Disney's Gnome Village is a delightfully simple building game that's similar to Facebook's GnomeTown, but designed for Android and iOS tablets and smartphones. We tried this free app on a Samsung Galaxy Tab running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Gnome Village places you in a small clearing in the depths of the Enchanted Forest. You're tasked with saving the forest critters, defeating the Evil Gnome, and re-building Gnome Village. Machetes can be used to explore the village boundaries, with the natural resources and random pieces of litter you find along the way critical to the completion of the quests that let you progress through the game. See Best Android Apps.
Having built yourself a place to live from the remains of the Gnome King's abode, abandoned when he went into hiding, you'll want to decorate it with flowers from the market. You then set about rescuing Botkin the Bunny from his cage, in which he was cruelly trapped by the Evil Gnome. See Android Advisor.
Turns out Botkin's friends Snickers and Snackers met the same unfortunate fate, and they, too, need rescuing. Clearly, Botkin, Snickers and Snackers will need somewhere to call home, and almost before you know it Gnome Village is turning into a rather handsome place to live. If you like this, check out Tap Ranch for Android review.
The raw materials required to start building Gnome Village don't just grow on trees, of course. Rather, they're hidden under toadstools, mushrooms, acorns, pine cones, piles of leaves and Dandelions. You'll have to start clearing away the debris to gather what you need.
As with everything in Gnome Village, whether you're building a condo, mining for silver or chopping through the vines circling the village, clearing debris requires no more input than a simple tap on the item in question. You don't need to follow the game's story, nor understand what you're supposed to be doing, you just tap things and stuff happens.
For younger kids that's ideal, but the lack of any real challenge means progression through the game has be fast to keep things entertaining. And that's where Gnome Village falls down.
If there's one thing this game will teach your child it's patience. Whether they'll understand they need to wait 24 hours to harvest a blackberry bush, or eight hours to forge a single machete is another matter. Most likely they'll get fed up with seeing the 'All your helpers are busy' message splashed across the screen.
The timing of quests is so out of sync with the real world that the Enchanted Forest loses much of its magical appeal. How is it that you can build a condo in 30 minutes, but spend eight hours picking up a single feather? And what do you do in the meantime?
Gnome Village is designed to be the sort of game to which you can dip in and out over a long period of time. But if, like us, you're pretty impatient, you can pause tasks should your helpers' services be required elsewhere. And there are plenty more friends to rescue and recruit to your workforce along the way - you'll find Chipper, Stefan, and Mr and Mrs Squeakers within the grounds of the village itself, while new worlds introduce Roosevelt, Bob, Ariel and Sammy.
Every so often, though, you find yourself physically unable to complete any of the quests. You've run out of machetes, snow shovels or baby spoons, so can't explore the boundaries, and there's not enough debris to help you unearth new building supplies. In fact, the major problem with Gnome Village is the difficulty in acquiring these exploration tools: it takes an age to level up through the collection of Xp points, and you aren't always rewarded with the tools you so desperately need when you do. You'll be some way into the game before you're offered a machete-forging bench, and must otherwise part with real cash for a quick fix.
Even when you do find some machetes, you may run out again before finding what you need. When you enter Briar's Wood, for example, and are tasked with finding five dark toadstools to save poor Roosevelt who has been poisoned by the Evil Gnome, you'll likely need more than five precious machetes to seek them out. Given how long it takes to acquire a single machete, and the eight hours required to gather each dark toadstool, we're surprised the poor chap lived to tell the tale.
It's the same story with scarcity of bricks, and we've long since given up on the idea of building our observatory, given that the 30 bricks required are routinely nabbed for projects elsewhere in Gnome Village.
Almost everything you need that isn't easily gathered can be bought with gold bars - usually 10-15 bars are required for a pack of 10 items. It'll cost you just over a pound for 20 bars, and three pounds for 52. These are gone in minutes, so this 'free' game can quickly become expensive. It's frustrating that you can't trade in some of the vast amounts of food and silver coins you collect throughout the game, although these can be used to speed up tasks and purchase new buildings, crops, creatures, decorations and more.