The town on Windfall Island is built onto the slope of the island’s hill, and underneath the houses is a small prison with a single jail cell. This is the setting of the beginning of the sidequest for the Deluxe Picto Box, an optional item that allows the player to take screenshots of the game.
Crouched in a corner of this jail cell is Tingle, the lovely goateed 35-year-old man in a lycra bodysuit pictured above. Tingle has been imprisoned for petty theft and left unattended, and he asks Link to free him. Link, who has just escaped from his own cell in the Forsaken Fortress, does so, and Tingle thanks him by handing over the Tingle Bottle.
The Tingle Bottle is what the player uses to connect with the Miiverse, Nintendo’s online player network service. You can send short text messages and oekaki drawings, and there are still, even as I’m playing in late 2015, a bunch of talented and funny people fooling around in the Wind Waker HD corner of the Miiverse.
Tingle throws some glitter in the air and waddles off, but he will be back. Oh my goodness, will he ever be back. Tingle is one of the biggest pains in the ass this game has to offer, bless his heart.
Tingle serves as the trope namer for the TV Tropes category Americans Hate Tingle, in which something that’s relatively popular outside of the States is reviled by American fans.
As for Tingle in particular:
Joking aside, the main reason why Tingle is hated so much is that he is basically a Man Child, a character archetype that Western audiences have little sympathy for. In Japan, he’s seen as a symbol of whimsy. To most Western audiences, however, his behavior and appearance just comes off as creepy (especially the speedo).
And then he was made a DLC fighter in Hyrule Warriors, beating out the Skull Kid and any number of other potential Majora’s Mask characters. American fans were not amused. True to form, this was entirely because he was the top rated character that the Japanese audience wanted added in.
I’m a fan of Tingle, but I understand how he is the cilantro of the Zelda universe. I don’t know anyone who seriously hates him; rather, I think people just pretend to hate him to be silly. Or perhaps there are people out there who in all seriousness find the challenges Tingle presents to mainstream constructions of masculinity genuinely upsetting. Who knows?
Anyway, this next part is kind of creepy.
If Link enters the cell and pushes a huge wooden crate away from the wall, he uncovers a small hole. This hole is a tunnel that leads into a small maze of sorts. If Link navigates this maze correctly – and I will admit I always use a guide here – he’ll come to another cell even deeper under the town, one that has no other visible entrances or exits. This small stone room is filled with skulls, and on a dirt mound in the center is a treasure chest.
Inside the treasure chest is a bright red toy camera, because…
…because this is a Zelda game, okay? Strange things happen.
This is the Picto Box, and it can store up to twenty black-and-white pictures.
Back out in the daylight, Link can climb the hill and enter a store with a camera sign. This is Lenzo’s shop. Lenzo is a big man with a bushy brown beard who dresses in a bright yellow Confucian scholar outfit and calls himself the island’s photography master. He sits behind a counter on the first floor, but behind him is a staircase leading up to a gallery of framed photo prints. Should Link examine at least one of the pictures, Lenzo will climb up the stairs behind him and offer to take him on as an apprentice. In practical terms, this means he will upgrade Link’s camera so that it can take color pictures.
In order to prove himself worthy, Link must complete three trials. All three involve spying on people and waiting until the right moment to take a candid shot, which Lenzo will then use to emotionally blackmail the people in question. This is problematic, of course, but it’s also a cool way to get to know the people on the island. Just as in Majora’s Mask, in which everyone in Clock Town goes about their daily business regardless of what Link does or doesn’t do, the people of Windfall Island have their own small dramas playing out in a world in which the “Legend of Zelda” is entirely meaningless.
A middle-aged man mails anonymous letters to a woman who doesn’t return his affections, a young man has a reciprocated crush on a young woman but is too shy to say anything to her, and an old man sits in a bar drinking tea and cringing at every loud noise. Using Lenzo’s vague clues, Link is supposed to catch them in the act of revealing their innermost selves and deepest secrets, sort of like a photojournalist. This activity serves to highlight Link’s youth. Even if he’s standing right there with his camera out, no one notices him because he’s just a kid.
The game developers have waffled on this issue, but Link is either nine or twelve years old; which, if you think about it, is really young for someone to be tasked with saving the world. To make matters even worse, the King of Red Lions isn’t even asking Link to save the world, but only to kill Ganondorf. He’s like, “Go forth, you small child, and murder this person I hate beyond all reason.” One might argue that Link is a good candidate for the job precisely because he’s young and therefore unlikely to be noticed, but still.
Lenzo’s sidequest is a more contained version of the larger quest given to Link by the King of Red Lions. It’s also a kinder and gentler version, almost like a window into a parallel universe in which Link didn’t get sucked into a crazy epic murderquest by a talking boat.
More than any other title in the Zelda series, Link’s actions mean almost nothing to the common people who live in the world of The Wind Waker. If he completes his quest successfully, nothing will happen. I intend to return to this topic later in my playthrough, but for now let me say that it’s an interesting premise for Nintendo to apply to one of its flagship franchises.
After Link finishes up this sidequest, he can take color pictures. Yay! Although these pictures have several uses in the game, the player can also send them out into the Miiverse using the Tingle Bottle, attaching written or drawn messages. I’ve been taking a long time to write up this playthrough partially because I’ve been playing around with this feature, but I think it’s high time for Link to set out onto the Great Sea.
And away we go!
( Header image by mysticmagix on Tumblr )