That New Hyrulian Math

December 26th, 2005 at 2:10 am by The Missing Link

All right, class, I know you’re going to hate me for this, but put away your textbooks, get out your quill and roll of parchment, and number your paper one through four. It’s time for a mathematics pop quiz. Ready? No? Well, suck it up and here we go:

  1. For a child under the age of 15, what is 99 + 1?
  2. For an adult, what is 200 + 1?
  3. For a Goron, what is 500 + 1?
  4. (Extra credit) If everyone in the world lives in caves, how much is 255 + 1?

Time’s up! Let’s see how you did. If you got 99, 200, 500, and 255, you get an A. Missed one? That’ll float you a C. Worse than that? You’re telling me some of you failed this thing? Oh come on now, this quiz is easy. None of you should’ve failed this! This is Hyrulian Mathematics 101! Well, I guess you all need a review, so let’s start with a story problem.

Let’s assume that ® is the symbol for rupees. Now, child Link is wandering through the forest with 99® in his wallet. He finds a green rupee on the ground and picks it up. How many rupees does he have now? If you said 99, you’re spot on. 99 + 1 = 99.

Not fair, you say? Trick question, you say? You bet.

The wallet systems throughout the Zelda games have never been perfect, although the further back you go, the better they were. It’s almost disheartening to say it, but the economic system of the original Legend of Zelda was one of the best economic systems I’ve seen in Zeldadom. The number of things up for sale that need to be purchased to beat the game—all of which at varying sale prices based upon locale, no less—is sufficient to teach the value of saving money to a child. The cheap shields are on the other side of the map and cost this much, but the more expensive shield is much closer. Is it worth the trek to the other side of the map? You bet. Back then, with a limit of 255® (minus the rupees you plan to use for arrows), you had to be thrifty in everything you did. You have to save up for that ring (which set you back 250 dead kings). You had to shop around to find the goods at their cheapest values. You had to find the ubiquitous old man when he was in a good mood (not when he was demanding payment for door repair—ahem, what door? I burned a BUSH to get in.). You had to get those double-shot life potions from time to time. You had to go rupee farming over in the graveyard constantly. And you had to keep a good nest egg around for that bow of yours.

I make it sound really bad, but don’t take this for criticism. Part of this had to do with the technology back then. Back in the days of yore when Billy-boy thought 64K of memory ought to be enough for everyone (ha!), every byte of space was valuable. They couldn’t waste valuable disk (or cartridge) space . For those wondering why the magic number was 255, it’s the maximum number you can represent in a byte of memory, namely 28 – 1. They had to be so stingy with memory that they couldn’t spare a second byte for money… or even another byte for arrows! Two hundred fifty-five rupees ought to be enough for everybody! (Thankfully, we can all agree today that gigabytes are wonderful creatures.) But beyond the techy mumbo-jumbo, gamers ate this up. It was a challenge, not needless scavaging. There were areas of the game that dropped tons of rupees, and all one needed to do was get there and begin hacking monsters. Most of the time, you didn’t have to worry about it, but when you just died AGAIN in Level Six and needed another potion, well, being broke hit you hard.

Link to the Past upped the ante to 999® (the interface being limited to three digits), and this pretty much was sufficient until you were going to the Fountain of Wishes to get more bombs and arrows. After all, elsewise the nastiest purchases (for savvy shoppers, of course) were the Zora’s Flippers at 500® and maybe a few blue potions, and those purchases never overlapped one another. Link’s Awkening, however, sucker-punched us when we had to buy our own bow for 980®. It was painful when, in the middle of a dungeon, you reached the 999-marker before buying the bow. All those extra rupees in the treasure chests were wasted until you got out to get it. Of course, you could bypass the whole rupee problem and pilfer the bow, but no one likes a thief, you dirty, rotten, lousy bow-stealer.

However, Link’s Awakening only pulled that trick once. The real “tragedy” was when Ocarina came, and along with it for the ride was the most atrocious monetary system ever in the Zelda empire, the 99-200-500 system. I have yet to figure out just why they thought this was a good idea, and I have two reasons for my confusion.

First, let’s assume that our wallets are NOT bags of holding. (Sure, Link does carry a lot of stuff behind his back. But bags of holding implies Infinite Rupeeland exists, but since 99 < ∞ even in Hyrule, well… you get the idea.) Now imagine plucky young Link wandering around with his 99® wallet, and he goes around collecting nothing but green rupees. He gets 99 of those crystally thingies in a bag, and that’s it. That’s all the wallet can hold. (Let’s not even go into the physics of how big that bag would be, much less how big the Goron wallet would have to be. We’re pretending.) Now, Link then replaces each green rupee in the wallet with a blue rupee? Contents of the bag? 99®. Wait… what? Yes, ninety-nine rupees of beer in the bag, ninety-nine rupees of beer. You put one in, shake it around, ninety-nine rupees of beer in the bag. The extra is completely gone. This doesn’t even begin to consider what happens if I shoved in the red, purple, silver, or gold rupees scattered throughout Hyrule. This wallet will not hold more than 99 rupees, and the leftovers? The elusive, invisible, and invincible Wallet-Monster eats everything beyond that. (Now THAT is something Ganon could take over the world with!)

Second, and this carries off of the first point, what in the world do we honestly have to buy anyways? The biggest purchase we have to make in the game is the Hylian Shield at 80® (less with the discount). Unless you’re Crocodile Hunter Skulltula Hunter, you still have the 99® sack at that point. That’s nearly your life savings to date in one shot! Then you get the 200® bag later after you’ve bought the shield, most likely after Dodongo’s Cavern, and then you’re living high on the hog. But what do you do with your rupees then? You don’t have to buy your tunics (those are free); Deku sticks, arrows, and bombs are a-plenty… The only purchasable commodity you have to worry about are potions… and guess what, they supplanted that with free fairies. Back in LttP, you had a choice; either you get your auto-life fairies for seven hearts only, or you shelled out the money for a full-life (or full-everything) potion. By a show of hands, who here has ever bought a red potion in Ocarina or Majora? Those of you who have, how stupid did you feel when you realised you were getting ripped off? I rest my case. Even if you HAD bought a potion, the blue ones are a mere 60®. That ain’t gonna break the bank. Simply put, you don’t need money after the Hylian Shield. So why bother upgrading it… or even limiting it to 99® in the first place?

Wind Waker was slightly less a disaster, yet it was bad nevertheless for an entirely different reason. This time, the economies of scale tended to mess up players. Instead of 99-200-500, you had 200-1K-5K, but for those of us who didn’t immediately go for both wallet upgrades at the beginning of the game (and thus capped ourselves at 200 or 1,000® for a prolonged amount of time), when we get Tingle’s final tab of 3,385® (that’s 398® for each of the 8 Triforce maps plus the 201® C.O.D. charge for his IN-credible Map, all of which highway robbery), players can’t afford the bill, and so they have to go farm the islands for rupees when they could have been collecting them the entire game. You rarely see the 5K® mark as is in the game (all because of that greedy son of a fairy), and so what is the point of the 200- and 1K-rupee bags? They’re wastes of disk space, especially considering the prevalence of the blue 5s, yellow 10s, and red 20s in the game. Two hundred rupees is NOT difficult to come across.

When you add to this system with the fact that there are no banks, no savings accounts, no cashier’s checks, no credit cards, no debit cards, and no checkbooks… Link’s retirement will be forever linked to the poor house. (Yes, I know Majora had a bank. How many times did you accidentally Song of Time back to day one without saving your rupees in the bank? Thought so.)

Wallet upgrades need to be abandoned. Simply put, they’re illogical, inconvenient, and can easily be replaced with a more thorough economy system (a la 500-rupee Zora Flippers). While I hate to say that the only games that did a fine job of nailing this were the earliest Zelda games (and the Capcom titles, even more painstaking to admit), reverting to that system would be better than what we have now. Better yet, don’t cap us at some rupee limit that’s easy to get to.

Next week, class, I will teach you how to complain to your parents that your allowance isn’t enough.

Filed under Games, Editorials

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51 Messages from the Gossip Stones about “That New Hyrulian Math”


    You just had to remind about that, didn’t you? The wallet issue has frustrated me more than anything else in the 3D Zelda games. I always dispised getting a whopping 200 rupees when I was already at 500 in my wallet…*sigh*

    Excellent article as always, TML.

    Ive never really thought about Zelda Wallet issues before I guess its not something that has ever bothered me…. hey TML what about Majoras Mask you could save all your money in a Bank dosent that teach kids about saveing for the future… or past as the case may be.

    Getting rupees you don’t need is annoying. Nothing worse (especially in TWW) when you open a chest… find a SILVER RUPEE… but are maxed out on cash already. Here’s a coin that will severely dent your Tingle bill, but you lose it all. As Tingle says, “You just waste all those rupees!” It’s a crying shame, is what it is.

    it has always bothered the *NAVI* out of me for the wallet issue! Jeez Louise… Especially when you would have the mximum capacity in your wallet and you beat a Like Like or something else that drops booku rupees and you cant even FIT them in your skimpy wallet! God…

    “The biggest purchase we have to make in the game is the Hylian Shield at 80® (less with the discount).”

    Um, there’s a free Hylian Shield in the Graveyard. o_o; Technically, you wouldn’t need money at ALL.

    Heh, the money stuff doesn’t bug me. I started with OoT so I never knew the precious money system of old. Course, I was a child back then and didn’t really notice. (sigh) All that wasted time getting rupess.

    Its annoying when you find a rupee thats worth sooo much, and then you come to find out that you cant carry no more rupees. And sometimes its a pain getting a bigger wallet. And I make big mistakes in boss fights so I always got to buy more potions.
    Oh yea!! I started playing four swords and just found out Tingle not so nice (hes…..evil).

    I wasn’t even bothered when I picked up extraneous silver/gold rupees in OOT. Rupees were obviously useless during Link I’s time.

    What they could do is add a bank in future games, and when you get more than needed to your wallet, you can teleport the extras to your bank, that way, you could walk around with 500 ruppees in your pockets, and you pick up a gold one, it disappears magically to the bank.Quite useful, ne?Who votes on petitioning on this (just kidding)

    The first time the wallet system bugged me was in TWW i still dont have enough money for tingle. I’m gonna start a new file so i can get wallet upgrades in the beginning.

    VenusQueenOfFaeries said:

    “The biggest purchase we have to make in the game is the Hylian Shield at 80® (less with the discount).”

    Um, there’s a free Hylian Shield in the Graveyard. o_o; Technically, you wouldn’t need money at ALL.

    I know! I never bought the shield, I got the free one. Never had to spend money…but for some reason always got the wallets…oh well…

    And actually, I always always always saved my money in my bank before going back to the first day. It was an obsession. XD

    Oh, and I got the Adult’s Wallet in OoT so I could blow it on the shopgames…So it does kinda come in handy(if you’re insane)…

    Ah…shooting Octoroks all day long…fun…

    On Ocarina you needed 40 rupees to get Link’s first Deku Shield. You need the sword and shield, or else that smart*Navi* Mido will NOT let you through to see the GDT. [unless you do the trick where you gently lift one side (I think it was the left) of the cartridge.]

    You needed the rupees on most Zeldas to play mini-games in order to win amo upgrades and heart pieces.

    My favorite rupee systems were those from ALttP and TMC.

    I know a trick to avoid wasting a rupee of high value when you have maximum amount in your wallet. When you find a treasure chest, save the game, then open the chest. If the rupee’s red, purple, silver, etc., turn the game off without saving. Turn the game back on, and continue your quest saving the chest for later. That’s what I do on save files that are holding the max rupees.

    I’ve actually hit the 5k mark on TWW.

    VenusQueenOfFaeries said:

    “The biggest purchase we have to make in the game is the Hylian Shield at 80® (less with the discount).”

    Um, there’s a free Hylian Shield in the Graveyard. o_o; Technically, you wouldn’t need money at ALL.

    What about the big gorons sword not the good one but the one that breaks, thats 200® down the drain. It can only take about 4 hits and it breaks then when it’s broken it does less damage than the kokiri sword.

    • 15. Ops says:

    I really never noticed how you had to buy anything, I always got then wasted my money on bombchus-.-’..but it does annoy me when I get a good rupee, yet I’m full.

    Ok the only reason i cared about rubbbies is when i needed the map deciphered in Wing waker so when i do that it drives me☼☼4♪♣§♥6♣4

    evil link said:

    What about the big gorons sword not the good one but the one that breaks, thats 200® down the drain.

    But you don’t NEED it to finish the game. Likewise, you don’t need to play any of the minigames, as Kojinka mentioned, to get through the game, either. Sure, you miss a few heart pieces and upgrades, but items are aplenty and you how many of us NEED twenty hearts for Ganon(dorf) anymore? Honestly. Kojinka was right. The only purchase we NEED to make is for the Kokiri Shield, and the forty rupees are easy to come by in the Forest.

    Intas, I used to obsess over my MM rupees too. XD

    We don’t need the heart pieces and upgrades, but they’re convenient to have.

    Suffice to say that, yes, there are places that you can spend rupees. No one’s denying that. The problem is that, at least from the standpoint of Ocarina, the only thing that rupees will net you is 100% completion of the game, nothing more and nothing less. Given that nearly every major item is either free, near-free, easy to find, or has a free substitute, there’s no real push to be tight over your fundage.

    In Majora, this is less the case since you need to buy a Powder Keg and two sword upgrades just to get a sword that’s worth keeping (anyone who keeps the Razor Sword is a fool). There’s Chateau Romani that’s worth it, and the need to restock bombs and arrows after you Song of Time (not necessary, but to each his or her own). The bank does get around the Wallet-Monster problem (provided you’re religious about making sure you make a last visit there). So Majora isn’t bad, but the Wallet-Monster still chafes me unnecessarily. ;)

    The only thing you needed the biggest wallet for was the all night mask.

    And you need all of the masks if you want to get the Fierce Deity’s Mask.

    ahh… the Fierce Deity’s Mask… always wanted that thing. i got a feel for it on my brother’s file and ever since then, i’ve been trying to get it. Bu i never could for two reasons: A) i could never figure out how to get the Couple’s Mask–you know, the one where you have to switch between Link and Kafei. i hate that! And B) big giant wallet! Could never remember how to get it! Grr!

    (not when he was demanding payment for door repair—ahem, what door? I burned a BUSH to get in.).

    The door was under the bush. You burnt it. You vandal you.

    Anyway, I hate this about the newer Zelda games. *hits the wallet monster with a big stick*

    I want the 9999 Rupee Wallet from LTTP back, lol.

    BTW maybe in future games Old Shigsy could design it so that when you open a Rupee Chest and your Wallet is full a “Text Box” could say- “My Wallet is full i’ll come back for this later” and close again, just a thought.

    The LttP (GBA version at least) wallet only held 999. BTW the Fierce Deity’s Mask is worth the trouble.

    Robert-UK said:

    I want the 9999 Rupee Wallet from LTTP back, lol.

    Join the club.

    This issue has bothered me since the 3rd grade and started playing OoT- I could never understand why , even though I had gotten 1 rupee, my wallet always stayed at 99. Then I figured out what upgrades were, and I thought that my rupee level would be unlimited. Darn it, it never was.

    DAMN typo I meant to write 999 Rupee Wallet and NOT 9999, lol.

    BTW the 999 Rupee Wallet just feels like it should be a part of all Zelda games to me, 500 Rupees just dosent do it for me.

    Don’t forget Four Swords with its bottomless wallet! Really, for those of you who actually played this game and got the three Hero’s Keys, do you remember your final Rupee count after you went through the stages behind the big door in Vaati’s Palace? My friend and I got a total around 12000, if I remember correctly. Reason is we make sure each of us is at full health before going for the big cash, and then grabbing black Rupees in Rupee Fever. Strange, that music sounds just like the music when Mario gets a Super Star. Any of you notice this? Anyways, I see your point. You would expect the wallet to hold a certain number of Rupees, regardless of their value. Heh heh, think of how much you’d have if you filled your wallet with 5000 red Rupees in Wind Waker. That’s enough to cause permanent Rupee Fever.

    I agree with Robert, they should have rupee holding….too the extreme. OOOO no problems there, right? And maybe when your first starting out, you can start out with the hold of 500 rupees max. And the rupees should go up to 50000, (hey!! rupees come fast).
    Something like that BETTER be in TP. And I SHOULD NEVER get bored on that game, EVER!!! It should be very…um money wise,yes?

    OOO too bad in FSA u cant even get any rupees. Now i got a kick out of that. U should of saw me looking at the game funny!! lol.

    I thought I hated Tingle in MM and WW but FSA took at to a whole different level, I want to see Link kill him sooo badly.

    RIGHT ON!!! OOO I LOVE UR THINKING!!!….KILL TINGLE(no just hurt him..ok)…hehehehe

    Oh, wouldn’t it just be GREAT if Link could kill Tingle, get all his rupees, and somehow some magic power to have unlimited rupee holding?! That would SO make my day. I’d figure Tingle would have a lot of money, since he sells maps and such.

    I was just glad he couldnt carry 1000 force gems. It was such an ANNOYING run for force gems. If he cared bout the hero, he would of helped us gather force gems!!!! OOO…hey Robert, you get the light arrows and I’ll get the trash bag and shovel…and we wont tell nobody..meet me at Tingle’s tower!!Muhahahahahaha!!!

    mmmm Amen to that. I’ll get the mob ready. :)

    Right!! You, bring the spears and blades just in case. O aand get all the others out of the tower too!!! I got my mind on everything Tingle stole. And make sure he doesnt get his own game either!!!!

    Sorry Babygurl & bandgeek27 but ive already ransacked Tingle Tower, I threw Tingle and his family… and Knuckle to a pack of hungry Gibdo so they couldnt get in the way and now im sitting pretty on a mountain of Rupees and Treasure Maps XD.

    well, that’s no fun for the rest of the mob! Oh well. As long as Tingle’s gone. :)

    But if Tingle shows up in Twilight Princess, I’m so getting a mob ready.

    Yup how true bandgeek27 I agree 100%.

    BTW its Robert-UK Tower now, hahahar.

    If he shows up in Twilight Princess, I’m gon’a ransack Tingle Tower before you guys [bandgeek27 & Robert-UK] even get the game. MuhHaHaHaHaHaaaaaa.

    He most likely wont have a Tower in that one.

    Ooooh a wise guy. I’ll still ransack what ever the heck he has in the game.

    He’s got ‘em in TWW and FSA (alot in FSA) and soon will be the 50th post award.If you wanna be correct, then solve this with nothin’ but your own brains, it costs the same ammount of money you can get from:
    kid, adult, goron, fairy 1, fairy 2, and cave wallets (hint:OoT, LoZ, TWW)

    One last thing, I use the currency in Force Gems, since you can have an unlimited space, and get anything for 100 FG, plus its all saved in your sword, so you don’t have to carry a 50 lb bag everywhere.

    Hmm I think its 200 Rupees Hyrulian Hero.

    Nope, its 7,054 ruppees (how much it costs) so you will have to wait until your runner up gets it (after this you can get it so more Robert, just be fair) satisfied with your Zoran Attractant?
    I hope so, that stuff really works (on females) but still, its your funeral.Anyways, its worth that m uch (the 54 is extras) ok, so what should we do with the disappearance with extra ruppees, what would be cool is that you can send extras to your bank account (like in pokemon) and when you run out of room, you can’t touch another ruppee, that should be Nintendo’s goal.

    Hehehehe Ruto and Lulu here I come XD.

    T_T I never said this in any other post, but, your a wierdo.Ok, whats 7,054+1=? I’ll let anyone who answers this post to figure that out.

    The answer is 7,054 Rupees and yes I am a weirdo, lol.

    Nope, its 7,055 (R) (maha!) that only works with what I have for the prize, buuuuuuut since there’s no more 50th post award, it will never be released, since it was a bottomless wallet!right now it hase 7,054 (R) in it ^_^ I’ll leave the ruppies here and fill it with force gems :P

    DAMN YOU HH!!!