Tag Archives: fresh games

FGC #535 Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland

So RosySome games are lauded for messages they can’t even properly convey. Take Monopoly, for instance. Monopoly is based on The Landlord’s Game, a board game patented by Elizabeth Magie in 1904. While many have called the game dedicatedly anti-capitalist, this gives the impression that The Landlord’s Game is somehow against our beloved, inescapable world of landlords squeezing tenants for their every last dime. But that’s not true! The Landlord’s Game was meant to promote the single tax theory of Henry George, and presented two sets of rules: one with heavy taxation, and another that was significantly more forgiving of players that happened to own everything. This meant the game mutated into two forms: one that was anti-monopolist, and the other that was referred to as monopolist. The goal of the anti-monopolist version was to be the first to double your starting wealth (which wasn’t that difficult in a game where you weren’t constantly facing bankruptcy due to a bad roll), while the monopolist version valued forcing every other player out until you were the last man with a monocle standing. Guess which version became Monopoly thirty years later…

But whether you’re playing The Landlord’s Game or Monopoly, all versions have one thing in common: money is good. Money is god. Gather up every last dollar and cent, and, regardless of whether or not the game takes a half hour or entire nights of your life, you’ll be the winner if you have the most dough. Monopoly is not long and aggravating in an effort to deter capitalism, it is a game that revels in its greed. Earning dollars, purchasing property, it all feels good. And it might be awful when you’re not the Look away from the clownone holding the deed to Boardwalk, but you’re still going to be elated when you’ve got a railroad or four, and some unsuspecting rube lands on your assets. If Monopoly (or its ancestor) was supposed to ever be educational regarding taxation or economic theory; that apparently fell by the wayside almost immediately, and proceeded to only ever teach one lesson: making more and more money feels good.

You want a game where capitalism is unashamedly a pain in the ass, you’re going to have to play Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland.

If you’ve lived a blessed life, you do not know the sad tale of Tingle. Tingle was originally introduced in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask as one of the completely new models populating Alternate-Hyrule, Termina. He is a boy wearing a “fairy costume” that floats on a balloon and distributes maps in various areas. Wait, my bad, Tingle is no boy, he’s 35. And his father is very ashamed of him. Tingle is… not right. And, while the wannabe fairy is fairly helpful in Majora’s Mask and Oracle of Ages, Tingle’s appearance in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is simultaneously memorable and horrible. If you wanted to find the invaluable pieces of the Triforce of Courage, you needed a map interpreter, and Tingle was (literally) the only man for the job. And he’s perfectly willing to help… for a fee. A significant fee. Over and over again. In truth, this was clearly just an excuse for the directors of Wind Waker to encourage the player to explore some of the more interesting and “optional” areas of WW in pursuit of rupee caches, but Tingle still wound up inextricably tied to a situation where he was charging piles and piles of cash. From that point on, Tingle was associated with greed, featuring in games like Four Swords Adventures where he’d steal any unclaimed Force Gems, or Twilight Princess where his fashion buddy, Purlo, is always trying to squeeze an extra buck out of Link. So, by about 2005, Tingle was known for two things: he is a giant weirdo, and he’s gluttonous as hell.

So, naturally, Nintendo gave him his own spinoff game.

Hey! It worked for Wario!

This seems familiarOn the surface, Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland is little more than a truncated Legend of Zelda adventure. There’s a large “overworld”, monsters stalk the landscape, and a village is filled with friendly NPCs that may or may not distribute minor sidequests. There are five big dungeons, a handful of “lesser” dungeons, and attendant bosses that alternate between physical challenges and “puzzle fights”. The land is vast and huge, and you better believe there is a lost wood of wise trees, a volcanic mountain, and a smattering of ruins dotting the landscape. There is Lon Lon Ranch. There are bomb flowers. There are empty bottles. And, through it all, there are rupees. Like any good Zelda game, there are prizes abound, so you can search out those treasure chests lurking in the nooks and crannies of Tingle’s world. Everybody loves finding rupees! Everyone loves a bonus!

Except… Rupees are no bonus in Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland. This game starts with “you”, a 35 year old do-nothing that lives in a shack outside of town, forsaking his name for becoming a/the Tingle, one who is going to collect rupees for Uncle Rupee, who will grant Tingle (that’s you now, forever) entry to Rupeeland. Rupeeland is a glorious place where you never have to work and lavish women will always hang out in your palatial pool, so get going, Tingle, and acquire enough rupees to earn your admission fee. As such, your rupee count literally becomes your life: Tingle has no heart containers, just a wallet. Every trap or monster depletes your rupee count, and, if it hits zero, it’s game over. But you’re never going to hit zero, are you? You need as many rupees as possible!

And that… gets difficult.

Rock itRupees are not just a prize you might find for shoving your shovel into the right place in Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland. Rupees are everything. It is never a matter of simply providing coin for wares, you need to pay up if you want to enter a dungeon. Or engage in combat. Or even just talk to some people. Yes, the most basic task in an adventure game, talking to an NPC, often requires a fee in FPTRR. Every task that you could possibly name in your typical Zelda game, every “verb” you’ve ever seen Link do, has an attached fee in Tingle’s adventure. Want to blow up a crack in a wall, Tingle? Well, I hope you managed your resources well enough to have a bomb jar on hand. You didn’t think that secret area would be free, did you?

And, what’s more, if you’re playing the game without savestates or soft resetting, there’s very little indication on how to play the game “right”. Yes, there is a fee for Tingle’s every action, but these fees are also negotiable. You have to pay something to enter town, but what? Pay too little, and your rupees are gone, but you won’t even get a taste of what you were trying to buy. Pay too much, and you might have earned your prize, but you’ll never know that you blew an extra thousand rupees that could have been spent elsewhere. And is there ever any indication on what you’re supposed to be paying? Some mini-game or alternate NPC that offers suggestions on “the going rate”? Bad guardNope! It’s just guess work, and you could be trading Tingle’s literal and figurative lifeblood away for nothing. Yes, extra rupees are going to make your next toll-taker happy, but when Tingle dies penniless in a dungeon thanks to an errant spike-trap, you’ll be regretting giving away even one extra cent. By the time you reach the end of Tingle’s quest, you’ll have had to make so many aggravating decisions based on perceived values, you’ll never want to see another rupee again.

And, considering the finale of Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, that is entirely deliberate.

Tingle is fighting for those rupees at the behest of Uncle Rupee. However, when Tingle restores the life essence (or something ) of the local Grand Fairy, he learns a terrible secret: Uncle Rupee is a demon. What’s more, he is a demon that feeds on rupees, and his goal is to trap every last man, woman, and dog in an endless loop of acquiring more and more rupees. There is no “rosy” Rupeeland, there is only a Rupeeland where mindless slaves trade rupees all day in an effort to please a malevolent, all-powerful Uncle Rupee. This is creepyYour ultimate goal shifts from earning enough rupees to placate Uncle Rupee to earning enough rupees to murder Uncle Rupee, because, of course, the only way to win is to challenge Uncle Rupee through a shoot ‘em up on the moon fueled entirely by rupee bullets (where have I seen that before?). If you win, you will be rewarded with one of two endings. In one, Uncle Rupee is obliterated, and his rupee-remains rain down on the world. Adults, including Tingle, go literally crazy trying to secure this bounty from the heavens, and the local children lament the voracity of their parents. But a better ending is possible! If you go the extra mile and find every last collectible in the world, Tingle will be able to free Pinkle, his scantily-clad assistant. Pinkle is actually the daughter of the Grand Fairy, and had been imprisoned by Uncle Rupee. Who knew? Regardless, her freedom will grant you the best ending wherein… Tingle takes over Uncle Rupee’s position. The “good ending” sees Tingle in Rupeeland, now the new boss that demands people accrue rupees, and The-Fairy-Previously-Known-As-Pinkle literally states that Tingle is no better than Uncle Rupee. This is the best Tingle is going to get! The only reward for a life dedicated to rupee acquisition is unconstrained, unquenchable greed.

Thanks for playing!

This is also creepyFreshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland is not shy about its moral: greed is bad, and “money” just makes everything worse. When people won’t talk without being paid, it is annoying to have so much as a conversation. When citizens won’t help each other without a clear reward, everyone gets unnecessarily hurt. When you spend your life in pursuit of mammon, you will not have a happy ending. The best anyone can hope for is Tingle incidentally doing some good along the way… even if the ultimate reason he’s doing anything at all is he just really wants to go for a ride in that limo. Doing anything in FPTRR is bothersome, and it’s all rupees’ fault. It’s all greed’s fault. If everyone simply lived in a happy little Hyrule that wasn’t so materialistic, Tingle’s life would be so much easier. This adventure could be so much better. This game could be so much more fun.

But it isn’t.

Because of rupees.

Because of capitalism.

Eat it, Monopoly, Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland is the best game out there deriding an economic system.

FGC #535 Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland

  • System: Nintendo DS exclusive. It also wasn’t released in America, but you can pick up a European version if you need to hear the Queen’s English.
  • Number of players: Tingle is alone (you can’t even control Barkle the Dog!).
  • So, do you own it? Yep!
    Look at that box

    Gotta import that Tingle, baby.
  • Is it all bad? To be clear, there are some very fun moments in FPTRR. The boss fights in particular are varied and interesting, complete with a pastiche of Punch-Out involving a skeleton pirate. Practically every word in that sentence makes me happy. So, yes, there is a lot of fun in FPTRR, just every time you have to stop and consider exactly how many rupees some jungle adventurer should be paid for his services, you’re reminded that the world sucks. Uh… I’m talking about Tingle’s world… I think…
  • Favorite Bodyguard: Tingle isn’t much of a fighter, so he has to hire a series of bodyguards across the adventure. And I think we can all agree that Steroido…
    Look at them muscles

    Is just My Hero Academia’s All Might slumming it for a few rupees. Poor dude really needed the cash…
  • Mystery Solved: This Tingle adventure may not be absolute Zelda canon, but it does reveal the scientific genius behind the invention of Link’s favorite tool: the empty jar:
    Look at that bottle

    Presumably, Dr. Bean isn’t alive by the time of Breath of the Wild, and that’s why that game felt so incomplete.
  • What’s in a name: The Zelda Wiki posits that Uncle Rupee should be more properly translated as “Old Man Rupee” from the original ルピじい. However, localization is important, and drawing a line between Uncle Rupee and Rich Uncle Pennybags (or even Uncle Scrooge) is worthwhile.
  • For the Sequel: There’s a sequel to this game, Ripened Tingle’s Balloon Trip of Love, and it’s basically Tingle in The Wizard of Oz. Or it’s a game about Tingle getting his groove back. Regardless, it never made it out of Japan. I hear tell there is a translation poking around some corners of the internet, though…
  • Fight!Did you know? Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland was developed by Vanpool, the company responsible for Dillon’s Rolling Western and the minigames of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. And, not coincidentally, Vanpool involves a few employees formally of Love-de-Lic, the minds behind Moon: Remix RPG Adventure (currently available on Switch). If I wanted to be popular, I’d be reviewing that game, but, man, I can’t just ignore Tingle.
  • Would I play again: Nope. This game is amazingly clever, and the character design is superb… but I’d rather just play a Zelda game. And that might be the point! But that doesn’t mean I’m any more likely to grind ingredients for Tingle anytime soon. You can have Rupee Land, dude.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Super Mario Bros. 35! I’m sure that has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been playing the game continuously for the last few days. And now you can share in the fun! Please look forward to it!

This just cannot be good

FGC #085 Mad Maestro!

Got your attention?Have you ever tried to teach someone how to play video games? I’m not talking about how to “git gud” at video games, I mean, absolute zero point, barely ever held a controller before, this is how you make Mario jump “play video games”. Basically, have you ever had to explain a goomba?

I have. I’ve never taught an adult how to play video games (because adults past a certain age are never going to try, and adults my age or younger at least have some button mashing experience), but I’ve trained the young to participate in the children’s crusade against the Koopa menace. I don’t have kids of my own, mind you, but I am the kind of person that, at any given office, is assumed to have a way of entertaining youngsters immediately available. I’d say it’s an unfortunate stereotype related to the guy that has a cabbit and Slimer on his desk, but given how quickly I can pull a USB controller from my desk drawer, it’s a pretty accurate assessment.

Now, I’m going to try to avoid wandering into old man vs. cloud territory, but these kids these days are trained not on the controllers or joysticks of my youth, but touch screens and sticky iphones of today. This, I want to be clear, isn’t a bad thing, as I’m someone that thinks video games of nigh any platform are ideal for development. I’m not going to remotely claim I have any sort of childhood psychology credentials or even ever once took a class on development of the young‘uns, but, as I’ve mentioned before and likely will again, I firmly believe that video games can impart lessons and morals in a manner unlike any other entertainment medium, even if that “lesson” is simply that daddy is not going to give you his credit card information just so you can ninja more fruit right now.

But the disadvantage of idevice gaming is an unfortunate lack of buttons. Yes, I can play every Mega Man on my phone… but I don’t think I want to. Swiping, shifting, tapping: that’s all fine on the phone, but actual precise “Mario style” The usual suspectsplatforming is not meant for the same system as flapping birds. Again, not saying this is a reason to cast your pad to the wind, simply that this leads to children without the most essential skill that most console gamers take completely for granted.

“Jump! No… jump… different? Better? Higher? Press it harder… no… a little lighter… Oh God, you’re never going to clear that piranha plant…”

When you’re used to something (say, because you’ve been doing it literally longer than you can remember), your vocabulary for teaching the skill quickly diminishes. I remember learning to drive, and my father (who had been driving every day for I want to say thirty years at that point) recommending I “tap the breaks”. My interpretation of “tap the breaks” was in no way what he actually intended me to do, and, if we weren’t already going at 3 MPH because I was terrified of driving, I’m pretty sure one of us would have been at least a little upset at whatever lasting damage was incurred to the poor automobile. Similarly “just put your foot down” for the other pedal involved nearly flying into the bay. Come to think of it, the comparison between controllers and driving is more apt that I initially considered, because the “analogue” is what gets you: when flying along with Mario, you “press” the buttons in a very particular way, with a precise pressure and duration. You’re not simply pressing A, you’re using a skill you’ve honed over years (to clear a damn goomba), just like automatically knowing how to depress an accelerator.

So, I consider it no small achievement that, through a collection of cheat codes (mostly just infinite lives) and save states (mainly for airships), I was able to get a five year old to clear all the worlds of Super Mario Bros. 3. It wasn’t easy, and it took literally months, but I still consider the hardest part of the whole exercise to be “jump” training. Short jumps, long jumps, running jumps, and Take a bow(the most insane) flying/swimming are all skills that you or I take completely for granted, but learning the difference between making Mario hop or leap is absolutely essential. Press that A button just long and strong enough, and you get great results. Do it wrong? Sorry, but you didn’t need that raccoon tail, anyway, right?

Mad Maestro doesn’t include any jumps or goombas, but it does offer the fairly unique opportunity to direct an orchestra. The story is mundane as far as plot-based rhythm games go (sorry, no repelling alien invaders through mariachi music here), you’re Takt, a young composer and conductor who is approached by a magical fairy (okay, maybe the plot is a little weird) with the mission of saving the local Concert Hall with a grand orchestra performance. On the way to the ostentatious performance, Takt recruits a number of townspeople (and a bear) (and some aliens) through playing classical music at random points throughout the city. Help a guy romance his girlfriend, and he joins you with a cello. It’s a pretty standard way to form a band. After ten stages of recruitment drives, it’s time for the really big show, and, assuming you’ve learned, like, something over the course of the entire game, you probably won’t be booed off stage.

The kink to this game that separates it from every other rhythm game I can recall is that you are not playing an instrument, real or imaginary, this time. You are the conductor, so it’s your job to do that wavy hand thing that apparently serves some musical purpose. I would imagine this to be pretty difficult in reality (closest I’ve ever been to being a Hey babyconductor was some heavy flirting with a drum major… actually, two different drum majors on two different occasions. Maybe I have a type?), but during this game, you’re effectively just a rhythm section, forced to tap buttons along to the beat. It’s not that difficult, as I have enough rhythm to win the game, and I’m whiter than some wampas. I can’t imagine how well someone with a greater understanding of 3/4s time would do with this setup.

That said, in a grand tradition that would continue straight into the Vocaloids’ greatest hits, there has to be some kind of catch. It’s not enough to just tap along to the beat, no, Mad Maestro is one of the few games that actual fully utilizes the Playstation 2’s analog buttons. You’re the conductor, so you’re not only keeping the beat fresh, but you’re also responsible for the phat volume highs, and the skinny lil’ lows. As far as rhythm game gimmicks go, it’s one that actually makes sense, and even, theoretically, makes sense for the player. You’re going to naturally hit that button harder when the song is loud and pumping, and you might even be the type to gently tap along to a more quiet section. Should be as natural as singing along to the radio, right?

In reality, though, you’ll experience the flaws in this system before you’re out of the tutorial. To Mad Maestro’s credit, the game is very transparent about what you’re doing wrong. “Too fast” or “Too late” for the beat is great if you have no internal metronome, and the “weight” of your hit has three different color intensities: green, blue, and red. If you see a green note, and you hit it red, then you know you’re hitting too hard, so it couldn’t be more straightforward. That’s the theory anyway. In practice, you have, literally, less than a beat to recognize what went wrong, and adjust accordingly. I assume that the majority of my Don't lookreaders are Zen Masters, but for the rest of us, when you miss a note or two you’re going to grow naturally frustrated, and start hammering that button as hard as you… which will only cause further problems. Couple this with later songs that revel in switching between hard and light notes, and what could be an excellent, relaxing way to “participate” in classical music becomes about as frustrating as shoveling snow with a hairbrush. It’s particularly maddening because, as stated, the game is so forthcoming about what you’re doing wrong, so the minute you drop into a failure loop, you know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, but why. Isn’t. IT. WORKING. POUND POUND POUND.

So welcome to being five years old again. Welcome to knowing exactly what you want to do, but not yet having the skill to do it. Welcome to learning a skill. Welcome to not only getting better, but starting from scratch to do it.

And, you know what? Remember that feeling, remember what playing Mad Maestro feels like. Remember that, even when you’re being given perfect advice, it means nothing if you’re too upset to listen. Remember, you can be a better student and teacher through understanding and calm.

You might never have to teach someone how to play video games, but if you do, remember that starting from zero isn’t thrilling for anybody, let everybody take their time, learn, and, one day, you’ll be conducting a symphony.

FGC #85 Mad Maestro!

  • System: Playstation 2. Interestingly, thanks to the requirements of a rhythm game versus wireless controllers, I actually played this game on the original Playstation 2, as opposed to the usual BC Playstation 3 that is used for Gogglebob.com. Okay, I lied, that wasn’t interesting at all.
  • Number of Players: Too many conductors could be an issue, so just one player. Surprised they didn’t try to shoehorn in some weird co-op mode, but I suppose this isn’t a PSP game.
  • Difficulty: Despite the fact that the article might portray me playing this game as a tantrumming toddler, the game isn’t really that difficult to complete. Everybody danceIt’s one of those games where your “lifebar” is large enough that you can basically bumble through any given level and still see the goal through sheer force of forward momentum. That said, since the game logs your every missed note, it’s easy to get the impression you’re failing a lot worse than you are, thus the frustration. Sure, I score a “C” on every level, but at least I finished.
  • If I ruled the world: The final level is that grand Concert Hall performance, and it’s the most difficult level, not only because it’s the longest, but you also don’t have as much of a cushion against failure, so a “C” student might not actually complete the challenge. But it’s a very gentle game, so if you fail, you’re just asked to try again, don’t worry, we’ll save that Music Hall on the next try. If I made this game, though, every failed performance would end with bulldozers plowing right into the stands and shoving the band aside. The future refused to change…
  • Bitter Band Nerd: You want to claim you’re playing classical music around town to collect musicians? Bullshit, Takt knows how musical performances work: you’re gathering together an eclectic band of weirdoes because they’ll be able to sell tickets to their friends and family. The performing arts are basically a pyramid scheme, sheeple!
  • Speaking of Band Nerds: I want to note that I played trumpet throughout my school days, so this always shocks and confuses me:

    I'm right there!

    And I’m still not first chair!

  • Did you know? During the stage where you recruit Martians, Baba Yaga’s Hut from Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky is performed. I like that song quite a bit, and it might be my favorite in the game, but, come on, guys, Mars, The Bringer of War from the Planets suite by Holst is right there! It’s got “Mars” in the title! And Catherine has the same problem! It’s good enough for Darth Vader!
  • Would I play again: Probably not. Gitaroo Man is my rhythmic poison of choice on the Playstation 2, so it’s unlikely I’d forsake the Gitaroo way for a game that leaves me fuming every time I pick it up. It’s not a bad game, and I laud any game that attempts to hoist classical music on an unwitting populace, but it’s just not enough fun to play.

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Archer Maclean’s Mercury for the PSP! Are we… is this, like, a planet theme, now? Is there a game containing “Venus” next on the list? I don’t know how this robot works… Anyway, please look forward to it!