“Tingle, Tingle! Kooloo-Limpah!…These are the magic words that Tingle created himself. Don’t steal them!”
…But of course, what Zelda fan hasn’t uttered these words at least once? Today we discuss Tingle, the legendary fairy wanna-be. Tingle has managed to make his way into several different Legend of Zelda titles since his debut in Majora’s Mask and has become quite a controversial character to the series. In Japan, Tingle is regarded as one of the most popular Zelda characters of all time, resulting in his many appearances and spin-off games. However, in western regions, he has been highly ridiculed for his wardrobe, strange habits, and overall personality. I conducted a survey to find out what Zelda fans really think about this character. Should Tingle get praise and glory for being wonderfully wacky, or should he be scrapped and never brought back to the Zelda franchise?
The fairy within
Although Tingle’s personality differs slightly in the many games he’s appeared in, he is often shown as a childish, playful, somewhat confused, greedy, and an overall strange person. Each game accentuates a different aspect of his personality slightly more than the others; for instance, Majora’s Mask focuses more on his childishness whereas in The Wind Waker he is more stingy for rupees. Tingle is generally kind towards Link, though no one is certain of where his allegiance lies. In The Wind Waker he seems to have some dark history.
Though the polls were pretty well balanced, the number of people who simply “like” his personality leads with 27%. To my surprise, only 10% of participants actually “hate” Tingle’s personality. Overall, more people find his whimsical nature to be amusing. One participant said, “His initial appearance in Majora’s Mask added to the strangeness of that world, whereas his appearance in Wind Waker added to the childlike wonder that game instills. He somehow fit both, and that stuck with me.” This leads me to believe that others might think the same and that Tingle was added into such games for this very reason. He enhances the experience — whether it’s the bizarre world of Termina or the isles of the Great Sea — Tingle seems to fit into his surroundings and work his way into Link’s world.
Others simply liked the concept of Tingle in general. Many commenters stated how they found Tingle to be an admirable character. He chases after his dreams and never gives up, even though he has reached a certain point of his life when most people would have already abandoned hope. This really stood out to me as I have personally never viewed Tingle in such a light, and I found it an absolutely fascinating perspective. I would never have thought this character could be such an inspiration for people to keep pursuing their dreams, and I think that’s wonderful.
His whimsical ways seem to have entranced many people, but there were still a fair amount of people who can not stand this odd little man. Thirty percent of the survey participants had negative opinions about his personality. Some simply stated he was annoying, not being fond of his nonsensical antics. Others feel differently from his admirers and find his hopeful persistence “odd and creepy.”
Some fans mention that they specifically dislike The Wind Waker incarnation of Tingle. Many people expressed how much they hated how greedy and selfish he was and that he was a nuisance because of it, whereas more people found his quirks and levity in Majora’s Mask to be much more appealing, but more on this later.
The latest in fairy fashion
Though appearing in numerous titles, Tingle’s appearance has been consistent. Tingle wears a green costume, trying to mimic the appearance of a forest fairy. This outfit also includes a pointed cap-piece, a blue watch chained on a necklace, a cobra insignia on the back, and red (for lack of a better word) undergarments. As for his physique, Tingle is always portrayed with big eyebrows, a large red nose, rosy cheeks, a beauty mark, a beard, and is always short in size and rather plump.
Tingle’s design is where fans became more diverse in their opinions. While 49% of survey participants either liked or loved his personality, 55% liked or loved his design. That being said, while 30% thought negatively about his personality, even more disliked his character design, jumping up to 32%. Only 13% of participants were neutral on this topic, which I found impressive.
One respondent excellently sums up why Tingle’s appearance evokes strong opinions. They said, “Tingle is such a unique character, you instantly recognize him. His weird design makes him stand out from the normal, ‘boring’ NPCs.” Perhaps this is a reason why so many love or hate his design? Compared to many other characters with the standard peasant garbs or cloned features, Tingle stands out among the crowd as a unique, individual character. Even if the design is off-putting to some, I think that we can all in one way or another appreciate the effort to create such an eccentric character.
Tingle is very well known for the bizarre noises he makes and his signature catchphrase brought to life originally by Takeharu Onishi in Majora’s Mask but was then reinstated by Hironori Miyata in later games such as The Wind Waker, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and 3DS/Wii U, and Hyrule Warriors. Tingle has a rather deep voice but makes goofy whining sounds that we would expect to hear from children or toddlers.
As divided as the fans were in the appearance category, they reunited together when it came to this character’s voice. The majority favored his voice acting and found it extremely entertaining. Whatever your opinion of the character the actors did a great job at portraying this weird little man. He legitimately sounds like a man who won’t act his age, and because of this, many people find it comical and enjoyable. No one can resist a funny sound
Maps and rupees and side quests, oh my!
Tingle, unlike the previous two entries of evaluation (Fi and Navi), is a side character. He is not with you throughout the entire journey, and he doesn’t act as a personal guide of any sort, only passing along the tools that will help lead you to where you need to go. Throughout his many appearances, he fills many map-related roles: creating them, deciphering them, or simply handing them out. He even makes an appearance in Four Swords Adventure as a friendly antagonist, stealing force gems that Link has left unattended for too long. With all these roles, I asked fans do they think that Tingle is important to the games he appears in? Would they be the same without him?
While most people were neutral and thought Tingle had only little relevance, when it came to solid yes or no answers, the majority picked no. One participant stated, “I don’t hate him, I just don’t feel he is needed.”
Some survey participants desired more from Tingle, though, wishing that he did more than hand out maps. However, others wished for him to remain an optional quest character. The most criticized feature of his Wind Waker incarnation, after all, was that you had no choice but to waste your hard-earned rupees getting your maps interpreted by this con-artist. People seemed to have more fun with Tingle when he was a fun little distraction that could be helpful in the long run than when he was a greedy necessity to keep the game going.
When it comes to games with his minor appearances such as Oracle of Ages, Four Swords Adventure, and The Minish Cap, people felt that he either should have had a larger role or been dropped completely. Most players felt that, if he wasn’t necessary to the game, he wasn’t worth having around at all. He also had cameo appearances in Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, and Skyward Sword, though the character himself was not featured at all. He was displayed in a poster, a statue, and even a plush toy, but no one in the survey even brought this up, and my assumption is that is because it was not worth remembering.
I had asked in which game fans thought Tingle stood out most prominently. To my surprise, it was not Majora’s Mask but The Wind Waker. The Wind Waker made you notice Tingle. It made you interact with him, and it made you complete his quest, whether we liked it or not. But is this a good thing? The Wind Waker’s Tingle may be the most memorable but perhaps not for the best reasons. Perhaps Tingle is best left as an optional sidequest, where people enjoy his goofy antics more, or they can skip it overall.
Out of all the Legend of Zelda characters to star in their own spin-off game, to everyone’s surprise, Tingle was the first (and as of now only) side character to get one. Not even Princess Zelda, despite many fans’ wishes, has gotten her own game — yet Tingle has? His popularity in Japan was the main reason behind this, leading to not just one but four games dedicated entirely to him. But do we think that’s fair? Is Tingle deserving of his own spin-off series?
It was a close call, but the fans who were opposed to Tingle’s spin-off games beat those for it by 4%. Interestingly enough, most of the fans from both sides of the spectrum had not played any of the games. Ultimately, this opinion must have been based on their feelings towards the character in general. Interestingly enough, only 14% of fans who took the survey actually played the spin-off games, and an equal amount of them voted yes and no.
Time to grow up after 35 years?
Though there were, of course, people who had no impression of him or couldn’t care less, Tingle has certainly left his mark on the Zelda community. While primarily a good impact, nonetheless people had much to say about how they would improve Tingle as a character.
Overall, the most common improvement that fans request is to generally make him less annoying. Complaints involve his voice, his appearance, and even his humor being too childish. Some of those who could not stand Tingle said that they would be willing to tolerate him for a side-quest or two, but they would rather him be an option if possible. Respondents desired more of the oddball he was in Majora’s Mask and less of the money-hungry fool we saw in Wind Waker.
As for me, as much as I’d really hate to admit it, I just don’t like his character design at all. He is an eyesore for me to look at, and it makes me feel awful. In Majora’s Mask, I was so interested in learning more about this character, but just his appearance threw me off so much. It makes me wonder: Do other people feel the same way? If Nintendo gave him a less eccentric design, would more people be interested in him? As the poll from before showed, more fans were not fond of his design, and would probably be interested to see it improve. However, at the same time, I admire their risk-taking to create such an odd character. I think they wanted a character who would immerse you into the peculiar world of Termina that they created, and in my opinion, it worked.
Kooloo-Limpah! Become… a conclusion!
Tingle received a six-star average (out of 10) from the participants of this survey. Overall, that makes Tingle an above-average character, but if I have learned anything from this research, it is very hard for Tingle’s character to please everyone. Some people desire more of him, and some wish to banish him to the Twilight Realm and crack the mirror so he may never return. It’s all really a matter of opinion, and I hope today you learned a little bit more this eccentric little being, and maybe see him in a new light just as I have while doing the research about him. All in all, we all have the right to love or hate this character, and whatever your opinion is of Tingle, it’s perfectly fine. Keep this in mind that all characters have the good, the bad, and everything in between, and that’s what makes the Zelda world so wonderful.