While the rest of you were sailing the oceans blue, or taking the King of Red Lions straight into treacherous waters drummed up by magnificent storms… I took my green clothed tunic friend on a different high sea adventure. I left my hut with its cooking pots and potion storage. I put on my green tunic, and matching fitted green hat. With my rosy cheeks matching my rosy red underwear that I like to wear on the outside, I set off on a grand (?) adventure to collect some rupees.
I would thank you to stop judging my penchant for being a 35 year old man, who fancies being a fairy and wearing my red with pride!
For a few weeks now, I've been mapping my way to superstardom playing Freshly Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland. It's the game starring everyone's favourite 30 something year old fairy man-child, Tingle. Oh come now, do not deny your love of the Tingle. Did that sound highly inappropriate? It did when I wrote it and that's the sort of feeling I got while experiencing what this game had to offer. You see, Tingle is as creepy as every memory you have of him. He lives in a modest hut on the outskirts of town, and for whatever reason, we find out that the Rupee Master has chosen him to gather rupees by trading, bartering and engaging in questionable (sometimes good) deeds to reach the heaven that is Rupeeland. There are no Farore, Din or Nayru pretty goddesses here and a promised land to save. Instead, there's a giant Rupee for a head sitting on an elongated body who seems to be the keeper of a mystic place called Rupeeland.
You do save it though but it's not quite that epic battle for the forces of evil that you were probably thinking of.
As you, Tingle, go about doing various financial transactions with people in the town or on uncharted pieces of land, you take those rupees and offer them to a lake outside your house. In doing so, there is a Tower that grows all the way up to Rupeeland where you're promised the big life, five cars… um, persian cats? I have no idea. Every time you make the offering, the Rupeeland Keeper/god seems to have a nicer living space. It's seems you're furnishing the place quite nicely and well, I'm not so sure Tingle is not getting conned.
The game has some of the usual The Legend of Zelda recognizable-themed things - bottles, talks of fairies, familiar named locales, and well, rupees - but what it has in spades more so than a regular Zelda adventure, is the weirdness that makes this game unique and all its own. The humour is very off-kilter, and sometimes, it's more than creepy in that it is downright frightening. There's still some light-heartedness to the humour but it's mostly filled with dark humour which is a more fitting description.
The 'missions' that Tingle goes on to further the game appear to be without any sort of rhyme or reason. You listen to the townsfolks' woes but everything comes with a fee. You want a recipe? Pay up. You want to know more about what troubles another? Pay up. You want that bridge fixed? Pay up. You get the idea. It's in those moments that the animation is at its most hilarious, because unless I'm doing something completely wrong, I had no clue on how to gauge what was an acceptable fee to charge for services or to gain further information.
That's right. Most fees are at your discretion and you decide what is acceptable. You could be rejected or undersell yourself. You could also lose a hell of a lot of rupees and since this is a game where rupees make the world go 'round (or will make life that much materially richer), then trading always became stressful for me. I cannot even begin to tell you how much anxiety I felt playing this. Some of these fees are not necessary at all and you could sort of figure your way around without paying for something like say, recipes.
The other funny thing about Tingle was the combat. In a true lack of hero fashion, Tingle can not fight on his own and instead has to hire bodyguards. Pretty cool, right? No! That's precious money taken away from me but to make money, I have to stay alive and so… PAY UP. Each of the bodyguards has different personalities too and of course, stronger ones mean more rupees but for me, I always wanted to go with the smarter ones.
Simple features such as yes or no are presented in the most hilarious ways and with crude animations. Environments are heavily outlined like sketches and it's gritty yet beautiful. Though, characters inhabiting these worlds are on the more realistic, harsh looking side. They can be sleazy and uncouth, much like Tingle himself. It's a fitting feeling to the type of underhanded, seedy sort of gameplay this game encompasses.
Musically, it's quite unexpected in its weirdness but then again, that's exactly the type of soundtrack that's fitting for the game. Often times, Tingle will wander around an area with no soundtrack at all. It's just him, a bird chirping and his awkward noises if you try to push him into a body of water. There was one track that I absolutely loved though. Perhaps it's that it's hard for me to break from the mindset that I'm not adventuring in Hyrule that it's easy for me to fall into those comparisons. When I heard it though, I was taken aback by its witty, uncharacteristic and modern stylings.
So I will admit it: I did not yet make it to Rupeeland. Tingle is somewhere mapping out a first continent and I am somewhere between deciding whether I want to continue playing this game for its incredibly odd humour while suffering through its less than fun controls (most of which involve your stylus skills) and stressful rupee trade offs.
I do want to see that man-child reach Rupeeland with its promises of beautiful, tingle dressed women. I think I will continue to seek out those skeleton pirates (who made me an honourary friend to their crew - yeah? you think you're so cool Wind Waker Link because you're a pirate, right? Psh. Overrated. Though this just goes to show just how much Tingle is made to be mocked as the complete opposite of Link the Hero).
But for now… I think I'll join the rest of you and start up a new adventure of sticking to the walls and visit the Light and Dark Worlds with that other, traditional green tunic clad friend.
Tingle, do you want me to help you get to Rupeeland? I too want to sip the good stuff in a place where work and study means nothing. We'll get there, Tingle. As soon as I figure out how to pay up.
Visit the Rupeeland that is TAY Classic, where discussions on work, study, life, videogames continue 24/7. No rupee fees necessary.