Second Banana

Second Banana
Hey, Listen, I Like Navi

Brendan Main | 24 Aug 2010 13:44
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Taken separately, this is all solid advice - after all, it's almost impossible to muster the effort for a day's worth of heroics if you've forgotten the sandwiches. But where most sidekicks serve as stepping stools, assuring the protagonist's endless aptitude and worthiness, Navi's presence suggests the opposite. It's a humbling, slightly embarrassing reminder that it's a big, scary world out there, one for which we might not have all the answers. It's the kind of place that you'll need to face not on your lonesome, but with a little help from your friends.

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I would say that Navi is like that little voice in your ear that keeps you on the straight and narrow, but that's not quite right - that's not like what she is, that is literally, exactly, 100% what she is. She's the external conscience that you can't ignore ... and if that's something you can't handle, then that speaks more about you than it does about her. What kind of a person ignores their own conscience?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that you're wrong for disliking Navi. I'm saying that you're a bad person and should be ashamed.

Though she gets a bad rap for her constant advice, in my mind it's precisely that constancy that redeems her, serving as her greatest asset, and the central characteristic of her role. For all its size and scale, the world of Ocarina of Time is a surprisingly lonesome place, separated by wide empty expanses, populated only by ghosts and monsters. What little friendly life there is in Hyrule comes and goes - in the beginning of the game, the noble patriarch of Link's village intones that evil is afoot, and then passes away from his injuries. Princess Zelda herself is kidnapped on horseback, and later entombed within a crystal. After a trip through time, a once-lively castle town has turned into a haunted ruin, populated only by strangely-oaken zombies. Bad turns to worse. Worse turns to Water Temple.

But where everyone else in Ocarina's cast of dozens comes and goes, disappearing into time or getting snatched away, Navi is there through it all, right by your side. Somehow, that means more to me then the annoying voice, the nagging, the same six words shrieked over and over in my ear. If you can look past all that, Navi is a character that sticks by your side through thick and thin - and, really, could anyone ask for a better companion than that? In a game so vast - and at times, so unrelentingly bleak in theme and tone - I felt glad to have Navi with me, as a speck of light against the darkness.

Brendan Main hails from the frosty reaches of Canada, so he knows a little something about places so vast, and unrelentingly bleak in theme and tone. He is a bad person, and should be ashamed.

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