FRESHLY PICKED TINGLE'S ROSY RUPEE LAND(NINTENDO DS, 2006)
This box is * MUCH * shinier in real life
In the years between Coloball 2002 and this title, Vanpool worked with Nintendo on the excellent Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for Gameboy Advance - designing the minigames, to be precise - which was perhaps what got them the job of creating this, Tingle's first solo adventure. And really, it's a perfect fit - a character as *ahem* unusual as Tingle, and a developer in Vanpool who aren't adverse to some well, unusual ideas.... see previous entries.
For those of you who don't know, Tingle is a recurring character in Nintendo's The Legend Of Zelda series. He first appears in Majora's Mask as a 35-year old man in a fairy costume, hanging out by the side of the road and selling maps to help his Father out. We see Tingle next in Wind Waker, in a jail cell (wrongly accused of stealing a camera, if I recall) and if you free him, he'll give you a map to find his island. Once there, he'll charge you exorbitant amounts of money to interpret a certain set of sea charts. He also appears in Four Swords Adventures for Gamecube, appearing periodically to steal your hard-earned rupees.
Tingle's certainly not one of Nintendo's more popular creations, at least in the US - having done a bit of market research into whether or not people would like to see this game released in the States, the response was overwhelmingly negative. Europe apparently has no such hang-ups, and the game was released there in 2007. Well, America, your old pal Bob is here to tell you that you screwed yourselves out of a pretty damn good game.
Our story starts with Tingle (at this stage not known as Tingle, just a regular dude in his mid 30s) hanging out at home when he is summoned to the pond at the edge of town by a strange voice. The voice is revealed to be that of Uncle Rupee, an odd looking old man with a giant rupee for a head. He tells the soon-to-be Tingle about Rupeeland, a wonderful place of luxury, decadence and hot babes. How to get there? Transform into Tingle and collect rupees, rupees and more rupees.
As well as being the objects of Tingle's desire, rupees are also his most important resource. Aside from purchasing items, information and bodyguards to fight enemies on his behalf (he's a bit of a weenie by himself), rupees act as Tingle's very life force. If he's injured in battle or falls into a trap in a dungeon, he loses rupees, simple as that. So it's quite a balancing act making sure you spend *just* so much on that potion recipe or bit of juicy gossip, so as not to run the risk of being killed on your way to your next port of call. Good fun.
Combat (excluding boss fights) is really basic - tap the hell out of the touch screen as fast as you can - but what the game is really about is exploration (and rupees, of course) - each environment is quite large, with TONS of little secrets tucked away and usually a fairly large dungeon to explore. Apart from one or 2 dungeons that are more infuriating than clever, a lot of thought and effort has clearly gone into every bit of the game, and it really keeps you coming back. The bizarre characters and sheer absurdity of the game's humour may be too much for some, but again, if this is you, you're really missing out. FPTRRL (for short) is an original and fiendishly addictive adventure, and if you have a DS it's definitely worth grabbing the European version.
Official Japanese site (worth a look for the bizarre demo):
http://play.tm/story/13581 - This guy gets it... but for objectivity's sake (stupid objectivity!):
Really good walkthroughs:
Wikipedia entry (quite informative):
Teddy the bodyguard brings the laughs:
Japanese commercial (translated):
An interesting note or two - the fish statue in the above video is called the "Zora Statue" in the Japanese version, referring to the aquatic race from the Legend Of Zelda series.... this and almost all other references to the Zelda games have been removed from the European version. Why, I'm not sure.
Also, charcter designer Kazuyuki Kurashima doubled as Tingle's voice actor for this game. Cool :)
Now a few pics:
On the day of the game's Japanese release, someone dressed like this may just have been hanging around your local game store (if your local game store was in Japan). Awesome, and creepy.
Tingle's sexy (?) sidekick, Pinkle, and freaking adorable dog, Barkle.
In addition to the 3 games listed above, Vanpool have worked on a few other things, but none that I feel warrant an entry of their own. We've already mentioned that they did the mini-games for Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, but they also developed another Tingle-related game - Tingle's Balloon Fight. Essentially the NES classic, Balloon Fight, but with an extra game mode or two, and the inclusion of Tingle (for better or worse, depending on how you feel about the little fella), this game was offered exclusively to Official Nintendo Club members in Japan. I picked it up on eBay for next to nothing. If anything, it's a good conversation piece, I guess.
Vanpool also developed a couple of fitness titles for Nintendo DS, Let's Pilates and Let's Yoga:
If you're interested.... :)Next up we'll be looking at Punchline's Chulip, but first, a quick detour via the Post-Lovedelic works of Akira Ueda.