The Missing Link
To this day, the only phrase that haunts me more than that “Kooloo-Limpah” is “Have you played the Nocturne of Shadow?” That’s right. It’s everyone’s
<Metafiction description=”Scary TML Thoughts” warning=”Get out while you still can”>
“And now, on the Late Show… it’s Daaaaviiiiiiiiid Linkerman!”
So I bet you’ve all heard the news lately about this hero guy Link saving an entire country. Did you know that he wears green tights and a dress? With that sense of style, the only thing he needed to kill the King of Evil was feminine intuition! But I mean, seriously, who wears the type of getup anyways? Oh wait… Mayor Rudy Tingle-ani…
But the real kicker about this guy is the fact that he’s got this fairy sidekick that follows him around everwhere. Have you heard her at the interviews? She’s always answering things with “look!”, “have you played the Nocturne of Shadow?”, and “Link, shut up and let me answer this!” … Well, I guess we know who wears the pants in that relationship… in more ways than one!
So it’s painfully clear—and I do mean painfully—that Link doesn’t just keep Navi around for good graces. Maybe she’s some top secret sonic weapon the royalty had been making. Just send her into a temple, have her scream at the top of her lungs, and the bosses would beg Link to take away their WMDs—Weapons of Medieval Destruction!
For that matter, why do we even need Link? If our hero can’t defeat the forces of evil without having a fairy at his side night and day, maybe he should get out of the heroing business altogether. I mean, with that dress, he could always get a job as a Hyrule Castle intern!
Let’s give a round of applause for Rauru Shaffer over on the piano and the HBS Orchestra!
The fairies get a bad rap. Both Navi and Tatl are believed to be some of the most annoying additions to be ever placed in a Zelda game. As much as I try to be fair and look at each character with as neutral a view as I can (some with much more difficulty than others… *cough* Tingle *cough*), sadly I can’t exactly dispute the argument. I’ve always wanted to believe that Navi really is a friend to Link and less a teacher. If you’ve seen Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, I envison Navi being the Sir Sean Connery to Harrison Ford. Sure, he’s a father figure to Indy, but he’s much more a trusted ally, not much more and nothing less. They work together seamlessly, having this synergistic effect upon one another. At least that’s what my naïve mind would like to believe Navi and Tatl are to Link.
Yet the role that they gave Navi and Tatl partially forces the more annoying side of them—the schoolmarm side—to come out more often than it should. With every shout of “hey!”, “look!”, and “listen!”, the urge to bottle that fairy just became more and more tempting. Never could you impersonate The Godfather and say, “Navi, my acquaintance… I have such respect for you. I have done all that you have asked of me. I have played the song that Sheiky Corleone has taught me. I have paid my respects to the shadows in the cemetary. But the time is not here to do as you ask. I do not have the fire of Din. I do not have the Lens of Truth. My hands are tied, capice? Let me get the goods, and then I will fulfil your wishes, my acquaintance.” It wouldn’t work; they’d keep prattling on, saying that Saria wanted to talk to me or even insulting my intelligence since I didn’t know what that monster was. The experience juiced nearly three tablespoons of headache out of me.
But as I said before I interrupted myself, the problem is their role in the game. Navi and Tatl serve as the Hero’s Instruction Manual to Heroing 101. They’re in the game to introduce concepts and enemies. “Oh! Have you thought about shooting that eye with your bow?” “Oh! This is an enemy! Hit it with your sword!” Come now, is that really necessary? We’ve already got the bloody owl speaking to us in vague metaphors and mystic riddles. (How many of you, when replaying Ocarina or Majora, tap the A button continually to finish those speeches as soon as possible? How many of you accidentally then hit “No, I don’t understand” right after that?) Now I shouldn’t criticise them too harshly for this, for it is Nintendo’s attempt to bring depth into the game. All of the enemies have names, descriptions, slight background information… All of them now have metadata and a context as to how they fit into the realm of Hyrule. Yet Link to the Past functioned just fine without naming three-quarters of the enemies, and Wind Waker merely replaced that function with the Trophy Room o’ Doom! (That even rhymes.)
Otherwise, they supposedly served the purpose of allowing you to Z-target (L-target if you’re on the ‘Cube) an enemy. Puh-lease. Now yes, I realise that the 3D environment is more difficult to navigate than a 2D environment, especially when we’re working with analog sticks and whatnot. But what we’re suggesting is that Navi grants Link the ability to orient himself such that he’s pointed precisely at the enemy. (I hate to tell you this, but we all learn that at age four when we break mother’s vase. “Go sit in the corner and don’t look anywhere else!” See?) The whole spiel where Navi couldn’t break through Ganondorf’s magic fog to hover above him, thus disallowing Link from perfectly facing him… riiiiiight.
Now I honestly hate to sound so negative about this, because it seems my last few posts on the ‘Blog have been criticisms about such-and-such being a bad idea, that this thing was really bad, blah, blah. Yet at the same time, Navi wasn’t as good as I hoped she’d have been; in fact, we’ve already seen better. Personally, I liked Tatl much more than Navi despite someone ringing my doorbell every time she started to speak. Tatl was meant to be annoying. She had spunk, she had an edge, and she was provocative. She was on the bad guy’s side at the beginning, after all. It’s kind of difficult to make her little miss prissy two-shoes. Even Ezlo from Minish Cap was good too, if not better than Tatl herself. He had this aura of wisdom about him, this feeling about him that seemed that he was always in deep contemplation. He was like Sahasrahla the Wise Man, and he stuck to his part. Even The King of Red Lions wasn’t too bad. The common link? They all have personality. Like it or not, they were who they were.
Navi on the other hand doesn’t show character. She’s informational, yes, but even Hermione Granger from Harry Potter has personality. Because of this, Navi got annoying at times. Her role was minor, and every time we hit C-up, we knew we were going to get lectured to. (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) It’s because of this lack of personality that we see Navi, not as a character, but as a game mechanic. She’s there just to provide information, speaking more to the player than to Link, and that gives her an almost anachronistic feeling, like she shouldn’t belong in the story. Sure, Link getting a fairy at the beginning is big news; why Navi is to accompany Link is understandable. What Navi and Link mean to one another, however, fails to compute. We resort to the fact that she’s there simply to help us out (us being the player, not the character)… as if we couldn’t possibly function without her advice. She’s there to ease us into the game… ease us into each new dungeon… and really there to take the challenge out of the game. No longer do we have to figure out how to beat the Deku scrubs; ask Navi and poof, the knowledge comes immediately to us. Can you possibly imagine playing the original Legend of Zelda with Navi? You thought the old man was bad? (”Moblins have fear of sword!” Or, “You find quest with Shadow Nocturne!”)
Looking forward, we have the same potential storm looming over us with Midna. Sure, human Link has no Midna to tell him what to do, but wolf Link does. The hope is that her character really gets fleshed out as they’re developing the game, that they’ve spent time creating who Midna really is and that Midna and Link have this connection that binds the two together in plot. We don’t want Midna just thrown in there another instruction manual like Navi was. We don’t want to have another plot device, Mister Frodo, plot device. We don’t want Midna just thrown in the game because… *cough* the developers think that we need help progressing through the game.
We’re just fine on our own, thanks.Follow This Entry