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.
Despite Navi being a constant annoyance, Ocarina of Time is considered to be one of the best video games ever made, and certainly one of the best in the Zelda series.
[source shmuplations.com, via eurogamer.net]
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What’s not to like?
You can tell they thought about this for the 3DS remakes though, by putting that pesky gossip stone right next to where you start the game, which when checked will tell you in detail how to beat every part of the game.
Skyward Sword had this same system too, but Skyward Sword HD got rid of it entirely, along with the mandatory introduction it had.
I feel like they fixed this with Tatl.
She had way more of a personality
It's not all that bad!
I never had an issue with Navi, (likely because I didn't get stuck very often so her forced interrupts were just tutorial prompts) and I did think Tatl was a bit of a jerk so YMMV with these sorts of things. I can see how that had to be difficult to design, though. Link is a flat character and Navi is just there to function as an in game manual and help stuck players. Hard to find the balance for that. Also some people are easily annoyed/ have short tempers so that doesn't help.
Wow, that's a bold and unexpected thing for him to say. If he had this attitude and was vocal about it over 10 years before Skyward Sword, it really makes you wonder how Fi even happened, who is infinitely worse. What went wrong?
I never found Navi annoying, in fact I would frequently forget she was there. Tatl was fun, King of Red Lions was interesting and Midna was the BEST. It wasn't until Fi that I actually got annoyed by the companion character.
@Not_Soos Nothing. Hidamaro Fujibayashi directed Skyward Sword and Eiji Aonuma produced Skyward Sword. Miyamoto-dono wasn't really involved as he'd passed Zelda onto Aonuma-san by then. It's only when a project is going really poorly that Miyamoto flips the tea table by then.
“Hey, Listen!” I heard that in my nightmares.
i mean, Navi is kinda iconic and i really cannot imagine the game without here. it would be like removing something essential.
Sorry but she was not as annoying as Kaepora Gaebora (that bloody Owl) especially when you select "Yes I want to hear that again"
I’m glad Miyamoto is “on the right side of history” with this one, and you can see the roots of the better compromise — the Super Guide — in his thinking about Navi.
Personally I preferred when tutorials were called “instruction manuals”, but even still they should be smarter, more contextual, and able to read the player’s skill level. The mantra should be to be as unobtrusive as possible.
Nothing is more obnoxious than (for example) going to jump over the first obstacle and have the game screech to a halt and pop menus that say ‘press B to jump’, or having tutorials pop well into the late game.
Just today playing Ring Fit it plastered a third of the screen with tutorials for the basic movements on the courses... minutes after congratulating me for a 7-day streak! How obnoxious!
Navi was a mistake.
Navi felt like she was just following the Deku tree's order but will secretly resenting you and be annoying. While Tatl was depending on you to save their brother, I definitely liked Tatl more.
Hopefully the rejection of an obnoxious hint character leads to a more balanced gameplay experience. I would say that the only Nintendo game I’ve played in the last decade with a good hint character is Olivia from Origami King, and maybe Huey from Color Splash. Being obnoxious with a hint system makes me not like the character in general and ruins the non-hint storytelling that the game tries to display in that specific character. Thankfully, it appears their taking a step towards actual difficulty in games recently with Metroid and Pokemon: Legends Arceus, so maybe this could be the dawn of a new Nintendo.
Navi never bothered me. I really bought into the fantasy of her being a companion on my adventure so I didn't mind talking to her occasionally and I was pretty aggressive using C-up to get info on every new enemy I encountered. Sure, I knew how to kill a fire keese already but I wanted to see what she had to say about the little critter. When Link goes looking for her in MM, I feel that.
Tatl was a good callback to Navi and I enjoyed her character arch over the game. She starts out annoying but I love how she comes to respect you as a veteran hero.
I felt nothing for the boat, Midna was too abusive for me adult tastes, and I felt less than nothing for Fi. Actually, I hated almost all of her dialog because her "calculations" are so obvious. "There's a 83% chance there's a boss on the other side of this boss door" like, no lady, there's a 100% chance of it cause it's a boss door. They tried to write her like C-3PO but completely missed. I do like her design and her grace and she's my favorite character to fight with in Hyrule Warriors.
I guess we're all just waiting for Cortana?
I didn't mind Navi at all. I personally felt it made Link's journey less lonely, especially during those creepy graveyard/underground sections or puzzling water temple sections. Now Fi on the other hand can go straight to hell.
Navi isn't half as annoying as Fi.
Sounds like I'm of the same opinion as everyone else - Navi's absolutely fine, just indicitave of the era.
Finally! Miyamoto said something I can agree with!
I... don't really mind Navi. Having replayed Ocarina of Time twice in the past month, the only things that really stick out to me as "flaws" are: unskippable text boxes (quite frankly, my main complaint) and a couple of "is this even a puzzle tho" rooms that should've been cut. And I guess the camera isn't modern, but it (mostly) works in the context of Ocarina of Time. Oh, and Hyrule Field is clearly designed around riding Epona and hunting for Big Poes, because it's a drag otherwise. Navi, though? We're cool.
Honestly I never had any problem with Navi at all. It only ever felt intrusive when she would stop the game to talk to you, but they "Hey listen" would pop up into a conversation only if you pressed the buttom.
Fi is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more annoying, she stops the game all the time to reveal the puzzle solution before you even try
Navi was with us from beginning to end. Navi is a good friend.
One of my favorite gaming memories is Tatl asking if you've done this before. Why yes, Tatl, yes I have. 😎Navi never bugged me that much... I've always liked the idea of Link having an adventure companion, I think it's a very sound concept.
Just so long as it's not Fi. 😑
I think the hatred for Navi is so overblown and overdone. She's really not that annoying and never actually interrupted gameplay like Fi did in Skyward Sword.
I replayed OoT a couple months ago and the only time Navi "interrupted" gameplay was Inside the Great Deku Tree, the first dungeon, which I think is completely understandable
@Ryu_Niiyama He was front-and-center, though, to demonstrate the Wii Motion Plus controls, which I imagine was something he was very passionate about and adamant to put into the game. So I find it hard to believe he was too hands-off with Skyward Sword's development.
Never thought that highly of Ocarina of Time myself, always considered it a weaker, 3D take on Link to the Past. And with age, it's only gotten worse and worse.
The 3DS version was a nice improvement, to be sure, but the original hasn't aged well at all.
Navi herself was okay, annoying at times but not terrible. Not Fi bad.
Makes sense. Miyamoto is a game design pioneer, so heavy handed design like this doesn't fit his own principles for how a game should be self explanatory to an extent. However it was the early days of 3D and companies were still trying to figure out what's best.
I...I liked Navi. From the moment she misjudged the fence and bumped in to it, I was happy to have her as a companion for the adventure.
Never understood why most people gave Navi a pass but Fi the rope. They are both annoying guides. Maybe nostalgia for OoT that is pretty common occurrence?
It's dangerous to go alone...I wish Breath of the Wild had a fairy companion.
Disappointed to hear that they made the combat easier. I think the battles in OOT had so much unused potential.
A long while back I worked in a call center for a major cell phone company. They were all excited about this new voice-activated phone tree they'd developed that would respond to voice commands. (Common today, but cutting-edge at the time.) In their excitement, they gave it an avatar and named it Claire (Short for "Clarity!"). She would pretend to be a real person and guide people through the phone tree.
Customers HATED Claire. We were drowning in complaints from people who just couldn't stand her. They finally satisfied those customers by making a simple change. They took away the name, and just had it be a voice-activated phone tree. Suddenly customers loved it!
The moral of the story: People hate it when you try to give your automated help systems a face.
I've always thought the whole Navi thing was overblown. Navi is fine. And she pretty much just sits there and waits for you to press C-up most of the time anyway.
It's also pretty interesting that Miyamoto said this at around 1999... Seeing as Nintendo quadrupled-down on the whole concept with Tatl, Midna, and Fi. Until BOTW, it was only Wind Waker which didn't have a direct analog to Navi... Although they came close with the King of Red Lions.
"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)"
And then there is Minish Cap, where the US version forced the player to listen to its "Navi" every time they loaded their save file.
You know, JUST IN CASE players forget there's a button to ask for a hint!
I played thru ocarina when i was around 10-12 years old... I liked having a guide or a buddy in games back then so I didnt feel alone exploring a world by myself, even thou she was annoying I was happy she was there .. and dang! More complex sword mechanics that would of been amazing! I personally like wind waker much more because the combat has more to it
Damn was FI that bad? I hated hearing navi but people are saying she is saint compared to FI?
Pretty thoughtful take from Miyamoto, especially about how there's no consistency in where people get stuck. It's tough to design a hint system that works for all possible players.
Online guides might be a necessary evil for some puzzle games. Even though they take you out of the experience and the online environment for them keeps getting worse and worse with all the ads, link trees and fandom.com wikis.
Navi’s not bad, she was certainly quite useful on the first play through back in the day. It would have been nice to be able to turn her off for subsequent games though. There is a ROM hack for that now, along with a way to skip the owl too! 😂
@GrailUK Wasn't that the most endearing intro ever?!
@Ryu_Niiyama I know right!
I think Navi must have been Koizumi's and/or Aonuma's idea.
You can sort of tell because when Koizumi took over directing 3D Mario. Mario immediately got his own companions in F.L.U.D.D and then Luma, where Miyamoto's(64) didn't . Then when 3D Mario got its newer directors Hayashida's (3Dland/World) didn't and then Motokura's did (Odyssey).
I'd always wonder what a 2nd 3D Mario or Zelda directed by Miyamoto would have looked like because I think his style of game design was quite distinct from the guys that took over.
Seems like the context of this article implying him "hating" Navi as a character is being misconstrued for his "distaste" in the objectivity of spoon-feeding players with repetitive messages on how to overcome obstacles. From what I'm interpreting it comes off as being incessantly insistent that the player "gets the memo" on how to progress in the game, which doesn't have so much to do with Navi, as it is more so that it was an objective necessity for the player's convenience of understanding how to make progress in the game to the point where it comes off as being stupidly intrusive. He even states that people who didn't understand how to overcome certain barriers varied from individuals and so they needed a system to leverage advice painstakingly clear. Navi functionally was just simply the mouthpiece of the system Miyamoto hated, not that he hated the character Navi herself.
I never found Navi annoying. She was a good companion, but yeah, orientation for 3D games can be a pain in the ass for developers.
@Browny It's okay to have trash taste. It is not a crime.
Coincidentally I started playing it a month ago on Switch and haven't touched it since so Navi will come in handy when I pick it back up
I didn’t play the original but in 3D I barely noticed her.
You just mash b in both of them and mix in the occasional jump slash. They have the exact same combat.
@TommyTendo I feel that Twilight Princess did it best.
@Arawn93 I think mostly the difference is that you can straight up ignore Navi if you don't want to listen to her, while Fi is much more non-skippable (at least in the original version, they remedied that pretty well in the Switch version).
I think people wouldn't even mind Navi's hints being "stupid" if the sound they picked for her alerting you to them was less intrusive, nobody complains about Tael in Majora's Mask despite it being essentially the same system, but they replaced "HEY!" and "LISTEN!" with a tinkling sound, so you don't feel like somebody's yelling at you the whole time.
@TommyTendo God knows they definitely fixed it with Midna. She had plenty of personality, character growth, and more gameplay elements than any sidekick up until that point.
And her true form at the end of the game is absolutely stunning. I have a statue of her true form from First4Figures, the best one they offered, I love her that much.
But then they broke it again with Fi.
Don't get me wrong, I really wanted to love Fi. My phone background was even her for a time, before Skyward Sword released.
But she was just as annoying as Navi was, especially when you were running low on hearts. Like the beeping heart meter didn't tell me that several heart containers ago.
@TommyTendo I disagree, but to each their own!
As for all the Navi hate: I don't get it. She never really, truly ever annoyed or bothered me. She just gets such a bad rap for no reason other than people screeching about the infamous "Hey! Listen!" nonsense that wasn't even overused. ;-;
I love navi.... she is fantastic and a big childhood memory
Navi never bothered me either. This whole thing is an Internet meme that began years after Ocarina of Time was released. In fact, as a kid, I often wished she had more to say when I was stuck.
Playing OoT as a kid, Navi wasn't an issue at all, she was actually quite useful at times. Replaying it on the 3DS, I don't know if they changed her but she didn't seem so bad at all. I feel like it's one of those things that's been exaggerated overtime to seem like something much more than it was, like the difficulty of the Water Temple.
@khululy Yeah, Midna is pretty great.
But I was comparing Tatl to Navi since they are both fairies lol
Navi was fine, Ocarina would be a lesser game without her. Tatl was arguably better and so was Midna and the King of Red Lions. Fi however was too much, although I'm glad the HD remaster of Skyward Sword looks to have improved her
The worst is in Mario games - hey! you died three times. Do you want us to beat this level for you?
@Pak-Man I can relate to that, 100%. I despise help systems that try to mimic human behavior and dialogue. You are not my robot buddy, you're a piece of software that I have to get through so I can talk to a live person who might have an outside chance of actually figuring out what my problem is.
There will come a time when every company can afford AI help systems that will actually be up to the job. Unfortunately, that time is not now, but every single company has to have the talking help system anyway because it saves them some payroll money and makes them seem modern.
(Oddly enough and on topic, I never hated Navi and don't get why so many people do.)
i think navi had problems but overall she was a great character. link should absolutely be running around with a fairy companion, as others have said it gives you a small sense of hope during the darkest, lonliest parts of the game. botw would be better with a fairy. fairy upgrades could even be a thing! honestly i think alot of the slate functions would have been better as fairy magic.
i would definitely make her completely optional though, no forced dialogue at all. Or, let her soeak when she wants (within reason) but not interrupt what im doing in the game to do it. maybe the ability to put her "away" indefinitely.
THANK YOU for reminding me of this whole segment, i played this on christmas morning 1998 and it was almost too much childhood magic. 😆😭
I was never able to complete OoT, I got stuck on the Fire Dungeon? The 4th dungeon in the game. Up to that point, I did like Navi a lot and thought, she felt really great as a companion. I think the only thing she did that was "wrong"/annoying is repetitively saying things that seemed obvious to a lot of players at the time.
If they toned down on that a bit, I don't think she'd be seen as that annoying as the rest of her personality and character was quite nice, in my opinion anyway.
But... but... Kaori Mizuhashi's wonderful voice! Always make the best out of a bad situation!
My issue with Navi was during re-plays.
I don't need to be stopped and told what to do on a second, third, forth...ect play-through!
The first time wasn't too bad, but still annoying.
There should have been a way to "turn her off" once the game sees you've played through once already!
Fi was horrible!
At least she is not as annoying as the entire roster in Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon.
@Arawn93 If you play well enough, Navi is not much of a nuisance, while Fi rarely let you try anything before giving an instruction camouflaged as a hint.
Navi annoying? Sorry pal but that tittle belongs to Fi
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