By Mike Mason 29.09.2007 12
We can't be the only ones who not only bawked but also marveled at Nintendo's audacity to release a game based around one of the more universally unpopular characters in their libraries. Tingle is that character, of course, originally appearing in the Zelda franchise, and for some reason, despite the considerable amount of dislike lodged towards him by many people, he has been awarded his own adventure. The important question is, though - can it hold up to the main Zelda titles?
Not many people who have encountered Tingle are likely to forget him. Afterall, he's a rotund middle-aged man dressed in a skin-tight pixie uniform, with a tendency to fleece unlucky gamers for maps. And his method of transportation is a balloon. Clearly, then, he's ripe to have a game of his own made, and what better way to do it than by showing how he became the money-grabbing, map-making...thing he is with his introduction story, featuring giant talking rupees, pixie women trapped in giant DSes and clown bodyguards? This could be the weirdest game Nintendo has ever released...
You are Tingle, then - only at first, you're not. You're just a sad, pathetic 35-year old man who nobody likes. You start out by entering your own name into the game, and this lasts for approximately a minute before you are confronted by Uncle Rupee, the aforementioned giant talking rupee, who offers you the opportunity of a lifetime - ditch your current 'life' and become Tingle, and gather up enough rupees to enter the mystical paradise of Rupeeland, high up in the sky. To reach Rupeeland, money must be fed into a pool on top of a tower embedded in the ground, to grow the tower until you are above the clouds.
The entire game, as you should expect from this basic story outline, is all about the money. Your task is to make as much money as you can in order to reach your destination, and seeing as you start with next to nothing, this is quite a challenge. Money can be made by finding it, as a reward for completing tasks, or by selling items to the citizens of the town, so there's always a way to make a few rupees. If only it was so simple. More than a few rupees are going to be needed, and in a clever twist, your money also doubles as your health meter, which means you can't just frivolously chuck every penny you find into the pool - you've got to stay alive with it, too. There's also the adage of 'you've got to spend money to make money' to take into account; just as you must sell to others, they will also sell essential items and information to you. Thus, the game becomes a balancing act between keeping yourself relatively healthy, appeasing Uncle Rupee and the pool/tower to Rupee land (you must make regular deposits, even if they are not always significant) and purchasing enough information and items to progress further in the game.
The path to the Rosy Rupeeland is traversed by conquering various islands, each of which has its own unique items to collect and enemies to battle. Initially, only one island is available, but more become unlocked every time you tip enough of your precious currency into the pool to make the tower grow, from which Tingle can then launch himself with his balloon (he also lands with a satisfying smack as his balloon pops mid-air - he's apparently not worked out a way to actually get down other than sheer accident, as of yet...). When on these islands you can engage in battle with creatures in the extremely simple battle system, which involves nothing more than walking into the enemy until a cartoon-style, all-fists-flying brawl erupts, then rapidly tapping the battle with the stylus to 'encourage' your fighter, hopefully to dispatch the enemy more quickly to prevent unnecessary loss of rupees. Once your foe has been conquered, items and/or rupees will adorn the ground for you to snatch up.
While battling you can also move around and try to pull even more enemies into the brawl. This makes your rupee count go down more quickly, but means that the rewards are greater at the end of it all. However, rather than going it alone, it is probably better for you to hire a bodyguard to help you out with these battles. There are quite a few to choose from, each with their own characteristics - some have huge amounts of health, others tiny; some are aggressive, others not so much; some listen to your every command, others will stand idly despite your tapping on places for them to go. Experimentation is the key to finding your perfect bodyguard - we personally like the big rough-looking guy you can hire from towards the start, and the special agent. However, even with the element of choosing your bodyguard to think about and the tactical decisions about whether it's worth taking on multiple enemies at once at certain times, the battle system is bound to be seen as limiting by many - we found something quite nice about the simplicity, but you practically do nothing and let the battles run themselves. Another important part of the game is that of mapping, wherein you must complete the maps of the various islands by marking landmarks on them with a circle on the touch screen. Completed maps can then be sold on for a fair amount of profit in the town.
On the subject of profit - it's all very well selling the town residents whatever you find, but you can garner greater rewards if you make use of recipes instead. By collecting recipes, you allow yourself the ability to combine items via a cooking mini-game, which essentially involves you stirring your ingredients in a pot until they've all been touched a certain number of times. These combined items will fetch much more money in; you could either sell a few pieces of fruit for 4 rupees each, or create a juice from them that will earn you around four times as much in total.
As with other Zelda titles, dungeons also play a key role, though they are not present on every island, (there are about half-a-dozen dungeons in total). They involve working your way through series of puzzles, but are more simplistic than their equivalents in the main Zelda games. The bosses, however, are the highlights of the dungeons (and the game as a whole), with none being the same - the slightly Punch-Out-esque boss is a particular highlight. It's clear that effort was put in to ensure variety in these encounters.
The visuals of Tingle's debut solo game are fantastic, with some clean 2D that ranks amongst the best on DS - you only need to take a peek at the explosion smoke clouds that look like they could have been taken from Wind Waker to see this. There's a wonderful bunch of characters with neat design, looking like the off-spring of characters from old-school point and click adventures, the Zelda series and DS' Touch Detective; bizarre as you might expect, then. There's a thin layer of stereotypical homosexuality used in the game for humour as well (almost certainly the reason for the 12+ recommendation for the game over here), including a bridge builder that looks hilariously like Hard Gay who dances with dubious thrusts, and the fact that when Tingle collects an important item he'll stick his bottom out along with his backpack and make a suggestive 'ooh!' as the item enters his satchel. We're very pleased these haven't been removed in localization.
While we find the game compelling, we have to wonder why, as there are some issues that just cannot be ignored. There's only one save point, which is at Tingle's house, so you have to go back all the way each time you want to save - you can click a 'return home' button when you're in the open on islands, but it can be annoying to have to go back, and the game would have benefited immensely from a 'quick save' option. The controls are also a letdown, with movement controlled by the d-pad/face-buttons depending on which hand you use for the stylus, which is used to tap objects of interest on screen and do your dealings/cooking/etc.. We understand why the control has been set up in this way - it seems to be mainly for the purposes of the battle system, so that you can move and encourage at the same time - but it can't have hurt to include a run option mapped to one of the shoulder buttons to make Tingle move at a faster pace, rather than the dull trudge you have to put up with.
The most crippling part of Tingle's game, though, is the bartering system. Considering that it is the main element of the game, there have been criminal oversights in its implementation, and this is what stops it reaching higher scores in our eyes. When asked to pay for something, you are given no clue whatsoever as to what ball park you should be aiming in with your negotiations. If you try to pay too little, the game will inform you that you've not offered enough, and still snatch away the rupees that you offered. In future negotiations for the same thing, it does not take into account that you have already given some money to a character, and you must simply keep paying higher prices until you have reached the acceptable range you can pay. For example, let's say you want to buy an empty jar. You offer 200 rupees, but are told this is not enough. Your 200 rupees are taken. You then offer 300 rupees, but it is still not enough. Your 300 rupees are taken. You finally offer 500 rupees, it is accepted and you are given the empty jar. Rather than paying the 500 rupees you originally should have, you have instead paid 1000 rupees. The system is broken, and while it works in a game centred purely around greed and money, it is not a fun mechanic to go up against, especially when money (and thus life) is tight anyway, impeding your progression through the game.
Not quite as bad, but still infuriating, is the reward system, which has equal problems - you have no idea how much to ask for as a reward after the completion of certain tasks. You might ask for an amount and have it paid with no problems (meaning you've probably asked for too little if they're responding a little too enthusiastically), or you might push your luck and ask for way over the odds without realising, and come away with absolutely nothing. This really should have been changed, at least adding hints in the conversations. It's particularly insulting when you're bartering and end up paying extortionate prices for information that would be given to you for absolutely nothing in most other games. If there was a quick save option, as mentioned above, this might have been avoided so that you could have had multiple chances without giving out ridiculous amounts of your money.
There are positives to behold in Tingle's debut game, and we think it's worth trying out, if not necessarily worth playing all the way through - the bartering system will probably wear a lot of people down before completion (sadly meaning they'll miss out on some of the better moments later on). It has some nice boss encounters, the characters are great, there's a good mix of things to do (one such side quest being that you frequently stalk after a young boy to try and steal his bottles...interesting...), but it's just let down by a lack of any hints for the exchange of rupees. You've got to respect a game, though, that throws you the moral issue of giving up your identity for no other reason than greed in the first minute of play, and is shamelessly money-grabbing throughout to the point that nobody will talk to you unless you throw them some coins. There couldn't have been a more appropriate solo game debut for Tingle than Freshly Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland.
We appreciate that Nintendo were trying something new with Freshly Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, and to a degree they have succeeded. They have created a game that sums up perfectly what Tingle is all about - money, money, money - in a way that others might not dare, and while it's not always as enjoyable as it should be, it does have its bright moments and it's worth playing, even if only for a little while. We're just glad that shops in reality don't work the way they do in the game...
I really enjoyed it, probably more than Mike because I used a bartering guide as I played...which didn't spoil things at all for me, but actually increased my enjoyment considerably. I likely would have given it a 7 due to how quirky it is, the cleverness of the dungeons, the fun boss encounters and the overall presentation style.
Part of the fun was figuring out which people you could get the most money from when selling potions...this helps considerably. Also, for those without a guide, simply save the game, try the bartering and then reset to try again if you went wrong!
I used a bartering guide in parts, which does increase the enjoyment, but to be honest if you're having to use a guide all the way through to actually like parts of a game and make them more than an annoyance, it's not worth a higher score in my eyes. I do enjoy it, though, hence the above average score.
Good review there Mason - I'm really just not interested in this game at all. Too weird for my liking.
I agree with what Jack said there^^ it seems to be targeting transvestites and gay kids by the looks of it, but that i'm hobophobic but i'll leave this game alone, i think the days when our kids are playing a game about a 35yr old ponce prancing around in a leotard (near enough) is the day we get rid of free expression lol. Nice review tho thanks
In the game it is said that by watchng the expression in the eyes of the person you can see if you're giving enough or not asking for too much money. I'm a bit busy these days so i stopped playing it for a while and couldn't check out if this was true or not, but it's at least what people inside the game are saying...
Pretty weird how you say it's not a bad game, yet still give it a 5. It seems to me you're a bit hard on your games.
Not that I would play this game or anything, but it just doesn't make much sense.
5 would be average matey, bang on the middle. Not good enough to be good, not bad enough to be bad. Average.
It isn't a bad game - it's an average one. Average games get average scores, which is 5, not 7 as some publications seem to use. By scoring it as average, I would say that means it has some merits and isn't the worst thing you could play, but there are much more worthy games out there, not least the Wii version of the game. I think I put that across here.
Thanks for reading. :
Yeah true I guess. I'm just used to 6 being average, instead of 5. Oh well. =)
I love the wii version, but since there isnt any building of stuff in this one, i dont see how you would express your creativeness like the wii version... we'll see :P
You can tell that, but only AFTER you've done the deal, so it doesn't really help...