From the Inlay:
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.
Imogen is an innovative platform puzzle game written by Michael St Aubyn and released by Micro Power for the BBC Micro. It was later re-released by Superior Software for both the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron on their Play It Again Sam 5 compilation.
The user plays the wizard Imogen, who has the ability to transform into a cat or a monkey (and one other animal in one particular level). While in wizard form, Imogen can use items which have been picked up in order to solve various puzzles. In cat form he can jump higher and across wider gaps than in the other forms. In monkey form he can climb ropes.
The game is a 2D platformer played out over 16 levels, each with witty names, which also often provide a clue to the solution of the level. For example Level H, "Hamster-Jam" involves planting a tulip bulb in fertiliser made from a squashed hamster in order to allow Imogen, in monkey form, to climb to a previously out-of-reach platform! The starting level is random but they are always played in the same order (wrapping round from Level P to Level A). The aim of each level is to navigate the environment, using the abilities of each of Imogen's different forms and various items around each level to reach a piece of the release spell. Using the spell transports him to the next level.
There are no lives, however Imogen can only transform 150 times. So solving the puzzles efficiently is essential. If Imogen runs out of transformations, then the player will find that they are stuck and cannot progress. If all 16 levels are completed using less than 150 transformations, then the conclusion to the story is scrolled on-screen.
A PC remake, with the blessing of St Aubyn, was released in 2003 by ovine by design.