Think of your favorite Legend of Zelda character. You probably didn’t say “Tingle.” And if you did, I’m genuinely curious as to why. Tingle may not be a lot of fans’ favorite character, but he is certainly interesting.
He has appeared in or has been referenced in over 10 Zelda games. He may not be as important as characters like Zelda, Link, or Ganon ( Ganondorf, if you want to be serious about this), but he’s certainly interesting, and a character with this much history is undoubtedly deserving of some appreciation.
Tingle is recognizable and popular. He’s one of the few Legend of Zelda characters to receive Spinoff games where he’s the starring character. You may be scratching your head in disbelief that there are Tingle games, but as you’ll read below, there is more to Tingle than what meets the eye.
Key Details Up Front
First introduced in the Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask, Tingle hasn’t been in every game since his debut. Still, being such a beloved character in Japan, Nintendo has put references or nods to Tingle in-game even when he doesn’t appear physically. When he does grace us with his appearance, he’s usually a merchant helping Link complete his adventure.
Technically, Tingle is a glorified cartographer as his primary role in the game is the making or selling maps to the player. Besides selling maps and charts, Tingle can also upgrade your inventory in some of the games using his “magic words.”
Tingle is a 35-year-old man-child who believes that he’s a reincarnation of a fairy. He’s usually depicted as immature and obsessed with either faires or Link himself. Despite typically being shown to be light-hearted, he can be mischievous, often shown as stealing, getting arrested, being selfish, or being a bully to people who aren’t Link.
Despite his delusions about being a reincarnated fairy, Tingle does seem to possess some magical powers as he upgrades Link’s equipment in one of the games.
Perhaps Tingle’s most defining characteristic is that he’s odd. Everything from his catchphrase “ Kooloo-Limpah!” to the clothes he wears, which resemble Link’s outfit, if someone merely described what link wore to someone from memory.
Tingle being a “weird guy” is a concept from early on in his development. Initially, when coming up with his character, the creators were looking to create someone Link could buy maps from. Eventually, they introduced the idea of the character floating on a balloon to get a better view of the land so he could draw maps.
In an interview with Kotaku, game director Eiji Aonuma said, “ we realized anybody that would fly through the air making a map has got to be a really weird person. So at that point, we decided, okay, we’ll go with this and make him a really weird guy.”
Legend of Zelda Appearances
Unlike other characters that reappear in the Zelda franchise, it’s not exactly clear if each Tingle is the same version of Tingle or some sort of reincarnation. Tingle straddles the line between ally and antagonist. But more often than not, he’s a merchant selling Link’s charts, maps, and necessary items.
Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask
Considering how odd Tingle is, it’s fitting that his first appearance would be in this oddity of a Zelda title. Here Tingle takes the role of a map merchant. He can be found floating around via his balloon, drawing his maps. Tingle immediately stands out because of his silly design.
It’s like he’s doing his best to cosplay as Link, which, combined with his flamboyant mannerisms, instantly makes him a memorable character that we all love (or hate). Upon first meeting him, he befriends you because of your fairy, Tatl.
He admits to loving fairies and even being one in a previous life. Is this true? Probably not, but he certainly believes it. Tingle is one of the few characters that can recognize Link even in his alternate form due to Tatl never leaving Link’s side.
Later you find out that Tingle is the son of the Swamp tourist guide who isn’t too fond of his 35-year-old son’s obsession with fairies. And perhaps that’s part of the reason why so many of the people who love Tingle do.
Weirdly, I find that he can be relatable. Majora’s Mask gives Tingle’s character traits that would be fleshed out as they’re carried over to other titles.
Oracle of Ages
Tingle has a small but essential role in the oracle of ages. He does two things, gives you a chart to a secret island and upgrades some of your equipment. When you find him, he’s floating with his balloon on top of a cliff. You reach him by jumping into a kangaroos pouch.
Once there, he does the same song and dance and tells you he’s 35 years old obsessed with fairies, and befriends Link. But can we all admit the kangaroo is the weirdest thing in this scenario?
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Wind Waker reveals a new side of Tingle. And admittedly, this is probably where a lot of the hatred comes from. When we meet Tingle, he’s been “wrongfully” imprisoned for stealing a picto box.
Once Link frees him, Tingle hands over the “Tingle Tuner,” a device the player could use to call Tingle for assistance by connecting a Game boy Advance.
Tingle’s character takes a dark turn in Wind Waker. Despite claiming he didn’t steal the Picto Box, you find it at the end of the crawl space in HIS jail cell. Once freed, Tingle starts”Tingle Tower.” in the tower, you meet Tingle’s younger brother Ankle, his twin brother Knuckle, and “ordinary” human David jr.
All of which look identical to Tingle. If you speak to them, you discover that Tingle can be selfish, downright abusive, and cruel, forcing his minions to maintain the tower despite being exhausted.
However, his friendship with Link causes Tingle to be on his best behavior when he’s around. This causes Tingle’s minions to beg Link to visit as often as possible to spare Tingle’s cruelty.
Besides being a monster, Tingle will decipher Triforce charts for you, which is totally not the most tedious quest in the game. That was sarcasm.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
Tingle returns as a thief. In this game, Force Gems take the place of Rupees and are needed to restore the Four Sword. If, however, Link leaves too many lying around for too long, Tingle will attempt to steal them.
He also publishes a newsletter called the “Tingle Times,” posted on signs throughout the world, and contains helpful tips for the player.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Because the Minish Cap causes Link to shrink down to a smaller size, Tingle mistakes him for a fairy and asks him to fuse the Kinstone Pieces. Ankle, Knuckle, and David Jr return. Each of them has a kinstone piece that Link needs to fuse. Link gets rewards like more kinstone pieces and a magical boomerang upon completion.
After fusing kinstone pieces with Tingle and his doppelgangers, Tingle will reward Link with a Tingle trophy because he’s slightly narcissistic.
Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland
This game acts as an origin story for Tingle. Is it canon? Probably not, but it’s weird. This game was released in Japan and Europe, but a North American release was never announced, presumably because of America’s hatred of Tingle.
The story revolves around a Rupee headed man name Uncle Rupee, promising Tingle access to a utopia called “Reupeeland” if he collects enough Rupees. Unfortunately, Uncle Rupee is lying, and Rupeeland turns out to be a terrible place, so Tingle has to fight and defeat Uncle Rupee.
- Tingle appears on a wanted poster in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
- Tingle is a statue in Linebeck Trading in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
- Zelda has a Tingle shaped doll (Which is creepy if you think about it) in Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword
- Tingle is a playable character in Hyrule Warriors
- Tingle is the main the character in Tingle Balloon Fight DS
- Link can find an outfit identical to Tingles in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Question: Is Tingle a Fairy?
Answer: No, he’s a Hylian that very much wants to be. At most, he’s the reincarnation of a fairy.
Question: Why Does Tingle Exist?
Answer: The game developers needed an NPC for Link to purchase maps from.
Question: What is Tingle’s Catchphrase?
Answer: Kooloo-Limpah! Which he says are his magic words.
Question: Is Tingle a Link?
Answer: No, he’s merely trying to mimic Link’s clothing.
When I was a kid, I wasn’t just content playing and talking about video games; I was happy doing those things. Then I grew up. I did the whole 9 – 5 job thing, and I wasn’t happy. What makes me happy is talking to you—the person reading this article.
Tingle may be a weird 35-year-old who doesn’t want to grow up, but maybe we can all stand to be a little bit like Tingle. and hold on to a bit of our childhood.
Tingle is in a world surrounded by monsters, but he still finds time to smile and throw glitter. If you take anything away from this article, I hope its that life is too dangerous to go alone. Take your inner child with you.