Editorial: Character Study: Tingle

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!

Might as well be a screen shot.
So. Accurate.

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.

Real life Tingle.
My favourite Tingle cosplay

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.

8 comments

  1. I didn’t play more than five minutes of Majora’s Mask back when it came out before deciding it should be killed with fire. So, I never made it through the wretched prologue before a playthrough last year. But upon discovering Tingle in Windwaker (also playedthrough last year) I found Tingle and retroactively I think I probably sent myself a message back in time when I tried to play MM warning myself about Tingle subconsciously.

    As for Tingle in The Windwaker versus Majora’s Mask… I think that something I did end up liking about Majora’s Mask after I got through that fuckterrible prologue was the pretty much unique three day mechanic and the bleak and futile tone. On I think three out of four boss fights I ended up with the Day Three countdown going and winning with only a minute or two left.

    But I think what ties Tingle into both is that while Termina is a doomed world facing imminent destruction The Great Sea is a destroyed world with its inhabitants left clinging to what little they have telling tales of the Hero of Time who they wish will someday return to save them. So it’s more of an After the End perpetual state of misery (in colorful cell shaded prettiness) instead of a doomed sort of way.

    But in either case I still hate the shit out of Tingle. I’d say I liked him better in Majora’s Mask, but that’s only because I could make the bastard fall thirty feet by popping the balloon lifting him, but that was mostly because I hoped the fall would kill him. He’s so creepy that I’ll assume a Google search with ‘”Have a seat” Tingle’ would yield some funny Photoshop work.

  2. Clean out your desk. If you’re not off the premises in fifteen minutes, I’ll have you shot.

  3. I think one reason why Tingle gets so much hate is that he represents the worst part of Wind Waker — the really dull Triforce Chart collection part of the game. Charging over 300 rupees for each chart? In a quest that is required to beat the game? Screw you, Tingle.

  4. I won’t say that part isn’t the worst part of the game (it is), but with the glowy free Rupees you can get everywhere make it, combined with sailing, not really difficult or inconvenient. My biggest complaint with LoZ: The Windwaker would be HOW IN THE HOLY HELL WAS I SUPPOSED TO FIGURE OUT THE GHOST SHIP?!?!?!!?!?!?!? The previous stuff if you went old school and took the fishman guy’s advice from tossing bait at him on in notebook form you could figure out pretty much all you needed to know about how to find/do all the equipment islands. Then they went out into left field with random shit.

  5. @Dan – I don’t know, I seem to remember a lot of vitriol toward Tingle before Wind Waker ever came out. But I was also about 3 years old during that time, so…

  6. I just wanted to say that my throat feels like I drank some festive combination of crushed glass and battery acid this morning. Ethos has put a hex upon me and, more specifically, my throat!

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