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The Untold Truth Of The Legend Of Zelda's Tingle

You'll find plenty of quirky characters in The Legend of Zelda games, but one of the most unusual just might be the floaty, giggly, 35-year-old man named Tingle. The NPC has appeared in numerous Zelda titles, usually as a one-dimensional run-in with different purposes depending on the game. 

Generally, the character with the red balloon and questionable catchphrases like "Tingle! Tingle! Kooloo-Limpah!" who speaks of himself in the third person seems pretty harmless. Occasionally, he gives Link valuable items. However, his selfishness has led Link on certain tedious side quests, too. His appearances in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, among others, are often met with groans. 

Americans don't seem to be particularly fond of Tingle. In fact, IGN even waged a "Die, Tingle, Die" campaign against him back in 2004, saying, "We hate Tingle, we want him dead, and we're not going to stand for him in another Zelda game. In fact, if he shows up in the next Zelda, we vow now to spend half of the adventure attempting to murder him. It has to be done. He cannot be allowed to frolic around Hyrule again or all is surely lost."

It's time to investigate this somewhat creepy character from The Legend of Zelda. Who is Tingle, and what's his deal, anyway?

Tingle has a dysfunctional family dynamic

Tingle first appeared in 2000's The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask for the Nintendo 64. He was a creation of game designer Takaya Imamura, according to Nintendo's online magazine. In Majora's Mask, players actually meet Tingle as a map merchant before encountering his father. However, his dad doesn't seem too happy with the way Tingle has turned out. 

Tingle says, in one of his interactions with the player, that his father wants him to grow up and that he'd like a fairy of his own. Later, you also meet his dad at the Swamp Tourist Information desk, who calls Tingle a "spoiled child" who is off playing hooky again. "A child his age has no business searching for fairies!" proclaims his father. He seems exasperated and resentful, and the fact that he calls a middle-aged man a child pretty much indicates he's not down with his son's activities.

Tingle's father wouldn't be the first parent to disapprove of his bachelor offspring's views and ways of life, but at least Tingle has some siblings, Ankle and Knuckle, who might be less of a disappointment? Or not, since they seemed pretty similar to Tingle when they appeared in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker ... as basically Tingle's slaves. Yeah, there's something strange going on with this family.

Tingle branched out into his own video games

Tingle may have gained some haters in the U.S. but he was popular enough overseas that he actually starred in his own video game series that released in Japan and Europe. One of these was the adventure game Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland for the Nintendo DS, which came out in 2006. IGN's U.K. review from described it as "one of the DS's most curious and quirky titles to dates." The game was flawed, but reportedly had some charm. 

Next came Tingle's Balloon Fight for the Nintendo DS in 2007, followed by Ripened Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love in 2009. There was also a DSiWare title called the Too Much Tingle Pack that included a number of applications, such as a timer, calculator, and fortune teller. There was even going to be a horror game starring Tingle, but that never happened. Whew.

These games were just as bizarre as you might expect — Tingle even had a dog named Barkle, who wore matching outfits. In any case, they continued the odd tale of Tingle, although the events in these titles aren't necessarily considered canon. And all this together earned him top honors on a 2012 IGN list of "Top 20 Weirdest Zelda Characters." That's saying something, but you do you, Tingle! 

Tingle did not appear in the latest game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wind, but you likely haven't seen the last of this Peter Pan-like character.