Design Dive: Alternate Health Systems -- Tingle's Rosey Rupeeland

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In video games it is common for your character to have some form of health or hit-points (HP) as a way of determining if your character is going to make it through the level or game.

Cover art for Tingle’s Rosey Rupeeland

Cover art for Tingle’s Rosey Rupeeland

The Gist πŸ”—

In Tingle’s Rosey Rupee Rupeeland our protagonist is offered the chance to live a life of luxury, to never have to work again. What does it take? Just lots and lots of rupees!

In this game rupees are everything. You will need to collect rupees to trade with NPCs in order to progress the story. When you take damage from enemies you drop rupees, and when you defeat enemies they often give you rupees in return.

The more rupees you throw into the magical lake the taller the tower in the center gets. You can jump off of the tower to further and further islands. Once on and island, you must collect a few rupees to pay the bridge builder to get back home.

When out and about you also collect items or crafting recipes, which you can then sell to NPCs for more rupees.

Mechanics πŸ”—

When interacting with NPCs there are several common reasons why you would need to either give or take money from them. Some, but not all, reasons are:

  • Selling/buying items
  • Quest rewards
  • Gathering information
  • Access to new areas

The middle two items (quest rewards and gathering information) often see the player deciding on a number to either give or receive from the NPC. If you are giving to the NPC to extract information then you do not want to go too low on your rupee offer – the opposite is true when deciding how many rupees to take from an NPC in exchange for something you did for them.

Accepting payment from an NPC in Tingle’s Rupee Land

Accepting payment from an NPC in Tingle’s Rupee Land

If you give an NPC too few rupees you will need to give them more to extract whatever it is you wanted. In most cases the total rupees you have given them is remembered. In some cases you will have to pay a fee/tax foreach failed attempt, but you are clearly told this before you try to bargain; being taxed on offers is mainly a mechanic of the body guard recruiting area.

Impacts πŸ”—

The designers chose to make your current rupee total your HP value. This has some intriguing downstream effects.

Since when you run out of rupees you have to start over from your last save the player is nudged towards more “greedy” choices when interacting with NPCs. A player might try to ask for as many rupees as they could seemingly get away with, or they might try to lowball a shopkeep in order to get the best price.

While this sort of behavior could seem like a logical way to progress in a video game, what is extra interesting here is that charity can be viewed as being disincentivized. Players who are generally altruistic in their styles of play in other titles may find themselves low not only on purchasing power but also on HP. This creates a fun little inversion of expectations for the player and can lead to some notable interactions.