I woke up last week with a very important thought, LusiCreeps. My thought was this: “Wow, Lusipurr.com has not had nearly enough phone-it-in multi-part editorial series’ recently”. So my aim is to fix that today, dear reader. This new series intends to focus in on one video game character at a time to see what makes him or her popular or unpopular. Does the character have depth or charm? Is the character consistent from appearance to appearance if the character appears in more than one game? Good idea, right? No? Shut up. Because guess what? I am Ethan ‘Ethos’ Pipher, the General Editor and Co-Founder of this glorious corner of the internet. I am drunk with power and I will masturbate over my favourite games via a series of editorials if I bloody well want to!
In the opposite of what makes sense, I decided to focus on a strange and minor character for the inaugural entry of this lackluster series. Hence why I am stalling so much with this introduction. If I was forced to reduce my love for Majora’s Mask to a single word, that word would be “Tingle”. He encapsulates so much of what makes that game such a unique entry in the series. He is dark, twisted, sad, and silly all at once.
Gamers were first introduced to the odd man-child in a simple establishing shot of North Clock Town. A gamer would be forgiven for not entirely believing what he saw at first glimpse. It would make sense to first believe it is a child standing alone clad in green spandex, red underwear, and a backpack. But at closer examination, the person clearly has the face of a middle-aged man. His face is worn, he sports a creepy goatee, and his nose is so red that it leads one to believe that the man might be intoxicated.
That theory would be further supported by talking to Tingle. He dances and speaks flamboyantly, he clearly has father issues and Peter Pan syndrome, insisting that he is “the very reincarnation” of a magical fairy. He speaks like a teenager acting out against his father, but he is clearly delusional. He cannot fly, but rather attaches himself to big red balloons to give himself flight.
Tingle, like the game he originates from, tends to split audiences. He is off-putting and I understand that it is easy to feel uncomfortable when dealing with him, but that sums up so much of what I like about Majora’s Mask. The land seems familiar to Link, but is twisted in just enough ways to make the familiarity extremely uncomfortable. In Majora’s Mask, Tingle is a very dark reflection of the Kokiri; a take on what happens if a fairy child never grows up.
Tingle is always polite to Link – although stern when requesting Link never steal Tingle’s “magic” words – but that sort of friendliness gives the impression of a man ready to snap at any time.
Tingle has popped up again in other games, but the only other console game he appeared in was Gamecube’s Wind Waker. And while I am a fan of Tingle, I do not think his presence made as much sense in the Wind Waker universe. They kept his silly side, but “dark, twisted, and hopeless” does not sum up Wind Waker like it does with Majora’s Mask and so he (and his apparent army of followers) felt out of place. It did not help that the Tingle characters were tied to the laziest and most annoying collect-a-thon portion of the game.
The Zelda series does not have a lot of overt character development, but it succeeds most with characters when it gives gamers a lot of evidence to work with without extraneous explanation. Tingle’s existence – and habit of polarizing gamers’ opinions – showcase the series’ character building at its best. Only a strong personality could create such passionate fans and naysayers at the same time. While I do not hope for Tingle’s continued appearance in every Zelda game, I do think that he is a good example of when Nintendo was most willing to take risks with one of their prized franchises.
What do you think, LusiManChildren? Are you on the love or hate side of Tingle? Do you find his peculiar personality creepy and hilarious or creepy and horrible? Who would you like to see me analyze next? I think I will go with Dagger from Final Fantasy IX to get my fanboy characters out of the way.