Posted on September 10 2017 by Michael Deitz
(The art shown above is by Dargonite from DeviantArt)
In this modern era of gaming, it seems game developers don’t think of players as smart, problem solving people. Many games include lengthy tutorials and constant handholding via hints and simple “puzzles”. One of the worst offenders since 1998 has been the Legend of Zelda series, whose use of the companion named Navi sparked the idea within Nintendo that your average player needs a line leader to constantly help you along your epic quest. Originally, Navi explained an in-game use of the new Z-targeting system, but she eventually became an annoyance and meme amongst the Zelda community. The next games would continue those trends, Majora’s Mask had Tatl, Minish Cap had Ezlo, Twilight Princess Midna, and the biggest offender of all, Skyward Sword’s Fi. These companion characters began to evolve from only existing to help flesh out Link/the story to solving puzzles for you and constantly stopping gameplay to comment on the most inane thing. WE KNOW THAT OUR BATTERIES ARE LOW FI, NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS!
Imagine everyone’s surprise when the most recent game, Breath of the Wild, was the first Zelda game in years to not have a companion. It seems that Nintendo realized that the infamous handholding would actually hinder the experience of exploring this new Hyrule. Once again everything depended on the player: what to do, how to solve puzzles, where to go. The closest the game gets to this idea of a companion are the phantom Champions you must save from the Divine Beasts and their constant reminders of how many terminals you have left to find.
So the question becomes with this new “open-air” style of game design seemingly becoming the norm of the series, should the next Zelda game have a companion? For all their annoyances, Fi and Navi provided a surprisingly strong emotional resonance within their respective games. Navi flying away in the Temple of Time and Fi’s self-inflicted slumber within the Master Sword will nearly and unquestionably bring a tear to any fan’s eye. Midna remains one of the better helpers and, with her extremely strong characterization and story presence, a large reason people enjoy Twilight Princess.
Should the next game have someone to actually journey with Link along his adventure, possibly adding a depth not possible for our mute alone? Or have the recent companions and handholding of modern games turned you off of any sort of secondary character? Sound off in the comments below and recommend some of your own ideas as well!