Posted on August 08 2022 by Kora Burton
Most Zelda fans have had gripes about the inclusion of certain companion characters in the series at one point or another. Navi’s “Hey! Listen!” heard one too many times in Ocarina of Time can be grating and distracting. Skyward Sword‘s Fi is a downright divisive character, with players often either loving her and her cool design as the spirit of the Master Sword, or hating her and her penchant for frequent interruptions and obvious information dumps. Other companions in the series are more universally beloved, such as Twilight Princess’ Midna and The Minish Cap’s Ezlo. But what if companions in the Zelda series have become a thing of the past?
In his recent video “Is Zelda Better Without Companions?“, Razbuten examines how intertwined companions really are with Zelda‘s DNA, and whether moving away from companions as a go-to part of the Zelda formula is good for the series. Razbuten begins his exploration by pointing out that as entries in the series move toward greater freedom for the player through non-linear storytelling and more open design, newer Zelda games like A Link Between Worlds and Breath of the Wild shift away from the companion model. This then causes him to ask about the companions:
“Were they a useful addition to the series? Did they succeed in what they set out to do? Should they be in future Zelda titles? […] In what ways did they impact the series the most?”
Throughout the video, Razbuten analyzes in depth what works (and what doesn’t) about Zelda companions as gameplay and narrative devices in Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, The Wind Waker, The Minish Cap, Twilight Princess, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, and of course, Skyward Sword. Along the way, he compares different companions’ development throughout their stories, and discusses how they better inform a character like Link, who often experiences little personal character development. Razbuten even explores whether Breath of the Wild should have had a companion, given the impact Zelda companions have had in past games.
Razbuten is a video essayist and content creator who makes videos on games and popular media. Razbuten’s videos are accessible to both gaming and non-gaming audiences, particularly through his video series “Gaming For a Non-Gamer.” Razbuten has produced both Zelda-focused videos like “What Breath of the Wild is Like For Someone Who Doesn’t Play Games” and “The Only Zelda Game Without A Hero,” and general gaming content like “The Structure of Open-World Games is Weird” and “The Pain of Waiting for Games.” If you’d like to see more of Razbuten, you can check out his YouTube channel, Twitter, and Patreon.
If you want to know his answer as to whether Zelda games would be better off without companions in the future, you’ll just have to go watch Razbuten’s video to find out!
What do you think about “Is Zelda Better Without Companions?” Does this exploration resonate with you? What do you think of Zelda‘s companion formula? Make sure to give Razbuten a watch, and let us know what you think down below!
Location: Athens, Georgia, USA
Favorite Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Date Joined: March 2022
“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”