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• Freshly-Picked: Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland

developed by Vanpool, published by Nintendo
1 player/3 save slots/Nintendo DS/2007.09.14 (EU)

Tingle, The Legend of Zelda‘s most controversial character, stars in his own off-the-wall adventure in Freshy-Picked: Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland.  Tingle first appeared in Zelda: Majora’s Mask on the N64, and quickly garnered the hatred of many Zelda fans for sticking out like a sore thumb in the Zelda universe.  The negative response to an online poll squashed the game’s chances of being released in North America.  This is actually something of a travesty since it was already translated into English; and because it is destined to become a cult classic.

All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

Tingle’s dull existence is interrupted by the appearance of Uncle Rupee in the wishing well next to Tingle’s humble abode.  Promising him all the food, wine, and women that he could ever ask for, Uncle Rupee sends Tingle on a quest to collect as many rupees (the currency of the Zelda universe) as humanly possible.  After you’ve saved enough rupees you are encouraged to throw them into the wishing well, which soon sprouts into a tower.  Uncle Rupee appears in a comical scene to encourage Tingle, and the tower will grow, allowing you to access new areas.

The game’s story is further fleshed out by the many characters inhabiting the nearby town and abroad, who have their own little stories that can be completed over the course of the game.  The cast is made up of some truly bizarre and funny characters that give the game a unique atmosphere, and this is one of those rare games that can actually make you laugh.

Nothing In Life Is Free

At first nobody in town will give you the time of day.  You’ll have to bribe them with rupees, and from that point onwards they’re willing to do business with you.  This serves as the introduction to the game’s haggle system, where a calculator pops up on the touch screen allowing you to punch in the number of rupees you’re willing to gamble.  The haggle system is one of the few gripes I had with the game.  It’s often unclear how much money should be offered, and you are punished severely if you accidentally low-ball someone.  To make matters worse, rupees are everything in this game so you certainly won’t want to pay more than you have to!

For example, if a character requires 1,000 rupees and you offer 900, you lose all 900 rupees!  In these situations, it’s probably best to keep offering higher amounts until you know the sweet spot and reset your game.  Luckily, the game is lenient in other areas.  Some characters, and the entrances to dungeons, will keep a tally of what you’ve given them until you pay off the amount required.  That’s right – you even have to pay to enter dungeons!

It’s Dangerous To Go Alone

Battles are handled quite differently than a typical Zelda game.  You initiate a fight by simply walking into a creature, at which point a dust cloud (like in old cartoons) appears as Tingle tussles with his foe.  You can then guide the dust cloud to any other creatures in the area to score combos and more loot.  When attacked, Tingle loses rupees, and if they run out he dies.  Fighting tough monsters can quickly drain your rupees, so it’s usually best to hire a bodyguard to do the fighting for you.

Bodyguards aren’t always cheap, but they’ll save you precious rupees in the long run.  Unlike Tingle, Bodyguards have hearts for health.  If they run out of hearts, they’ll need more rupees to be revived, but you can give them restorative potions to heal them or simply leave them behind.  As you and your bodyguard fight, tapping on the dust cloud repeatedly will up your attack power to end battles more quickly.  It’s a simple and unique system that is pretty fun when you’re trying to combo multiple enemies.

There are three types of bodyguards that can be hired, in three size classes.  Small guards are the weakest of the lot, but they can fit into tight crevices to find treasures.  Medium-sized guards are well-rounded fighters that can pick locks.  The biggest guards are the strongest, and can lift certain boulders that block your path.  There are fools who never fight on their own, bold fighters who will automatically attack the nearest enemies, and wise fighters who will only jump into the fray when Tingle gets attacked.  You can also tap on the bodyguard to guide them to a specific location, though fools will usually ignore you.

 

Presentation

This game features awesome hand drawn backgrounds and characters.  Each area in the game has its own visual identity and looks fantastic, like something out of a comic book.  It’s really a shame that more games aren’t made in this format.  The characters are drawn in a quirky style and feature some funny little animations that bring them to life.  The music is surprisingly good, though it’s somewhat sparsely peppered throughout the game.  You’ll be treated to a brief introduction when visiting areas, followed by quiet, ambient sound effects.  It’s a treat when the music takes over, from the remixed Kokiri forest theme to the excellent original compositions.  As a nice touch, characters babble during conversations, and bodyguards beatbox when battling.

 

Closing Comments

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this game at first, but after getting acquainted with it’s bizarre systems this strange little game really grew on me.  Tingle may be the most hated Nintendo character ever, but this game takes advantage of his silliness to great comedic effect and, by the end of the adventure, managed to warm my heart.  It’s an original take on the Zelda formula that is surprisingly solid, full of fun surprises, and features fantastic artwork and music.  As such this is a game that, despite problem areas, manages to rise to the level of something truly special.  Don’t let the haggle system prevent you from experiencing it because it gets really good – I would even say it is one of my favorite Zelda games.  Sadly, its sequel was never translated for release outside of Japan.

 

Quick Run Down

PROs:

  • Unique spin on the Zelda formula
  • Bizarre, humorous characters
  • Plenty of secrets and objectives to complete
  • Fantastic hand-drawn artwork & music compositions

CONs:

  • Haggle system is annoying, especially at first
  • Ingredient farming is too time-consuming
  • Selling bottled items in town requires lots of back and forth
  • The sequel, Color Changing Tingle’s Balloon Trip of Love, was never translated!!

One Sentence Review: While not for everyone, Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland will please fans of titles like Zelda and Harvest Moon.

One Word Review: Bizarre.

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