Imogen started life as a piece of self-indulgent whimsy about 17 years ago. That was back in 1986, during the home computer boom, when it was still possible for an enthusiast to put together a computer game in a back bedroom and have it published, distributed and reviewed as a professional piece of software.
I'd already had two BBC Micro games published under those circumstances: Acornsoft Volcano and Pantry Antics for BBC Enterprises. But as neither of those had attracted (or deserved) much attention, I did not begin Imogen with any particular expectations. I wrote it as the kind of game I wanted to play myself, a graphical adventure in which lightning reflexes didn't count quite so much as daft, cartoony humour and lateral thinking. (Roadrunner and Edward de Bono were influences on the puzzles in Imogen in roughly equal proportions.)
It was written at a leisurely pace, taking somewhere between nine months and a year. I'd like to say that was due to perfectionism, but I think that laziness may also have been a factor. It was a game I kept dropping and then coming back to when a new idea popped up. I dare say I'd have spent even longer on it, but there was another important consideration: the BBC Micro, like the Spectrum and the Commodore 64, was starting to show distinct signs of obsolescence. By the time Imogen appeared on the shelves, the Atari, the Amiga and the IBM PC were about to become the big new games machines.
I find it surprising, therefore, that people do still remember the game. Some of these have encountered it perhaps through the Electron conversion; others through BBC Micro emulators. Still more, I hope, will discover and enjoy the game through Ovine's lovingly crafted update. If you have ever played Imogen before, I know you will not be disappointed by this "redux" edition. Every detail of the BBC game is there (in colour!) with lots of delightful new touches, all thoroughly in keeping with the spirit of the original. I don't think I have ever seen a BBC game treated to such a meticulous makeover.
For myself, playing this conversion has been a "friends reunited" moment. The last time I ran Imogen was about 15 years ago when I wrote the Electron version. I'd even forgotten how to solve some of the puzzles: the gnu section had me stumped for a while! So I have a personal reason to thank Stu and Andy for their hard work on this project, in addition to my gratitude to them for bringing this whiskery old game to a new audience.
Michael St Aubyn, December 2003
When the townspeople of Egmain were besieged by a monstrous fire-breathing dragon they called for the assistance of Imogen, a local wizard with powers of metamorphosis.
Responding to their pleas, he transformed himself into a dragon even more powerful than the real one. The monster was quickly destroyed but the strain of the transformation was so great that when Imogen returned to his normal state, his mind snapped.
He forgot his friendship to the townspeople and used his power to destroy their crops, burn their houses and fill the sky with black clouds so that the town was in permanent night. After a few weeks of this, a spokesman set forth to seek the advice of the greatest and wisest wizard in the land.
When the Great Wizard had heard the story he said, "This insanity will pass, but until that time he must be imprisoned. I shall design a cave to hold him and your craftsmen will construct it in the mountain that overlooks the town."
"How will we know when to release him?" asked the spokesman.
"He will free himself when the time is right. I shall provide the spell for his release and split it in twain four times. The sixteen pieces will then be placed within the cavern and the route to each guarded by a test of stamina and intelligence. Only when he is fully recovered will he be able to retrieve the entire spell and set himself free".
And so the cavern was constructed, and with the Great Wizard's help, Imogen was secured within the first section, ready to begin his quest for freedom.
The Game Menu
Use the cursor keys to change the menu option that is highlighted and the Return key to select it.
From the game menu, you can Start a new game. If you have previously saved a game, you can restart from that level using the Continue option.
You can redefine the keyboard controls and change the default screen mode by selecting options. On the options menu, use redefine to change the keyboard controls in which you will be asked to press the key for each action. There next option allows you to change the screen mode, select this to cycle between Window (32-bit desktop only), Full 16-bit and Full 32-bit. Select Return to go back to the main game menu.
The game is played by helping Imogen, the wizard, to solve the puzzles in sixteen levels and recover the spell fragments that will release him from the cave. Imogen can transform himself into two other animals which may help him along the way.
As any character use:
Z - Left, X - Right
As Imogen the Return key will:
If moving when the Return key is pressed, Imogen will jump in that direction.
If standing still and holding an object, the Return key will use that object in some way.
As the monkey the Return key will:
Jump up if standing still or jump in the facing direction if moving.
Grab hold of a rope if you are close enough, keep the Return key pressed to climb up, release it to fall down.
While the Return key is pressed, hold down the movement keys (Z or X) to stop climbing and release the return key to jump off the rope in the direction you are facing. You can not turn around while on a rope.
As the cat the Return key will:
Jump if moving in a direction. The cat can jump further and reach higher ground than any of the other character.
The Icon Bar
The icon bar is controlled using the cursor keys and the Space-bar to activate an icon with the Wand.
Brings up a screen that allows you to load and save what level you have reached and how much magic you have left.
Use the cursor keys to control the Wand and the Space-bar to select. Press Esc to exit at any time.
First choose if you want to Load or Save a game.
Next select the slot to load or save, if you are saving you will also enter a name for the save game slot.
Please note, that saving only stores the levels completed and how much magic you have, not your progress in the current level. It is recommended that you save only at the start of a level.
You can toggle the music on or off using this icon.
Each level has a password. You can discover the password of the current level using the status icon. Select the password icon and enter the code to jump directly to another level.
Shows which spell fragments you have collected and the password for the current level.
There are three characters to choose from, select the one you wish to transform into.
The current selected icon. Move with the cursor keys and select an icon with the Space-bar.
Anything you find and pick up in the game will show here. Select it to put in to Imogen's hands.
You start with 150 points of magic. Each time you transform into another character, you will lose one point of magic. Conserve your magic!
Playing a level
Here is a brief introduction to Dripping-stuff, a fairly easy level to get started with. Spoiler alert, do not read this page if you don't want to discover how to complete part of this level!
To get to Dripping-stuff, select the Password icon and enter the following password: POISON KILLS
As the wizard, have a wander around and look on each screen you can get to. You should find four screens. The spell fragment is your goal and this can be found on the far left screen. You can try to get it if you like, turn in to the monkey so you can climb up the rope. Remember that you can only jump off a rope in the direction you are currently facing, you might want to practice your rope climbing skills.
So the dog wants to be left alone? We have to find a way past him, lets not worry about that now. On the other ledge there's a bottle. Pick it up by moving over it, you should see it in your inventory.
Now go right to the leaky bucket. Turn into the wizard and select the bottle, to do this position the wand on the bottle in the inventory and press the Space-bar. You should see Imogen holding the bottle now. Try to catch a drip of water in the bottle, you will see it fill up if you are successful.
Walk right to the next screen and there is a plant. Get close enough to it, and while still holding the bottle press the Return key and you will use the bottle. Did something happen to the plant? We'll let you work out the rest, but I think you have the basic idea of the game now.
Still having trouble? Here are some hints to help you out.
Level names and passwords can yield clues.
The cat does not immediately fall when walking off a ledge.
Don't be afraid of losing a life - you have none to lose!
Save your game at the start of a level.
Monkeys can only jump off the rope in the direction they are facing.
Tulips from Hamster Jam.
Practise the keyboard controls for a while, study how each character behaves.
To solve the puzzles, think logically. Most objects have a purpose.
Explore all rooms you can get to.
Do not confuse the cursor keys that select the menu options with the Z and X keys that move the characters.
Do not be afraid to try many things.
If you are totally stuck, we hear there are solutions floating around the net.
Making monkey noises while being a monkey really helps.
New characters are not difficult to control.
There is no spoon.
ESC key bypasses cut-scenes and control panels.
Don't transform unless you need to, learn the most effective way to complete each level.
Show the jelly the gun.
Enjoy the game!
Imogen is designed to run on even the most basic of computer systems. We recommend a Windows PC with the at least the following specification:
If you experience any difficulties running Imogen, you may want to try out these command line switches:
/16 - add this to the command line and the game will run full screen in 16-bit colour
/32 - add this to the command line to run full screen in 32-bit colour (default)
/NOMUSIC - add this to the command line to disable the music component
I hear no music in the game.
Start with the obvious, make sure that you have your speakers plugged in and switched on, and make sure that you have your sound control panel volume set and not on mute.
The graphics seem a bit patchy, especially on the title page.
This is because your screen mode is in 16-bit colour. This has fewer shades to use. Try setting Fullscreen 32bit from the options on the games main menu or running it in a window on a 32-bit colour desktop.
I cannot select window mode from the options, what's up?
The game currently will only run correctly in a window if the desktop is set to 32-bit colour. If you want to run the game in a window instead of full screen, set your desktop to 32-bit colour.
I have a fire-breathing dragon besieging my town, what should I do?
Call on the services of Imogen and he'll sort you out. Warning, might result in loss of sun light and home for a period of time.
The game has been a joy to work on, we had a lot of fun recreating the puzzles. Imogen is a special game and is very unique. We were very conscious from the start not to distort the game in the remake process and we have tried to ensure that none of the magic of the original is lost.
However being a conversion to a much more powerful computer, we had the opportunity to bring the game into the modern age with larger colourful graphics, smooth animation, sound effects and music.
Our goal has been to bring this treasure to a new audience and we hope we have done the game justice. We hope that you enjoy this game.
The following utilities are also available to allow you to edit the supplied screens of this game:
A digital version of this item can be downloaded right here at Everygamegoing (All our downloads are in .zip format).