Interview: Tingle (DS)
Getting to the bottom of what motivates a mysterious guy like Tingle takes some inside knowledge! We recently spoke to game producer Kensuke Tanabe and supervisor Mari Shirakawa from developer Vanpool to get the inside track on Freshly-Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland.
Nintendo of Europe: Many interesting characters appeared in the Zelda games over the years. What was the particular attraction in picking Tingle out of the bunch to star in his own game?
Kensuke Tanabe: "A little while before we started this project, I was talking with my boss at that time, saying; 'Nintendo will need to consider promoting new characters other than Mario and Link.'
"We were looking for a character that had a totally different flavour from Mario and Link and who would have a strong impact, and we came to the conclusion, 'What about Tingle?'
"He is not a cool guy at all, and he is not a character whom everybody likes. However, at least I can say he is a person who cannot be ignored.
"I believed there was a chance his public image could be changed from unfavourable to favourable depending on what kind of game we made, so I took a risk and chose him, despite knowing he was not liked by the people - especially in the U.S."
NoE: The character Wario is like the anti-Mario. Do you think Tingle is the anti-Link, or would you describe him in a different way?
KT: "I think Tingle is a character that is not specially made with Link in mind, but that was created in a very relaxed manner by a character designer at EAD (the Entertainment Analysis & Development Department at Nintendo Co., Ltd,. Ed.), who was also in charge of character design of F-Zero and Star Fox.
"The concept of the character is 'a middle-aged guy who dreams of becoming a fairy.' In this project, we wanted to make this character with ridiculous characteristics look ever more unique. Therefore in my opinion, Tingle should not be compared with Link or thought of as being anti-Link or pro-Link. Of course, there aren't any problems at all if you regard him as an anti-Link character."
NoE: Can you tell us something about the birth of this game? Did you set out to make a Tingle game and develop the gameplay concept from there, or did it go in a different way?
KT: "I think I have answered this question in the previous answers, however, I would like to reiterate the points. Firstly, we chose to use Tingle in the game. Next we asked Vanpool, who started to work with Nintendo at that time, to develop this game because I thought the company fitted well with the character. Then, we talked with Vanpool's creators about the game concepts. When we came to the conclusion that every problem in the game could be solved with money, the potential we saw in the Tingle game world suddenly broadened.
"For example, the main character never grows; he pays mercenary soldiers to defend him. In the game, the information you will be able to obtain depends on how much money you spend and you will have to negotiate all the time. This is the idea that we came up with in the first place."
NoE: Tingle will do anything to earn Rupees. What is the key to successful negotiations in the game?
Mari Shirakawa: "The key is not to become too greedy! However, I would also recommend the thrill you will feel when you avidly negotiate in order to earn one more Rupee. Although it is not clearly mentioned, there are some hidden hints In the game - in the dialogues for example - that suggest standard market prices of goods. When you look at the faces of the characters you are bartering with, their expressions will sometimes help you decide on your approach. If you look for these pointers, I think you will be able to make money more efficiently."
NoE: How does the game use the DS-specific features?
MS: "You will use the +Control Pad to move your character, but you use the stylus for other controls. We have made many places in the game that you can interact with via the Touch Screen, so you should try to interact with various things you find. There are some areas of the gameplay where your interaction will have no connection with the main storyline and I think you may also find it fun to look for these places.
"You can also touch the Touch Screen to help Tingle during battle. I think this is more exciting than expected, and will make you feel as though you are actually joining in the battle.
"In terms of utilising the dual screens, the calculator that appears during the negotiations is a good example. We wanted players to look at the characters' faces, so the upper screen shows half of the characters' faces in close-up, while the lower screen only shows the calculator. I believe that seeing the half-face helps to enhance players' bartering."
NoE: There are many differences between Tingle's adventure and those of Link in the Legend of Zelda, but there are also some similarities. Can you mention some things that Zelda fans will recognize in Tingle's adventure?
MS: "As Kensuke Tanabe has also mentioned, this title has a different starting point than the Legend of Zelda series. Also, we did not want to make the game something only Zelda fans can enjoy. So Zelda fans will find many differences.
"In fact, I myself have not played the Zelda series a lot, and I sometimes felt lonely when I was the only one who could not participate in the lively conversation about the Zelda games during our development meetings! We did not want players to have that feeling, so we incorporated things from Zelda games to the extent that Zelda fans can smile, and someone who doesn't know the Zelda series will also enjoy them.
"If you are a Zelda fan, I think you may find the sound effects and geographic names in the game familiar. Besides that though, you will find items with unique names with unique explanations, and there are lots of interesting things to discover. So I think if you look carefully at these details and thoroughly play the game you will have a better understanding of the different world of Freshly-Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland."
NoE: How do you see the future for Tingle? Will we see him again in Zelda games or will he be doing his own thing from now?
KT: "I heard from EAD that they decided not to use Tingle after Wind Waker because Tingle was unpopular, especially in the US. As a matter of fact, he did not actually appear in Twilight Princess. You may want to ask Mr. Aonuma about the future plan!
"As for our team, SPD3 (Software Planning & Development Department, Production Group No.3), we have just started on our making-Tingle-a-main-character-project. In the works we produce, he will continue to move in his own direction."
NoE: Have you spoken to Mr. Sakurai (developer of Super Smash Bros. Brawl) about Tingle appearing in Super Smash Bros. Brawl?
MS: "We have talked only within our team about how It would be great if Tingle appeared in Smash Bros. However, we have never brought a proposal to Mr.Sakurai regarding this. I just hope he appears as a character some time in the future. Although he would be a very weak character to play as!"
NoE: Do you have plans for a Wii game featuring Tingle, and if so, what kind of game would that be?
MS: "We hope to spread this unique character around, more and more all over the world. Unfortunately, however, there isn't any concrete plan at this point in time. Meanwhile, I am actually curious about what impression European players will have of ths title and what kind of sequel they will expect."
NoE: If you had to summarize the appeal of this game into one sentence, what would it be?
KT: "It has the appearance of something covered with colourful peel, which may make it look unlike a Nintendo game, however, what lies inside will tell you that it is surely a Nintendo game."
MS: "I would say this is a game that gives you a glimpse of your hidden aspects! Because the theme of the game is money, it's close to ordinary reality and I think your nature will spontaneously come out. Please enjoy your journey as you look for yourself!"
NoE: Thank you very much for your time!
You can see Tingle going about his business at the official website!
Freshly-Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland will be in shops 14 September, only on Nintendo DS.