4. Where the Name ''Navi'' Came From

Iwata:

The first problem that all kinds of people involved in making games in 3D encountered, and had lots of trouble with, is the axes not aligning when two characters go to face each other. But the two of you found a solution when you went to Toei Kyoto Studio Park.

Koizumi:

Yeah. I remember something else with regard to Z Targeting. When we were making a prototype of battle targeting, we wanted to make it easy to see which enemy you’re targeting, so we made a marker.

Iwata:

Right.

Koizumi:

An upside-down triangle.

Iwata:

Like the one appeared above the targeted opponent’s head.

Koizumi:

Yeah. But I was a designer, so I didn’t want to use such a simple marker. I wanted to make something else, so I came up with a fairy. After all, it was The Legend of Zelda.

Iwata:

So first you went to make a marker, and later you made the fairy?

Koizumi:

Right. Usually, if you were to make a fairy, you would make a cute girl, but that wasn’t possible with the Nintendo 64 system, so I just made a ball of light with wings.

Iwata:

I see.

Koizumi:

I called it the Fairy Navigation System, took it to Osawa-san, and asked, “How’s this?” He immediately said, “Let’s name it

Video: Navi

The first problem that all kinds of people involved in making games in 3D encountered, and had lots of trouble with, is the axes not aligning when two characters go to face each other.
Navi .” Because she navigates! (laughs)

Iwata Asks Iwata:

Osawa-san called on his simple naming sense. (laughs)

Osawa:

Navi - from “navigation”. (laughs) The Legend of Zelda games have a lot of names that show their origin. Link means to bind together. We give a lot of names that serve as functional symbols.

Iwata:

Functional symbols are important to Miyamoto-san.

Osawa:

I think so. I didn’t just name her Navi out of my simple sense for naming. Rather, I thought I should name her that way out of respect for the Legend of Zelda naming tradition.

Koizumi:

But when I heard the name Navi from Osawa-san, I was really happy. I had thought of it as a system, but...

Iwata:

Naming it had breathed life into what had been an impersonal marker.

Koizumi:

Right. I thought, “This is Navi,” and ideas started coming to me one after the other. Like being able to tell by colour whether the person you’re facing is good or bad, and if Navi talked, she could be an important guide for the story. So naming the system Navi really helped it grow.

Osawa:

Navi also gives strategy tips.

Koizumi:

So the text that Osawa-san had to write increased a lot.

Osawa:

(laughs) Yeah. (laughs) The addition of Navi had merits with regard to the script as well. We were able to expand the story around the idea of meeting and saying goodbye to a fairy.

Iwata:

Ahh, I see!

Koizumi:

And not only the script, but the game mechanics benefited as well. The first location is Kokiri Forest. The village has lots of trees and lots of people live there, but it was difficult to display them all at once.

Iwata:

The Nintendo 64 system had limitations making it difficult to display many characters at the same time.

Koizumi:

I came up with the idea that each person living there be followed around by a fairy. That way, even if we just showed the fairies...

Iwata:

I see. If you see the fairy, you know its owner is there, too.

Koizumi:

Right. We solved the problem by having it so that

Video: the owner appears when you get close to the fairy

The first problem that all kinds of people involved in making games in 3D encountered, and had lots of trouble with, is the axes not aligning when two characters go to face each other.
the owner appears when you get close to the fairy .

Aonuma:

It also led to the scenario surrounding Link not having a fairy at first.

Iwata Asks Osawa:

Which led to the whole idea of meeting and parting from a fairy - in which you start by finding a fairy and in the end you say goodbye.

Iwata:

Hmm, I see.

Koizumi:

We didn’t determine most of the settings at first, but just made them up as we went.

Iwata:

Yeah. (laughs)

Koizumi:

But I think that is an important part of our work.

Iwata:

With regard to that, it is often said that when it comes to making a Legend of Zelda game, the game mechanics come first and the script later. Osawa-san, thinking up the script was your job, right?

Osawa:

Yes.

Iwata:

For example, was the division into Young Link and Adult Link something you were thinking about from the start?

Osawa:

No, at first there was always Adult Link.

Iwata:

Only Adult Link showed up?

Osawa:

Yes. At first, we were just going to have him in an adult form. If you think about the chanbara element, that only made sense. With a child form, the sword would be small and his reach too short, so he would be at a terrible disadvantage, especially against large enemies.

Iwata:

And it wasn’t like you could just make the enemies small.

Osawa:

Right. But partway through development, Miyamoto-san and others on the staff started saying they wanted to see a cute little Link.

Iwata:

That would change the script a lot.

Osawa:

Yes, we thought about how we could have both the child and adult forms appear in the same game and came up with the device of going seven years into the future by drawing the Master Sword and then returning back to his child form when he returns it to the pedestal.

Iwata:

He travels back and forth in an instant.

Osawa:

Yes. That was a scenario we added later.

Iwata:

It’s amazing that such a big change didn’t cause the whole project to collapse.

Everyone:

(laughs)

Iwata:

Huh? You’re all laughing. Does that mean it did sort of collapse? (laughs)

Aonuma:

It didn’t exactly collapse, but we did have some heated exchanges!

Osawa:

We got into it every day. I would write the script and everyone would point out problems, saying, “This is weird,” and “That’s impossible.” Then I’d come up with a revised script and say, “I changed this. What do you think?” I remember going around showing it to each and everyone to get their okay.

Koizumi:

Huh? I don’t think you went quite that far, but...did you?

Aonuma:

You didn’t go quite that far.

Osawa:

Huh? I thought I did, but...

Aonuma:

You just feel like you did! (laughs)

Iwata:

Perhaps your memory has been overwritten! (laughs)

Everyone:

(laughs)

Osawa:

Hmm...

Koizumi:

Everyone back then was busy with what was right in front of them. When it came about that the Young Link was going to appear, what caused the most trouble for me was the modelling and animation for Link.

Iwata:

The amount you had to make doubled.

Koizumi:

Right. My work doubled. I was the one making him, so I was like, “What am I going to do?”

Iwata:

When did talk of making Young Link come up?

Koizumi:

I think it was about the second year after development started. Do you remember, Iwawaki-san?

Iwawaki:

Yeah, I think it was about one and a half years before release.

Iwata:

Oh, so that’s when it was.