Ocarina of Time holds a very special place in my heart, and with that, so too does Navi. Though opinions differ on whether she was ultimately an annoyance or a good addition, personally I’ve always viewed her as irreplaceable. While part of this is certainly her portrayal in the game itself, I’ll also be the first to admit that much of it is due to my own life situation at the time Ocarina of Time was released. Call me nostalgically biased, but that’s what this is all about!

Back in 1998, I was going through one of the worst times of my life. Between dealing with my parents’ separation, getting diabetes, and experiencing a separate but traumatic family event, I felt very alone. The world around me felt like it was burning, and I didn’t know where to turn. Then, a little game called Ocarina of Time came out. I still remember playing the demo version in a Good Guys, just running around Kokiri Forest and escaping into that fantastical world. A short time later, I finally got my hands on a Nintendo 64 and the full copy of the game through some skillful persuasion and a little pleading to my babysitter at the time. Of course, this didn’t go over well with my mom, but let’s be real, the important thing is that it was finally mine and it was like opening a door into Narnia.

I found myself connecting with Link on a deeper level. He was a kid who’s nightmares involved a world on fire; a kid who, for the most part, just wanted to experience life with all its wonders — without the terror. Then came Navi. A small fairy burdened with glorious purpose (yeah, I said it) by the Great Deku Tree to lead Link, and by extension me, to our destiny. Her hyperness, the bouncing around to wake Link up, and her sense of urgency yet kindness made me feel hopeful.

The foray into the depths of the Great Deku Tree helped solidify our growing friendship. Unfamiliar with the curse that was rotting it away, I began to rely on Navi to show me what was what. Her eagerness to help, even if it was at first only on the Great Deku Tree’s orders, was welcome. Navigating through my life on my own without knowing how to ask for help, especially with what I needed help for, kept me locked down. Continuously spiraling downward as if I was circling a drain. But in the game, slowly but surely, Navi showed me how.

As our adventure continued, I began to realize more and more that, no matter how scary or depressing things got, there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if it was just a small bouncing fairy telling me to watch out. I found that the very things that made her annoying to some were comforting to me. She was always letting me know about the world — what was happening, who was important — and she was even reminding me why I was fighting and what I was fighting for. A constant reminder that I was not alone and that even when the world seemed like it was ending, I could change the outcome.

This all came to a head during the final fight with Ganondorf. Throughout the game, I had become used to that feeling of companionship and camaraderie. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to not have her help. But all of a sudden, it was me and Ganondorf in a one on one fight, with Navi overpowered by his sheer evil, his warlock magic, and the Triforce of Power. In that moment I saw myself and recognized how I was at the start of the game: afraid to move forward because the world seemed too strong in its ability to beat me down.

Throughout the fight, I came to understand how much I had grown in skill as a player, yes, but more importantly how much I had grown as a person. My worth wasn’t determined by what was thrown at me, but rather how I picked myself up, how I trusted in myself and my friends to see through the darkness. When Ganon transformed into a monster, I was no longer afraid. I saw Navi shake off her own fright and, once again, I was reminded of my own journey through her. Ganon soon fell, and through it all, we had survived.

Navi. A constant source of compassion. My guiding light.

Taylor Wells is an Senior Editor at Zelda Dungeon. Want to discuss his love for Navi? Vent your annoyances about her character? Feel free to hit him up on TwitterTwitch, or in the comments below!

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