Game-o obscuro: Freshly Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland
by, 31st July 2009 at 02:28 AM (537 Views)
So, have you heard about Freshly Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland? You know, starring the 35 year old fairy maniac/greedy bastard often seen in the Legend of Zelda games (debuting in the excellent Majora's Mask, which is really one of the best games out there (maybe I'll even write a blog entry about it some time)) Not everyone really knows about this game. The reason for that is that it hasn't been released in the USA, only in Japan and Europe (and it won't be likely to get a US release, either, considering how much time has already passed from the Japanese and European releases). This is one of the rarer release patterns: it's more common to see a game being a Japan or Japan and US exclusive. There are examples of this release policy though: Devil World on the NES (you probably know why NOA didn't release it) and (at least from the way it's starting to look) Disaster: Day Of Crisis.
There are multiple theories/rumors why this game didn't get an American release. One of such often repeated theories is that people seem to view Tingle as gay. Do you? I know he's a little creepy, but I never thought he'd really be gay. Maybe it's because of Tingle's clothes and behavior (talking a lot about wanting a fairy of his own/actually wanting to become a fairy) that some people have come to form their critical opinion of Tingle. But because some people tend to see him that way, it has been speculated that NOA didn't want to upset the homophobic people by releasing the game in the USA. Another reason of Americans not getting their dosage of Koloo-Limpah on DS might be that they just plain hate him. I don't really think Tingle has been that popular in the West at all, not at least as popular as he is in Japan (he must be a bit more popular around here, why else would Nintendo have released a game starring him). NOA had poll some years back where they asked people if they'd want to see Tingle's game in America, but I've heard the results were a bit on the negative side.
But is the game actually any good, should people even bother worrying about the state of its US release? Well, I'm about to tell you (considering I own the game): this isn't the best game in the DS game library (not many people would probably even think so). But not being the best doesn't mean it isn't any good. You can scorn at me as much as you want for saying it, but Freshly Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupelaand is actually a surprisingly good game. It has some flaws that make it a little less fun than it should have been but even then, I quite enjoyed playing it. The game starts with Tingle being an average Joe (you even get to name him), just hanging around in his house. Then a strange old man called Uncle Rupee calls Tingle to the Western Spring, where he really becomes Tingle (and is called so during the game). Uncle Rupee tells Tingle about a place called Rupeeland (kinda like the game's version of Heaven), where Tingle can have everything he wants. But to get there, he must raise the tower in Western Spring by throwing rupees (you know them from the Zelda games, of course).
This is exactly what you have to do in the game. You can earn Rupees by various ways: defeating enemies, collecting different ingredients and selling them/cooking them in a cauldron (insert the obligatory reference to Cooking Mama here), marking important monuments in Tingle's map and showing them to the Map Seller (you'll want to do this, as it will earn you big bucks). There are also dungeons that you have to explore and defeat their bosses, as clearing each dungeon will earn you a Super Rupee, that are needed to get through the game and to the final battle. The Rupees you collect aren't just the money of the game: they also form Tingle's health meter. This means that if your amount of Rupees reaches zero, it's game over. You can't accidentally spend all of your remaining Rupees (as you're always left with at least one Rupee) but you can lose them if an enemy damages you. When you make bargains with the ingame characters and you throw Rupees into the Western Spring to grow the tower, you must leave a reasonable amount of Rupees in your pocket, to not to die from enemies' attacks. You can always save your game at Tingle's house, which you should do often, because if you die, you resume your game from where you last saved.
The bargain system is another core mechanic of the game. When you buy different tools/things that you need, you're not usually told its price. You have to suggest the amount of Rupees you're paying yourself. If you your suggested price isn't enough, you won't naturally get the item, but the NPC will still take the Rupees you offered (so you lose that amount of money, and won't get anything in return). This mechanic is also applied to the amount of Rupees you get as a reward for completing certain tasks (you have to make sure the payment you're asking for is reasonable, otherwise you don't get a reward (at least you usually get three chances to suggest the number of Rupees, unlike when you're buying stuff)). There are some ways to "deduce" the right amount of Rupees but too often the system is based on trial and error . I found myself usually saving before such occasions and soft resetting the game if I messed up. This unbalanced Rupee system is one of the game's faults. Too often you can't just know how much you have to pay for the things before trying it out.
The fight system of the game is nothing complicated. You just walk to an enemy and Tingle will fight it in a cartoony cloud of smoke. If you tap the cloud of smoke, you'll do more damage to an enemy. You can move while fighting, too. If you drag more enemies into the fight, you get more items/Rupees when you defeat them. If the fight lasts too long, the enemies will damage Tingle and you'll lose some Rupees. Tingle can also hire a bodyguard in one of the game's Bodyguard Saloons. You're going to need them, as some of the enemies are quite tough to defeat on your own. The boss battles at the end of the dungeons are very different from the standard enemy battles. The boss battles are very creative and each battle has its own strategy (in one of the fights you get to fly in the air with balloons and drop bombs at the boss, for example). These boss battles aren't that tough. In these battles Tingle has a separate energy bar. If it runs out, you'll lose the battle and some Rupees, but there's no Game Over then, you're only returned near the boss area.
The game's world is quite huge, with 12 different islands you get to visit. It takes some time to complete this game, particularly in the first playthrough. There are even a few references to the Legend of Zelda series. The game might remind you a little of Link's adventures but it's still very different to them. The graphics reminded me a little of the Mother series (it's a shame I never got to play any of those games, maybe the Virtual Console will get them someday). But there's one thing I still haven't said: the game is very, very weird. Weird in a good way. Some people have called this an action RPG but I'm calling it a weirdfest. The soundtrack's very odd, too. The music in the overworld is usually just an intro that plays when you enter an island. After the intro, there's not any BGM, just something like the sound of birds and Tingle's steps. The dungeons and boss battles have longer musical tracks.
To summarize everything I've said so far I can say that this game isn't really for everyone. Not everyone really "gets" the idea of the game. Its either a game you hate or love (or like). There are some tedious bits like raising the tower for example. Sometime it requires so many Rupees, much more than you get after a boss battle. In my opinion this is a game you definitely gotta try out. I've already played this game through a few times and wouldn't mind for a sequel. Speaking of a sequel, looks like this game has been succesful enough to get one. Tingle sequel's Japanese name is going to be Color Changing Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love. In this sequel, instead of collecting Rupees, looks like Tingle will be looking for a woman to marry (you see, he isn't gay, after all). Let's see if Nintendo of Europe will localize this game, too (it depends on how good the first game did in Europe). I'll get the sequel if it'll be released in Europe. After all, it's the sequel to one of the weirdest games on DS.
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