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Wednesday 4 October 2006
The idiot's guide to the dynamics of the last generation went as follows: Sony had the brand, Microsoft had the muscle and Nintendo had the content. By content, people usually meant character roster, and the rehabilitation of Tingle is the proof of exactly that strength.
An entirely minor, and mostly loathed, character from Majora's Mask, Tingle didn't seem to have much to offer. Like Wario, what he needed was a game that embraced his oddness and unpleasantness, and turned them into selling points. And so, transformed from a luckless nobody into a hero, Tingle sets out to ulfil the ancient RPG destiny of pot-smashing, villager-helping and monster-bashing.
Above: Aw, he's OK really. Look at his little face. He only wants to be loved...
What's most interesting is that Nintendo has let an external team - Vanpool - poke gentle, enthusiastic fun at the Zelda series. So Tingle's adventures require him to explore forests, fight the local wildlife and tackle dungeons full of switch puzzles, chests and doors that don't open until you've killed your assailants.
The innovation is that Tingle has no health, only money which acts as both his wallet and life-force. Take a hit and you lose some rupees. Buy something pricey at a shop and you'll walk away low on energy and vulnerable to attack.