Ahead of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s debut, Nintendo began hyping up certain characters. Among them was a Rito I barely remembered. “Tulin? Who’s he?” I thought to myself as I prepared to do typical coverage leading up to launch. He seemed fine enough as a character. Of course we’d need a Rito representative alongside people like Riju, Sidon, and Yunabo. Now that I’ve played the game though, I not only better appreciate Tulin as a The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom character, but I’ve found he’s probably my favorite ally.
I’m not going to deny that a big part of my love for Tulin comes from just how cute the character is in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The character’s design in Breath of the Wild was fine, but he looked like any of the other Rito chicks really. They’re all generally adorable, though their designs can blend together a bit with mainly colors, outfits, and personalities defining him. But now that he’s grown up a bit, Tulin’s character design really excels. There’s still some of that fledgling element to him, with the tufts of feather fluff on his head. He’s still really diminutive, adding to his charm. However, he stands out far more than he ever did as a chick, and there’s more of his personality coming through in his clothing and general aesthetic.
That personality though is really part of what helps Tulin stand out not only among the Rito, but other The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom characters. He’s just so determined and earnest. He is going to find a way to help everyone in his village. His skills are strong enough to handle monsters alone. He won’t just take people’s word that something is true and wants to investigate for himself. There’s the arrogance of youth there, but still the innocence too. Especially since he’s willing to admit when he’s wrong and learn from his mistakes. He genuinely does feel like this teenager who can do it all and is maybe getting a bit rebellious, but still possesses this childlike enthusiasm.
There’s also the fact that Tulin is a great little buddy due to how practical the Rito’s ability is. All of the Sages have a skill they can use while accompanying Link. Its ability applies in and out of battle. Tulin creates a brief gust of wind. It’s fantastic for exploration purposes, especially early on, because it means what stamina you have goes further, the distance you can travel is greater, and offers a better sense of direction toward an objective. I also appreciate its efforts in-battle too. See, my hand-eye coordination isn’t the best. I can get by in rhythm games just fine, but in platformers or more intense action games, I can get flustered. Especially if it involves carefully aiming. That burst of air that pushes back opponents almost always buys me just enough time to do what I needed to, which means my encounters go much better now that he’s around.
But honestly, I’m pretty impressed with little Tulin’s general combat abilities in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom too. Using the bow to attack in the game is pretty great, as a precise shot in a certain place can stun an enemy for a second. I noticed when I’d play that he’s pretty good at getting those hits that throw an opponent off-guard for a second. Which not only benefits him of course, since it means he can follow-up with attacks, but makes my life a lot easier. He does miss sometimes. Nobody’s perfect! He’s still a child! (Besides, I’d wager his aim is still better than mine when in similar situations.)
We’ve gotten to see Tulin grow over the course of both The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, and this structure is both to the story’s benefit and our own. We watched this NPC, someone who could have been a throwaway character, grow up into a hero in his own right. We’ve seen his character design change from a chick to a young adult, with changes that signify him growing up and his personality. We’re watching him at an important stage of his life in terms of his development. Plus, we’re getting an ally who can really help both while we’re making our way around Hyrule and dealing with Ganondorf’s hordes. He’s just generally so very good.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is available for the Nintendo Switch.