The Legend of Zelda is known for all its fascinating characters. No matter which game you play, you’ll meet someone you love. Hyrule has someone (or something) for everyone. Unfortunately, where there’s love, there are characters that you will struggle to tolerate. When a character is annoying, they are impossible to forget. I have met too many characters I can’t stomach but have had no choice but to do so. I’m sure you’re in the same boat.
The old man said it best in The Legend of Zelda, released in 1986. It is dangerous to go alone! Link is always in need of guidance, which will come in any form. But these companions aren’t always a fan favorite. This is where you’ll probably recognize Navi, Link’s companion in Ocarina of Time. Everyone didn’t love her, but she sure is unforgettable.
An Introduction to Navi
Navi first appeared as a tool to aid Link in his journey. The world of Hyrule is bursting with fairies and magical creatures or men pretending to be fairies (looking at you, Tingle). So adding one as a guide for our protagonist seemed only fitting. It’s prevalent to see Link accompanied by some sort of help. For example, Fi embodies a guide in Skyward Sword. Navi is very similar in terms of giving hints and tips where necessary.
Although Ocarina of Time is Navi’s first (and only) game, she’s a frequent visitor of other Legend Zelda titles. She is still relevant to the timeline. There has never been any explanation of where Navi has gone. Link’s companions usually have a story development in later games, but Navi is an exception. She is seen in backgrounds or cutscenes but never explored in more detail post Ocarina of Time.
However, Navi is not everyone’s cup of tea. I feel impartial to the character. She’s not my favorite, but she doesn’t grind my gears as other people have expressed. People don’t get on with her character because of the minimal voice lines.
Navi is a navigational tool for Link (which I will cover in more detail later on) and was given a few repeated phrases to grab your attention. Any Zelda fan will know what I’m referencing if I say, “Hey! Look! Listen!” These lines are Navi’s signal that she has some hint or tip or piece of advice to give you. But when you’re knee-deep in threats, the last thing you need to hear is the grating voice hounding you to pay attention.
When Ocarina of Time was developing for the Nintendo 64, the game needed an on-screen marker to help target enemies. I don’t know about you, but my aim without a marker is poor. I struggle with precision, so using a tag is integral to me being able to progress in a game.
The original marker was a triangle, reflective of the triforce. The developers didn’t like this and thought it was boring. So, they wanted a fairy girl inspired by Princess Zelda. However, the capabilities of the Nintendo 64 meant this would take up too much space on the screen, which is how they settled on Navi’s design.
I think that having a detailed fairy would take away from the simplicity of Navi. This may also be distracting for a new time player to try and avoid. Plus, Navi has become such an iconic Zelda character it would be hard to imagine the game without her!
Navi’s fairy design is simple yet satisfying. She has a bright, round body and a pair of wings. See? Simple. Although she is blue most of the time, she glows red as soon as the danger is near. I adore how subtle this change is to alert any threats. It’s far easier to handle than feeling a red light on you, and the Guardian theme starts playing.
Nothing gets my heart racing quite like hearing that tune while exploring Hyrule. Navi is far more gentle when it comes to danger, and that’s something that has my full support. The glowing light that makes up the body of Navi could be a nod towards her being a navigational beacon for Link.
This fairy design is repeated throughout Zelda’s titles and is an icon used to represent the game. It is showcased in Breath of the Wild and Skyward Sword and has become representative of a place of serenity and peace. Fairies swarm where there is no threat. I feel my body relax when I see a swarm of fairies because it means I won’t have to face fierce battles.
Navi in Ocarina of Time
Ocarina of Time is Navi’s only title. As I’ve already mentioned, she was implemented as a navigational tool in the game. Although her design came about as an on-screen marker during combat, she is a valuable asset to the gameplay.
Navi was a gift bestowed to Link by the Great Deku Tree. Described as one of his children, she was given the task to aid link in his journey but is quick to judge him. The Great Deku Tree explains to the pair that there is negative energy surrounding Hyrule, and they need to travel to defeat it. Navi is incredibly skeptical that Link will not be able to do any of this.
One of the reasons I became so apprehensive of this character was her immediate reaction to Link being a hero. Navi immediately assumes he isn’t capable of any acts of heroism, and since I’m such a massive fan of the franchise, I took immediate offense. I think that’s why I found her so annoying at the beginning of the game because she had upset me from the get-go.
Navi is the final gift given by the Great Deku Tree before he passes. It would be a shame if she were horrible to Link the entire game, so the friendship between Link and Navi grows more robust over time, which is where I found myself slightly more forgiving towards her. Also, she does help Link throughout his adventure, and as I keep emphasizing, she is a valuable asset. In combat, Navi helps link target enemies.
She will glow when danger is sensed and occasionally reminds Link of the objective. These features are a fantastic addition to anyone who has invested a lot of time into Ocarina of Time. They are precious to anyone playing the game for the first time. Although I don’t like to admit it, I would be lost without Navi’s help.
At the end of Ocarina of Time, once peace is restored and Ganon’s horrendous pig-like being is defeated, Navi disappears. Not in the sense of one scene, she’s there; in one scene, she’s not. But she just flies off and is never to be seen again. There are references to their relationship in later games, such as in Majora’s Mask, where a “beloved and invaluable friend of whom he parted ways” is bought up.
Anyone with eager ears will also hear the fluttery chime of Navi in the background. I felt somewhat emotional about this just because I sympathize with how lonely Link must get after parting ways with so many friends. Also, Navi is the first companion Link gets, so she must’ve significantly impacted him.
In Majora’s Mask, Link gets accompanied by another fairy called Tatl. He commonly mistakes her for Navi even though they have been apart for a significant time. Tatl is also yellow while Navi was blue, but I guess he spent a lot of time with Navi and having any fairy companion would be confusing. Ironically, Link and Tatl decide to team up while Link is looking for Navi in the Lost Woods at the beginning of the game.
I know I don’t just speak for myself when I say that I felt hesitant towards Tatl at the beginning of Majora’s Mask. It felt wrong to replace Navi and the friendship she built with Link, even if she was annoying, at the beginning. Tatl isn’t as degrading towards Link but carries the same mocking attitude to begin. Fairies don’t seem as sweet as they get portrayed, you know!
There are also hints to Navi in Breath of the Wild, specifically at Nabi Lake. You can find this lake north of the dueling peaks tower. Although the name isn’t explicitly saying “Hey! Look!” and it isn’t shaped like a fairy, there are still hints of her presence. Again, there’s no story significance of this lake. However, I thought it was a neat and subtle slight nod to her in the game.
Many players assume that Navi left Link because he wasn’t a Kokiri, and he wasn’t supposed to have a fairy companion. Another fan theory suggests that Navi loved Link but couldn’t handle the rejection, so she left. Unfortunately, it’s never explained why she went, so there is a lot of space left for speculation.
I think she was only there to help Link fulfill his quest set out by the Great Deku Tree, and her character was technically redundant after that. But maybe that’s wishful thinking, as Breath of the Wild wouldn’t be as calming if Navi was begging for my attention the entire time.
However, she features in other games alongside the Zelda franchise. For example, she features as one of Toon Link’s taunts in Super Smash Bros. She also appears in several pieces of Zelda merchandise. Every time you see a fairy in a Zelda game, they look exactly like her. So she may have left us in Ocarina of Time, but she’s left a stamp on all Zelda fans’ hearts.
Question: What is Navi?
Answer: Navi was a gift given to Link by the Great Deku Tree at the beginning of The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. She is to be Link’s companion for the entire game and provide helpful tools and advice to aid his adventure. She gets described as one of the Great Deku Tree’s fairy children and is his final gift before he dies.
Question: What Does Navi do?
Answer: Navi is a navigational tool for Link. She will tell him the objective, sense danger, target enemies, and give hints on how to progress in the game.
Question: Where did the Name Navi Originate?
Answer: The name Navi is said to be the developer shortening the phrase ‘Fairy Navigation System.’ This is why the developers created Navi in the first place! But it would be a mouthful to keep repeating, and Navi seems pretty magical in itself.
Love or hate, Navi is a completely unforgettable character. She made Link’s journey in Ocarina of Time easier than it could’ve been. It was a shame to see her go. I hope they will touch on where she went or bring her back for a future game. Fairies play a significant role in Zelda; there’s always room for our repetitive blue friend!