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Shigeru Miyamoto finds Navi to be the biggest weak point of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

zelda ocarina of time navi

An interview with Shigeru Miyamoto from a 1999 Japanese strategy guide for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has surfaced online, along with an English translation provided by Within the publication, Miyamoto shared some developer insight on the Nintendo 64 action-adventure RPG that would later become a timeless and revolutionary classic.

One of the more interesting pieces of info from the interview comes from Miyamoto’s apparent dislike of Link’s infamous navigator companion Navi, who acted as a tutorial of sorts for the game. Many Zelda fans have voiced their opinions over the years that they find the character to be quite annoying, but it may come as a surprise that the series’ creator actually agrees with this notion.

“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.”

– Shigeru Miyamoto (translation via Shmuplations)

If you’re interested in checking out the full interview for more even more details on the development of Ocarina of Time, including Miyamoto’s thoughts on difficulty implementation, unexplained timeline and story mysteries, how he gave the game a “Zelda vibe” when transitioning the franchise into 3D for the first time, the scrapped cameo appearance of Chain Chomp from the Super Mario series, and much more, make sure to do so by visiting here.

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19 thoughts on “Shigeru Miyamoto finds Navi to be the biggest weak point of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”

  1. And yet they made it worse with Fi in Skyward Sword. At least they made up for that by making her departure at the end of the story emotional whereas Navi just flies off without a word at the end of OoT.

      1. Maybe, but I feel like at some point between OoT and Skyward, Miyamoto would have talked to at least one person involved with the latter game and was like “y’know, maybe the way we designed Navi as a helper wasn’t the best and we shouldn’t do it again.”

    1. It’s worth noting why exactly Miyamoto considers Navi a weak point of the game, according to this interview.

      Not because he thinks she’s annoying, but because he thinks she isn’t helping enough, or isn’t giving the right hints to the right players.

      In that sense, I don’t think he’d really care too much about Fi being more annoying than Navi, as long as the hints she gives to the player are actually useful.

    2. Well when you remember Link’s whole dynamic with the rest of the Kokiri I think Navi leaving is really bittersweet. Link obviously isn’t a Kokiri, but he believes himself to be and so do the others. But Link is a weird Kokiri since he hasn’t received a fairy companion yet. He’s an outcast, and as such is ridiculed (primarily by Mido).

      The joy Link must have had when he finally had his own fairy, a sense of belonging, was probably great, but it didn’t last very long as the Great Deku Tree summoned Link and eventually sent him on his journey. During Link’s journey he would slowly come to realize that it was true that he wasn’t a Kokiri afterall; he was an outsider. He grows up and continues on with his quest, but at this point his quest is all he has. His quest, and Navi, a fairy who is supposed to only accompany the Kokiri children but is still with Link because of the Great Deku Tree’s dying wish for her to help Link on his quest.

      Navi represents Link’s childhood wishes, ideals, etc., but she also represents Link’s duty. By the end of OoT Link’s quest is complete, and so are his duties. But what Link loses throughout his adventure is a true childhood, and just because Zelda sent him back in time that doesn’t mean he’ll actually be able to have a childhood.

      The quest is complete, and Link’s childhood is gone. Navi is no longer allowed to stay by Link’s side no matter how much she wants to, so she leaves with Link not being able to do anything except watch helplessly.

      Now I will say that this scene would have benefited more if Navi was more of a character rather than a glorified help system. Tatle is Majora’s Mask is a great character and still functions well as a help system. If we had this scene with Tatle instead of Navi it would have hit better for more people probably. I just like the theming for the scene with Link’s childhood being over signified by a magic fairy leaving him

    1. Nevermind, I thought the article said Zelda as a whole and not OoT specifically. I still wouldn’t say Navi is the weakest, I’d say they could’ve made Hyrule to feel more rundown so that it feels like a dystopia. The ranch and castle seems to be the only things noticeably affected by his rule, the forest is only having monsters appear because the Deku Tree is dead, and Kakariko Village being virtually unchanged. For a world that is supposed to be suffering under Ganondorf’s iron fist I’m not really convinced it’s all that bad.

      1. Well he decimated the Zora and froze their domain, besides murdering most castle town inhabitants.

        To make it more dystopian imo there would have to be more settlements to affect.

  2. Oh, I can’t believe I missed this.

    “. . .we’ve found that the sections people need hints for vary from person-to-person. There’s no consistency. . .”

    Um, the Water Temple says hello; that dungeon is consistently on lists of hardest or most-confusing levels.

    1. “The Water Temple says hello” I laughed and then wholeheartedly agreed. I thought I’d never finish it the first time I played it!

  3. The “helpful pig” in DK Country Returns comes to mind. If you play a hard level like a mine cart level more than twice, you have to pass by that annoying pig at the check point every time. Ringing their stupid bell. “Hey if this is too hard you can skip it”. Piss off pig I’m going to do it the right way, stop gleefully reminding me of my failures every single time.

  4. She’s a useful scan visor though.
    Hovering above suspicious locations if you get close, or giving you a summary of every enemy in the game.

    I know the name of every OoT foe but I hardly know any in (the navi-less) Wind Waker.

  5. I think the main problem is that Navi gave you advice whether you wanted it or not. Though she wasn’t as annoying as the owl. Don’t know how many times I had to speed through the owl’s advice because I wasn’t paying attention and accidentally said that I wanted the owl to tell me again.

  6. As you as you put aside the rose colored glasses and really try to be objectively critical, OoT has a LOT of weak points and Navi is really a superficial problem at best.

    A couple examples.

    An absolutely massive number of enemies in the game are functionally identical in that the way you fight them is precisely the same. You stand still with your shield up. This makes you near-invulnerable to all of your attacks, and you wait for them to show their weak spot to you of their own accord. If you try and attack before they do, your attack does nothing. This makes many many fights, maybe even most, I haven’t counted, waiting simulators. Wolfos comes, you stand there and wait. Deku scrubs, stand there and wait. Skulltula? Stand there and wait.

    Many of the “puzzles” aren’t puzzles at all, but time wasters. That’s not a subjective evaluation. A puzzle is a series of elements that fit together in a specific way, but it is not clear how they do. Figuring out how they do is solving the puzzle. Many, maybe even most “puzzles” in OoT are not puzzles in that it is immediately obvious, even explicitly spelled out, how they fit together, and the process of “solving the puzzles” is actually just the mechanical times it takes to make Link push the pieces together. The perfect example is the third Poe room in the Forest Temple. Four blocks fall from the ceiling and a timer starts. The four blocks make a picture, so you need to push them together so the picture is completed. Its literally a Jigsaw puzzle, but with square pieces, and only four of them. You would need to be either a two year old or mentally damaged not to be able to figure out the order in which to place the pieces. But then, that still isn’t enough of making the challenge artificial, the timer is fake too. If the timer gets to zero, you aren’t killed. You aren’t attacked. You aren’t sent back any significant degree. You just have to hit a button to start the timer again. The puzzle pieces don’t even move from where you had them or mix themselves up. You just hit the button and get extra time. The whole room, the entirety of it, is deliberately wasting your time to create the illusion of gameplay, rather than just being gameplay.

    By contrast, Navi occasionally being annoying and useless every few minutes? Not really a problem.

  7. CosmicTornado & cronotose: best comments. I love Navi, and I still hope for a remake of Ocarina that adds more Navi centric story that makes her leaving Link more (noticeably) emotional & justifies his adventure to find her which led to the events of Majora’s Mask to happen in the first place.

    If you don’t already follow this guy on YouTube, check out RwanLink & his most recent upload concerning Lake Hylia. I quite liked Navi’s interaction with Link in the cutscene as it made her feel like she was an actual friend & not just an “annoying” help system.

    (I still feel like Navi being annoying is just as overblown as the hate for Nickelback is. Lol shrug But whatever.)

    1. I love your example of Nickelback. I just had a conversation with my sister about that. Its such a weird cultural result that everyone likes to mock them as the absolute worst band in the history of the universe when……. they’re ok? They’re not amazing but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who genuinely hates them, rather than “hates them” as part of a meme.

      She has declared at her office that “they are bringing Nickel back.”

  8. I never found Navi that bad tbh. That said I only played the remake. Maybe they reduced the amount she pipes up?

    Fi was really annoying though.

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