Review by AlgusUnderdunk
Go grave robbing, fairy hunting, and monkey slaughtering in the name of profit.
Go grave robbing, fairy hunting, and monkey slaughtering in the name of profit.
So, Tingle got his own game y'know. It's for the DS, and it's called 'Tingle's Freshly Picked Rose-Colored Rupee Land.' While this game isn't a Link game, it's definitely a Zelda game. There are rupees, dungeons, secrets, colorful characters and landscapes, massive boss fights, and a feeling of fantasy and discovery that can't be denied. And yet, through all of this, the game has elements that make it wholey unique and unlike anything I've ever played before. Now, normally I don't give games numerical scores, but since it's GameFaqs policy for such, I'll do so on a scale of 1 to 10.
--- Background ---
Tingle starts off as a normal 35 year old slacker with no motivation, bored to tears by his ho-hum life, when suddenly a voice calls out to him... "Tingle.... come to me..." it says. Tingle, being morbidly bored, doesn't hear it. "Hey! You! The 35 year old in green pants!" Tingle snaps out of his stupor, and follows the voice to a shimmering fountain in the woods. An old man named Rupeeji appears in the sky, and offers Tingle a choice. He can return to his ho-hum life, or he can begin a quest to reach Rupee Land, a paradise of joy and entertainment where Tingle will dine on the finest of foods, relax on the sun-baked shores of the beach, be surrounded by adoring women, and have all the luxuries he could ever dream of.
Upon eagerly agreeing to it, Tingle's immediately blasted by an energy wave of Rupeeji's magic, transforming him into the green-spandex clad nut we're all nervous to stand near. From that point on, Rupees represent your life force. Lose all of your rupees, and you die. The catch? You've got to spend rupees if you want to proceed. You've got to bribe people, hire bodyguards, buy recipes, and of course, donate rupees to the fountain if you hope to ever go anywhere. So you'll be doing anything and everything in the name of earning more rupees. Fighting giant dungeon bosses, saving lost children, catching butterflies, beating down monkeys and harvesting their brains, drawing maps, grave robbing, it's all fair-game for the money-hungry Tingle.
Graphics - (10/10)
The fact that this game is in Japanese is what contributed to it having such a high score for graphics. Why, you ask? Simply put, I was able to figure out what a lot of characters were saying or wanted based on their body language or expressions, something tricky to do for a lot of animators. The graphics themselves are all hand-drawn and gorgeous, with lush settings and full animations for each character. There are even some little animated sequences and surprises that will pop up out of nowhere and stun you with how impressive they are.
The game's mostly a 2-D sprite based game, however on occassion you'll find yourself surprised by a 3-D sequence, such as the animation for when the Rupee Tower grows, or a few other surprises I won't spoil. Despite the locations being incredibly busy with tiny details, you never lose your characters in the mayhem.
Sound - (10/10)
I never thought I'd like the sound of Tingle's voice so much. He doesn't actually 'talk,' instead he speaks in a manner similar to Link in other Zelda games. He makes gasps and screams and yells when he leaps, gets attacked, shot through the air, etc. In fact, most of the characters you meet in the game have a voice clip for them to help you remember them, and some of them are extremely memorable. One bodyguard Tingle can recruit plays the drums while mixed up in a fight, leading to a mixed-up beat accompanying your battle.
Audio indicators also appear in the game, sometimes to let you know when you're near something special, or if Tingle's in danger of falling or getting attacked, so you'll never get distracted enough to be pummeled. The boss battle music is also appropriately heart-pounding, and never feels comical. While the battles themselves can seem humorous simply because you're seeing Tingle go to town on a monster, the music still makes it feel entirely epic.
Gameplay - (9/10)
First, the reason I took off a point. On occassion the game can be frustrating with a few of its challenges, such as helping a frail old man through a jungle infested with beetles or pushing a cowardly guard through a graveyard, however these sequences are far apart and don't last very long, thankfully. Other than that, controlling Tingle is a very intuitive joy. For control, you have two main aspects. The control pad (or the A,B,X,Y buttons if you're left handed) move Tingle around his world. The stylus does the rest. Tapping objects of interest will have Tingle investigate them to see if there's money to be had or any interesting details. Soon after you'll meet an old woman who needs help finishing and selling maps. You're then given the ability to use maps, as well as find objects not on the map and draw them in (with a simple circle) which is another helpful way to generate rupees.
Battles with monsters are frantic and rewarding. First, you encounter an enemy, which causes Tingle and the enemy to be swept up into a cartoon-style dust cloud of furious pounding and screaming. Tapping on the dust-cloud with the stylus rapidly reduces how many rupees Tingle loses during battle. Here's where it gets clever. When you defeat a monster, you get spoils. Either rupees or precious ingredients. While in the heat of battle, you can move that dust-ball of fighting around the field, and suck other enemies into the fray. Pulling in more enemies means you'll get more spoils than what you would fighting them individually, but it also means you'll take damage (lose rupees) faster. Some enemies run towards the battle meaning you'll be swarmed, but other enemies (usually ones you want spoils from) will try to get away from you, leading you to try to trap them against walls or alcoves to pull them into the fight.
Every so often during a fight, you'll also get a 'Tingle Chance' which gives you the opportunity for much, much more than you're entitled to. Hundreds of rupees, dozens of ingredients, etc. This is done by a simple slot-machine style wheel spin, which is thankfully more about timing than luck (you can hit it constantly if you've got decent timing.) Having a bodyguard with you gives you more chances to win, and a surprising animated cut-scene with that bodyguard if you do win.
Speaking of bodyguards, Tingle never really gets any stronger. True, having 100,000 rupees means he'll survive a long time getting beaten on, but you really never want to lose any precious, precious rupees, thus, Tingle can hire/bribe bodyguards to accompany him on his travels. They take all shapes and sizes, from vicious dogs to morose clowns, agent-smith like samurai swinging swords and giant men with clubs. Not only will they help you in battle on the field and in dungeons, but each bodyguard serves an additional puzzle-solving purpose in the dungeons. Gigantic bodyguards can cast aside heavy stones. Medium sized bodyguards can unlock doors, and tiny bodyguards can squeeze through small holes to retrieve treasure. While none of these activities is necessary to find and face a dungeon's boss, you'll want to go back and finish every puzzle to find a variety of collectible swag.
Next up is the concept of pricing things. As opposed to normal games, you don't know how much things cost off hand. Instead, a small price-ticker pops up, and you get to haggle the price of an object, i.e., estimate how much you think it's worth. What you're trying to do is buy it for the cheapest price, without going so low the person will take your money without giving you anything. Also, when you do something noble, you get to ask for a reward, and specify how much you want. Usually, you've got about 3 tries at this (although you can constantly save at Tingle's house so you can retry a lot), in which to name a reward. If you keep asking for too much, you'll get squat, which will horrify Tingle. Some people reward you lightly (say, 150 rupees), others will shower you if you know the right price (think of a reward of 32,000 rupees.)
Another way to make rupees is a fun little 'cooking sim' in the game. As opposed to buying things like bombs, healing potions, etc., Tingle whips them up himself in his kitchen/lab using the ingredients you collect in the field from fighting monsters, or ingredients you dig out of the ground with a shovel, and even things just hanging on trees waiting to be plucked. You can make Tingle Bombs to bust open walls and stun enemies, potions to heal your bodyguards (who have a heart-based health system just like Link does), perfumes to attract shy animals, escape potions to summon wall-masters to quickly flee a dungeon, and a number of recipes that you can sell for high prices or trade for items. Like other Zelda games, you get bottles to keep your recipes in, and forget Link's wimpy 'four bottle' limit. So far I've got around 20 bottles in my inventory, along with items like a shovel for digging and finding secret holes, and a flute that can be used to summon pirates.
You begin on a relatively small island, containing Tingle's house, a town, a small field, the Rupee Pond, and a dungeon you can explore. By donating rupees to the pond, you'll cause it to pop out of the ground and shoot upwards as a Rupee Tower. Every time you donate enough for it to blast up another few thousand meters, you'll be able to see/travel further and further around the world, finding more places to make some quick cash. Thankfully, and this is important, there are usually enough storylines/new recipes/dungeons/events in each new location to allow you to make enough rupees to reach the next level, provided you find and accomplish them all.
Finally, what nobody could believe at first, Tingle will be facing some fierce Zelda bosses, each unique and each with a different fighting mechanism. Some bosses will have Tingle flying through the air dropping bombs, others will have him facing off in an arena, and so on. I'd tell you more, but some are too surprising to give away. There are minigames, bosses, rupees, and you'll even spot some memorable Zelda series characters, such as the Subrosians and the Skeleton Pirates from Oracle of Seasons to keep you guessing, as well as a number of new and lovable characters, the best of which has to be Tingle's dog, Dongle.
Final Score - 10/10
It's new, it's strange, but it's completely engrossing to the last drop of bizarreness. It's safe to say that this game's as fun as Tingle is weird. There are plenty of sight-gags to make you laugh, tough battles to make you growl, and enough surprises you keep you checking every last corner of the world for something new. It takes some of the best elements from the Legend of Zelda series and shows them off in a new game that could definitely be the start of a highly entertaining new franchise.
Feel free to post this review on your own site, so long as it's posted in its entirey, and with all credits in tact. Sincerely, Algus Underdunk.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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