Navi is one of the biggest sticking points of the otherwise flawless Zelda: Ocarina of Time, so it's encouraging to learn that even Shigeru Miyamoto isn't a fan of the pesky fairy.
His admission comes from a 1999 interview which was originally part of a Japanese strategy guide but has now been translated into English and published online by the fine folks at Shmuplations.com (thanks, Eurogamer).
During the interview, Miyamoto is asked about the game's puzzles, and replies:
I think the way we give hints is still a little too unfriendly. Speaking plainly, I can now confess to you: I think the whole system with Navi giving you advice is the biggest weakpoint of Ocarina of Time. It's incredibly difficult to design a system that gives proper advice, advice that's tailored to the player's situation. To do it right, you'd have to spend the same amount of time as you would developing an entire game, and I was very worried we'd be digging ourselves into a hole, if we pursued perfection there…
If you read Navi's text, she says the same things over and over. I know it makes it sound bad, but we purposely left her at a kind of "stupid" level. I think if we'd tried to make Navi's hints more sophisticated, that "stupidity" would have actually stood out even more. The truth is I wanted to remove the entire system, but that would have been even more unfriendly to players. You can think of Navi as being there for players who stop playing for a month or so, who then pick the game back up and want to remember what they were supposed to do. It's a brazen excuse, I know. (laughs)
Otherwise, we tried to make the hints friendly for players, but I heard many people saying how they couldn't solve them without a strategy guide. When we took a closer look, though, we've found that the sections people need hints for vary from person-to-person. There's no consistency. That can't be helped, though, in a game like Zelda which combines action and puzzle solving.
In the same interview, Miyamoto also says that he's not happy with the sword mechanics in the game:
The sword combat in Ocarina didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, unfortunately. I'm pretty bad at action games myself, so I wanted Ocarina to have a system with depth, something you could steadily improve at the more you played—though it didn't need to be as complex as Tekken, of course. (laughs)
At the same time, however, part of me wanted the action to be easier than Mario 64. There were people who had told us "I couldn't get past the later stages in Mario 64", and I felt we needed to make sure Ocarina could be finished by them, otherwise it wouldn't be a proper Zelda game. About a year into the development, I realized that if we lean too heavily into the sword combat, it will definitely end up being more difficult than Mario 64, so we pulled back and eased into the simpler system we have today.