Freshly-picked: Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland
He’s a legend in the making – a courageous warrior destined to conquer many faraway lands plagued by violent, merciless beasts. Dressed in his traditional green garb, he strikes fear into the vile hearts of all scum that dare to hinder his quest for glory. He’s a natural-born hero who has no need for a blessed master sword or an irritable fairy to guide him. Armed with a fine selection of crystal-clear glass bottles, momma’s secret recipes and a couple of balloons strapped to his back, this chubby, spandex-wearing thirty-five year old geezer is a force… to be reckoned w…
NOW JUST HOLD ON ONE SECOND! Spandex?! A chubby, middle-aged man wearing spandex?!
Meet Tingle. He’s a lazy old bum who wakes up one day to find a money-hungry god knocking at his door. “Give me lots of rupees, and you can join me in my paradise among the heavens”, the rupee god says. “o.O!”, exclaims Tingle. Some few minutes of irrelevant small-talk later, Mr Tingle dons some tight-spandex and sets out to make as much money as he possibly can, in ways that would make any real man cringe: by trading recipes with the town folk, by beating the snot out of the local wildlife, and by pillaging graves for any possible loot that he can get his greedy hands on.
Everybody was Tingle fighting
As you may have already surmised from the game’s title - Freshly-picked: Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland - this is not your ordinary action-RPG. Tingle was made his debut as a dodgy-looking map merchant in the N64’s Majora’s Mask - a side story within the well-established Legend of Zelda franchise. Now, he’s the star of his own game. Freshly-picked follows the general groundwork laid down by its legendary inspiration: overworld exploration, dungeon puzzle-solving, a myriad of sidequests, and much more. However, as some have put it, this is as far removed from your typical Zelda adventure as possible; Tingle’s RPG is a “bizzaro Zelda”.
You’re not out to save a princess here. Instead, our greedy fat bastard of a protagonist is out to swindle the riches out of everyone and everything that looks like a possible “ching-ching” or a “bling-bling”. Rupees – the currency of this not-so Hyrule-looking land – are life; literally. As you tussle with creatures that would rather sleep than pick a fight, you’ll lose rupees. Get hit on the backside by a fireball or mobbed by a swarm of honeybees and you’ll lose even more. Once you hit bankruptcy, it’s over. Money is everything in this game.
Not much of a reward now, is it?
However, a master snitch should have no trouble with staying in high positive integers. Successfully tearing apart innocent bunnies or shifty, hermit crabs will net you some of your lost dough – their carcasses can also be used to cook up some mean stews which you can then sell to a macabre cast of village people at exorbitant prices. Raiding dungeons may only require some simple puzzle solving, akin to the Zelda games, but the payoff once you beat down the creative bosses is absolutely huge. Bring in one of thirty-something bodyguards along with you and you’ll be raking in the millions in no time. Sound easy, doesn’t it? But surprise, surprise – just like in reality, money doesn’t grow on trees.
“Tingle’s RPG is a “bizzaro Zelda”.”The problem with Freshly-picked is not the outlandish, homosexual orientation (strangely enough), but the difficulty that arises with bartering. No-one will give a rat’s arse about you unless you give them some dosh. It’s alright when they request a specific amount from you (even if the prices are absolutely ridiculous), but the times when they leave it entirely up to you are the times when you’ll want to pick up and throw something hard at someone. Say you need someone to point out the location of an underground labyrinth to you; they ask for a little something, and so you give them 100 rupees - not enough. 200 rupees? Nope. 1000? So close… but no. Okay, 1500 rupees! BINGO! But, guess what? The non-playable character has just screwed you. Now you know the approximate area where you’ll need to search around, but you’ve just lost a whopping cumulative total of 2800 rupees for the info – and all they really wanted in the first place was a meagre 1001! f*#%!!
For those of you that now laugh at how Zelda games have turned into child’s play since the dawn of its 3D re-invention, I can guarantee that you’re going to be venting some major frustration here. Freshly-picked has no qualms with riling you up for the most mundane tasks. Need a hint? Show them the money. Need a bodyguard? Show them the money. In the unexpected reversal when you’re offered a monetary reward, humbleness will lead to insufficient funds to carry on with your adventure whilst being too greedy will leave you empty-handed. Tingle’s world is cruel. Without using a hand-holding guide or resorting to cheats for infinite rupees (which pretty much defeats the purpose of this game), this is one aggravatingly tough and depressing nut to crack. To open up later parts of the world, you’re going to need the wealth of Bill Gates plus Donald Trump combined. You are going to need to manage how much you spend and risk at a time, resorting to restarting save files as necessary (a bugger seeing as it can only be done in your house, miles away from the chambers of dungeon bosses and such). Not since the days of 8-bits has such a hair-ripping, rage-inducing title been released, and who would’ve guessed that it would be helmed by a funky moustached man dressed in green spandex?
“The problem with Freshly-picked is not the outlandish, homosexual orientation …”The harsh nature of Freshly-picked’s ‘gimmick’ - bartering - is its downfall. The garish tone is well expressed through the heavy outlines and dark shades that animate the characters and their settings; the 2D graphics are definitely some of the best the DS has to offer. The dungeons are generally a blast, and while not of the same calibre as the Zelda series from which it draws inspiration, the designs are well mapped and full of oddities that will require your thinking caps to be put on. Brawling is interesting, with a degree of strategy required to manoeuvre the resulting dust clouds into combos with your hired bodyguard, reaping big rewards as a result, and unconventional bosses make for a good show too. Sidequests include: searching out all thirty-plus bodyguards which come in all shapes and sizes, from men in black wielding katanas to skinny clowns that look like they’ve been smoking too much pot; cooking up a selection of recipes to yield potions, bombs or seemingly worthless junk that can be sold for big bucks; and Tingle’s trademark profession, cartography – marking points of interest on a semi-plain canvas to make the best damn map possible. There’s enough to keep you going for hours. But, given the propensity of the game to bring your fortune down to the gutter all throughout, do you think these hours are worth it?
Home, Sweet Home!
“The harsh nature of Freshly-picked’s ‘gimmick’ - bartering - is its downfall.”Freshly-picked is an apt title for Tingle’s inaugural offering; this game is truly a breath of fresh air amongst all the generic types we see today. It sets itself apart by blending together a wickedly absurd sense of humour, Zelda-style dungeon crawls, a brawling system that fits the queerness of the hero perfectly (mad dust cloud tapping included), and an interesting money-dependent trade and exchange system. It’s too bad that the game tries to screw you into poverty at nearly every turn: when seeking out where to turn to next, when trying to obtain a response from the various NPCs that is somewhat meaningful, or to just fix a damn bridge up so that you can backtrack an island without having to fly back home every single time. You’ve got a fairly refreshing adventure here, so long as you can push through the incessant depravity. Tingle is one determined and flamboyant, nonchalant fellow, but are you?
Six out of ten
- It mocks the Legend of Zelda games in a delightfully macabre way
- Long game replete with puzzling dungeons, creative boss battles and plenty of treasures and bodyguards to pick up
- Dares to be different
- Rupee bartering is broken and terribly unfair
- You'll need a guide if you hope to finish it with your sanity intact (I even created a map of the Fairy Garden as a result of frustration)
- It's not all that deep; no Legend of Zelda, for sure