There is a hero whose legend has been whispered on the wind for an age. A boy of destiny, dressed in green and bearing the sword of evil’s bane, or the golden arrow of evil’s bane, or… well, let’s just say evil is sufficiently baned whenever he comes swinging random objects at it.

We know all about him.

This is about someone who always wanted to be like the hero. A man who acts like a boy. A man who dresses in green pyjamas and minces around, throws confetti and calls it magic. A strange and obnoxious man.




Born to be one of life’s pitiable lessons, Tingle is a Hylian with race issues. He always wanted to be a Kokiri with a fairy of his own. Instead of looking at himself long and hard in the mirror saying, “Well, that’s life for you,” and getting on with it, Tingle decides that if he cannot be a fairy-boy, he will at least look and act the part as best he can and live out his days as an embarrassment to his father and anyone watching. Fortunately, all his friendless time is taken up making maps which are a boon to lost adventurers.

We first meet Tingle in Majora’s Mask, hanging from a balloon. You have to wonder if he did it to himself. Once Tingle is grounded, the eager adventurer soon wishes he had left well enough alone. Kooloo Limpah! Still, Tingle’s maps are a necessity for inter-dimensional travellers and he has a habit of being everywhere you need him.

Hundreds of years pass, and evil once again returns to Hyrule – except Hyrule is now covered in a vast sea. The centuries have been good to our oddball map-maker, whose descendant now has his own island, cult of devotees, and new-found appreciation for capitalist cartography.

Tingle is an enigma no one’s curious about wrapped in a conundrum we’ve long given up on, packaged in tight green spandex. He’s weird, and not in the happy way.

Even though the games are named Zelda, it’s Link’s show – it will always be Link’s show, because Link is, as his name suggests, our connection to the world of Zelda. A young boy who never speaks (outside the occasional yip), who’s always ready to fight and figure out puzzles and doesn’t fear dark caves or growling monsters. Link is a vessel. He has just enough personality to get players invested in him as a character, but not so much that we’re left as mere spectators.

Such is the nature of a good playable character. NPC’s need only be memorable or move the plot along. They add to the illusion of the game world, filling out corners like strangers in a city. Those without significant stories add texture to the human element – so expertly articulated in Major’s Mask, as the town denizens grow increasingly grim and frantic while the moon looms closer – and many feed directly into the quest, aid or hinder as the plot dictates. Ocarina of Time sees Malon, Talon and Ingo embroiled in family politics; solving their problems brings you closer to your goal. It’s practical and necessary. But good characterization takes players out of the quest’s machinations and plunks us down in Hyrule. You have to race Ingo to get Epona when you’re an adult – you want to beat him because he’s a snotty bastard who stole the farm from its rightful owners. It’s all about investment.

IGN started a “Die, Tingle, Die!” campaign in 2004, calling Nintendo to keep LoZGC Tingle-free. A Google search of “I hate Tingle” brings up a list of forum pages where fans spout off on our functionally retarded non-friend. The official Nintendo boards recently instituted a Tingle Ban (cribbing on Gannon-banned!) to stem the tide of hate.

Poor Tingle. His maps are an invented necessity – before him overworld maps were a gimme. The added gameplay is neat, but why, oh why, give the job to someone who’s bound to alienate people? And really, why do we find Tingle so obnoxious?

He’s a fan, of course – more-so he’s a fanboy, the dirtiest word in gaming. He is what we all fear to be.

Take the facts – he’s 35, living at home, enamoured with the minutia of proven heroes but no real motivation to become one himself. He is Zelda’s resident ‘Comic Book Guy’ without the self-awareness. Kooloo Limpah! is a poor substitute for Worst. Episode. Ever. Developmentally stunted and fat, skeezy soul-patch, no life outside his chosen obsession – geeks and gamers tremble at the thought. Since his first showing came in [i]MM[/i] after the genre-defining experience that was OoT, I’m willing to wager my ZU salary (read: nothing) that Tingle is a subtle jab at some of the nuts that fell from the Great Deku Tree of fandom. And yes, I am well aware that sentence puts me dangerously close to my own criticism, but at least I’m living on my own. For now. And I have a real beard. Mostly. Shut up.

Bow to the Power of the Internet! Urbandictionary and Wikipedia both list fanboys as those participants in geek culture who blindly worship a product or company regardless of quality. Each suggest the cunning fanboy is a master of projection; the quickest way to spot one is that he’s likely calling everyone else “fanboy.” He will passionately defend his chosen obsession against all evidence that it sucks. This evidence is largely based on the subjective nature of experience.

Halo 2 saturated gaming media before its release, playing on the reputation of the original. What it delivered was essentially considered more of the same, but from the hype you’d think it came packaged with Jesus. After its release the debate was split – those who thought it was a worthy successor but none-to-special in its own right, and the fanboys, valiantly defending it against all detractors with as much ad hominem as can be packed in sentences where numbers are an acceptable substitute for vowels. These fanboys were accused of media-brainwashing. That many of them genuinely loved the game is a non-issue – this is the Internet, folks, Serious Business all around – because once they expressed their deep affection they became such an easy mark to hit for the disappointed and unimpressed.

Every subculture has fragments. Gaming is first divided into console-allegiance; a well-rounded gamer needs all three systems to be considered non-partisan. Then developer and franchise, right down to niggly details within games, like Tingle. Too much passion at any given split and you’ve fallen into fanboy hell. Not if you’re a detractor, or course – fanboy never applies to haters.

Some embrace the term. Just like “queer” and the n-word have been reclaimed, fanboy is a rallying point. As many people vocally hate Tingle, there are those who love him. The Mr. Fairy fanlisting is a good place to start if you’re interested.

Geek culture, as varied as the colour of Tribbles, always had its notable weirdos. The average sci-fi fan versus the Trekkies. Lovers of fantasy versus Ringers. These people are already fanboys compared to mainstream culture, but within themselves there are further divisions – those who speak Klingon, and those who live it. One is acceptable and the other not, but ask any fan and you’ll get two different answers. Ask any non-fan and you’ll get, “Bitch, please.”

Gaming is an involved experience. There’s less need to live the particulars of your poison – you already get to be Link and roam around Hyrule. The game itself is a costume. The more open the gameplay, the more emphasis is put on the subjective nature of experience. There is choice – do I round up the pigs, or do I play hide-and-seek with vagrant children? How you reach your goals is as important to the experience as completing them. Each player can pursue their own path. How you judge a game can be viewed as an expression of how you played it. The more options a player has the more likely he or she will find a route that fits.

Tingle is a perfect stereotype of the toadying fan. Those most bothered by him – or anyone who thinks an NPC is worthy of lengthy analysis – have already lost the fight against fanboyism. Because you noticed. Because you think he is worthy of remark. Because you are content to argue how he damages or elevates the series. Because he affected your experience.

When we hate on him, we’re only hating on ourselves. We argue the details as tiny kings of tiny kingdoms. As we stand on the fringes of the mainstream we push our own members further out, who in turn find those among them even worse, and so on, until we have someone like Tingle, derided by all, a reflection of each.

I think I need a shave.


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This retro article was originally posted March 13th, 2005.
  • Haha very well-written article. Am I a fanboy when pretty much all I play are Zelda games? (I swear, I just can’t afford to buy more!)

  • Be sure Japan doesn't get ahold of this. 😉

    Tingle is one looked down upon a bit too often, in my opinion. Majora's Mask is such a serious game, and they wanted to add a fun character to pacify any consistent uptightness. Especially placed as a necessary element, with an interesting backstory. Wind Waker's version shows him more of a slave master, as he appears to be a bit bitter about his imprisonment (and takes it out on his brothers), although he's always eager to help Link for helping him "out." For the right price, of course.

  • Supermario

    Tingle's not to bad. He's actually quite funny even though he is a bit annoying.

  • Raven

    tingle is awesome, he follows his dream even though everyone just laughs at him and thinks he's crazy. It takes courage to follow your dreams, even if your not fighting monsters.

  • bobbby

    Tingles creepy, but he is helpful. I prefer him most in Minish cap as he doesn't make any sounds as I recall. i remember my first time playing MM and hearing him laugh "shudders"…

  • Cristian Lopina

    Kooooooooooooooooolim PAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. these are my special words, DON'T STEAL THEM!!!

    Kooloo Limpha Tingle's special words.

  • Majora's Mask was a perfect example of this. Especially because of all the choices/side quests you have to choose from. And because TIngle is supposed to tell you not to become a fanboy.

  • Artimus-Maora

    I'll admit, I don't especially love TIngle. He weirds me out, but you can't get through Wind Waker without the guy. So you accept him, and gradually, he's not weird anymore. XD Whoever wrote this was awesome, also.

  • LoZyMugglegater

    Hah hah,that was great!The first paragraph got me hooked,and I didn't stop.Good writing!Anyway,better make sure Japan doesn't get ahold of this,'cause they'll probably mawl you if they do!Culture is weird.

  • GenoKID

    Ha, too true! I guess I have to call myself a fanboy for all this. Although with something as trivial as Tingle I don't care.

  • m/



    I actually kind of liked Tingle in Majora's Mask. In Wind Waker, he was a jerk that ran a monopoly on alternate Japanese to English translations, in Four Swords Adventure he only served a purpose to annoy you so you can't get the difficult Force Gems, and and Minish Cap was an all around half-baked game. In short, he was only a good idea in his debut game.

    • ChainofTermina

      you're a half backed game. MC was just as good as any 2D hand held Zelda.

      • ChainofTermina

        and I fail at typing. *half baked*

      • mcdude910

        Are you kidding?! The Minish Cap?! That was the best 2D Zelda game!

        • GenoKID

          And don't forget OoA. There he played really no role.

        • ChainofTermina

          personally I agree with you, but I wasn't going to say that because I know there are tons of people on this site that think ALTTP is the best 2D Zelda.

          • Fishman

            Me too, small fry, though Link's Awakening also ranks up there.

  • Taha_Soysal

    When I first saw the tite, I was thinking that this was going to be an article about Dink Smallwood.

  • Deku_Scrub

    Personally, I think Tingle added to the dark atmosphere of MM. According to my memory, he is one of the very few characters who seem actually happy. And at the same time, he's arguably one of the most tragic characters. I remember reading an article were the author states that Majora is actually a child who refuse to grow up. And Tingle is a prime example of someone who didn't bother growing up.
    kind of deep.
    He's the Peter Pan of the zelda universe.

    • SixMultipliedByNine

      But does he have a renegade shadow? I don't think so. Link still gets claim to the "Peter Pan" title.

  • Sanity's_Theif

    Personally I don't care for Tingle, I don't find him interesting, he's just some weirdo

    I wouldn't care if they got rid of him, nor would I care if they kept him, he's just meh, but it's not like his very existence irritates me to the point of raging about it on the internet, what a waste of time

  • Fuss-Budget

    Cool article. Tingle never bothered me too much personally, and I always had a feeling that he was Nintendo's representation of an obsessive, childish nerd – AKA most of us on this site. XD

    Though if you want to be all symbolic and deep and whatnot, there are also theories that suggests that the Tingle is just one of many Link's counterparts/foils in MM. Both wear a similar outfit, both thought (or perhaps want to believe) that they are Kokiri, both are trying to look for fairies; both are refusing to grow up and move on with their life by making new friends and helping others. Difference being is that Link actually learns to move on (or at least we can hope that he does, it's never actually answered in the ending,) while Tingle is still his sad, old self.

    I've also heard that his face (the schnoz especially,) is based off of Koji Kondo's, the composer for most of the zelda games. Not sure if that's true though.

  • Linktomyass

    FINALY… A decent read on ZeldaUniverse. It’s been awhile. Nice work.

  • Ari

    I find Tingle to be a strange, creepy who might have serious mental issues, but I think a crazy annoying fanboy following you in the game. Build on him and it would be cool. Maybe in SS that happens then Link tell's him he hates him and Tingle goes on an insane rampage and becomes an enemy who constantly harrasses you (easily beat at first) and gradually becomes stronger to the point where he's an actual boss. That's my (awsome) idea.

  • zarco

    The STAR minigame guy from TP is modeled after Tingle, so he's in TP too to some extent. Also, MC. I don't mind Tingle, he's a bit odd and annoying but generally funny and interesting. If he weirds me out, I just ignore it. I can't imagine anyone having a serious problem with putting him in a minor role in one of the games.

  • Folly Finder

    Chicken's just a soup without a can…

  • Fishman

    I actually like MM Tingle, and have emulated his own game, and really enjoyed fighting Uncle Rupee (and, of course, watching Tingle get beat up in a fight!). Don't really care for the Rupee and Force Gem stealing WW Tingle, though he has become quite prevalent (and he DOES appear in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, though not in the flesh).

  • G.Tom

    I loved Tingle. I loved Nintendo even more for giving us Europeans Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, which is one of the best DS games I've ever played. I don't understand: Why is there so much hate for the little guy?

  • Chukazurikyri

    I never cared much for tingle. I dont really like him and the only reason i ahve to hate him is how many rupees he stole from you in WW. Take him or leave him i dont care.