It’s time to grab your Colossal Wallet as we check out Rupee Zelda facts – 20 Things You Never Knew About Hyrule’s Currency!
For as long as there have been Zelda games, there have been Rupees.
The land of Hyrule’s currency first appeared in The Legend of Zelda on the NES in 1986, allowing main character Link to purchase items and to trade for information or pay to gain access to new areas.
Though this shiny, sparkling money has been around for over 35 years, there’s plenty of things you may not know about the gems that form the backbone of Hyrule’s economy.
Come with us as we give you numerous Rupee Zelda facts. It’s time to cover 20 Things You Never Knew About Hyrule’s Currency!
1. Rupees Made Their Debut In a Non-Zelda Game
Technically, the first appearance of Rupees came in 1984 arcade/NES game Clu Clu Land. It has subsequently been ported to numerous other consoles – though they’re not named as such.
That’s right: the Gold Bars in Clu Clu Land are the exact same sprite design as Rupees. They didn’t appear in The Legend of Zelda until two years later!
2. Rupees Weren’t Always Called Rupees
This Rupee Zelda fact is going to blow your gem-collecting mind.
NES manuals often featured non-canonical ‘facts’ about the games they were supposed to be instructing players on.
One of the funniest is the Metroid manual, which repeatedly refers to female protagonist Samus Aran as ‘he’.
Along similar lines, Rupees were referred to as ‘Rubies’ in The Legend of Zelda’s game manual.
To cause further confusion, they were called ‘Rupies’ in the 1986 NES title, with the singular being ‘Rupy’.
Despite their issues with canonical information, you’ll find both Metroid and The Legend of Zelda placed very highly on our best NES games list.
3. Rupees Are An Actual, Real World Currency
Yes, Rupees are real currency in India. though of course, they aren’t the shiny, colourful gems you will find in the Zelda games!
Indian Rupees are simply notes and coins, much the same as any other currency.
4. Rupees Are One Of The Oldest Currencies in the World
Indian Rupees, that is!
Initially called rūpyarūpa, which were silver coins, they were used as early as the 3rd Century BCE.
Interestingly, these ancient coins are hexagonal in shape, just like the Rupees in Zelda!
5. Zelda’s Rupees Weren’t Named After Indian Rupees
You’d think that the video game currency of Rupees were simply named after Indian Rupees. especially when you discover the similarity in shape when it comes to the ancient version of the currency.
Yet that’s not the case, at least according to a 2016 interview – no longer live, but accessible via the Internet Archive – with The Legend of Zelda’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto.
When asked directly if the name came from the Indian Rupee, Miyamoto answered “I didn’t really have India in mind when I named it. It’s just a cute sound, don’t you think?”
He also goes on to make a further comparison to rubies, given the shiny nature of the Zelda Rupee currency!
6. Rupees Haven’t Appeared in Every Zelda Game
Though they did of course appear in the very first The Legend of Zelda game, Rupees didn’t make a comeback at all in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
Instead, in Zelda II, Link simply talks to non player characters or performs tasks in order to gain items or progress.
7. Rupees Aren’t Mentioned At All In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Strangely, there’s no mention of Rupees at all in the second Zelda game.
Of course, as a mostly side-scrolling adventure – with the overhead view in action only between towns and enemy encounters – Zelda II is known for being radically different from any other game in the series in many other aspects too.
There’s also no mention of Rupees in the Game & Watch version of Zelda (which you’ll find on our best Game and Watch games list).
But given the limited nature of that particular device I think we can forgive that omission!
8. Rupees Aren’t Always Just Used As Currency
Those early Zelda games hadn’t quite settled into the familiar tropes and lore that we now take for granted of course.
But it’s not just Zelda II that’s an outlier.
For example, in the very first Zelda game – which establishes many of the mechanics that became standard (discounting the radical shift of Zelda II of course) – Rupees are currency…
But also they’re ammo for your bow too!
That’s right – every time you fire an arrow in The Legend of Zelda, a Rupee is used!
9. Rupees Aren’t Worth Much In The Real World
How do we know this?
Well, interestingly, Barbara Davidson of NetCredit analysed the value of various video game currencies when putting together The Video Game Character Rich List.
Davidson used the in-game example of a Boomerang costing 300 Rupees to estimate the US dollar value of Zelda’s currency, with this leading to a $0.096 value per Rupee.
10. Rupees Can Be Found Everywhere In Hyrule
In grass, under rocks, and in pots (that you’ll cheekily smash in the houses of other citizens at times, right in front of them!).
They are even carried by the dangerous wildlife in Hyrule.
These are just some of the places you’ll be able to find Rupees, as you make your way through the many adventures that Link has in The Legend of Zelda games.
Perhaps that explains why each Rupee is so low in value. it’s not as if they’re hard to come by in Hyrule, is it?
11. There’s a Rupee Type That Has A Negative Value
Yep, though we now know the real world value of Rupees, some are worth even less than that.
In fact, if you find a Black Rupee – known as a Rupoor – it’ll deduct Rupees from your current stash altogether!
Debuting in brilliant GBA multiplayer Zelda title The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, Rupoors are sometimes found just hanging around in grass and under rocks, just like regular Rupees.
Rupoors next appeared in DS title The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass – in denominations of -10 or -50!
Rupoors also make their presence known in Skyward Sword. Thankfully they’re nowhere to be found in Breath of the Wild.
With your weapons breaking all over the place, the last thing you need is more punishment from that game!
12. Rupee Values Are Determined By Colour
Everyone knows that Green Rupees are worth 1 Rupee and Blue Rupees are worth 5.
These are so familiar – in part – because they were the very first Rupee types going way back to the very first Zelda game.
In the first 16-bit Zelda title, Red Rupees were introduced for the very first time – and these are worth 20 Rupees each.
Later games introduced even more denominations of Rupee – with Purple (50), Orange (200) and Gold (300), amongst other variations!
13. We Lied, Rupee Values Aren’t Always Determined By Colour
That’s because the original Zelda: Link’s Awakening was of course on the Game Boy, which doesn’t have a colour screen!
Instead, the only Rupees you’ll find in the wild of the game’s Koholint Island setting are worth one Rupee each.
There are Rupees worth more than thi, for example, if found in treasure chests.
But the value is displayed using numerical digits, rather than a different shade of colour than the one Rupee gems!
In some games, such as Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks (just as a few examples, which of course feature on our all Legend of Zelda games in order list!), Rupee value can be determined by size too.
In both of those games, a single Big Green Rupee is worth 100 Rupees, but other coloured Rupees are available in Big variants too – with larger values to their standard sized counterparts!
14. Green Rupees Are Always Worth One Rupee Though, Right?
Actually, we may have misled you a bit there too, sorry.
That pesky outlier Link’s Awakening strikes again. When it came to the Game Boy Color in enhanced form as Link’s Awakening DX, Nintendo changed the value of Blue Rupees to 1 and Green Rupees became worth 5.
Red Rupees held their value at 20!
Perhaps this can be explained by the (spoiler alert!) dream-world setting of the game?
15. Koholint Island Can’t Decide Upon the Value of Rupees!
Or perhaps not – as the Switch remake of Link’s Awakening restores normality, with Green Rupees worth 1 Rupee each, Blue valued at 5 and Red at 20.
The Switch version also adds in Purple Rupees at 50, Silver Rupees at 100 and Gold Rupees worth 300 Rupees each!
Naturally, you’ll find Link’s Awakening in our best Zelda games on Nintendo Switch list too.
16. Rupees Are Everywhere – But So Are Thieves
Despite the fact that Rupees can be found in tall grass, under rocks and just about any other environment in Hyrule, in many Zelda games, there are non-player characters whose primary job is to steal Link’s precious Rupees, rather than just finding their own.
Characters such as Pikits in A Link to the Past also steal other items from Link, but Rupee Wraiths – which first appeared in Four Swords – will pursue Link just for his Rupees!
17. Be Careful – That Rupee Might Not Be A Rupee!
Originally appearing in Four Swords, Rupee Likes are creatures that disguise themselves as Rupees in order to lure in unsuspecting adventurers.
Rupee Likes have Rupees on their stalks, with the colour determining how many Rupees they steal from poor Link if they catch him!
When caught by a Rupee Like, Link will keep losing Rupees until he’s able to free himself or he runs out of Rupees entirely.
Even if Link has no Rupees, the greedy Rupee Likes will still pursue him!
18. Rupees Can Make You Go Faster!
Only in Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe though.
Replacing the iconic Mario coins on the Hyrule Circuit track, Rupees perform the same function as coins and increase a player’s kart speed by 1% when collected.
As with coins, the maximum speed bonus is 10%, which of course happens after 10 are collected.
When picked up, Rupees make their own sound effect too, rather than the sound of Mario’s coins!
If you’re a Mario Kart fan, why not take a look at our best Nintendo Switch Steering Wheel list?
19. Rupees Appear In Other Non-Zelda Games Too
We’ve already mentioned the pseudo-Rupee Gold Bars in Clu Clu Land and the actual Rupees in Mario Kart 8, but other games feature Rupees too!
A Green Rupee appears as a sticker in Super Smash Bros Brawl, for example.
Rupees also appear in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. if a player opens another Villager’s storage unit, they can find 100 Rupees!
Unfortunately, they’re not legal currency in Animal Crossing, where Bells are used as cash.
The Big Bad of Zelda, Ganon, also appears in a very Hyrule-esque home (as you can see from the above screenshot!).
In the Welcome Amiibo update to Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Rupees can be found as a furniture item.
When a player walks over a Rupee, it disappears, making the familiar Rupee sound – and reappears again a few seconds later!
20. Who Makes All of These Rupees Anyway?
Given that Rupees can be found just about anywhere in Hyrule – and sometimes beyond – it has often made us curious types at Retro Dodo wonder: where do Rupees come from?
The strange answer may have been given in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, thanks to creatures called Blupees.
Blupees are magical, bio-luminescent creatures who look somewhat like a hybrid of an owl and a rabbit.
Link can’t kill Blupees, but if they’re shot or otherwise hit with a weapon or explosion, they drop Rupees.
A Korok character named Peeks even speculates at one point that Blupees sparkle because they’re full of Rupees
He even wonders, “Where do they get all those Rupees anyway? Do they make all the Rupees in the world?”
Though of course it’s not confirmed that Blupees are the source of Hyrule’s Rupee economy, it’s as good a Zelda Rupee related answer as we’ve ever had.
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.