Unwanted. Isolated. If you were a balding, middle aged man who regularly went out in a full green body suit and insisted that everybody called you “Mr Fairy,” these are likely the feelings which would be closest to you; so is with Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland.
From the first time you enter the acting hub-world Port Town, the game pulls an atmosphere which distinctly invokes the message, “no, we don't want you here.” Despair looms through the repeated melody as you make your stroll, characters slam doors behind after you've walked past, and nobody will give you a second word, or even a first, unless you pay them up front. You realize, if you don't have the patience to deal with the frankly disturbing townspeople, then there is no way that you'll be able to struggle through the long ordeal that has been sent to you.
But what an ordeal it turns out to be. Tingle
is practically a superhero origin story; at the beginning we find out how the notorious fairy-man came about his fabled emerald costume, and the unwavering desire for rupees that have made his character. As it turns, Uncle Rupee, a man in the clouds who has the face of a giant rupee, transforms the hero of this tale (you!) into the green-clad protagonist Tingle, promising to eventually take him away to the magical Rupeeland; a place which exists riches beyond imagination and all the rupees one could ever desire. In exchange however, you must travel the world in search of rupees to fuel an ever growing tower, and the Master Rupee, which will make the jump to Rupeeland possible. So begins your quest: scaling treacherous mountains, overcoming terrible tribes, travelling plains of alien cows and barren wastelands belonging to fairy princesses, all in order to find the treasures required to realize your ultimate dreams. Sounds bizarre. Sounds amusing. It is both of these things. This is going to be one strange journey. Here's one example of Tingle's sexual deviances. One of these guys is a woman. One of them doesn't have a mustache. Those two facts do not necessarily go hand in hand.
Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland is just one of those
games. Its one of those rare titles where each of its seemingly terrible components (simple tap-tap fighting and annoying bargaining) miraculously come together and make something wonderful happen. At least, for some people. Tingle
is a crowd splitter if you ever saw one: some may be immediately sent away by the presence of the flamboyant title character, others who are willing to give it a shot may be turned off by the seemingly impenetrable core gameplay system. Like its insane characters, the game's wacky world is designed to completely alienate the player from the get-go, allowing only the most dedicated audience to beat its initial inane design choices. Those that are willing to toil through the tiresome early hardships however, will learn very quickly that on the quest to Rupeeland, you will most certainly reap much more than you sow.
If you couldn't tell from that third paragraph, everything in Tingle's world revolves around rupees. They count as your life force, as well as your only means to progress through the game's many difficult challenges. You want advice from someone, you pay. Fight an enemy, you pay. Gain entry to a dungeon, you pay a real hefty amount. There's nothing Tingle
wont do to replace you of your hard-earned cash, so the first question is, if this game is so insistent of taking away your money, how on earth do you earn it? Well, there are three main ways to go about this, which make up the core of the game. Dash past the slightly creepy box-art and you're in for a nice surprise. 1.) Cooking
This isn't Zelda. You won't be slaying demonic creatures and looting the corpses for money they're for some reason carrying here, quite the opposite in fact: get into a punch-out with a pig in Tingle
be the one losing the cash. Nope, Tingle favours menial handiwork to straight-out-scuffles, though it does bear at least one resemblance to the series it spun from.
Here's the deal: you get into a fight by moving on top of an enemy, and a comic-style fight bubble will appear (think Andy Capp or The Beano) showing your fairy fighter getting the living daylights kicked out of him. Tap the screen to attack your foe, and eventually, after losing many rupees, you'll (hopefully) have won. Now, you'll see that the enemy has dropped a number of odd-looking items, which you can then go on to use as cooking ingredients. Recipes are dotted about the land, and to the right buyer, they can go for quite a high price. But how do you store the completed goods, you ask? In none other than classic Zelda staple, the Empty Bottle! These make up one side of Tingle's inventory, (the other being ingredients) and you can expand upon your carrying capacity by finding more, making for less tedious trips to sell your products.
That's one way of making money. It sounds simple enough, but there's a little more depth to accompany that. For one, enemies usually only drop one item, but if you're quick enough and manage to chain enemies together by moving over them as Tingle is engaged in combat, more ingredients will be yours for the taking. Harder enemies who appear to suck your rupee counter dry will also require Tingle to hire a bodyguard to do the fighting for him, but they also come at a price. Its a system of balance; one which takes a lot of calculation and memory to solve. 2.) Mapping
This is my favourite, and one of the most rewarding ways to fill your wallet. Each of the game's eleven islands has a map, which you can purchase for a relatively low price, and scattered around each island are a number of distinctive landmarks. When Tingle stumbles across something which appears out of place, select “Mapping” on the menu and he can enter a pointless touch-screen implementation in which a circle must be drawn on the map to to register the new discovery. Its fun exploring the land on this mini scavenger hunt, but the best part comes from taking your completed map back to Port Town where the old woman will throw rupees at you for each landmark you've noted, amounting to a lot more than was paid for the original map in the first place. Then, sell the map to the old lady and be buried in the given wealth. Results!
The only problem is that when you sell the whole map, you lose it for good. That is, unless you decide to buy it back for a sum that is always slightly higher than you sold it for. In the end, you'll still have the benefits that each landmark gave you, but the money gained from selling the finished product is just a one time thing, there if you need it. Some of the later maps are essential for finding key items, and making even more money, so care is needed when you're deciding whether to sell a map on for the extra boost. 3.) Dungeon Crawling
This is what makes up the bulk of Tingle's adventure. There are five dungeons throughout this warped version of Hyrule, each requiring a large amount of skill, patience, and rupees to pass. After paying the toll, you'll be treated to a Zelda-style layout, with a number of classic puzzles often involving Tingle hefting around large objects with his protruding stomach. Manage to beat your way to the end and your reward comes threefold; first, the boss battles.
One thing I love about this game: the boss fights completely turn the mechanics of the game on its head. Instead of traditionally recycling bits of game that you've already played but making them slightly harder, Tingle
presents some completely different scenarios to overcome before it allows access to its greatest treasures, though it can be said that these moments are a real treasure in themselves. One fight has you in a Punch Out!! style arena – complete with dodgy 16-bit caricatures on the top screen – throwing bombs at a giant 3D skeleton monster. Another encounter has Tingle flicking himself up the inside of a volcano, trying to avoid the twists and turns of a flaming dragon. Its always refreshing to meet a boss because they're so different from the core premise you're used to seeing.
And the reward for beating the dungeons master. Why, one of the five sacred rupees you need to unlock the final ultimate Master Rupee. Oh, and a boatload of cash to grab, which will make short work of the tower. Its a very nice prize. Pictured: what Tingle would look like on an Xbox 360. Just be glad that Nintendo thought of this IP first!
will reward you greatly for accomplishing its ultimate toil, with some nice original experiences, and, well, some things that will be tapped later. But lets talk about the more annoying aspects to Tingle fore a second: I guess anything with the title characters association will have some kind of aspect that makes you want to punch it in the face.
The main gripe stems from the bargaining system. Its not broken in any way, as it does exactly what it was meant to do (assuming that was: “piss the player off immensely.”) for with each time you offer money to a character for an item, or advice you need, that money is gone for good. Sounds fair when put that simple, yes, but when you factor in that if you give them an amount too low they'll tell you jack-nothing and
rob you of your cash, dealing with people becomes a whole different ordeal. The capitalist moral of Tingle's tale, is that grown-ups love money, and they'll stop at nothing to prise it from your hands. Bargaining games become a case of slowly offering increasing sums, resetting your DS, and repeating until the right amount is found. Be warned that if you offer too much, they'll take that too.
Its a different style of gaming, to have short bursts of play in order to store the best paths in memory to carry out later on, and for the most part, it does work. However, there are moments where you'll have progressed far past the game's single save point, and be offered a reward for carrying out certain characters tasks. These can get very tricky. The game is to ask for whatever amount you want, without being too generous or too greedy. If you're the former its possible to miss out on massive amounts of wealth, but three strikes of being the latter and you get nothing. I hit the internet for the best prices after one of these, and found out that I'd lost out on around 50,000 rupees. You will probably do the same.
For a Nintendo licensed game, you sometimes wonder how it could be so unforgiving (if you lose too many rupees and then save, it is essentially possible to 'fail the game,' or at least, be forced to grind for hours making low-pay recipe's to gain your money back). You may also begin to wonder how a relatively non-violent Nintendo game was granted a 12+ rating from the ESRB. Yes, we all know the story: Tingle is a middle-aged man in tights who calls himself a fairy, therefore he must be some kind of deranged sexual predator. And while the game doesn't actually confirm this as fact, it doesn't shy away from throwing the odd innuendo around.
The curious bridge makers for one, have the appearance of a cross between Japanese personality Hard Gay
and the builder from the village people. Everything from the helmet, to the one-piece suit, to the way he thrusts his crotch in your face if you give him money invokes the thought process, “hmm, there may be something funny going on here.” Then there's Tingle's unique way of storing special rupees, which appear to gravitate towards his arse-hole after he does his funny dance. And no-one could look at the tower's growing between every level and not see the obvious phallic reference. It appears as if Tingle's ambiguous sexuality is following him at every turn, with sexual implications splashed all about the place. An excursion presents itself in whether you can spot them all, although the cleanliness of your own mind will probably play a part in whether you discover more or less. Hard Gay: surprisingly not gay at all. He's kind of like a Japanese Sacha Baron Cohen, therefore he is already awesome.
The plot is lined with humorous subtleties. “Why is that Uncle Rupee strangely becoming more wealthy as I toss my money to fuel this tower?” you'll ask. “Whose the guy in the pink Lycra, and why does he have breasts?” will likely be the first response upon stumbling on sidekick, Pinkle. And “why does my dog also have a tingle suit?” are possibly things you'll hear yourself saying through playing this strange title. Only the most offbeat challenges are good enough for a Tingle, and regardless of what seems to be a disjointed nature, every strand of toil you've been through will come together in the end. A satisfying conclusion meets a game that you really weren't paying too much attention to story in the first place. Its a welcome surprise.
Looking at screens, its easy to come to the conclusion that the presentation is beautiful, with this being one of the brightest games to ever hit the DS. The occasional 3D sections also make it look even nicer, giving a vibrant, cartoony feel throughout. The only part missing is a musical score: you will hear sounds during your journey, but often these are just various forest sounds, and birds chirping. In fact, sweeping sound accompanies each time Tingle uses his trademarked balloon to descend upon an island – a sound that feels every bit as epic as any classic Zelda track – but after a few seconds, it stops. And all that can be heard is tweeting. Its quite disappointing, and the only part that detracts from an otherwise brilliant feel. I have an erection!!!... is what you'll shout as the tower grows. To everyone about. If you're me. *is shamelessly immature*
The presentation says it all, really. Simple, but not lacking in depth. There are many layers to this bizarre property, and you'll gain a lot of entertainment discovering them all. From its ironic capitalist story, to its campy characters and situational humour, Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland is one of the most charming, off-the-wall, and downright impenetrable games that you absolutely must play. Your curiosity will indeed, be rewarded greatly with this one. Now Nintendo, give us even more unnecessary immaturity and stupidity in the coming sequel!
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