger and she is unperturbed. In part one of this three-parter, she is getting up a petition against the development. The trouble is the scruffy piece of paper she is carrying, has no names written on it.
Still not to worry, you are there to help her. So how about popping in for a glass of scrumpy, and collect a few signatures at the Green Gnome? Perhaps the landlord, Jumbo Butterrface, will oblige, and some of his customers too - there's Mrs Underlay, and Silas Crawley having a few for a start.
Along the road at Terry Cottage, Boney Spratt is not having a very good day's fishing.
Somedays, he fishes, and somedays he ferrys, but these days he is nearly always fishing, to feed the growing number of customers waiting at the Green Gnome for a ferry. What can be done to cheer him up and persuade him to sign?
Then there's your uncle, Dundee Halfyard, at the Mill. Nice little place, only recently built, and well-sheltered from the wind, it would be such a shame to knock that down for yuppies!
But Dusty is certainly well guarded against intruders. What with a yard full of killer Chickens, and that baracade he's putting up inside the mill... collecting signatures for a petition can be very rewarding, but some signatures are worse than useless. In fact, they are worth ten negative points, so it pays to examine each prospect and think a bit before showing the petition.
When complete, and with the petition presented, the game moves onto part two, and your family home in nearly Gnettlefield. Quickbuck's agent is on the prowl, intent on stealing the deeds to the farm. What's more, a steam roller manned by ugly trolls is heading inexorably up the track, and they cat call and wolf-whistle you as you arrive to investigate. The object of this part is to stop the steamroller and steal the plans.
In part three, you have obtained a position as maid at the Quickbuck residence and report to the mansion for duty. In reality, with help of your Cansim Daisy, you are searching for evidence that will put Quickbuck behind bars for a long time to come!
I have often found difficulty in deciding what to try to do in recent Level 9 adventures, since the plots have been very open, with Ingrid's Back, Peter Austin told me, they have introduced a new policy in adventure design. That is, to make them much easier at the start with a gradual progression to more and more difficult puzzles. In the first part, the player's objective is a treasure hint in disguise, and the beginner will find no great difficulty in making progress. Not that it is all plain sailing, for there are a couple of quite tricky puzzles that will have the more experienced player scratching his head.
The game becomes much more open in part three, with the old problem of how to go about things. You will need to get Daisy to help you, you are told. But it is not at all obvious what you should be telling the ever-grinning Daisy to do. However, some sharp observations should give you a few ideas, however false things seem.
Ingrid's Back comes in a new design of package. Similar in constructions to the Infocom packaging and similar in looks to the artwork of earlier Level 9 classics such as Emerald Isles. We see the return of the attractive white-on-black 'L9' motif bordering a full colour picture of Ingrid. Inside, in addition to the appropriate disk or cassette, lies the Second Gnettlefield Journal, a forty page booklet complete with loading and playing instructions as well as some further extracts from Ingrid's diary. Worth a read in its own right, it can also give you a few ideas about some of the problems in Ingrid without actually giving the game away.
The rustic setting of Ingrid's Back is enhanced with a complete change of graphic design: out are misty digitised pictures of Gnome Ranger and Knight Orc, and in are some wonderful artist drawn pictures. There are fairytale country cottages, pubs full of drunken gnomes, and idyllic country scenes, that all really add atmosphere to the game. The screenshot shown here comes from the Atari ST version which also supports mono graphics on a high-res monitor.
Note, however, that not all versions have graphics and don't expect the 8-bit machines to achieve quite the same standard. There are many advanced features built into the Level 9 adventure system, that make the mechanics of playing the game much easier. RAM save is available on all but the 48K Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, and small BBC's.
OOPS takes you back one move, and is available on all disc versions with multiple OOPS on Atari ST. Picture-sliding to reveal the text hidden behind it, previous command editing, and picture off to avoid unnecessary disk loads during play, are available on a number of version.
Ingrid's Back has the funniest humour of any Level 9 game yet! What is Seamus Sosmali doing in Mrs Tackhammer's wardrobe, when you break into her bedroom and find her lying red-faced on the bed? Begorrah, he isn't having trouble with his teleport spell and shouldn't he be somewhere else altogether? As you leave the house together he suddenly remembers he's left his magic wand upstairs, and goes back, insisting that you do not wait for him...
Without a doubt, this is the most enjoyable Level 9 adventure I have played to date!