I'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 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 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...