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The Secret of Shadow Ranch Walkthrough

Welcome to my Secret of Shadow Ranch walk-through. (-: If you're new to my series of low-spoiler computer game walkthroughs, the idea is to point players towards things they might not have tried in each game rather than giving away puzzle solutions or offering step-by-step instructions.

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Unlike most Nancy Drew games, The Secret of Shadow Ranch is actually arranged temporally, not by area. There are three chapters ("days") with new areas appearing becoming accessible in each chapter, and the game must be completed in largely linear order. Here is a bare-bones list of key tasks to be completed-- note that I don't tell you how to solve any of the puzzles, just where they are. If you've already found a puzzle but just can't seem to get it right no matter what you do, UHS is a good place to go for a single hint that won't spoil the rest of the game for you.

The Secret of Shadow Ranch: Key Tasks

If you find yourself getting stuck in the game, keep in mind that the answer frequently doesn't have anything to do with puzzles or additional exploration. Often you just need to speak with an NPC or return to Shadow Ranch for the plot to continue advancing. So if you really have no idea what to do next, first make sure that none of the four NPC's have anything to say to you, and then try calling Bess and the Hardy boys on the telephone for advice. If all those things fail, take a look at this checklist of important tasks you will need to complete to solve the game (in rough chronological order):

1) Talk to all the NPC's. Repeatedly. Having certain conversations with them is necessary for the plot to progress. You'll need to call Bess and George at least once to move the plot along too, as well as the Rawleys and a few other people whose phone numbers will be revealed later in the game (good thing Nancy finally bought herself a cellphone!) Calling the Hardy Boys is completely optional in The Secret of Shadow Ranch.

2) Complete several mundane house chores for Shorty (collecting eggs, fixing a basket, picking vegetables, splitting wood and gathering sticks for a fire.) Day 1 will never end until you complete all these chores.

3) Figure out how to saddle and mount Bob the horse, then pass Tex's quiz about horses. (You can't leave the ranch the first day till you've done this.)

4) Figure out how to open the triangular chest in the living room and read its contents. (The first day won't end till you've done this.)

5) Open the chest in Mary's store and find the hidden message in it. (The first day won't end till you've done this.)

6) Play the game in Mary's store and earn a token. (You can do this on Day 2 or Day 3 if you prefer.)

7) Figure out what all six of Frances Humber's favorite flowers are (this will take you most of the game to finish.)

8) Decode the petroglyph message (you won't be able to finish this till Day 2, but Day 1 won't end until you have begun work on it anyway.)

9) On day 2, do more mundane house chores for Shorty (collect eggs, pick vegetables, feed farm animals and bake a cake.) The second day will not end till you've done all these things.

10) Find a secret passage under the pumphouse and solve a puzzle there. (The second day won't end till you've done this.)

11) Find and fix Frances' purse (you'll need to perform a chore for Mary in order to get the supplies you need.) You can do this on either day 2 or day 3, it doesn't matter.

12) Play a lariat-roping game and a barrel-riding game with Tex. (The second day won't end till you've done this.)

13) Finish decoding the petroglyph message. (The second day won't end till you've done this.)

14) Figure out how to get inside Cappy's Saloon. (You can't finish Day 2 without doing this.)

15) Solve the puzzle in the piano. (You can't finish Day 2 without doing this.)

16) Collect 10 arrowheads for Mary. (You can't finish Day 2 without doing this.)

17) Build a machine on the counter of Cappy's and play it (you'll need to find three components and assemble them correctly to do this.) You can't finish Day 2 without doing this.

18) At this point night will fall when you return to the ranch and you can fix the chicken coop.

19) On day 3, do more mundane house chores for Shorty (collect eggs and pick vegetables.) You can't leave the ranch till you've done this.

20) Put together a bridle for Tex. You can't leave the ranch till you've done this.

21) Explore the ghost town till you get inside the jail cell.

22) Solve the code in the jail cell.

23) Get back out of the jail cell.

24) Open the two puzzle boxes all these clues lead you to (you'll need to collect a few extra inventory items and win a prize from the slot machine game to accomplish this. I suggest saving the game before putting any tokens into the slot machine-- winning is a random event, and reloading is better than trudging back to Mary's for more tokens!)

25) Find and polish a picture agate, and follow it to the cliff dwellings.

26) Unfortunately, you can't just follow the coded directions through the maze, because you need to collect five objects hidden in urns scattered throughout the maze. So you still have to explore the whole maze until you've found them all.

27) Then open the final door at the end and solve the timed endgame challenge. And that's it, you've won!

The Secret of Shadow Ranch: Optional Actions

Have you:

*Gotten Tex to talk about his sister?
*Gotten caught going through Shorty's desk?
*Gotten Mary to talk about Tex?
*Gotten Dave to make a pass at Nancy? :-)
*Solved the coded message you found burned up in the fire pit?

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