Ingrid is an over-organising gnome, who has 'accidentally' been teleported by a mis-scrolling far away from her native Gnettlefield. It seems the 'accident' was a blessing in disguise for the residents of Gnettlefield.
Thus, Ingrid finds herself outside a ship, and on entering, sees quite a few goodies that would suit her down to the ground. Alas, she has neither cash nor possessions with which to trade, but manages to strike a bargain with the proprietor (a centaur would you believe?) to deliver a letter to his aunt, in exchange for one item. Shall she choose a useful-looking shovel, a suit of armour, or a mysteriously promising black rod?
Things start to look suspicious when Ingrid discovers that the aunt in question is a witch, whose sideline is making and selling concrete garden gnomes. Without a lot of care, Ingrid could become another addition to her collection! How can she leave the garden with the magic one-way gate? Is the witch's dog likely to provide some sort of help? Perhaps for now she should fail to fulfil her part of the bargain, and do a bit of digging instead, at the end of that beckoning rainbow.
The trouble is, rainbows move as you approach them, and this one seems no different - so how can she find the end, and keep it in one place?
There are quite a few creatures and characters in the game, including an eagle with troublesome chicks, an ultra nervous nymph, and a peace-loving llama. You need to get some of these on your side, to help you with the tasks.
The game comes in three parts, and what I have described are taken from the first part. Further yet! With a Ram Save, and Oops command (multiple on 16 bit machines) there is all the flexibility of play you could want in a complex adventure.
Play takes on the same mode as in Knight Orc, since the game is written using the same new adventure system. This means that the characters will go about their business, but may be persuaded to help you. You can talk to them, follow them, find them, and find any object whose existence you know about, providing it is in a 'gettable' state.
But in my opinion, this is a better game than Knight Orc. There is not so much hacking and slaying, and the whole ting is gentler, with more ponderable problems. Some of the descriptive text, too, is superb. EXAMINE is a command that should be used whenever possible, for there are few things that do not have a lengthy, and often humorous description to be revealed! My favourite was that of the eagle, with a feast of alliterative F's, ending with a bit about foul fluffy feathery bits under its tail!
The rest of the text has its funny side too, for with all these GNs around (Gnome, GNettlefield) all words beginning with an N in the text, are preceded with a G. Not only that, the input system accepts the G as an optional start to the words, when used by the player!
Although we have had the revamped Jewels Of Darkness and Silicon Dream trilogies published by Rainbird over the past year, and the more recent Knight Orc, it is nice to see the old firm once more releasing a game on their own label.
Further Level 9 games from Rainbird are on the way, but in the meantime, here you can enjoy a game of similar standard of excellence to Knight Orc at a much lower and more realistic price. Apart from the 16-bit versions costing only £14.95, all 8-bit versions will cost a mere £9.95. Since the C64 cassette version of Gnome Ranger has text only, disk owners should make a point of getting the game on disk, since it is exactly the same price as the cassette.
The packaging, too, is new. A flexible plastic double-cassette case in black, with more durable hinges than previous models has been chosen to house the game, which will complete with a 48 page 12,000 word copy of The Gnettlefield Journal. Welcome back, Level 9!